Tuesday, August 9, 2016

And Now for Something Completely Different: The Batman Vs. Superman Movie Review

When it comes to cinema, I have a high bar and a very low bar.  I employ each bar in specific situations.  For example, if I'm going to see an action flick or if I'm just doing laundry at my parents' house (this is only because I have no washer/dryer in my tiny apartment and I have a fear of laundromats) and they're watching some SyFy Original, I don't really care.  I'd rather laugh at how silly something is than constantly bemoan how it's not ART.  The high bar I reserve for classic movies and Star Wars.  No, the prequels did not pass.



I'd heard a lot of negative criticism of Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice, but when my brother rented it, I watched it with the family.  And because I'm used to seeing things like Sharktopus vs. Pteracuda, I pulled out the low bar.  And you know what?  Some parts of the movie were actually pretty good.  Unsurprisingly, all of these parts featured Wonder Woman.  You'll notice that the DVD cover art has Wonder Woman in the middle, even though the film is ostensibly about the two dudes.  It's like they know that she's the only saving grace.  Bless.

So: Batfleck versus Superabs.  Here we go!
Because filmmakers think that no one on Earth knows the Batman origin story, they decided to do it again.  You guys.  Stop.  No.  EVERYONE knows how Batman got to be Batman.  I had some kid plagiarize the original Michael Keaton Batman origin story for my short story contest last year!  Everyone knows.  I don't know, maybe the Bob Kane estate gets triple the money if a film does the origin story instead of just bringing out the Caped Crusader, who is one of the most iconic superheroes ever.  I am pretty sure that even isolated outposts of humanity know who Batman is.

Ugh I WISH! Can we make this happen?
In between the origin flashbacks, there are other flashbacks of Bruce Wayne remembering how he was in Metropolis during the events of Man of Steel (which I have not seen) and Superman and General Zod are whaling on each other in the sky, causing massive destruction.  Poor Jonathan Pryce is stuck in the Wayne Enterprises building and gets like three lines before he dies.  This makes Bruce very angry but then he goes and lifts a full-size girder off of one of his employees' legs.  The paramedics who come to assist don't question why Bruce Wayne can lift girders.  I mean, I kind of get it.  There are two aliens fighting in the sky, so a playboy demonstrating superhuman strength doesn't really register.

But because Superman destroyed his building and killed his workers (not directly, but Brucie here isn't really being rational), Bruce swears revenge and spends a lot of his brooding time (which I'm sure is a substantial and scheduled part of each day) brooding about Superman.


Meanwhile, somewhere in Africa (the screenwriters don't bother telling you where because your average American probably thinks Africa is a country), Lois Lane goes to interview a warlord but brings a camera guy who isn't Jimmy.  Turns out he's CIA and has hidden a tracking device in his camera's film.  Wait, what?  He uses film?  That's delightfully hipster, but really suspicious to the warlord's bodyguard.  Lois is taken hostage and OMG she might die!

Duh, of course she won't.  Superman comes to save her because they are in love.  Unfortunately, this prompts the warlord's buddies to massacre the surrounding villages in retaliation.  Superman doesn't care because he gets to have tub sexytimes with Lois.

I'm sorry, I have to go scrub my brain.  Henry Cavill does have some truly amazing abs, but tub sexytimes just seems really ... damp.

Because of Superman's silliness, the Senate convenes a sub-committee ... thing to investigate his actions.  Now, I'm not entirely sure why anyone is actually worried about this, because that would indicate that Senate sub-committees actually do useful things.  Surely you jest.  The Senator chairing the committee gets involved with Lex Luthor, who promises to create an anti-Superman weapon using a hunk of kryptonite.  The Senator agrees at first, and then inexplicably changes her mind, which ticks off Luthor mightily.

It should be noted that Jesse Eisenberg plays Lex Luthor as if Lex Luthor were the Joker.  This is very confusing and far too manic for my tastes.  He's hipster Luthor.

