Wednesday, March 23, 2016
Batman v. Superman: Bop 'Em in Gotham
Good Afternoon Ladies & Gentlemen,
Last night, Izzy & I got a special invite to a screening of “Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice” a full… maybe 24 hours prior to its worldwide release… but the price was right, so we went to see this EPIC movie featuring a load of costumed superheroes. This movie is basically the real jump-off point for the DC Cinematic Universe… and based on the previews leading up to it… I had some mixed feelings going in… but love for most of the characters… mainly the ones that I’m familiar with (Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman… not so familiar with Flash, Aquaman, Martian Manhunter, etc.) This movie starts out summing up the origin story of Batman (Ben Affleck) during the opening credits, which was great… because we’ve seen it a number of times in the various incarnations & flashbacks in the sequels. Then it picks up with the finale of “Man of Steel” where Superman (Henry Cavill) is battling General Zod (Michael Shannon), but it’s shown from the point of view of Bruce Wayne/Batman as a human from the streets of Metropolis… so building are falling left & right… thousands of casualties that were brushed over in “Man of Steel”. Then it fast forward to 18 months later… and the world is divided between those who see Superman as some sort of God to help us… and others as an Alien Threat that will destroy us all if he has a bad day. Then there’s the discovery a large chunk of green rock that can possibly be used as a weapon against Superman & his kind… and then probably the two richest people on Earth, Lex Luthor (Jesse Eisenberg) and Bruce Wayne, want it as a bit of deterrence against Superman. Look, basically check out the original trailer from a few months ago and you have the story. Lex uses the alien technology from the crashed ship to make Doomsday. Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot) makes a few brief appearances. That’s about all the spoilers that I’m going to give… and you got all that from the trailer. Here’s the breakdown:
Things I Liked About This Movie:
· Wonder Woman – This is going to be the thing that everybody takes away from this movie… that Wonder Woman is the best part. I have a few theories on why this is… and it starts with that it’s basically a glorified cameo. Look, Gal Gadot is a fetching creature… and a decent actress in small doses. Can she pull a whole movie? Who knows? I assume there’s a reason that she hasn’t yet… but she will soon enough with the “Wonder Woman” movie coming soon, so then we’ll have an answer. She does a good job. Her accent isn’t that unnerving (which was a concern of mine) because you know… she’s French but could also pass for Greek as accents go… and compared with the Batman voice that this Batman has, there’s other things to worry about. Regardless, she does great. It’s a great intro to her character. We shall see if she can pull the lead role… but this movie is basically about 60% Batman movie, 30% Superman, 10% everybody else combined.
· Visually Intriguing – Director Zach Snyder has a very distinct style… and the most notably is the very rich, dark, saturated color tone to basically every single frame of film. It’s pretty to look at, there’s lots of CGI (most of it is pretty decent), you’ve probably all seen “300”, “Watchmen”, “Sucker Punch”, “Man of Steel”, even “Dawn of the Dead” had elements of it… and what 90% of people talk about when they talk about those movies is just how pretty they were & how they were pretty imaginative for the time & badass from a visual standpoint. This movie is no different in that regard.
· Sound Effects – In the theatre, the musical score is booming, every single character seems to have their own intro music like it’s WWE almost, the explosions, crunches, cracks, metal bending, all that is pretty intense & matches for the most part. Due to the epic scale of the movie, that’s good… because when a whole city is collapsing… or titanic beings are battling to the death… it can really take you out of a movie quick if the sound is a little off point. Also, director Zach Snyder get special recognition for using two songs from Richard Cheese & Lounge Against the Machine (probably the greatest band you may have never heard of) as he did originally in “Dawn of the Dead” with their rendition of “Down with the Sickness”. They’re subtle in the movie obviously… but I caught it… and I have to rep for Richard Cheese.
