151 Minutes, PG-13 for stabbing, maiming, and shit
Is this film worth my time? It’s worth your time in the way that beer at a sports game is worth drinking- it’s technically a drink, you get a mild buzz, and it’s way overpriced.
Who is this film perfect for? Frank Miller fanboys and edge lords who think the problem with superhero comics is that the superheroes don’t kill people enough.
Who will not like this film? Parents taking their children to this film will teach their progeny such valuable life lessons as: punch before asking what’s happening, none of your heroes really believe in their convictions, and the world is a slow-motion pantomime of funeral sequences. Good, cheerful inspirational messages.
What is the summary of this film’s concept? A long winded and slowly revealed conspiracy that accumulates in Superman committing Super-Abortion.
Wait, what? Consider poor Doomsday: born out a vat from the recycled body-parts of General Zod, he is essentially a Kryptonian Frankenstein. He has literally just taken his first step from out of the womb. He has not uttered a word, nor performed any action. He is the one true innocent in this film.
So of course, you gotta punch that super-baby. Hes all grey and ugly and troll-like. No evaluation, no diplomacy. Gut. Instinct. Punch that super baby while you can get the first shot in.
Zack Snyder is an adherent of the Mark Millar school of thought towards superheroes: superheroes are serial killers with good PR. That’s what you’re going to get.
Its also got a horrible Jesse Eisenberg playing some drugged out meth-head brogrammer. He doesn’t utter a single coherent paragraph in the entire movie. I didn’t know that Hunter S. Thompson on a bad coke rager was Superman’s arch nemesis.
How does this film compare to others like it? The director Richard Donner made you believe that a man could fly, but Christopher Reeve made you believe in a flying man that you could like. Henry Cavill is about as bland as paste. Hes a walking vindication of Lex Luthor’s arguments. The audience shouldn’t be routing for Superman to die, but Zack Snyder’s clearly in the pro-Batman camp.
Of course, Zack Snyder has to out-do all earlier Batman characters in grimness and grittiness. So we have a Batman that enjoys mutilating people and stabbing folks in the chest, and we have a Superman that never smiles and has no problems punching mortals through concrete walls. Or as I prefer to call these characters, Bat-hole and Superjerk. They deserve each other.
What works in this film? Gal Godot, as Wonder Woman, seems to be the only character that likes being who she is. She has confidence, mystery, and elegance.
The action sequences are comprehensible and kinetic. Its a pity that it takes two hours to get to them.
What fails in this film? Its a swirling montage of endless slo-motion action shots that tries and fails to juggle too many sub-plots and themes. The lines land heavy handed and inexplicably folksy. Why do we need to know that Pa Kent had nightmares about drowning horses? Why does a Senator boast about wrestling pigs? WHY IS METROPOLIS LITERALLY ACROSS THE BAY FROM GOTHAM? Maybe a cut scene will reveal that everybody has just become addled by the gradual accumulation of Joker venom and Scarecrow gas in the environment. This is another entry in the genre of blockbusters that actively punish you for trying to think.
To support the Joker gas thesis, there’s also the fact that characters in this film ally and oppose each other seemingly at whim. All it takes is some inexplicable coincidence or turn of phrase to make people give up their lifelong crusade, or refrain from shivving somebody with a rock. Also, there’s something like a half hour of dream sequences in this film. These characters act more on the basis of dream information than they do on facts gathered from the real world.
GAPING, GAPING PLOT HOLES:
Why does Bruce Wayne know where Martha Kent is being kept? Why didn’t Lex Luthor have her kept hostage in Nevada, or North Dakota? Any place not in close proximity to a super-pissed off space god, perhaps? What drugs is Jesse Eisenberg taking? Is it bath salts? How does Lex Luthor enter search queries on alien space computers? You just let a tech company CEO waltz around unmonitored and unescorted in Area 51, even if he is a defense contractor? Do they not have bomb-sniffing dogs at the capitol? Why do they have Lex Luthor’s head when they take him to prison? Why would prisoners kill anybody who’s branded with the mark of the Bat?
