Saturday, April 2, 2016

My little Superman v. Batman review (With Non Spoiler video)


Superhero movies are a strange beast, indeed.

Sometimes the film actually sticks to the source material, and it works, sometimes they stray too far away and it just seems like a lazy means of cashing in on a particular property. A great movie could be ruined by a horrible trailer that tells the entire story of the film within two minutes, other times the trailer makes the film look like complete and utter shit, and dashes any chances you have of actually wanting to see it. 

In the case of Batman V. Superman: Dawn of Justice. There was a lot of these factors playing in the interest of seeing the film. The information given was terrible at best, the trailer was the visual equivalent of that one girl who, if you were a fan of the sitcom “A different world”, would be lovingly called “dreamboat body and shipwreck face” , and my personal interest in seeing the film in it's entirety was practically ruined because of this. Of course, with this past Saturday being a rather wet and dreary day and our plans of hitting up the local flea market was completely ruined due to a nap that went on way too long, I decided that it would be a good idea to just hit the theater to basically give the film a chance. My fiancee', of course, had the same reservations I had and we literally had to talk ourselves into watching the film.

Well after having to wait an extra hour to see the film, waiting a few more minutes for the stragglers who thought there was an after credits scene, to make their way out, so the staff could clean the theater, and waiting for the bistro waitstaff to take my order for the dine-in theater, I have to say that I was actually pleasantly surprised with the film. When I say pleasantly surprised, I mean seriously this movie completely went above and beyond my expectations. Which, if you haven't discovered, yet, were already pretty low. This turn reminded me of my feelings towards Captain America: The Winter Soldier, where I went in expecting a film pretty close to the first movie, and just being blown away by what was being presented.

Superman V. Batman was pretty much the same reaction for pretty much the same reasons. The acting was pretty solid, considering I'm not nearly as big a fan of Ben Affleck as I was of Christian Bale playing the role of Bruce Wayne / Batman. The first thing I think of when I see swole-ass Ben is “how the fuck are you moving so daintily? This big ass mofo is doing leaps up walls while looking like he did a bid upstate. That's just odd to me, but for some strange reason I look at his big ass body and his tiny ass head and it works. Good on you, Bat Sagat! Tiger Uppercut crime until it gets it's shit together!

Also Jeremy Irons as Alfred.. I was iffy about that, at first. Michael Caine did a great job as Bruce's wisecracking butler, but I have to say, Irons' version was every bit as badass as he is in the comics. I can believe that this version of Alfred has roots in MI-5 and British Intelligence.

I will also admit that I went in thinking that Gal Gadot was a little to whispy to be playing the thick Amazonian goddess of Themyscira (or Paradise Island for those of you who grew up watching the TV show like I did.) that Wonder Woman was. However, She had an interesting aire of mystery to her throughout the movie and when it came time to kick ass, she was definitely impressive in laying the smacketh down.

I'm going to catch heat for this, and if I do, whatever, but Henry Cavill is a great casting choice for Superman. Brandon Routh was okay, but to me he seemed more like a stand in for The late Christopher Reeve when it came time for a sequel to that version of the series. That's really nothing negative, either; Superman Returns for what it's worth was an interesting continuation of the earlier films, and I really enjoy watching him play the Atom in shows like Arrow, and DC Legends of Tomorrow. However, when Man of Steel came along, Cavill has an interesting charm about him that really does the role (for the lack of a better word) Justice. I also find his romantic ties with Amy Adams this time around to have a little bit more cohesion than it did in MoS. The tension between both him and Laurence Fishburne as Perry White is interesting as well, but suspension of disbelief was the only thing keeping me from wondering why Clark wasn't fired 18 months ago... (probably because passionate writers are few and far between, these days...).

While all these characters seemed pretty interesting, I have to make on point of contention.. Oh, I have more points of contention, but this is the one that doesn't linger into spoiler territory; Jesse Eisenburg's portrayal of Lex Luthor.... The character, himself puts me into a strange place. While I found Gene Hackman's version of Luthor to be both campy, and yet an interesting foil for Reeves' Superman of the 1970s, I wouldn't expect something close to that in a more well... serious reboot. The hair, and and the erratic yet supercilious behavior make for an interesting juxtaposition, and I had to backtrack into the mental banks to wonder if maybe this is the movie version of Lex's clone (sans fake Australian Accent), rather than the cold calculating menace that was better handled by Clancy Brown in Justice League Or even Michel Rosenbaum in Smallville. Eisenberg has this strange quality of looking like a crazier doped up version of Michael Cera, or even a manic Mark Zuckerburg. Obviously, this is a ploy he uses in order to hide his otherwise manipulative and cruel nature, and there are times in the film where this actually shines, but he still feels like less of a match for the heroes, overall. This pretty much explains why Doomsday is needed as more of a cataclysmic threat in the climax of the film.

Doomsday definitely looks to be the better of previous onscreen incarnations. The Smallville version of Doomsday was laughable at best, and just terrible overall with the show's limited budget being it's biggest obstacle. This version seemed to be an unstoppable juggernaut and retained a lot of the source material despite some aspects being swapped around.

The one thing that really made the film interesting was something I really haven't seen much of in other superhero films. There was quite a bit of discussion between the background characters about the fallout from the original MoS. That's something I never really expected to see, and haven't really seen much of in the Marvel films. Think about it for a second; Marvel, so far has had a fairly large battle in Manhattan between an alien race that should of left a lot more devastation than there was. In Age of Ultron, Hulk leveled a city after being rage blinded by Wanda Maximoff, was eventually stopped by Tony Stark and “Veronica” and the crew took off into hiding while the world was pretty concerned about the mess they made. Of course after they saved the day albeit destroying Sokovia in the process, a lot of that was brushed aside rather conveniently. In this film, however there was some really far reaching ripples that happened, and this set the tone of the film and lead the characters to make some rather tough questions in the film, and the actions just furthered a large portion of the plot as well.

This resulted in some smarter choices in the final battle against Doomsday, even though there was still a large amount of collateral damage to be had. It seemed like for a short amount of time considerations were made as to how to limit the destruction, and draw the battle away into safe territory. Which of course if we were to rationalize, isn't always going to be an option in certain situations.

With that out of the way let's get into the spoiler heavy version of the review, which is very spoilery.... Before we start, if I forget anything from this film, it's mainly because there was so much stuff to take in.. As with the other reviews, I'll throw in the necessary edits to add anything I may forget. So without further ado... Let's get it on!

The movie starts with a quick recap of Bruce Wayne's life and times. Mainly he and his parents walking out of the theater. The headliner says Excalibur, Which I think is there to date the film around the early 80's, however it's largely known that Bruce and his parents originally went to go see The Mark of Zorro in the comics, and presumably in the film (The connections such as the wealthy socialite becoming masked champion of the downtrodden and the Zorro cave connection are a no-brainer). Considering that Zorro, The Gay Blade came out in 1981, it would be interesting if that were the film they walked out of, but I digress.. Bruce and his family were laughing and enjoying themselves upon their exit, when they were met face-to-face with armed robbery.. If only they had listened to Marion Cobretti..

So Thomas and Martha's murders were 24 minutes apart? Odd... Events move so much slower in murder-time.

So the scene goes into slow motion, and Thomas does his best Citizen Kane impression by blurting out his final words... “Martha”. During the funeral, A young Bruce Wayne breaks through Alfred's defensive line and touches down in a cave filled with, you guess it. Bats. Fastest retelling ever. The movie Flashes forward to the events of Man of Steel, where an older Bruce Wayne is running around downtown Metropolis in the middle of world war Zod. He tries to save plot device 1 (a crippled Wallace Keefe) and a little girl and manages to do both in record time, despite the entirety of Wayne Financial being 9-11'd by General Zod's new found heat vision.

