Monday, May 16, 2016

Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice

Listen. I was told there would be a fight between Batman and Superman, and, lo! There was a fight! That’s what I came for, that’s what I saw, and that’s why I left fairly satisfied with the viewing.

In this iteration, Bruce Wayne is older, pissed off at the aliens destroying our planet, and out to excise some of that pent up rage on Superman’s head. Superman is being called to carpet and feeling bummed out that he can’t even bring his girlfriend flowers without someone questioning his power and privilege. Probably that’s why, as Clark Kent, he’s so dogged in pointing the finger at this other vigilante who is skirting law and order and whom no one is going after. Never mind Batman cannot shoot lasers out of his eyes and topple whole buildings, but okay, Superman. Totally the same thing. Lex Luthor spends much of the movie working the levers of government power to get what he wants until he gets tired of that, as one would expect, and goes full evil villain. Wonder woman is in there, doing her own mysterious thing.

That’s about as much sense as the plot makes, really. Everyone has their goals but they don’t all mesh into a fluid story, especially with the flashbacks and dream sequences cut into it, and Luthor’s plan holds very little water, if any. I don’t think his plans ever have in the movies.

No matter! I came to see these titans throw down, and I got not one, not two, but three awesome fight sequences. And Batman v. Superman wasn’t even the best one. You heard!

But let me take a second to rank the performances. Ben Affleck > everyone else.

Now to the fights.

Batman v Superman: obviously Batman had to do something to make it a fairer fight or he would’ve been cooked in 30 seconds like a microwaved burrito. But I liked that he put a lot of thought and time and energy into the brawl, from the gadgets he brought to setting the fight in an abandoned ruin. It didn’t just happen in a fit of rage (for Batman), dude was like “I’m ready. Come at me, bro.” Somebody definitely took the L on that fight, regardless of how it actually ended.

Batman v Henchmen: This fight right here!  A room full of heavily armed henchmen, a hostage, and one guy in a bat costume. You know this level. It’s the one you may have gone into as a novice using all your big guns, but once you mastered it—blap, blap, blap! Tactical, precise, badassery. Dude just cleared the room like a legend. No gun? No problem. This large crate will do as a freaking projectile. I had to laugh when, finally, in the film history of goons not using their guns, one guy got in a close range kill shot —and it did nothing. The setup and context around the fight made it much more satisfactory. Batman finally got his head straight and was all the more deadly, and I was Here. For. It.

Batman, Superman, & Wonder Woman v Doomsday: Slightly edged out the previous as my favorite brawl, because Wonder Woman and her epic theme music! Preview of the Justice League! Good guys banding together! Wonder Woman and her epic theme music!

Seriously, this woman was trying to catch a flight like “Oy, what are these foolish humans up to now?” and then just showed up like “Interesting fight going on here. What sort of creature am I about to slay?” No introductions, no fussing around. They just went to town on Doomsday. I thought the theme music paired with the visuals of the moment when she landed was pretty iconic. It was stuck in my head for days and has me really excited for her standalone and the Justice League movies. (Do not screw this up, PTB!)

Batman did what he could, given he had no superpowers—and that mostly consisted of not dying— but Supes and Wonder Woman had some cool tag teams. She even whipped out the lasso. I don’t know if Superman would’ve done what he did to defeat Doomsday had Batman not given him a physical and mental beat down earlier, but in a movie where much of the plot was loosey goosey, this gesture tied in nicely with that earlier critique. One could only hope they don’t forget about these motivations going forward.

And so, going forward! We got cameos from the other members of the League, which some people thought was lame, and I agree only where that first whacked out Flash cameo is concerned. I didn’t expect Wonder Woman to have a major role throughout the film—the title is a clue—and so I didn’t much mind that we didn’t get into her character and what else she was up to outside the plot. I do expect her to shine in her own movie, though (do NOT screw this up, PTB). This movie could’ve been much tighter, but it was attempting to introduce a whole new Batman and Wonder Woman and kickstart the whole Justice League franchise in two hours. Standalone introductory films for its cast would’ve helped lighten the load.

But like I said, I didn’t come looking for jokes or lighthearted banter or deep social commentary. I wasn’t even expecting to have tons of fun, given we are dealing with two angry and powerful dudes who think it’s their burden alone to right the world. I say, let ‘em knock some sense into each other. This movie did what it said on the tin, and I enjoyed the crap out of that.