Thursday, March 31, 2016

Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice

Still reeling from the after effects of Superman’s (Henry Cavill) destructive battle with his Kryptonian rivals that caused mass destruction both in Gotham and Metropolis, Batman (Ben Affleck) considers the potential damage the extra-terrestrial could still cause, and declares him as a threat. In an effort to develop a weapon that could deter the Man of Steel, Lex Luthor (Jesse Eisenberg) threads through the currents of American bureaucracy in an attempt to secure access to Kryptonite samples left by the commotion of eighteen months ago, but is faced with staunch opposition from senator June Finch (Holly Hunter). After a carefully orchestrated mayhem leaves Superman guilty in the eyes of the public, The Caped Crusader takes matters into his own hands, leading to a gladiator match between the two heroes that the world has never seen before. They are forced to unite, however, as a bigger threat emerges from the shadows of the past. As they find themselves overpowered by the much stronger enemy, unexpected assistance arrives courtesy of Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot), a 5,000-year-old deity who has decided long ago to lie low and no longer be of help to human beings.

DC still has a lot of notes to take from Marvel as far as big ensemble superhero movies are concerned. It makes you wonder why this movie seems to fall flat, despite the all-star treatment and relative success of its predecessors. Nolan’s reinvention of the Caped Crusader has been nothing short of superb, while Snyder’s Man of Steel has rescued Superman from the rather bad taste Brandon Routh’s version left in everyone’s mouths. What happened here, then? We really don’t know, but here are a few ideas.

It seems as though DC has just been put under pressure to come up with something that could rival the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and of course the logical choice for them would be to cash in on the Justice League. The difference here is that even before the Avengers came into being, the major characters involved already had standalone films. In short, they were already known and endeared to the moviegoing public, which eventually led to the overwhelming success of their first big cinematic outing as a group.

From the looks of it, DC is going the opposite direction, throwing in almost all of their superheroes in one big mega event without taking into consideration if the public is even aware who these characters are. Of course, we can argue that having a Flash TV series should help a bit to introduce everyone to the DC universe, but we are forgetting that not everyone who pays to watch a movie is also subscribed to the small screen. If anything, these are two distinct target markets that require different treatments.

The finished product looks like a desperate attempt to raise public awareness about the existence of a non-Marvel universe that is supposed to be just as awesome, using the rivalry between the Man of Steel and the Caped Crusader as a mere excuse for that very objective. The love angle between Clark Kent and Lois Lane (Amy Adams) is still present, but also gets lost in the film’s rather confusing treatment of the story. It doesn’t help either that the fight scenes are few and far between.

What could have been a final shot at redemption is ruined in the final battle, a three-hero tag team effort against a reanimated General Zod. Why on Earth would you have Superman personally carry a motherfucking Kryptonite encrusted spear so that he can impale the enemy with it when you have a 5,000-year-old Amazonian princess who should be well-trained in the art of javelin throw. It fails to make any sense, really, but it does achieve its goal: Justice League movie. Rejoice.

For all its failures, this film is still an enjoyable watch if you look at the other aspects of filmmaking involved. The imagery is rich in symbolism, and the way that they are framed can give you goosebumps, particularly the dream sequences that both Superman and Batman have. Even so, DC better step up with the individual films involving these characters, if they are to rival what Marvel has already achieved both in film and television. Needless to say, they have a lot of catching up to do.

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