Mar 312016

Batman (Ben Affleck) is very grumpy because his life has sucked and Superman’s big fight in Man of Steel killed his friend. Superman (Henry Cavill suffering from depression) is grumpy because…he’s just an asshole. Lois (Amy Adams napping) is grumpy because director Zack Snyder told Adams to act that way. They all express their grumpiness while not saving people and having dreams until Lex Luthor (Jesse Eisenberg on cocaine), who is too inconsistent to be anything, nudges Batman and Superman into fighting while he is secretly working on a Harry Potter cave troll. Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot thinking she’s in a real superhero film) and Alfred (Jeremy Irons pretending he is in a better film) desperately try to save this sinking ship, but they are far too little.

Why Does Zack Snyder hate Jesus? I’m not a religious guy, but I don’t hate Jesus. Why does Zack Snyder? Ah, too hard to psychoanalyze him, so instead, let me say:


If any moment defines this film it is the repeated and always annoying use of the name “Martha.” It’s said the first time a little more seriously than “Rosebud.” It’s said just after we see Bruce Wayne’s parents die…again, and before young Bruce is carried into the sky by magical bats. It perfectly sets the tone for what is to come. “Martha” is important and you better know it! I wonder if “Martha” will be a key plot point. Yeah, the whole film is like that. If something is worth doing, it is worth bashing you over the head with.

Some movies deserve a calm, reasoned examination. This isn’t one of those. This isn’t a movie. This is cultural desecration. If you love Superman, you’ll hate it. If you love hope, fun, joy, life, you’ll hate it. If you love old comics, new comics, superheroes, plots, sense, your brain, you’ll hate it. If, however, you are deep into emo-whining—sort of the nonexistent teen that Facebook likes to create who got beaten up once as a kid because of his love of comics, and now can’t stand it unless people RESPECT comics and breaks down if someone laughs at comics because those are IMPORTANT damn it!—then maybe, maybe this film is for you. It shouldn’t be, but maybe.

What is maddening is that it didn’t have to suck. Well, mainly it did, but there is a kernel here, and it is mostly Batman. Ben Affleck makes a solid Batman, or he appears to, striving through the horrendous script. Affleck is in touch with an older, broken, angry Batman. Jeremy Irons is even better as Alfred. There could have been a movie there. And though Wonder Woman exists only as an extended cameo, her brief appearance lifts the sullen curtain just a bit. Eliminate every dark, drab moment of Superman, and we might have had a decent movie. OK, get rid of Snyder and his Ayn Rand desolation and the Batman/Wonder Woman movie could have been something. But Snyders’s “Superman is Jesus and I hate Jesus” movie is pretty much the pit of despair you’d expect if “I hate Jesus” is your starting point.

Instead of that watchable film about a broken Batman and a mysterious Wonder Woman, Synder gives us five or six hours (oh, it sure felt that long) of despondency and doom with no theme beyond “doing good things is a bad idea.” Don’t believe me? Zack Snyder, not one to be subtle, doesn’t only spell it out over and over in the film, but actually stated it on a press junket. Any good deed you do will have horrible consequences, so just stop doing them. Well, that is a consistent position for a person who accepts “The Virtue of Selfishness” as an ideology. It sucks for a superhero film, however. Actually, it sucks for any type of film.

That nihilism is present in the story of unpleasant people doing unpleasant things for no reason. It’s the strange nature of this very long film that it is both far too long and also too short. It feels like whole chunks have been whittled away—lumps that might explain how Lex knows who everyone is and a million other items the film doesn’t bother with.

BvS is a humorless, ponderous, pretentious heap. It’s a simpleton’s film that is trying to be significant and failing. It has the depth of a shag carpet after you run a lawnmower over it. It has the excitement of a snail race. It has the self-importance of Donald Trump deciding to form a religious cult. The material is treated as more sacred than The Bible. It is less joyful than actual, real-life tragedies. Schindler’s List is more fun. It’s a film with no sense of priorities.

