Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice

Batman v Superman; fantasy action, USA, 2016; D: Zack Snyder, S: Ben Affleck, Henry Cavill, Jesse Eisenberg, Amy Adams, Holly Hunter, Jeremy Irons, Laurence Fishburne, Diane Lane, Gal Gadot

After the events with General Zod, Superman continues with his activities in Metropolis. Meanwhile, in Gotham, Bruce Wayne, aka Batman, is highly suspicious of Superman due to his limitless powers. Tycoon Lex Luthor buys off the remains of Zod's spaceship and starts using its secrets to eliminate Superman. Luthor kidnaps Clark Kent's mother, Martha, and thus orders Superman to attack and kill Batman. In Gotham, Batman uses Kryptonite dust to weaken Superman in order to fight him. Lois Lane stops Batman and tells him that Luthor provoked the duel. Luthor thus uses plan B: a giant mutant emerges from Zod's spaceship. In the battle - in which Wonder Woman shows up, as well - Superman dies, but manages to kill the mutant with a sphere made out of Kryptonite.

Having a feature length crossover between two icons of the superhero genre, Superman and Batman, is a good idea, yet in this edition, it seems that not even half of their authority and personality remained: separately, they were awe inspiring, but when put together, they here somehow seem to nullify each others' charisma. If the tedious sequence of the killing of Bruce Wayne's parents is ignored (it is bad in every "Batman" film it appeared in, anyway), "Batman v Superman" starts off with a good opening act: a grown up Bruce Wayne is on the street and observes the destruction of the city by General Zod's spaceship, which Superman battles, and this ties in neatly with the ending of Zack Snyder's previous film, "Man of Steel". Snyder keeps up the mood for another half an hour, and there are good moments (for instance, Luthor cuts off the skin from the corpse of General Zod's fingers, thus obtaining his fingerprints which he uses to access his spaceship technology; Luthor's line: "You have been convinced of the oldest lie in the world: that power can be innocent."), but, unfortunately, when it gets to the main tangle, it is standard and ordinary. What was it that made Batman an interesting character? What made Superman an interesting character in the first place? There is little of that here. Batman and Superman never really rise to the occasion: they show very little ingenuity or "wow" moments, and practically zero charm, humor, wit or life.

The very first conversation between Kent and Wayne at the party is a lost opportunity, since it did not lead to any inspired conversation between them, which could have happened - and this applies to the whole film. Would it not have been fascinating for, let's say, Superman to use his X-rays to see right through Batman's mask and name Wayne by his name? Batman and Superman are just there - but their personalities or potential charm stayed in some other film. Bizarrely, even Lois Lane is underwritten and one-dimensional. Ironically, the best character turned out to be Senator June, played by Holly Hunter, and the man in the wheelchair who hates Superman - but they were eliminated before they could even talk to Superman, in an ill-conceived plot twist. The 10-minute battle sequence between Superman and Batman - in a bizarre "RoboCop" like suit - is a typical action routine, and seems highly contrived (why didn't Superman simply say that he does not want to fight him, but that Luthor forced him? It seems unconvincing and illogical). Unfortunately, the final showdown with the giant mutant in the city is a typical CGI-overkill, as well - little effort was done to come up with an actually inventive, fresh or creative action moment, as it was abundant in classic action movies, like "Terminator 2", or Chan's "Project A" or Woo's "Hard Boiled"; or for that matter of fact the wonderfully playful action duel in "Superman 2" - and all this is thus underwhelming and predictable. It does not matter how much money is used to blow up so many things and buildings - but how it is done to deliver something creative and inspired. Overall, it is a decent and easily watchable film - but it simply lacks any highlights. A genuine surprise is the appearance of Wonder Woman (brilliant Gal Gadot), who should have theoretically been the 'fifth wheel' in the storyline, but unexpectedly and inexplicably advanced into quite the opposite - she is so cool, elegant and swift, she overshadows both title superheroes.


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