Sunday, March 27, 2016

Batman v Superman - A Review

batman v superman trinity

We went and saw Batman vs. Superman today.  Yes, there's a bunch of critics saying it's no good.  I'll say it for the record, that I generally don't put much faith in critics.  Not unless they've got a proven track record of tastes that match mine.  As an interesting aside, for book blurbs, every time the late, great Anne McCaffrey gave a good review, I enjoyed the book.  Same for film reviews.  So, I went in wanting a good, fun movie that played with some of my favourite characters.

I'll keep things general, though there may be some spoilery bits below.

The story was generally good, and the filmmakers kept the flow tight, which was good.  I was afraid this might have become bogged down with backstory to get everything sorted out such that Superman and Batman would be at odds.  However, they kept the story moving, and all the pieces came together.  There were a few instances where they could have exposed more of the backstory prior to the main events, but overall it kept things moving.  In the first third to half the movie, there were some dream sequences that were way overused.  Could have better spent this time on detailing out the actions of the main characters.

They kept to the backgrounds of the characters, and it was nice to see all the events of previous movies captured in the greater continuity.  Marvel has done a great job of this in the Avengers series, and hopefully DC/WB will do the same.  One thing stood out, though, and that is the bat branding?  (as in Batman branding criminals with a bat)  WTF?!  That one thing was so totally out of character it threw me.  A small detail, but seriously folks.  Do you read your own comics?

The big bad fight at the climax was as over-the-top as you'd expect.  However, because of the characters involved, it totally worked.  Very much right off the page of a comic book.  It was also good to see each playing to their strengths.  Batman was smart, Superman the big, shiny hero and Wonder Woman the badass warrior.

Speaking of Wonder Woman, YES!!!!   Despite having very little screen time overall, I loved the character, loved the look, loved the actress.  More!  She actually was one of the highlights of the film.  Gal Gadot brought her to life with a bit of sass, a bit of savagery (look at her face when she gets back up after being smacked by Doomsday - she's relishing the fight) and brings some gravitas to the role.  Can't wait to see her solo film.

I at first was wondering how much of the movie would be the leads pummelling each other over something silly, but the plotlines were built up well,and it was believable that they would be at odds.  If anything, the film could have been longer in order to build up more of the backstory (instead of the fool dream sequences), but there's only so much time in a movie.

Batman is portrayed really well by Ben Affleck.  In fact, the most important part of that role is Bruce Wayne, rather than the Bat.  While I was concerned about casting, to be honest he took the role and worked it.  He was serious, intense and carried Batman's grimness without it becoming one-dimensional.  He was also completely intelligible, which is a big improvement from The Dark Knight Rises.

I think the length of the film made it difficult to involve every character they wanted to, such as Lois Lane, Perry Mason and Alfred, but again, it has to serve the flow of the film.  Props to Jeremy Irons for his portrayal of Alfred, as he brought the sarcasm to the role that Alfred has in the comics.  He also got to play the "Penney Two" role he so often does on the page.

The villain, Lex Luthor, played by Jesse Eisenberg, was perhaps more whacko than I would expect.  In this film it worked, but it was a bit jarring for those who know Luthor from the comics.  (I admit, I read the Bat-books but not the Superman books)  From what I've seen on the page, Luthor is normally more calculating. For those who aren't comics readers, the difference is minor and he makes sense in the story.

Finally, the cameos of the other Justice League members were pretty cool.  It was good to see the others noted.  Jason Momoa (of Stargate Atlantis fame) as Aquaman was a treat, and watching Cyborg come to life was interesting.  My only disappointment was the Flash.

Here's where I digress from a direct review, and talk about the overall film-TV continuity.  In my mind, the flash should be played by Grant Gustin from the TV show.  Not just because that show is awesome, but in order to develop the greater continuity.  Marvel does this between Agents of SHIELD and the Avengers films.  If Sif shows up in the show, it's the same actress and the same events as in the Thor films, for example. By the same token, the events of Man of Steel and Batman v Superman should appear in the various DC shows.  For example, Supergirl should feel some of the effects of this movie.  Word to DC/WB: tighten that continuity, and it will be even better.

So, overall, great movie, four out of five stars from me.

Edit: The soundtrack was excellent.  When Wonder Woman enters the fight, it gets awesome.

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