Anyway, Batfleck has been on this mission to track down a mysterious bad guy code-named the White Portuguese.  In order to find him, Batman has been raiding human trafficking lairs down at the Port of Gotham and branding the ne'er-do-wells that he captures.  He also kills people which is very anti-Batman.  After beating a lot of people up and killing some more, he finally figures out that the White Portuguese is a ship, not a person.  I would think that he could have just gone to Babs Gordon at Gotham Public Library and had her help him execute a Google search.  If the ship was registered as the White Portuguese, it should be on a registry.  But no, we have to do this the hard and bloody way.  This ship is tied to Lex Luthor, and Brucie realizes he has to hack Luthor's computer system, but can only do it in person (because he is a sucky hacker, I guess).  CONVENIENTLY, Luthor has just invited him to a gala celebrating the Metropolis Public Library.

I bet I know why.  I bet he asked them, "Who is Batman?" and the librarian said, "Ah, Bruce Wayne.  I'm good friends with his friend Barbara Gordon" and Lex Luthor was like "DUDE WHY DID I NOT ASK THE LIBRARY IN THE FIRST PLACE???  You guys are getting a fancy party in gratitude."

So anyway, Bruce shows up and happens to meet Clark Kent (who has no idea what Bruce Wayne looks like, which also makes no sense) and they trade barbs about their city's respective superheroes.  Bruce sneaks off and wanders into the mainframe room to hack Lex's computers (which are handily stored at the bottom of an unsecured hallway, right next to the kitchen!).  But when he returns for his device, it's been stolen by a mysterious woman who drives away in an awesome car.  Batfleck pouts.

More stuff happens, and the woman, art dealer Diana Prince, returns the drive to Bruce, who de-encrypts it.  While this is happening, he falls asleep and has some really trippy dreams.  Bruce needs to lay off whatever drugs he is doing because dang.  In his dream, it's this Mad Max-esque post-apocalyptic wasteland, but with Darkseid's flying demon bug people.  Batman leads a raid on Superman's henchmen and attempts to steal some kryptonite, but the Man of Steel shows up and busts his butt and ties him up underground.  Superman is super evil, and rips out Batman's heart because he's obviously been watching Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom far too much in the Fortress of Solitude.


Thankfully, Bruce wakes up, but he's still inside of a dream (maybe?) because the Flash shows up from the future and tells him (haltingly) that Lois Lane is the key to everything.  Batman wakes up again and asks Alfred exactly where he got those shrooms because WOW.  Not really.

So then, more things happen and Superman attends his own trial at the Senate but then Lex blows everything up and makes people think it's Superman, and Superman haz a sads.  He decides to quite Supermanning and tells his mom (Diane Lane, who is smokin' as Martha Kent), and then wanders off to the Arctic where he meets the ghost of his dead father.  Not Jor-El,  Jonathan Kent.  They shoot the breeze about responsibility and stuff, dancing around Uncle Ben's rousing speech, but staying this side of a Melania Trump moment and not stealing totally from Marvel.

Meanwhile, Lex kidnaps Martha and Lois (what the heck, Lois?  You are a feisty and independent lady!  You know better than to approach strange men in the subway and ask if you know them!  Also, I am pretty sure Clark would have taught you some basic self-defense moves by now.  Wait a second, no.  He likes to rescue you so he's hobbled you by not empowering you with knowledge.  Nice guy.).  Lex has this complex about gods, and the director tried to make this a DEEP MOVIE by talking about superheroes as gods and superhero worship and blah blah blah, but it came off like the worst kind of pseudo-intellectual babble you can imagine.  Anyhoo, Lex hates Martha because she's the mother to a guy who thinks he's a god, and that makes her a witch (?) so he's going to burn her alive.



In the meantime, Batfleck has stolen the kryptonite back from Luthor and used it all to make a super-duper metal suit and a spear and some knockout powder.  It's like he was at the Batcave watching too much Mobile Suit Gundam and/or Robocop and thought, "WHOA! If I made myself into Robo-Batman then I could beat Superman!  Yeah!"


