Fluvio Labenti

( flowing stream )

Monday, March 28, 2016

My take on "Batman vs. Superman - Dawn of Justice"

Actually saw it twice, first in German, then in English.

Important disclaimer: no spoilers here, so no worries.

The fact that I saw it twice already gives away that my impression is rather positive instead of negative. Actually enjoyed it quite a bit, and could even watch it again. The movie never felt boring to me, even though it does have a lot of talking with little action for rather long stretches of time. But the intrigue always keeps it going, so it never felt as if losing momentum. I'd give it a 7/10, and feel I could even give it an 8, will explain later why.

Not true that this is a completely humorless movie. First of all, there's nothing wrong with absolute lack of humor in movies. "Batman Begins" felt way less humorous, and I think it was an excellent film. "Batman vs. Superman" has however at least three humorous bits that I noticed: one comment that Bruce Wayne gives Clark Kent about Superman, one thing Diane Lane says to Batman at one point, and something Superman and Batman say to each other about Wonder Woman. Those are clear humorous bits. It is simply wrong for some critics to keep repeating that the movie is dead humorless. It's no comedy, that is ok, but that is also no problem.

There are explicit associations between the god-like superhero figures and actual real-world religious gods, names included. I'm sure this is uncomfortable for quite a few. In fact, I suspect this might be part of why some critics seem so negatively taken by this movie. In my opinion this religious angle is slightly lame in and of itself within the movie, but it's not the biggest negative deal.

The movie does have what I would call huge plot weaknesses, but won't elaborate because I would enter spoiler terrain. Will only say that whenever a rather major plot twist depends on some rather silly coincidence, it smells like simply bad writing. And what is worse, there are a number of weaknesses, not just one. But nothing else about that. Let me try to list quickly the other things I did not like so much about it as a whole, then what I really *really* liked.

Ben Affleck I found not so lame as Batman, but I find Christian Bale easily way better. For some reason, every time they show a close-up of Affleck's "angry" face, it seems to me he is about to explode in laughter or in one of his smug smirks. Also, in quite a few shots he just has what looks like his dumbest possible face, which does not correlate well with the Batman character, really.

Some critics claim the movie is a display of incoherence. Well, I don't think so, even though... The trick of showing character's dreams or short delusional trances as part of the movie itself is used a couple of times. Without telling in advance, only shortly thereafter the movie lets you realize it was only that: a dream or delusional trance. Well, these dreams/trances *are* rather or very incoherent some times. I only have an issue with one of those, well rather two of them, not because of being incoherent but because of adding plot holes.

The movie borrows (I think) quite a few elements from several other movies, which might contribute to the incoherence claim. For example, Bruce Wayne now seems to imitate 007 at least as far as driving an Aston Martin. The movie looks dark and has a mostly cool (blueish) color temperature overall, but in one stretch the entire aesthetics seemed to have been stolen from, believe it or not, Mad Max Fury Road, everything warm and sun-scorched, in dessert-like landscapes, and with similar full-face clothing against the sand. Also, some evil-boss features seemed to have been stolen from Fifth Element. Some parts of the movie make you think too much of King Kong, and at some point, Batman himself could make you think he is playing Spiderman. I could keep going but will leave it at that.

Another point I would call negative: some special effects. As impressive as some of them are some times, some other times they were slightly disappointing.

And that's all for the negatives. Now the positive.

Sound and music and acting for me ok. Acting-wise, particularly liked the ladies: Diane Lane, Gal Gadot, Amy Adams, and also Holly Hunter.

Some critics bash the fact that this movie replays once again how Bruce Wayne's parents got killed when he was just a child. Gee, I have to disagree strongly. Not only this is possibly the briefest of all such replays in all of Batman movies (at least feels very brief,) I think it's the most devastating, and at the same time, photographically speaking, the most impressive.

I'm no fan at all of 3D, but this movie uses 3D quite well, particularly near the beginning and near the end. At least twice it did make me feel as if I was on a floating vehicle, or as if the entire theater was moving. This is something that I don't feel easily at all with 3D movies, so I have to give credit to this one for this. Just as with 3D, I liked the photography a lot, also particularly near the beginning and near the end.

Forget about Superman vs. Batman trivia. I won't say anything about how predictable or unpredictable their face-off turns out, the fact is, that is not really so relevant in this movie. What I found most relevant was clearly Wonder Woman. Not only was her character painstakingly introduced throughout the movie, the way she enters the real action was just amazing, really one of the best I've seen in any hero movie ever. Her badassness is something to behold, and in fact, I leave this movie twice feeling there was too little of her on the screen. Which I fancy was precisely one of the goals the producers intended to achieve (given the upcoming Wonder Woman movie.) In my opinion, they succeeded magnificently in that respect.

The fact that the actress playing Wonder Woman, Gal Gadot, has a beauty that seems almost unreal, is truly besides the point. (To me she looks like an impossibly enhanced mixture of Famke Jansen, Taylor Swift, and Natalie Portman, three unreal beauties on their own.) I won't enter the details, but will just say: the action predictably increases on the second half of the movie. How Wonder Woman enters these action parts simply got my jaw dropped. This was badassness as they have hardly shown in any recent hero movie. Unbelievable. Almost all of the fights and punches of Batman and Superman are completely forgettable, because actually we've seen them all already, in fact arguably better ones in their previous movie incarnations, so nothing radically new there. But Wonder Woman here is something else. Trust me: if there's anything worth watching in this movie, it's actually not the duel between the guys, it's really her, this badass character and how this actress plays her so excellently.

This aspect of Wonder Woman is why I said earlier I could give it an 8/10. I will also say that I liked how the movie ended, all the way to the very last few milliseconds (if you see it you'll understand why I say so.) In particular, photography and 3D near the end for me gets also rather memorable as in the beginning. But boy the plot weaknesses hang heavy for me, so for now I leave it with a 7/10.

In conclusion: easily recommended. You can even think about the Superman vs. Batman duel as pure context. You simply have to watch this new Wonder Woman in action. It takes the movie quite long to get there, but I find it is well worth it.


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