Monday, March 28, 2016
I wasn't expecting to be able to review this movie so early - since I had promised to watch it only once it was out on bootleg DVD - however, due to a strange twist of fate I ended up watching it at the cinemas: a friend (lady, no less) was amped about watching a movie at the the theaters before she left, and strangely, this was her choice. In case you haven't read my Man of Steel review (MoS), let me state that I detested that movie, and do not exactly fancy Director Zack Snyder because he had trashed the previous Superman movie lore, whilst not improving on anything beyond visuals.
Anyway, we watched the movie, and I can basically say that I had seen this mess coming from a mile away. I didn't go into the movie expecting to hate it from the get-go (as my twin bro thinks I did); rather, by projection from MoS and the stylistic choices made then, I anticipated an amplification of all the flaws brought out in that movie because of all the new story arcs and heroes that had to be interwoven this time around.
Let me first talk about the positives. Ben Affleck makes a great Batman; surprisingly, the biggest wildcard about this movie ended up being its saving grace. 'Batfleck' should no longer be considered a term of derision, and honestly the 'Sad Affleck' tidings just need to stop...he saved this movie. The whole Batman arc is the best part of this movie (including the cynical take on Alfred Pennyworth delivered by masterful Jeremy Irons). Unlike Nolan's Batman (beyond Batman Begins), this Batman can actually fight. He is a departure from previous Batman incarnations because this time he maims and kills with abandon. Rather than turn me off the Bat, it made me want to see a new standalone Batman movie so they could show what had driven him off the deep end.
This is also a beautifully shot movie, but this is a Zack Snyder movie so it was obvious that it would be a good-looking movie
The negatives abound, though. The same Superman arc that was so lightly fleshed out last time around is sacrificed even further here. Henry Cavill's Supes is as wooden as ever, his and Lois' relationship has grown by leaps and bounds despite not even being organically developed last time around. Lois is annoyingly inserted into situations (again!) this time that are for the most part irrelevant. Lex Luthor, as irritatingly rendered by Jesse Eisenberg, is the literal nail-in-the-coffin for this movie. People had been expecting a Heath Ledger/Joker-esque turn for this character, but it was not to be; the disappointment hinted at in the trailers only got worse the more this movie dragged along.
But honestly, after what Mr. Snyder put on show for MoS, how could people expect anything else? A lot of people wanted a big punch up from MoS, and that was what they got, but at the expense of any sort of useful character building (the big fight was what they said had been missing from Superman Returns, but that movie had character development laid out in spades). I guess once the crowd got that fight-jonesing out of their systems, this time around they wanted something more fleshed out. With this director, that was never going to happen.
So this movie is just MoS pushed to its logical expansion. Ma Kent is rendered more bitterly than previously imagined before, and the movie confuses itself by imagining it made us believe that it was Pa Kent's dream for Clark to be a superhero. (Clarification: that was Jor El's dream). Since MoS, I always wondered why Clark would ever want to be Supes considering this version of Ma and Pa Kent are so bitter, paranoid and cynical. Apart from Jor El, none of them pushed Clark to explore that Christ-like compassion that is a staple of Supes' comic book lore.
Just like MoS, the plot pacing is terrible, and it is built up so that it climaxes in a big final fight; but, I feel nothing for these characters, and I honestly wouldn't care if they were wiped off the face of the earth (maybe with the exception of Batman). And some of the plot points seem downright belittling. Some examples are required:
1. The Africa Desert incident was just poorly played. Supes probably only killed one person in that whole incident; seems rather superflous to blame him for everyone else who obviously died under a hail of bullets. (Heck, Justice League: Gods and Monsters, did a better job of framing Supes)
2. Lois and the Spear: one moment she's tossing it (understandably, to get it away from Supes). Next moment, she knows it suddenly important because she's serendipitously figured out that it'll hurt Doomsday. Then she gets herself trapped, and Supes somehow figures out where the spear is. Lazy writing par excellence!
3. The Batman v Superman fight also feels kinda avoidable. Once it became an issue of manipulation (and not The Dark Knight Rises Again philosophical clash), Supes could easily have let Batman in on Luthor's scheme. The movie setup gives us no indication that Lex is listening in on their conversation or has them under any surveillance whatsoever. So, they could've convincingly play-acted if they really needed to convince him, while Supes bought some time to track down his Mum (by her heartbeat, voice, etc). If Zack Snyder still wanted to maintain the illusion of the BvS fight, he could later on suggest to us that Bat and Supes were in cohoots at some point in time (beautiful sleight of hand).
4. The Doomsday fight is a waste. It seems like WonderWoman might've actually had more hand-to-hand combat with that brute than Supes did. And then weaving "The Death of Superman" into this movie just kills it for me. As disposable as they made Doomsday, would've been better if they just fashioned him as Bizarro.
5. Lex Luthor is maniacal for the sake of being maniacal. He hated his Dad, he hates God, he hates Supes...full stop. He magically knows secret identities and family ties! This is a Lex who just wants to watch the world burn and we don't know why. I grew up with Power-hungry Lex, so I can relate to that version of him. This new one is a wholly new creation, but still remains a blank slate due to poor characterization.
6. The Justice League: people keep making the same mistakes that made Blade Trinity & The Amazing Spiderman 2 such terrible movies - focusing so much on spin-offs, that you mess up the movie entirely. Those 2 aforementioned terrible movies ended up killing the franchise, and we all know you can't have a spin-off if the franchise is dead. It's elementary! A few people have criticized the 'email-reveal', but what was sillier to me was the build-up. WonderWoman is basically a footnote in this movie, but they weave her in and out of it because...Lex has a dated photograph of WonderWoman and she wants it back. Lex has this photo ONLINE...what is Diana hoping to do...erase it from the cloud?
Using Man of Steel as a launchpad creates the same mess that the disastrous Iron Man 3 (with its terrible PTSD storyline) introduced into the MCU. DC had better work smart and get a new director for its Justice League ideas. Guillermo del Toro gave up on Justice League: Dark, but I'm sure he'd be game to work on Justice League. Also, they need to ditch the Nolanization. I don't want all my superheroes depressed and super serious. It works for Batman, but it could never work for Superman. And I don't forsee it working for Wonderwoman, or, God forbid, The Flash...only, unless you're doing "The Flashpoint Paradox".
In conclusion, just want to say that the lady with whom I watched this movie loved it. She didn't get all of it, she doesn't know much about the heroes, but she liked it. Which was the same point I made about MoS: had it been a story about another hero, a whole new mythos in which I had no prior stake, I would've enjoyed it too. However, this is Superman for goodness sake.
Well, that's my 2 cents for now.
You guys go on and enjoy your movie :)
P.S: Didn't dig the Batsuit. Looks too bulky, plus they've gotten rid of the undies on the outside (MoS style), but heck, they need something to break the dull grey colour scheme. Well, at least they never fully show the costume or focus on it for any long period.