· Story is… Decent – I was a little worried that this movie was going to get very full of itself and really be pushing the whole Man vs. God thing… and that’s exactly what happened… like… repeated to a point of tedium… in case you went to the bathroom a few times during the lengthy run time. That being said though, they at least tried to make it intriguing from both points of view… and basically show that when people are scared, they do rash things. Whether it’s Batman wanting to keep Superman in check, because he used to be the big dick in the Gotham/Metropolis area & that has changed… or Lex Luthor fearing that all of his power from knowledge and/or privilege is now absolutely worthless in regards to Superman’s pure physical presence… or Superman just wanting to be a nice guy who protects people but he feels nothing but resent from those that he tries to protect… or Lois Lane for just being a f**king idiot / plot device who has a brief bathtub scene that… I actually rather enjoyed in just how silly & pointless it was. Anyway, the story was better than it really had to be… and is meant to be thought provoking, which I appreciate in what could be a very simple silly story & still make Brinks trucks of cash.
Things I Didn’t Like About This Movie:
· Lex Luthor – Look, I think Jesse Eisenberg is a great actor in the few movies that I’ve seen him in. I love Gene Hackman as Lex Luthor in the old Superman movies. Hell, I liked Kevin Spacey in “Superman Returns” which everybody else hated. Even the construct of the character in this movie as a young Zuckerberg-type who has limitless financial means, incredible intelligence & ultimate contempt for everybody else in the world for his own personal gains & desires… really seems to work as a great plot forwarding device. You know, why else would Batman & Superman fight? That is except for the fact that Batman technically is a vigilante & Superman is Team America: World Police? However… watching this movie… I kept seeing the performance & mannerisms as matching up with a movie that I haven’t seen in nearly 20 years… and that was the Carrot Top vehicle “Chairman of the Board.” Also, nobody will ever touch him apparently. Superman, Batman, the government, they all just… kind of let him do whatever he wants… right in front of them… while monologuing… and they just kind of sit there… doing nothing. I’m actually kind of surprised that (spoiler alert) Lex Luthor gets arrested at the end. You know… he only tried to kill THE F**KING WORLD BY UNLEASHING AN UNHOLY ABOMINATION!!! “Ooooh, let’s shave his head & throw him in a cell.” Ridiculous…
· Young Bruce Wayne Flying with the Bats – During the opening credits… you’ll see it… and when I saw it, I leaned over to Izzy and said “Oh God… this is not a good start…”
· Superman’s Ever Growing List of Weaknesses – Look, I also understand that you have to give Superman weaknesses. That’s why Kryptonite exists, because otherwise he’d just kind of go through and solve the world’s problems almost inexplicably (like how he saves Lois & others in this movie). However… his ever-growing list of weakness includes his relationship with Lois… his mother Martha Kent (Diane Lane) back in Kansas… and frankly, his number one weakness… is his own stupidity. “UGH! I must do these horrible things to destroy the world to save Lois (who spoiler alert, is also part of the world)” Anyway, plot forwarding… I can look past this one a little bit.
· Zack Snyder Tropes ABOUND!!! – As I mentioned, Zack Snyder has a very distinct style. Slow motion is EVERYWHERE!!! The run time in this movie could easily be a half hour shorter if they didn’t have dozens of scenes with super slow motion stuff going on… but it’s at least well hidden by the aforementioned soundtrack. The Physics in this world are… let’s say exaggerated or disregarded completely. There’s also a lot of the usual problems with these movies where… for example… a character may be able to pick up vehicles and toss them like a baseball in one scene… and then REALLY have to struggle with opening a door in the next scene. I don’t want to give away specific examples in this movie… but you’ll see them. Also, there’s a lots of guys with abs in this movie… but that’s standard Snyder. Heck, there’s a montage with Batman doing a P90X workout so that Affleck can show off his bod… and when Superman goes before Congress, suuuuuuper slow mo so that he can show off every single bulge in his suit.
