Batman Is Superman Review: Zack Snyder Hates You

 Spoiler-Free Sticklers, ye be warned.

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Spoiler Alert: This doesn’t happen.
Batman Adores Superman begins with a very Zack Snyder opening sequence: where slow motion is synonymous with emotional value. It is within the first 45 seconds of this film where pessimism and sadness course through my veins, where I am forced to watch young Bruce Wayne’s parents die, again. And young Bruce Wayne falls into a cave and metaphorically becomes a symbol of justice again.

This should come as a relief for folks with bated breath: Batman Fondles Superman: Yet Gloomy dick prevails over a Happy dick sucks. No, really. Believe the critics this time around. Just do it. You’ll be saving yourself exactly 153 minutes. Think what you could do with this precious time; You could visit a museum; you could complain about the ebb and flow of your workplace over a beer (or twelve); you could peruse online dating profiles; you could recite lines from reddit in order to impress your malleable friends and family; you could read this sweeping, overzealous review at least a hundred times over. You’re going to see it anyway, aren’t you? Words of caution be damned!

Okay, so you just got out. How you feeling? Confused? Angry? Dizzy? Frustrated? Bored? In an alternate reality, you might be feeling amazed, elated, jubilant, euphoric. Unfortunately, you live in this cruel reality, where a feature film (the friggin’ moniker, no less!) revolved around two household superhero names squaring off enforces a little voice in the back of your head, now screaming, “This Hollywood creature! What hath God wrought? The powers that be carelessly churn out its savage offspring for naught! For naught, you say? For the monies, the creature reminds its gullible victim!”.

It’s safe to say it worked. As of this writing, at 1700 hours, Batman Glares at Superman has pulled in a bajillion mounds of dollar bills. What exactly does this translate to? Let copy & paste do its fine work:

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Just kidding! Lolz! In 2016 Hollywood expression of profit, this could be a critical and financial dud. Yes, the GDP of the island of Grenada is considered a failure, if you look at it that way*. I’m sure Grenada is a nice island. Batman Unleashes Stool Upon Superman’s Chiseled, Boring Face is not a nice movie. Wanna see more disparaging facts about a recycled product disguised as movie art form?

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Schadenfreude!
Provided by MovieWeb, the article continues with, “If these budget figures are accurate, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice will now have to make at least $1 billion worldwide to be considered a hit.” HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!

You see, it’s very easy to screw up on multiple levels in this fatalistic industry. But how Zack Snyder & Co. managed to screw up this bad is completely beyond my fair comprehension of three-dimensional spaces:

Da Fuuu is this moving picture even about?

The feature film, and I utilize this word very carefully, is about many things, of which the actual quarrel between Bats and Supes is perhaps the least compelling aspect of the entire god damn movie! Even Freddy vs. Jason nailed this! Freddy vs. Jason! For this wonderful, verbose section of Zack Snyder’s obituary of bonafides, we look at some of the most enthralling characters and dynamics from the best movie of 2016 (that last part was from the alternate, utopian reality. Apologies).

  • Some Rendition of Lex Luthor
Who or what are you going for?!!

We have a very (somehow, SOME HOW) uninteresting blend of the Joker, Charles Manson and Mark Zuckerberg as Lex Luthor, whose riposte and happy-go-lucky demeanor get so old so very quickly. Lex Luthor is mad, guys. He’s mad that someone like Superman can demolish half a city and its population and remain a crimson, shiny beacon of hope. Oh, wait. That’s my own strife with this version of Superman. Lex Luthor is Jesse Eisenberg. Uh, he’s a man of stimulating, bloggable ideas. He doesn’t like Superman because Superman is omnipotent and Lex Luthor is not. So, in vindictive fashion, Lex Luthor has a plan to take down Superman because. Because people, especially those movie villain type people, have many reasons and, well, by God, 153 minutes just isn’t enough to encapsulate the juicy, extra dimensional character of Zack Snyder’s Lex Luthor. Or David S. Goyer’s Lex Luthor. Or, I don’t even know who’s responsible for story or character mishaps anymore.