To be fair, this scene kind of reminds me of how the original Superman films were shot. Where The sequence of the trial and imprisonment within the Phantom Zone happened in the first film, but were covered a bit more in depth in the sequel. This seems pretty much like that in a way, and it's definitely a good attempt at tying it all together.

The scene briefly shifts from that to the Pacific Ocean, where plot device number 2 makes it way in from the sunny area where Krypton used to be.

Let's give it up for Krpytonite debris [canned applause]

Above:  Canned Applesauce

Eighteen months after the climactic battle of Man Of Steel, which means that this movie is telling us new information that has already happened, because this is indeed Current Year, The population is split on whether Superman is the greatest thing since sliced bread, or a ticking time bomb set to “we're all fucked!” . Amongst the vocal majority is Senator June Finch from Kentucky. She and Senator Barrows take a trip to Lex Corp to have a little chat with Zuckerberg's doppelganger. Lex of course reveals that he may have something that could prove to take down Superman if he ever goes dark; A tiny piece of Kryptonite, which proves to be fatal around those with Kryptonian DNA . Finch halts him in his tracks with her silly uses of reason and morals, and tells him that it's no deal. The two make euphemisms about piss being Granny's Lemonade, and then go their separate ways. Lex, after talking with Senator Barrows gets instant access to both General Zod's perfectly preserved super corpse, and the Kryptonian scout ship which is still sitting smack dab in the center of Metropolis.

Meanwhile in Africa.... (
I'm smirking because of multiple inappropriate jokes that could be started with this statement), Lois is doing her best “Nosy little sister” routine and after a firefight and a dead photojournalist/CIA undercover agent (who just happens to be Jimmy Olsen ) is caught between a Joseph Kony and a hard place, which was broken through by a very angry Superman. Kony basically pulls the old “Stay back or I'll infect her with AIDS shoot” move. Clearly Supes calls his bluff and proceeds to take him through fifteen different assortments of brick. Sooooo I went through this scene thinking “Yeah, this guy has to be dead”, but later on when Supes and Lois were doing their couple thing, he swears that the guy is alive... seeing what you did to him, I would respond with “Well, sorta” .                                                                               
Well, it's better than having AIDS.

Back at Lois' apartment, she winds up digging a bullet out of her journal and tries to relax when Clark comes back to talk about things. I guess after MoS, they decided to eventually start getting serious. In Gotham, a rather large Batman has beaten up and tortured some thugs in the middle of a sex trafficking ring so badly that the victims were afraid of him. Cops rush upstairs after hearing him rumble, only to catch him hiding in the upper corner of the room. Picture if you will, a large man hiding behind a fucking birch tree, and you'd see how stealthy it seems this Batman is. But that doesn't stop him from dantily hopping around the room as the
Stormtrooper Police officer shoots and misses and almost blows his partner's face off in the process.. Gotham PD - Fucking things up for everyone since 1939.

In this film, it appears that the Bat brands his most heinous criminals with his mark, which leads them to be shanked in prison by other criminals (Apparently, his previous target was Jared Fogle). Bruce heads back to the cave and has a long talk with Badass-ass Alfred, who is working on the voice altering mic, and shit talking Bruce about his life choices. I swear I thought I was sitting in on a flashback between my father and I as I helped fixed the family computer.

Yes, I was Alfred in that flashback... Let me be cool just this once.

Bruce basically states that this isn't leading him any closer to Anatoli Knyazev, a known trafficker , Terrorist and his only lead to the “White Portuguese” whom Bruce has been on the trail of for some time. Going in undercover as himself, he gets close enough to Anatoli to clone his cellphone (
okay, that's kind of cool, but I'm sure Apple is cringing their asses off hoping the CIA doesn't catch wind of this) And finds a link between Anatoli and one Lex Luthor.