· Action Scenes are Hit or Miss – I have this one at the end because it’s kind of a like/dislike. I’m not going to be one of those super purist nerds who’s going to say that “Superman doesn’t kill” and “Batman doesn’t use guns” because… let’s be real… they do. Superman kills a lot of innocent bystanders while saving millions of people… that’s just fact, even in the comics. Also… especially in past movies, Batman uses guns… but in this movie, he uses LOTS of guns!!! Hell, you’ve seen the trailer by now, right? Did you notice that in the iconic scene where you see Superman, Wonder Woman & Batman together on screen… that Batman has the world’s largest f**king shotgun/grenade launcher at his disposal? Anyway, as for the fight scenes themselves, some are pretty tight & concise… others are just really confusing… and again, part of it is the fluctuation of physics in this cinematic universe… and I feel like this was Zach Snyder trying to touch on as many genre as possible. There’s car chase scenes like a “Fast & Furious” movie. There’s fight scenes that are the usual super-epic superhero stuff… as well as ones that are reminiscent of Asian movies like “Raid: Redemption” or “Oldboy” in their ferocity. It’s just kind of a mixed bag though.
Overall, you pretty much have to watch this movie if you like comics… and it’s not bad by any means. In fact, I would say that it’s pretty good and a decent start point for the whole “Justice League” franchise and all of its spin-offs. However, there are going to be plenty of times watching it where you think to yourself “What the…? What am I watching right now? Why is this in here?” It has a few flaws… but then again… as is constantly crammed down our throats, we all have flaws… especially our superheroes. Go check it out!
Also, Monday night the roommates and I hashed out some minor grievances over beer & wine, followed it up with “Tucker & Dale Versus Evil” and then a new movie that sounded interesting called “Lazarus Effect” starring Olivia Wilde, Mark Duplass, Donald Glover & Evan Peters. This movie is about a group of Berkeley scientists who start out attempting to restimulate brain cells and grow new cells, etc… and somehow slip on a way to actually reanimate dead dogs… and I assume future animals with testing. Then the pharmaceutical company that gave them the grant step in to steal their research… and so they decide to break into the lab & do it again… despite the dog that they brought back from the dead having some… odd ultraviolent side effects. Well… something goes wrong during the experiment… and the superhot scientist (Wilde) ends up getting electrocuted. What to do? Bring her back, of course! You don’t need another corpse on your record. Well… it works… but then she starts having some serious side effects as well.
Okay, I remember hearing about this movie… and then NOTHING! Apparently it was made in 2013… and then released over two years later (never a good sign) when the surprisingly good cast really caught fire or something. Fun fact: David Gelb, the director of this movie actually did a pretty good job of keeping the atmosphere of the movie creepy… even when the script towards the end took a serious turn to the ridiculous. What has he done in the past? Well… he did the documentary “Jiro Dreams of Sushi” and… that’s about it. Overall, I thought the movie was pretty good. There were obvious flaws, but the acting was pretty good… the atmosphere was creepy… I kept thinking about “Deep Blue Sea” while watching it… but where that movie is ridiculous throughout, this one is a little more rooted in reality & not spitting one-liners or anything. I’d say check it out. It’s a scant 83 minutes WITH credits.
This past weekend, we also stopped by SFHG founding member Kevin’s homebrew shop / taproom / brewery that we’ve been (small time) investors in for the past few years, Ferment.Drink.Repeat. The location is not quite open (hopefully in the next few weeks) but it’s well on its way… and the homebrew shop portion is open during select hours. Congratulations to Kevin & his wife Shae for getting this monstrous adventure off the ground! Here are some pictures…
We also brewed up an IPA with hops that we had lying around (mostly from NHC) and some ingredients from FDR... this first one is a picture of our Mountain Brew that we enjoyed while making it...
In summation, our latest episode of the Everything I Learned From Movies Podcast (eilfm.podbean.com) will be posted by the time that you read this… and spoiler alert, we’re probably going to talk about Batman v Superman a bit… but check out our review of “Leprechaun in Da Hood” as well as a few surprises. Until then, have a great day everybody!!!