Lex’s plan involves a headache-inducing formula, in really no particular order as long as we’re not following the structure of a typical backbone behind any movie called the screenplay: Activate a Kryptonian ship, but not actually the ship, but actually a goofy looking, CGI character named Doomsday. But before that happens, Lex Luthor captures Superman’s mother and ensures her safe release if Superman brings him the head of Batman. “Wait, I thought Lexxie had it out for Superman? Now Batman?”, the disillusioned viewer murmurs to his or herself. Lex wants to import Kryptonite to develop a lethal weapon against Superman but can’t get congressional approval (since when do legal boundaries foil any superhero villain?!). Lex attempts to frame Superman for a bombing that he orchestrates at a congressional hearing; a seriously overdue hearing ordered to validate Superman’s past actions (cause, man, what would we do if we didn’t get the cathartic moment when Superman goes to court?!). In the end, a guy’s wheelchair is rigged to blow and it does and Superman is not framed at all. In fact, in this world, the bomb is immediately connected to R&D over at Lex Corp. Which means, there goes 20-30 minutes of thumb twiddling and zero consequence for any party. The writers want Lex to be a motivated, serviceable movie villain but, alas, here we are.

  • Brooding Ben Affleck/Ben Affleck’s Brooding Mouth & Chin
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Spoiler Alert: Better at being mopey than a blind superhero.

And now for a big reveal that may or may not surprise you: Ben Affleck’s Bruce Wayne/Batman is O.K. stuff; Ben Affleck notwithstanding. A miracle for some, to embrace a few survivors from the wreckage. Although, were it not for shallow characters calling Ben Affleck Bruce Wayne, I just wouldn’t be that convinced, fellow overpaid screenwriter! I’m not going to sit here and tell you whether or not this Batman mirrors the comic book/graphic novel/cartoon/porn version because, frankly, I’ve got no idea! I also couldn’t give enough reasons to care! Zack Snyder’s (or subjugated writers, whatever) Batman provides one amazing, moralistic notion that insists on nipping at my own view of ethics amongst fictional superheroes: Batman friggin’ murders criminals. His bat mobile shamelessly projects missiles toward criminals, and no, not to disarm or possibly subdue their perpetuating acts of crime and letting good ol’ due process take its course. Just kill, kill, kill. Batman fires machine guns in the third act, with the strict intention of murder.

Error. The familiar moral compass that has permeated the loyal viewer’s perspective of Batman is not available. What is going on in this movie? To add insult to injury, Bruce Wayne/Ben Affleck with a Cowl never has an exceptional reason to square off with a godlike entity that flies around the world dawning a cape. Other than the fact that he loses a large chunk of Wayne enterprises from Superman’s fight with General Zod or whatever. But, hey, most of Metropolis is still pretty pissed about that. There can only be one Batman to represent the qualms of millions of people.

God, is anyone having ANY fun in this?!

And so, we have a Batman, one we can easily recognize by the new uniform and utterance of his name. But, Zack Snyder’s Batman doesn’t have any interest to form a coalition with Superman. No, sir. At least, not until the end, which we’ll get to (DO NOT FEAR). But, even when we’ve reached that point, it’s never clear why these two are toe to toe in the first place; other than the public’s condemnation of the god complex in which Superman conveys (I think people hate him? I don’t know) and Batman is just not about some handsome, British doucheknob stealing his spotlight after all this time. If it wasn’t truly just a dick measuring contest, then the screenwriters really fooled me.

  • BONUS FOR BATS: Dream a Little Dream of $$$$$$$$$

You guys know that little saying, “put one’s money where one’s mouth is”? In case you had any doubt that Warner Bros. wouldn’t create the Justice League film, you’re in luck. Because, Batman dreams of a far off movie set that isn’t even in production yet. It’s a place where maybe, at least 6 or 10 movies down the road, things are in apocalyptic shambles and Superman has an army of flying insects. Are there other Justice League members in this world? Probably. The most important thing to take from this dream sequence is, there will be more fun minutiae to come that only comic book lovers will understand. For the rest of us that aren’t allowed the luxury to sit back and enjoy a movie for what it simply is instead of what it’s setting up to be, shit outta luck.