But how are they going to break into Luthor's place to get to his hard drive, and find out who the White Portugese is? By getting invited to Lex's Soiree, of course! So now we're caught up to where the trailers for the film started. Clark and Bruce have their dick measuring contest. This is where I have to stop and point something out. Here, Bruce calls Clark out on running slam pieces on Batman, while every time Superman saves a cat from a tree, he's willing to throw out a fluff piece without thinking. Bruce Wayne just called Clark Kent out on ethics in Journalism... That's a little too meta for me to handle, right now.

Lex gives the most pretentious speech ever imagined, and A tall slender woman going by the name of Diana Prince, mingles her way through and nabs Bruce's mini drive after it clones Luthor's encrypted server. She bails and Clark decides to save a girl hanging from a burning building in Mexico, after seeing it on live television. Bruce is left confused, while Lex's Asian mail order secretary watches all this play out. You know, now that I'm going over all of this, it really drives home the fact that Lex not only knows the secret identities of everyone involved, but he's really on top of this whole manipulation thing... Kudos to Goyer on this, because damn, man. I get it.

So Bruce gets the mini drive back from Diana since she's thousands of years old and clearly old people have no clue of how to work technology (See flashback discussion above). She leaves a cute message about how girls can share and Bats goes to work on breaking down the encryption.


The Earth.. she is-a fucked!

Batman with a few soldiers are looking for something they head into an abandoned bunker and look around only for Batman to realize too late that they're in the middle of a trap. He tries to save the soldiers but can only rescue one, while fighting off a series of Apokolips Parademons. And ground troops that look strangely like the armed soldiers in Nairomi, Africa. These forces seem to be lead by Superman, who greet Batman and his rebels by using his heat vision to burn the ever living fuck out of the rebels and unmasking Bruce and attempting to give his insides some extra oxygen.

Bruce wakes up to a message from what seems to be the Flash who is popping out of what appears to be a boom tube. He warns him that “Lois is the key”, whatever that means... (okay so I know that's something that's going to play a larger part in future films but I guess the cool thing to do in this case is to play it off like I don't know, because other writers in other articles have done the same). Bruce wakes up again for the second time, and the decryption program is done.  We finally know where White Portuguese will be.
What follows is the most explosively violent scene ever, which starts with Bats putting a tracer on the truck, and then hopping into the Batmobile and blowing the ever loving shit out of everything with the conveniently mounted guns

I assure you, they're explosive tipped rubber bullets...

. He even drags a vehicle and throws it into one of the dock trailers. I'm strangely getting the feeling that this is definitely not the post crisis Batman who doesn't kill. Jeez, during this scene I'm just sitting around in the theater in shock that he's doing these incredibly out of character actions, and I'm just wondering if this is some sort of “pre crisis” behavior and they will eventually attempt some sort of Crisis event where the characters are retrofitted into their current selves. Or maybe the death of (Jason Todd) Robin put him on full blown “Fuck Everyone” mode? All I know is this shit is crazy! The destructive rampage is stopped by Superman, who declares that "The Bat ends, tonight".
When darkness turns to light.....
Bruce gets another fantastic lecture from Alfred, as the badass-ass butler finds out what the White Portuguese really was, and attempts to tell him that going up against Superman is a suicide mission, but Luthor is already in his head, and he's too gassed up to think about anything other than taking down a potential super powered threat. After viewing the additional files, on the other metahumans (A rather nice way of throwing in cameos, by the way) He gives Diana the file she needed and counters her cute message with one of his own “Boys share too” .

