Friday, March 25, 2016

Day 1577 - Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice

It was okay.  Not as bad as some people are saying, but definitely not as good as some people are claiming.  I don't really think I'm going to write about the story or plot all that much (Batman fights Superman because Lex Luthor tells them to, and Wonder Woman shows up).  What I really want to talk about is why I have the reactions I did to the movie.

I was 17 years old when the Tim Burton/Michael Keaton Batman movie came out.  I remember all the controversy that occurred when Michael Keaton was announced as Batman.  I also remember that I thought he would do fine.  I knew, even then, that comedians made for some of the best dramatic actors because a lot of them have some very dark, dark souls and that comes through their acting.  (I also remember liking the casting of Billy Dee Williams as Harvey Dent mostly because who doesn't love Lando Calrissian?  It makes me sad that the role was wasted on Tommy Lee Jones.)  And when that Batman hit the theaters, I had to have seen it about three times (usually my benchmark for when I really like a film), I bought all the trading cards, and even the comic book adaptation.  One of the first tapes I ever bought (and possibly the first one) was the Danny Elfman score to the film.  That movie hit all the right notes for me... with one exception - Batman killed bad guys.  His Batplane had guns and rockets which he used liberally.  He dropped a bad guy down the cathedral staircase.  And, really, he killed The Joker. 

I've grown up reading comic books, and one of the absolutes are that the good guys don't kill the bad guys.  Characters like Wolverine, The Punisher, and Deapool don't count, because that's been part of their character from the very beginning.  And, yes, yes, I know Batman carried a gun and killed bad guys in his early appearances, but the creators were still finding their way with him.  When he actually started gaining depth and focus in the late sixties, that was the Batman as he's really become defined.  And when Frank Miller aged him and made him grim and gritty in The Dark Knight Returns, he (or the editor) made a concerted effort to call out the beatings he gave and the lengths he finally went to to actually NOT kill The Joker. 

It was a real pleasure to me to watch Batman Begins and see that Christian Bale's Batman made it a concerted effort to not do any killing.  Even with Ra's al Ghul at the end - while he made a conscious effort not to save him, I always abided by the comic book rule of no body = no death.  I would not have been disappointed if he had shown up in either of the last two Christopher Nolan Batman movies.

And that brings us to Batman V Superman.  Batffleck kills a lot of bad guys.  His Batplane, like Keaton's before him, has a ton of ammunition.  And he uses it.  Bad guys are shot or blown up by the Dark Knight, and all I could think of was - "I don't like Batman being the Punisher."  Maybe that's why there are no crazy villains in Gotham during the movie.  He's killed them all already.

And I don't include the dream sequence in this discussion.  It's a dream, Batman is fighting parademons, and the world is a completely different place.  I have little problem giving that scene a pass.  Although, the Flash looked pretty stupid.  But hey, that's just me.

Maybe I'm just being the old guy yelling at the kids to get off his lawn.  But I want being a superhero to mean something.  For as many faults that Ang Lee's Hulk has (and it does have lots), it seems like he went out of his way to show that the Hulk didn't kill.  Yes, you can make the arguments that any of the current crop of superhero movies out there have lots and lots of collateral damage.  And none of the bad guys ever seem to be alive at the end of a movie to be put into prison.  But Batman and also Superman, in their best stories, always found a way to be better than the villain. 

And this is all before I could even write about the uncomfortably long scene of Amy Adams' Lois Lane having a conversation with Supes while taking a bath.  That's where the conversation needed to take place?  I know it's hard to prove that a character is a Pulitzer Prize winning journalist in about 15 minutes of screen time, but having the character spend a whole scene in a bathtub doesn't help her cause in any way.

Again, I didn't hate the movie.  Gal Gadot was almost as perfect a Wonder Woman we could have hoped for.  I want to see a whole movie based off the picture that we're shown.  And she was great in both her civilian identity as well as her superhero one.  During the last battle, her smile was one of the highlights.  She's back to doing what she should have been doing all along.  But, even in a movie as stuffed as this one is, it could have used a lot more of her.

I always say that when an actor portray a superhero (especially a masked one), then it doesn't matter how they play the superhero (because most of the time it's a stunt man in there anyway), but how they portray the civilian identity.  Ben Affleck does a fine job portraying Bruce Wayne.

Finally, I didn't mind Jesse Eisenberg's Luthor. That being said, I don't mind Jesse Eisenberg.  If you're one of those people who don't like him, this movie is not going to change your mind.  He's definitely not a Luthir we've ever seen before.  But his villainy is in full display.  And you believe that he's capable of all the bad things that he does.

It would have been nice to have at least one laugh during the movie, but what are you gonna do?  And what's with that title?  Is 'V' the new 'vs'?  Adding that 's' was too much for people?  The two main characters are fighting - don't hide it.


No comments:

Post a Comment