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25 March 2016

Pop Culture: Batman v Superman Dawn of Justice

Lets get this out of the way....Batman v Superman isn't a good movie. It just isn't. Structurally it is a mess. You can almost hear the way they put the writing room together. "Hey guys, we can't screw this up, all hands on deck." The writing is so poor that it is hard to understand how Batman v Superman made it to screen in its current form. There will be plenty of people who really enjoy this movie, but I love They Live and I know its not a good movie. If you saw the trailers and were worried that they told you the movie, well you had a legitimate worry. Before we go deeper into the negative lets go positive.

Ben Affleck is an amazing Batman. If you, like I, love the Frank Miller Batman then you will see this as the definitive interpretation of the Caped Crusader. But be warned, this isn't a child friendly Batman. He kills. He kills a lot. His fighting scenes are the best Batman has looked in battle since...ever. What makes it work is the opening 20 minutes of Batman v Superman. Here the spectacle of Man of Steel, the destruction of Metropolis, becomes Bruce Wayne's personal horror. Those first 20 minutes are beautifully presented. Unfortunately the next two hours happened.

Sticking with the good, Jeremy Irons as Alfred is the standout of this movie. The few scenes he is in make me want to order my tickets to The Batman right now. He represents the only moments of joy and levity in what is a dreary depressing movie.

Wonder Woman is fine. She isn't great, but she works. I think she would have had a bigger impact if not for the reveal in the trailer that ruined the movie. Gal Gadot looks the part, and delivers most her lines with enough charm that I am cautiously optimistic for her stand alone film.

Almost every scene with The Daily Planet is pointless. They don't matter. Just fluff.

Well, just like Wonder Woman, I can't ignore the horror any longer and must dive into what was wrong with Batman v Superman. This movie is all over the place. There is no editing through line to hold it together. Instead of focusing on the destruction of Metropolis as the tie to hold the focus they invent other set pieces as the main impetuous of the plot, and it never pays off. By the time you get to the rushed and forced final battle with Doomsday (again ruined by the marketing) there is no emotional engagement. You just don't care.

Then there is Lex Luthor. *sigh* Why? Just.....why? His motivation is...moving the plot forward I guess? He is never, in the entire movie, not once menacing. He is just annoying. You never understand why he is doing anything, nor do you believe that he is a threat. I hope Jesse Eisenberg never reappears in the DCEU, just retcon him out.

Doomsday is a low rent Hobbit extra with random undefined powers. He comes in and disappears with little resonance. He only exists for the twist in the last 5 minutes.

Lois Lane is in the movie. Yay? She isn't so much a character as a thing for Superman to save. And the chemistry that they had in Man of Steel is GONE.

The rest of the Justice League is introduced. In the least realistic manner possible. One in particular is completely laughable. DC wanted to do something different than Marvel did. The story pays a heavy price for it.

The epic fight scene between Batman v Superman is wonderful. Fun. Exciting. It is straight out of the Dark Knight Returns. And ends with a total whimper. They completely cop out of any weight or stakes by finding a way to have every fight scene magically take place in an uninhabited area.

The running time...is easily 20 minutes too long. So many unnecessary, unfocused scenes. Batman v Superman is 5 separate better films blended together into a dense mess.

Then there is the final 5 minutes. WB swings for the fences with a huge unexpected turn. At first I was bewildered. Then I was PISSED. Then I was grudgingly admiring. By the last minute I think to myself 'you know what, that kind of saves the film.' Then the last 5 seconds of the film negate all the emotional weight of the movie.

Batman v Superman isn't a good film. But it is not awful. There are elements of greatness in this film. The elements of this film that are good, are REALLY REALLY GOOD. The fight scenes look great. Batman is compelling. I didn't even mention the dream sequence that is stunning. But neither Lex nor Superman have any real motivation. Much of the dialogue is stilted and wooden. The editing is horrific. I am torn on the future of the DCEU, especially if Zack Snyder directs Justice League pt 1, but there is enough meat on the bone for me to BARELY recommend you seeing Batman v Superman in the theater

6/10

PS: When filming a tight shot with just a character's face on the screen YOU ARE ALLOWED TO USE A STEADY CAM

PSS *Spoiler* They kill Jimmy Olsen. With out bothering to mention his name.



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