Lex, who seems to have all the cards at this point, proceeds to lure Plot device number 1 (Wallace Keefe) into a new wheelchair and a new purpose. After both he and Nairomi “victims” of Superman's assault of the warlord's compound approach Senator Finch, they beckon for Superman to come to DC to answer for his behavior. Finch grandstands a bit until she realizes that she played right into Luthor's hands and Keefe's bomb on wheels explodes. The entire building goes up faster than a Walmart in a Podunk town! And, with a now defeated Superman feeling as useless as Graham Lineman in an intellectual debate (Don't feel bad, Arthur Matthews clearly does all the thinking in that partnership). Suspicion of the bombing falls on Superman, and like a parent on a 24 year quest for a gallon of milk, he takes off, never to be found. Was that too much? Ehh it's okay. I was raised by both of my parents. 
With Finch out of the picture, Lex uses Barrows to give him the go-ahead to create his Superman deterrent. He uses Zod's finger prints as a means of gaining access to the Kryptonian scout ship. So another interesting point comes up, here. The computer winds up speaking to him in English, and that does seem rather suspect, however if you remember from MoS, the Kryptonians were broadcasting in all earth's languages when they threatened the earth to bring them Kal-EL or face the consequences. If we were to go by comic canon, which is kind of a stretch considering this movie disregards a lot of the core elements of canon in order to tell this version of the stories, Clark knows all the languages on earth and even some alien races. So it's not that far fetched to believe that other Kryptonians and a computer would have this information available.

TL;DR: A little thing called suspension of disbelief?

Lex slices his hand open and free bleeds all over Zod's face (Rule 34?), and proceeds to create the dreaded abomination, which is Kryptonian for Doomsday. He wanders back gloating from his plans coming to fruition, However, he loses his Kryptonite shipment which just so happens to be taken by a six foot tall anthropomorphic bat on steroids.

All part of my mastah pwan
       While all of this is happening Lois, who is actually doing legitimate journalistic investigation, finds out that the bullets the soldiers used to take down the Nairomi warlord's men were in fact Luthor Tech used as a means of discrediting Superman. In a way this is the means of figuring out the pieces of the puzzle that the World's Greatest Detective, and the brilliant Last Son of Krypton couldn't because they're too busy smooching pickles...

And speaking of such... Bruce is using the 300 Spartan workout to increase his strength while cultivating Kryptonite based weaponry for his upcoming heavyweight title fight. Lois leaves work after a long night of ACTUALLY DOING FUCKING WORK (
I'm looking at you, Kent) and runs into our old friend, Anatoli. In Iowa, Martha Kent is taking the trash out and is also kidnapped. Both are a means of getting Superman's attention to bring him straight to LexCorp so Zuckerburg can blackmail him into having a full on fight supermano-a-mano with the Bat in Gotham. Strangely enough, Lex also pointed out that he's known that Clark and Superman were one in the same and threatened to kill Martha if he doesn't bring him back Bruce's head.

Clark races to Gotham to try to convince Bruce that they were being used this whole time, but of course Bruce has his eyes on the prize and goads Clark into a fight that winds up having him beat the ever loving snot out of Superman once the Kryptonite Gas gets thrown in. To be fair Superman also lost to Muhammad Ali as well, so you shouldn't feel that bad about it..

float like a Superman sting like Kryptonite
  Bruce throws everything and the kitchen sink at Clark and then proceeds to hog tie him and dangle him down the ruins of his once majestic home, before finally being stopped by Lois and Supes, who tries to get Bruce to promise that he saved Martha..

Martha.. .



You see where I'm going with this, right? The “Rosebud” scene at the beginning was a mnemonic trigger that would eventually be reused at the climax of the film to refocus the main character and put him back on the right track.. In this case. Martha, the name of both Bruce and Clark's mother was one thing that snapped Batman back into reality whoops, there goes gravity... ( i'm legitimately sorry for that) So now that Bruce is knocked out of his rage boner, he throws the Kryptonite spear and swears that “Martha won't die, tonight!”.

Bruce heads off to find Martha, Supes heads back to find Lex, who is spending time with his alien chemistry set, and Lois tosses the spear into the water hoping that it will never be used again.... Until Lex reveals the large Kryptonian/Human 2017 Chevrolet Volt named Doomsday. The entire city goes crazy after realizing that there is strange activity and power surges coming from the downed Scout ship.