  • Consistently Bored, Indifferent Face Hole Named Superman For the Sake of Movie
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More Fitting.

Let’s be clear here: Zack Snyder’s Superman is a well-intentioned, albeit very horrible experiment. This interpretation has managed to survive for two films and will probably be signed to other redundant superhero flicks as part of Warner Bros’ mind-numbing Justice League franchise to be. Zack Snyder’s Superman manages to nail everything that Superman isn’t; and it’s an interesting endeavor to begin with, given how tedious Superman is as a 78-year-old comic book character. I mean, really. How do you nail this character? He hails from an alien planet, he hides in plain sight as a journalist, he’s indestructible, he’s a very safe, familiar archetype of an everyday superhero.

He’s fucking boring. And somehow, Zack Snyder managed to make him even less interesting as an incomprehensible figure of hope and peace. It’s not like Superman is personally conflicted about issues in the world, let alone the disasters that he creates. In Man of Steel, his private, wonderful life on Earth is threatened by demons of his intergalactic past. He feels responsible to keep Earth’s inhabitants safe from the otherworldly scowl of Michael Shannon. So, what does Zack Snyder’s Superman do to defeat the film’s villain? Why, by leveling half of a city! After all, he is a shiny beacon of optimism and harmony. And what better way to constantly compare a superhero to Jesus?! They both share a knack for salvation and redemption. Oh, wait, except, if you compare Superman to Jesus (at least in this movie and the one before it, where the blatant imagery consistently shoves this comparison down your throat), the latter’s death prevented humanity from pitiless, everlasting despair*. Superman hands over millions of lives, then has the nerve to stick around; though he was the only reason a parade of extraterrestrial destruction arrived on Earth in the first place.

Bear with me, because this analysis is vital to my next point: When you place an alienating, baffling film version of Superman into a cacophony of hollow theological, existential, and sociological themes in order to share screen time with another “superhero” so grounded in reality that he leads audiences to question why these two characters are even foes within the same universe in the first place, *breath*, you’re gonna have a bad time. It’s a mess of trying to distinguish the moral from the amoral, and from the downright immoral. Superman is a flying contradiction and Batman is terribly misplaced. The good vs. good dynamic between the two heroes of Batman Seduces Superman into Truce never comes to fruition and when some version of it does (which occurs, under a safe assumption, about an hour and a half into this movie), it is quickly dissipated in favor of establishing the cheesiest bromance moment to enter the canon of superhero flicks.

The following is a rough, drunken recollection of the film’s climax, in which Batman is about to EXECUTE AN IMMOBILIZED SUPERMAN WITH A KRYPTONITE SPEAR and the following basically happens in prose…starting with Superman uttering the name, “Martha”:

Batman: Why’d you say Martha?!!

Superman: Cause that’s my foster Mom’s name, brosef!

Batman: Wicked! I lost my Mom when I was a child and her name was Martha too, brosupes!

Superman: I feel ya on some level, browaynian devil! Lexxie’s got Momma Kent held up! Let’s go get her!

Batman: Right on!

*the most powerful fist bump would’ve been appropriate for this moment*.

So much for the epic God vs. Man, Day vs. Night spiel, right Lex?

  • Criminally Disposable Amy Adams/Underutilized Wonder Woman
Wrong production. My bad.

Just like in Man of Steel, the Zack Snyder team has an exceptionally difficult time giving Lois Lane something to do. Don’t get me wrong, she plays a big enough role during and after breaking up the fight between the two self-proclaimed heroes: Inside of an abandoned building, she throws the Kryptonite spear into a deep pool of water. Cause, man, we don’t need this thing anymore. After the CGI monster is created in Act III, Lois somehow displays impossible intuition and just knows that the heroes of the show need that spear to take down the CGI image. So, she tries to retrieve it. Building collapses, trapping and almost drowning her. Of course, Superman saves her and that about sums up her character. A damsel. In distress. Who gets some physical nods of approval from the patriarchal world of Batman Pushes Superman Over The Edge. Look, I’m not about to go on a feminist rant and how women should be treated in 2016. But, it’s not hard to give Lois something more to do than to brood over possibly losing her relationship with Clark Kent because, well, he’s Superman and, well, she just can’t deal with that right now. So much going for her underwritten character. We’ll just never know.

