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Film in Review: Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice

What’s the deal with the “v” in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice? We understand it stands for “versus,” but the dropping of an “s” or even a period is suspect. Prior to my advance showing of this movie, director Zack (with a “k”) Snyder conducted a short introduction, saying the letter “v” instead of the word “versus.” This makes my mind race like no other mainstream title has. Perhaps the word “Justice” needed a court case-style “v?” Maybe the single letter is meant to be ironic, looking like a peace sign and all (or an upside down crotch). Or maybe Snyder just thought it looked and “sounded” cool.

In which case, my racing mind becomes a pointless endeavor and, at its worst, a search for an excuse instead of an apology, which might truly be “needed.” I hate to state it, but Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice is bad. We’re not talking Batman & Robin campy bad (the kind that is, at least, entertaining), but rather Aloha bad. Looking back at life decisions regretfully bad. Taking away a Nobel Peace Prize bad. Without having an inkling as to the quality of future 2016 releases, BvS is a safe bet for raspberry of the year, in the most unfortunate of ways. It’s a movie of taking risks at its most rich, and of falling and failing at its most poor.

Billed as the ultimate superhero showdown, the dourness of BvS weighs too heavily for any duel to be considered fun or even fan service. You know, at the “service” of the “fans.” Any tension from the trailers (which for the most part were pretty great) evaporates immediately, with a momentum-less opening sequence that treats its title as red headed stepchild-like as it feels. Snyder is a director of visuals, meaning that he is at his best when it comes to eye candy and storytelling at twenty-four frames a second. Past films like 300, Watchmen and even Man of Steel, at the very least, were interesting to watch, moving along with a pace and rhythm that matched the depth and movement of the photography. Days later, I can’t recall many memorable images, other than the ones from the trailers. Days later, I’m still confused.

Paced too quickly and cut to ribbons in and out of order, the movie spends its two and a half hours stuck in the mud and muck of its current state of heroism. When we left MoS, Superman was ready to defend Earth from itself and others, to become a shining light of hope and triumph. Here, he has faced with Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan style hopeless scenarios, where there is no happy ending possible. Resented for being so powerful, hated for being involved in tragedy after tragedy, it makes sense that someone like this version of Batman (who now has no problem with collateral villain damage and playing judge, jury and executioner) would have an issue with him. What doesn’t make sense is why this was the approved and chosen path for a film that everyone wanted to see, families included. Christopher Nolan did more bad than good for Warner Bros and DC, it seems.

So grounded in “reality” that it pulverizes itself into the sand, BvS is not at all what we were expecting or wanting. Of course, it’s not the filmmaker’s job to give us what we “want,” but to highlight and expose the human condition, bare, via a mirror of a movie. Was this mirror made in another dimension, one full of fun houses? What does BvS say about us? Well… what does Donald Trump’s presidential campaign say about the GOP? BvS was possible and probably inevitable by the over saturation and ever expanded superhero bubble that is bound to burst at some point like the internet cafe business. This monster was created long ago, people. Both by our ticket buying trends and the studios’ interpretation of those trends. It was written in the stars that Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice was going to happen. What can be learned? What can be understood from it? How do we prevent another one from happening?

Stop doing things because they sound or look “cool.”

 

1.5 / 5 *s

For more from the author, follow him on Twitter @BillReviews and at patreon.com/billreviews.

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