Doomsday attacks and Superman stops him from knocking Luthor into the sequel. The fight heads outside, with Supes immediately trying to take him out of the city – Smart. He's learning from his mistakes. This is good. They go into the upper atmosphere, and the president calls for a nuke, which Superman braces for while holding Doomsday in place. The missile detonates and only one of them comes down.. Spoilers: it's not superman. Doomsday continues his rampage, while Batman proceeds to beat the ever living shit out of the criminals holding Martha. Jeez he pile-drives one of the guys into the floor, and looks like he may have broke his neck. Meanwhile he grabs the other's gun and nails the one holding the flamethrower, (who may or may not be an unnamed Garfield Lynns). He shields Martha as he takes out the entire third floor of the building, and gets her to safety... Again, I say. there is no fucking way on earth that Batman would be this savage. Even the TDKR version of him was savage and that was without even using guns, but this... this is something else. I'm still confused as to why. Current Year Batman apparently now uses guns because Murrica'!

Meanwhile on a non invisible jet, Diana Prince is ready to take her flight, and finds out that shit is fucked up. She decides to lend a hand. When I say “lend a hand” I mean she practically owns the shit out of Doomsday until Supes gets over looking like Courtney Love in space. Out comes the sun and dries up all the fallout, and the itsy bitsy Kryptonian heads down to earth again... and the three proceeded to fight Doomsday. Lois, who probably realized that that was the thing that was in the Kryptonian spaceship, and anything Kryptonian is vulnerable to Kryptonite, went after the spear with her dumb ass. She drowns, and Supes decides to abandon their short lived advantage to save her...                                                                                                                                                            

He goes in after her and realizes that the spear is the only thing that's going to Kill Zombie Zod again.. So he lifts it out of the water and gives Lois a verbal Dear John letter before he goes soaring into Doomsday's chest. But not before Doomsday trades off with a spiked appendage through Superman's chest. The two die, And that was the most awkward sex scene I've ever seen between two men. Don't ask. You might not like the answer..

The rest of the world realizes they're assholes, and the people who really gave a fuck about Superman, actually are at Clark's funeral in Smallville (Clark was presumed dead at the scene because reasons). As it so happens, Clark wanted to surprise Lois with an engagement ring, and had it mailed to the Kent Farm as to not tip off the person he had been living with at the time. The only guy who put up with your shit, and wanted to marry you decided to take the equivalent of a plutonium tipped spear and run off to his own death. Some burns call for topical ointment, this one may need an actual burn center.

Lex, now that he's been linked to the incident in Nairomi and the Capitol Hill bombing, and a dual count of kidnapping, and being a FUCKING TERRORIST is now in jail. I'm sure there's something in the Patriot Act about genetically modifying corpses to make alien monster biological weapons. Batman comes to visit and tries to intimidate him, but of course he knows the damage is already done, and Earth now has no alien powerhouses to stop any oncoming threats

Bruce and Diana talk about looking for the other metahumans who are still out there, and Lois says her goodbyes. The grave diggers start to fill the coffin a faint heartbeat can be heard as the ground starts to levitate..

The end?

In summary, As much as I could bash the film for being what it wasn't, I was already happy with the films that came before it, and wasn't really looking for another Dark Knight or Batman Begins. The time for those types of films have come and gone and if I wanted that , I'd likely reach into my collection and watch them. I wanted to see these characters interact with each other and see how they become the trinity and core of the Justice League we know they will eventually be. Like I said before, I went in expecting not much, but walked away from this thoroughly impressed with what Snyder , David S. Goyer and the cast were able to accomplish.

While it's pretty damn clear that this film had a lot of things going on, and it really veered away from the source material when it came to characters and their personalities, It was actually an interesting film, and it was pretty engaging in a lot of it's parts. I'm not saying that you should like the film, but I am saying that when you look at it in terms of following the events laid out by Man of Steel it fits right into this strange universe that's being crafted, and that in itself is something.

So I'm going to basically tell you something you should already know for yourself. If you're even remotely interested in seeing this film, go out and do so. Don't let a bunch of people who already may have had preexisting biases stop you from watching this. If you're worried about it, go to the matinee showing and save yourself some money, but at least give the film a chance.

- I'll see you next Bossfight

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