Where the JL squad, at?!

Wonder Woman is one of the few elements that injects some amount of excitement and enthusiasm into the entire picture. After 2 hours of aimless, plodding “story”, Gal Gadot, who is needlessly shrouded in mystery for most of the movie, finally arrives as her titular role and it’s great. It’s a wonderful, proud moment of strength and excitement. But, then you’re reminded of the relentlessly dismal world she’s been placed in. At least she’s handed more utility than our friend Lois. She creates a trifecta against evil CGI thing. But, really, it’s just her and Superman during the finale. Batman just sits off to the side like this:

Wait, why am I still here?!

Wonder Woman plays a pivotal role at some point earlier, when Brucie sends over an e-mail with highly confidential Lex Luthor intel; A scene where, in ham-fisted, franchise foreboding glory, she is literally scrolling through short archived videos of future Justice League characters, laughably at odds with the over-the-top Hans Zimmer score. And before that, she was fighting Bruce to retrieve this info earlier, acting as an adversary with no salient reason to do so. It’s a common theme amongst the characters here: Actions speak louder than meaning and purpose.

This exhaustive character study is a jumbled summary of the movie’s plot. A collection of scenes. Unrelated vignettes, really: Lex Luthor is the film’s underlying, trite anthem; Batman is bitter about events in Man of Steel but lacks the capacity to form coherent justification; Superman is just so misunderstood and tired of being the center of attention; Lois Lane is barely tolerating Superman as Superman’s girlfriend; and valuable screen time for Wonder Woman is handed over to the two, less interesting stars of the show. All facets that circulate around one question: When does this shit end?

When this shit ends, then doesn’t, then does, then doesn’t…

It’s hour two of Ben Affleck slaps Henry Cavill for 10 Whole Minutes and I am mindlessly throwing pieces of kernel at my eyes, in an attempt to damage my pupils. There’s 30 minutes left and Lex Luthor sort of birthed a CGI thing. It’s atrocious looking and it barely stands out from the dull palette that pervades throughout this film’s cinematography. And then, something big finally happens. CGI thing KILLS Superman. This has got to be the end. I can feel the wash of the credits looming over the melancholy score. Oh, wait. There’s a funeral for Clark Kent back in Smallville and a memorial for Superman in Metropolis, whose inhabitants suddenly view Superman as a hero. Mkay, I think we’re finished here.

Oh, there’s Jesse Eisenberg, freshly incarcerated and getting his head shaved. Still doesn’t look like Lex Luthor. That’s too bad. Now Batman is here, threatening him. Lex is spouting about some evil shit that’s coming, now that Supes is dead. He says things that could mean something to anyone who is familiar with the DC universe. Whatever. Oh, awesome. Back to this funeral. Bruce Wayne and Diana Prince (Wonder Woman) are talking about forming the team from Lex Luthor’s archives since Superman’s dead, A.K.A. The Justice League. Wait, why? Why do we need to do this, Bruce? I dunno. Warner Bros. told me to say it. Shouldn’t we kind of be relieved that Superman is dead? Who the hell else poses a threat to Earth now that the man everyone wanted to ostracize is gone?

Disney.

We’re doomed.

P.S. Superman isn’t actually dead. That’s not how any of this works, buffoons! Justice League tickets ON SALE NOW! Lineup accordingly, my sheep! 

* Grenada, “The Island of Spice”: I am so sorry for pulling you guys into this shit.

* Also, I’m sorry for bringing a soft core version of Christianity into this, but Zack Snyder made me do it.

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