Saturday, March 26, 2016

Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016)

Three primary things will be going through my mind as i sit down in the theater

1)Zack Snyder cannot direct a cohesive narrative. I'm not sure what gene or synaptic cluster he lacks, but the man does not know how to keep a thread going from beginning to end. He's all about setpieces, little details, and posturing. It's kinda like when you zoom into a detail in photoshop and start cleaning it up, but then you zoom out and realize that the detail no longer fits with the overall picture? Except he never zooms out, he just hops from detail to detail, polishing them all up and, i guess, hoping for the best?

2)Ben Affleck cannot act. Whenever i watch him i can feel him suppressing- or occasionally failing to suppress- a grin that says "omg they're still letting me act in movies! big ones!" he's like William Hurt's character in Broadcast News, constantly thinking "What do you do when your real life exceeds your dreams?" Like, he seems like a fun guy to have at parties, perfectly charming, don't get me wrong. But everything he does feels like a first draft, and rather then refine the writing, he just bolsters it by putting in a big, bold, stilted font. 

3)Frank Millers ideas dont really resonate outside of the medium of comics. Imagery, yes, but narratives, no. Frank Miller is kind of like the meteor that destroyed the dinosaurs. Sure, it had a massive impact and was arguably a necessary force for evolution, but it wasn't like, GOOD. 
And Zack Snyder is a cinematic Frank Miller.

I'm sure it'll be cool to see a Batman who MOVES instead of a Batman who poses. And I'm sure there'll be a couple interesting ideas in there, but neither will be well developed or delivered. 

And I'm sure Snyder will do the same thing Abrams and others have done, lift story points that worked in the source material because they were the result of YEARS of development, and not bother to develop them HERE. Think of the Spock death in Khan, which Abrams not only rushed to the screen too soon, as these iterations of the characters barely knew each other, but then botched further by swapping the sacrificier/sacrificee cuz "who cares, right? All that matters is confronting audience expectations!"

The majority of the time I'll be lulled into a pop-coma by the CMYK Gravitas. So I'll probably shift gears, put on my metatextual goggles, and try to suss out how deep the Post 9-11 metaphor goes. We know the end of Man of Steel was 9-11 porn, we know Batman is Dick Cheney ("if there's a ONE percent Chance we have to take it as ABsolute CErtainty!"), but past that, like who is Superman in this? I guess he's Bin Laden? Or Saddam? who then becomes a hero? That doesnt' really work. Who's Wonder Woman? Who's Lois? Who's Lex "not the Joker" Luthor? I'll walk out with a muddled community college level thesis.

Pre-View Review  Score: D

Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016) [Jeff's Preview]

Maybe I shouldn't have waited to do this preview-review until a few hours before I'm going to see it? It's been hard to avoid the online vitriol hurled at this film and it has, ultimately, colored my preview-ception of it.

Fact: Everyone hates Batman Vs. Superman.

But worse than knowing it's being universally panned is the fact that since "everyone" agrees that it's bad, people have no hesitation in sharing spoilers, online.

Which is just effing great.

It's not like, as I watched the Rotten Tomatoes score plummet, the ONLY thing keeping me interested in actually going to the theater for it are the surprises I might have. No, the Internet has done their damndest to make sure I can't even enjoy the film on THAT level.

OK, OK, I'm sure there are still some surprises left for me - like the surprise at how long a two and a half hour long film can feel.
[I had to look the running time up, just now, for that joke. Jesus, that's a long movie. Whenever I think of the greatest movies of all time, "long" is never a common factor.]

Of all the superhero movies coming out this year/month/week/however frequently we are inundated with another one, this was the one I was least looking forward to. I am now looking even least-er forward-er to it.

But this sense of dread may be a good thing to have, going into this film! If I assume the worst, maybe I'll be pleasantly surprised as how not ur-terrible it is? However, by giving voice to that idea, I have now given myself hope. Hope that will be crushed, once I'm half-way through and wanting to bat-claw my eyes out. It's an endless cycle of positive and negative results. Like the film has become a Schrodinger's Cat Movie - one of indeterminate merit-based-on-expectations, until observed.

Oh, and observe it I will.

I'm gonna observe the HELL outta this film. I'll observe that every cliche superhero beat is met from the "two heroes fight, until a bigger, external threat looms" to the "final realization that, you know what, you and me are not so different after all". And maybe even the new classic "what does it mean to be human and who is less humane, the human or the alien?!"

Guess I shouldn't have been so mad about twitter spoiling some surprises, since I can pretty much guess the trajectory of this film, huh?

Honestly, whether it's good or bad (it'll be bad, right?) the real legacy of this movie will be that we (humanity, that is - especially us nerds) will take pause and think, "Maybe we don't need so many superhero movies?" And I would be 100% OK with that shift happening. It was a nice ride. We got some great films out of the past several years, but maybe it's time we try something else?

Thanks, Zack Snyder for breaking the stranglehold that cape-and-cowl movies have on the box office. You can't see it now, through the massive piles of shit being thrown your way, but future generations will look back on you as a kind of hero. (Or martyr... which is almost as good?)

Preview-Review Score: D+