Wouldn’t that make you a prison celebrity in Blackgate prison? Why have your mercenaries use a unique gun? Were there no anonymous AK-47s available in sub-Saharan Africa? If Batman’s afraid that Superman is on the edge of being a psychotic overlord, why does he think that a few sound speakers and some knockoff Iron Bat armor is sufficient? Does Superman suffer no long-term side effects from inhaling aerosolized Kryptonite? The implication is that he now has particles of Kryptonite inside of his lungs? Were there no other Kryptonian corpses to play Dr. Frankenstein with?
Did the Pentagon just give Lex Luthor the one intact body of an alien race? Why did Lex Luthor use an egg timer? Why isn’t Laurence Fishburne in more of this movie? Why is Superman hauling a ship-wreck through the North Pole? Superman can barely carry the kryptonite Spear of Destiny, but then he can go all Spartan with it? Why is Batman not pate 15 seconds after Doomsday enters the fight? Doesn’t Lex Luthor have lawyers? In what possible world does it makes sense to make Doomsday chase you to Gotham city? Wouldn’t it be better to go fetch the kryptonite Spear of Destiny, and then track down Doomsday? What is your position on the abortion of Super Babies? Did Zack Snyder just borrow Peter Jackson’s Cave Troll CGI from Lord of the Rings for the climax of his film? WTF was the point of that dream sequence with Pa Kent talking about floods and horses? WTF? WTF? WTF? WTFWTFWTFWTF>>>>>>>.
I am in another dimension, another realm. A place where events happen without consequence or cause. A universe where billionaires gallivant like crack monkeys, and where everybody insistently denounces the ideals that they uphold with their actions, like some reverse hypocrisy. I am in Snyder-land, a world where the sun is never bright, the palettes are always bleached, and where monuments spin forever in their heavy handed majesty. It looks vaguely cool, like what you imagined coolness to be when you wrote your first fan-fic in Junior High.
If this film is not a current release, what is the legacy of this film? If it is a current release, what are your guesses for the social impact of this film.
You’ve probably noticed that this is my first film review since Ridley Scott’s The Martian. There’s a reason for that, and that’s because I fail to see the point of engaging in public film criticism unless there’s a grade or a publication credit attached. Criticism is at most a game of public intellectual masturbation- how many references can I drop? Whats my hottest burn line? What uncanny, untapped insights can I unveil? Given that its Sisyphean solipsistic sophistry, I’m just going to write for the whim of it and nothing else.
The only time when film criticism is ever a factor in public consideration is when the franchise or the film is unknown. Well-established machinery like that of Warner Brothers and Sony and Disney are criticism proof. Bad film reviews are actually a part of the marketing campaign these days. The same hatred of expertise that fuels Donald Trump is the same impulse that underpins the social media campaign: don’t rely on those lousy hateful critics to tell you how bad the film is, come on down here and find out how bad it is for yourself! A negative review, especially a scorchingly caustic revilement, actually works for the film: Warner Brothers has capitalized on the back-lash of people saying this film that you called hot garbage is, in fact, only warm garbage, you snobby hacks!.
And Batman v. Superman isn’t memorably bad or memorably good. Its a reasonable product that prevails on the market because of the lack of alternatives, in the same way that a 7-11 makes money in poor neighborhoods due to the lack of better supermarkets. If your life is already a waste, you wont really feel like this film wastes your time any more than the rest of your life.
The epiphany of the corporate era of Hollywood, the genius of Michael Bay, is the recognition of this truth: if you condition the audience to expect mediocrity, then you can never disappoint them. Engagement with cinema is a passive trance- you let somebody else do the thinking, the talking, and the listening and seeing. I’m not going to alter the rate of attendance at Zach Snyder blockbusters any more than Pete Wells is going to end McDonalds.