Lex drops Lois off of a building but naturally Superman flies in to save her (gag me), and confronts Luthor, who tells him that he has to go fight and kill Batman, otherwise Martha will die.  Superman is like "Crap.  I guess I have to kill Batman." so he goes and tries.  There is a long and painful fight sequence where Batman's suit overpowers Superman constantly (which is ridiculous), but just as Bats is about to deliver the coup de grâce, Clark starts mumbling "Save Martha."  Batman is all, "Say what?" and Lois runs in to helpfully explain that Superman's mom is Martha, just like Batman's dead mom was also named Martha.

Well, that changes everything!  Batman realizes that he is duty-bound to protect all Marthas, so now he and Superman are friends.  Great timing!  Because when Superman tells Lex Luthor that he hasn't killed Batman, Luthor unleashes his latest project.  Having had unrestricted access to the crashed starship that brought General Zod to Earth, Lex tinkered with Kryptonian technology, using some sort of regeneration pool to fuse his DNA with Zod's, creating a monster from the creepy, waxy corpse of the dead criminal.  This monster is called Doomsday.  He's very big, and very strong, and sends out EMPs, kind of like Godzilla but with less style.

Meanwhile, Diana has decided to go underground again, since she stopped helping humans after World War I proved that we pretty much suck as a species.  Bruce read Lex's files on her and three other metahumans (tangential question: isn't this what we're calling the people who are part-alien and thus have superpowers after that Marvel Terrigen Mist?  No wait, that's inhuman.  Meta, in, whatever), so she figures it's time to get the heck outta Dodge.  Only, she happens to be on the plane right as Lexy releases Doomsday, so she hustles off to Metropolis, knowing that the boys will need her to save their butts.  As usual.

Mean-meanwhile, Superman is fighting Doomsday and takes him into orbit, at which point the President of the United States decides to nuke them.  ENTIRE MOVIES have been made about the agonizing decision to deploy nuclear missiles, but here it seems like he does it every day!  I'm certainly no expert on tactical deployment of nuclear weapons, but I don't think it would be a good idea to reveal to the rest of the world that the U.S. has orbital nuclear capabilities (which no one is supposed to have, really, since shooting nukes into space is not a good idea).  But someone, the President just has an orbital weapon primed and ready to go.

There is some brief drama where everyone thinks Superman died, and Doomsday also gets some fun cancer spikes from the radiation, but then they're back whaling away at each other again.  Thankfully, Wonder Woman shows up to shield Bats (who mostly sits in the Batmobile because DANG that suit is cumbersome and also he doesn't have the actual skills to take down a mutant Kryptonian monster) and Supes and they do that silly line about "Is she with you?" and Diana just cannot with these losers.  So she busts out her gauntlets and sends a massive shockwave at Doomsday, which is way more than Frick and Frack behind her have managed to do so far.

The rest of the fight consists of Diana whupping Doomsday with zero assists from Batfleck, and a bit more from Superman, who is just more suited to fighting giant alien monsters than the Caped Crusader.  Harsh truth, Batman.  Harsh truth.

Eventually, they remember the Kryptonite spear and go get it, but in the process of impaling Doomsday Superman is also stabbed, and he totally dies.  Yep, he is very dead.  Very Dead.  Okay, he's Movie Dead, which is very different from All Dead.


Overall, this wasn't the worst thing I've seen.  It was pretty funny when it wasn't trying to be, but Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman was legitimately awesome and by far the best part of this film.  She even made up for Amy Adams' total lack of kick-buttitude as Lois.  The Batmobile was also pretty cool-looking, but then I am a sucker for cool cars I'll never get to drive in real life.  I would say that this would be a good choice for drinking game viewing parties, but if you pick something like "take a drink every time Batfleck looks constipated," you'll all be in the ER with alcohol poisoning real quick, so don't do that.  Just watch it with your friends, have a laugh, and then remember it only for bringing us the awesomeness of Wonder Woman.



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