REVIEW: Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice

29 03 2016

I miss Christopher Nolan. Never mind that it has been less than four years since his final Batman film and fewer than 18 months since his most recent directorial effort, “Interstellar.” He understood that the scope of a sprawling comic book movie could be an epic canvas for ambitious thematic and aesthetic content, not just an excuse for bombast and branding.

He has, inexplicably, turned over the keys to the kingdom to Zack Snyder, a director full of sound and fury that signifies nothing. He has an eye and a knack for style, to give him some credit, but Snyder never deploys it in use of a story or an idea. He’s all showmanship for its own sake – surfaces above substance, declaration over development.

As if 2013’s “Man of Steel” was not nauseating enough, he arrives with an “Avengers”-ified sequel in “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.” It’s roughly the cinematic equivalent of Kim Kardashian’s “Break the Internet” magazine cover. Call it “Break the Box Office,” if you will, as it’s already crushing at the box office this year. The film is practically incoherent and only gets more pointless and frustrating with each new turn. With each successive insipid development, the experience is as numbing as it is infuriating.

Snyder is more concerned that we notice the giant CGI pearls snapped at the murder of Bruce Wayne’s mother than providing context or rationale for this universe in which the film takes place. So two superheroes, Batman and Superman, have been living across the water from each other … and that was not worth mentioning in “Man of Steel?” While it’s nice that the film does not waste time rehashing an origin story, clearly Ben Affleck’s Batman is much different than Christian Bale’s. He’s more overtly villainous and cynical – but why?

Perhaps these questions might have been answered in the many scenes left on the cutting room floor. These crucial contextual bits are more important than ever as they could give the franchise a headwind as it launches a bevy of spinoffs and sequels. Marvel movies are bearable because their brain trust actually cares about their characters. They might ultimately succumb to formulaic plots, sure, but they at least understand that audiences want to get attached to these larger-than-life figures. Come and forget the action, stay and remember the characters.

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REVIEW: Superman Returns

21 10 2009

PREFACE: I mentioned back in Random Factoid #42 that I had gone through a stint of reviewing movies when I was 13. After rummaging through my old home computer, I managed to find some of these reviews. In a special five day mini-series, I will reveal these reviews in their unadulterated form. I leave it up to you to comment, see how my style has changed (or maybe hasn’t). The second movie reviewed in the series is “Superman Returns.”

Silence. It is something you don’t get much in the summer, whether or not you are at the movies. This summer, Hollywood has produced mostly big, loud films that just ruin our eardrums. Silence gives the audience some time to think or to marvel about what is on the screen, while sometimes talking will just get overwhelming. Bryan Singer uses silence perfectly in the triumphant return of a disgraced series. It took plenty of changes in the cast and the director, but the wait was worth it. Brandon Routh dazzles as he tries to fill the enormous shoes left by the late Christopher Reeve, and the same goes for Kevin Spacey as he does a wonderful job as Lex Luthor. Everything is done to perfection. Before a big event, there is always some sort of silence for you to get the feel and to really get pulled in. The best example of this Superman returns to Earth after trying to find the distant remains of his home planet. His alter ego, Clark Kent goes back to work for The Daily Planet to find out that his perennial fave Lois Lane (stunningly beautiful Kate Bosworth) not only has a child with her boyfriend but has won the Pulitzer Prize for her article “Why the World Doesn’t Need Superman.” Lex Luthor is once again looking for a way to kill Superman. He collects some crystals from the Fortress of Solitude and combines it with Superman’s fatal weakness to try to destroy him once and for all. Along the way, the film is packed with emotion and intriguing plot twists. The best thing about Superman Returns is how it pays homage to its past by inserting clips of Marlon Brando from the original series. This is what a summer blockbuster should be, with action, emotion, and a perfect balance of silence. This movie is breathtaking and a work of magic in a summer littered with movies that Superman couldn’t save. 4stars