And it left me with a lot of questions:

  • Why is Perry White an ass to his reporters and why doesn’t he want to cover a story in nearby Gotham?
  • Why is Clark Kent such a terrible reporter? (Yeah, Perry’s an ass, but he should fire Kent.)
  • Why does Superman hate Batman?
  • Why does Lex hate Superman? (Oh we get an answer to that one, but an answer that changes twice, including that sometimes, but only sometimes, he’s crazy.)
  • Why does Lex try to get Superman and Batman to fight, because that is a dumbass plan?
  • Why does Lex make a Kryptonian monster if he hates Kryptonians? And God? And his daddy?
  • Why does Batman have precognitive dreams? And why the Hell is he so affected by his dreams?
  • Why does Superman act like an ass, over and over?
  • Why do Kryptonian mega-warships have the same security as my mom’s phone?
  • Why can’t Batman, The Great Detective, actually detect? He pulls the “looking for the bathroom” line while attempting to search the house. He really sucks at being a detective.
  • Why were the writers paid when the lazy-ass way they came up with to tie this film in with the upcoming franchise WB wants so badly was to have Wonder Woman open an email with videos (and little icons–who made those icons?) of The Flash, Cyborg, and Aquaman doing a little wiggle?

What do we get as character development? Well, the thinking man, the man of gadgets, has a montage of pulling a tire. Superman whines and walks through the snow, seeing visions of his jackass of a father with his “fuck the world” philosophy. Lois gazes off at a 45 degree angle (gazing at a 45 degree angle is her personality; that and needing to get saved).

Poor Amy Adams. She’s a fine charismatic actress and Snyder reduces her to your Aunt Jone in a community theater production. Cavill comes off worse. Stiff would be kindly. I have never seen a poorer, emptier performance in a superhero film. If I hadn’t seen The Man From Uncle I wouldn’t have guessed he was a professional actor instead of Snyder’s failed nephew.

As for the great matchup fight, it is embarrassing in many ways. Why is it Superman can’t see through fog? Why does Batman stand around when he weakens Superman? Why is it so damn long? And then there is “Martha.” You knew that was coming back. I sure did. Everyone in the theater did. And if you don’t know about the “Martha” moment, you don’t want to. It may be the single worst moment of cinema you will ever see. Certainly, it is the moment all geek fans will want to forget. That and Batman has the spear, Batman drops the spear, Lois throws away the spear, Lois goes after the spear, Lois needs saving with the spear, Superman takes the spear, Lois tosses the spear, Superman takes the spear instead of Batman or Wonder Woman… Yeah, it is just stupid.

There’s been complaints about the new DC Murder-verse, where Murder Batman and Murder Superman murder a lot of people. For Batman, that’s not a problem. For Superman, who has neither the necessity to kill people nor the reason to keep letting them die, it is a huge problem. But with better direction, a better script, a better theme, better editing, better acting, and 100% fewer cave trolls, the Murder-verse could have worked. It doesn’t here. It’s just another part of the gloom. BvS is not Macbeth (which earns its darkness, and still manages to have some humor, because human life, even in the worst of times, always has some humor), but it thinks it is.

If you are still hoping for anything from this bleak midwinter agony, it is that somehow it is worth it. That the dreariness, dullness, poor characterizations, gaping plot holes are worth suffering through because BvS offers a true vision of life, a dose of gritty realism. Keep hoping. There is nothing realistic here. People do not act this way. They do not speak this way. They do not respond this way. Nothing human is on the screen. As for “gritty,” sorry. Look elsewhere. Ennui isn’t gritty. If “gritty” is equivalent to overly serious to you, then yes. It does have that.

Do I hate this film? No. As a film, it isn’t worth hating. I hate what it will do. I hate how it will drag down the genre. As a film, I’ve seen worse. As a piece of pop culture, yes, I hate it.

 Reviews, Superhero Tagged with: