MCN Columnists
Douglas Pratt

By Douglas Pratt Pratt@moviecitynews.com

DVD Geek: Batman v Superman: The Dawn of Justice Ultimate

Zack Snyder’s script for the 2016 hit/flop, Batman v Superman The Dawn of Justice, isn’t all that bad. The villain tricks two superheroes into believing that the other has been a careless murderer, and if you think Superman could whoop Batman with his little finger, you’re forgetting Kryptonite. Snyder’s adaptation boasts an Old Testament undertone, set against a futuristic, yet present-day. Snyder’s execution, however, is ill-advised and lackluster despite the fact he made one of the finest comic book movies ever, Watchmen. This was a problem with the theatrical release, but the core flaws remain in the three-disc Blu-ray, Batman v Superman The Dawn of Justice Ultimate. The theatrical version, included on both the DVD and one of the BDs, runs 151 minutes, while the Ultimate Edition, featured on the other BD disc, runs 183 minutes. The additional footage brings more to the story, expanding scenes, adding action (and violence—Ultimate Edition was changed from ‘PG-13’ to ‘R’), and creating a better balance for the film’s pace.

BvS has been criticized for being humorless, and there are only three jokes or so in the entire expanded feature. As much as we thrive on the clever banter in many of the other superhero movies, a film can still entertain without that sort of thing if it achieves a compelling vision and delivers a strong dramatic conflict where you can see into the souls of the characters. Snyder fails to achieve that alternative. Henry Cavill carries over his Superman character from Man of Steel, a film I found to be very entertaining and satisfying. Since his character was already well established in that film, however, there is not much that can be added to his personality or psychology in this one. He still has more flair and humanity than Ben Affleck, who fills in stiffly as Batman. Affleck’s character is given very little depth, despite dream sequences that are supposed to show his emotional suffering. Normally, a director and actor can work around such limitations, since that is what good acting is supposed to be about, but Affleck offers nothing—no zeal, no introspection, no feelings at all. Christian Bale was probably smart to duck out on the part.

Near the end of the film, after a couple of teasing glimpses early on, Gal Gadot shows up as Wonder Woman.’Her entire presence reeks of a promotion for sequels and spin-offs. You know nothing about her other than she is hot, and has some kind of glowing lasso that can take down monsters. The personality will have to wait for another movie, and besides, she is overshadowed by the film’s one true saving grace, Amy Adams, who provides the spine of the film. Like the comic book series from so long ago, the film really should have been titled, “Lois Lane,” as Adams provides not only the movie’s heart, but its only identifiably normal persona. Without her, the film would be a complete waste of time, but with her, you’re willing to stick around and watch all the other stuff.

The villain is portrayed by Jesse Eisenberg, who has been faulted, one supposes, for not bringing enough machismo to his part, something even Gene Hackman managed to do in his rendition of the role back in the Seventies, however much of a buffoon he otherwise was. Frankly, we don’t care as much about tradition as others, especially when it comes to comic books. Next to Adams, Eisenberg’s villain is the softest and most accessible character. Snyder fails him by not drawing a little more eccentricity out of his behavior, but his character growth is effective and by the end, he is the only one among the principals who shows real promise for whatever sequels may come.

And the rest is hardware and effects, which ought to be Snyder’s forte, but is reduced to the most common denominators and is rarely enlivening. All comic book movies these days suffer from competitive escalation—the big effect scenes have to be bigger and more amazing than the ones in other movies. One reason Ant-man succeeded was that it just kept to its own little thing, adding a few interesting and engaging visuals, but avoiding a grand spectacle. But with some movie entitled Batman v Superman, a grand spectacle is expected. That’s probably why Snyder got hired, for his abilities as a visionary, but those abilities failed him. A few of the action scenes are engaging, but none are memorable, and the big battle at the end, except for the sequences involving Adams, is neither original nor particularly inventive. Its level of spectacle was surpassed several years ago.

 

Leave a Reply

The Ultimate DVD Geek

Quote Unquotesee all »

“I was 15 when I first watched Sally Hardesty escape into the back of a pickup truck, covered in blood and cackling like a goddamn witch. All of her friends were dead. She had been kidnapped, tortured and even forced to feed her own blood to her cannibalistic captors’ impossibly shriveled patriarch. Being new to the horror genre, I was sure she was going to die. It had been a few months since I survived a violent sexual assault, where I subsequently ran from my assailant, tripped, fell and fought like hell. I crawled home with bloody knees, makeup-stained cheeks and a new void in both my mind and heart. My sense of safety, my ability to trust others, my willingness to form new relationships and my love of spending time with people I cared about were all taken from me. It wasn’t until I found the original The Texas Chain Saw Massacre that something clicked. It was Sally’s strength, and her resilience. It was watching her survive blows to the head from a hammer. It was watching her break free from her bonds and burst through a glass window. It was watching her get back up after she’d been stabbed. It was watching her crawl into the back of a truck, laughing as it drove away from Leatherface. She was the last one to confront the killer, and live. I remember sitting in front of the TV and thinking, There I am. That’s me.”
~ Lauren Milici On “The Final Girl”

“‘Thriller’ enforced its own reality principle; it was there, part of the every commute, a serenade to every errand, a referent to every purchase, a fact of every life. You didn’t have to like it, you only had to acknowledge it. By July 6, 1984, when the Jacksons played the first show of their ‘Victory’ tour, in Kansas City, Missouri, Jacksonism had produced a system of commodification so complete that whatever and whoever was admitted to it instantly became a new commodity. People were no longer comsuming commodities as such things are conventionally understood (records, videos, posters, books, magazines, key rings, earrings necklaces pins buttons wigs voice-altering devices Pepsis t-shirts underwear hats scarves gloves jackets – and why were there no jeans called Bille Jeans?); they were consuming their own gestures of consumption. That is, they were consuming not a Tayloristic Michael Jackson, or any licensed facsimile, but themselves. Riding a Mobius strip of pure capitalism, that was the transubstantiation.”
~ Greil Marcus On Michael Jackson