BvS – Why So Serious?

There’s a moment within the first five minutes or so of BvS: Dawn of Justice that threw me right out of the movie. I found myself trying to get back into it from that point on and succeeding on some level, but not all the way.

Character posters for BvS

Character posters for BvS

My opinion about the film is just my own – it’s just my two cents for what’s it worth. You can agree or disagree – I’m sure there will be lots of supporters and detractors on both sides, so my few words on it will no doubt get lost in the midst of all the others. And that’s fine – that’s why we go to these movies – to enjoy them and then to discuss them.

I think the movie is full of atmosphere and is visually stunning. I think each of the main characters was cast well and did a great job with their respective roles – do I disagree with the portrayal of Luthor? Yes. I’m not sure what they were trying do with the way he comes across… but it just didn’t feel right. He felt more like a Batman villain than a Superman villain.

Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman was great – I’m eagerly looking forward to her ‘origin’ tale in the WW 1-era film  set to hit the big screen next year. She’s not given much to do in the film other than to look stunning in everything she wears, to speak cryptically about Bruce not knowing everything and her ancient history and then conveniently showing up to help fight off the big bad in the last fifteen minutes. But hey – its about frickin’ time this character got her just dues.

wonderwoman

As far as the rest of BvS: DoJ – there are some images that are too cool for words and then there some that are just trademark Zack Snyder and which again take you out of the narrative rather keep you immersed in it. Mr. Snyder is the master of up close and slo-mo — so be prepared. There are some sequences which I wish had been explored more – and there are some choices I found to be jarring and left me scratching my head as to why they were made.

As the next entry into the expanded DC cinematic universe, the ending left me baffled. Truly baffled, as in … well, where do they go from here?

Back to that moment at the top of the film that I mentioned. I’m not going to say what it was because the film has just come out and I don’t want to spoil it for anyone. But I was really hoping I would get sucked into the movie, be caught up in and to really enjoy it… instead I found myself really examining it, making mental note of things and just generally sitting through the whole thing and thinking… “hmmmm.”

To be honest, I wish Snyder had just made a stand alone Batman movie. Ben Affleck’s Bruce Wayne is probably the best yet, and his Bat is a force of nature – frightening and unstoppable. The Bat sequences were the best thing about the film, he was appropriately strategic and tactical – willing to do whatever it takes to win. That warehouse beatdown is some of the best staged and brutal combat we’ve seen in a superhero movie.

bvstotalfilmheader

And apparently this Bruce Wayne has prophetic visions(?!) I’m guessing. I know from a writer’s stand point dreams and visions are easy ways to insert motivations and information for the audience… they help propel the story forward if handled in the right way.

But honestly, the Knightmare sequences in the film – again – knocked me out of the narrative. Don’t get me wrong, I thought they were a visual feast, stylish and very cool to watch… but they seemed put there to shoehorn in things that won’t show up for a couple of years – until the Justice League movie, or if at all. They seemed heavy handed and stuffed in. Crammed down our throats to make sure we know that there are other, greater threats out there… and to give us a fear-based reason for the formation of the Justice League.

Somewhere, the Joker is laughing, clapping his hands with glee.

Now, to the best of my knowledge, both the Justice Society and the Justice League were formed for differing reasons. The Justice Society was sort of a heroes club where they could share tales of their exploits and then also to have them work together to take down villains. The Justice League was formed to combat global threats. That’s probably an over simplification – there’s so much history and the fabric of the entire DC universe is wrapped up in these two groups — but my point is – I don’t think they that they were formed out of fear.

JSA

What I got from Snyder’s film – and what we are presented with on a daily basis in our news media – is that we need to be afraid. Always afraid. Because big nasties are coming and there’s nothing we can do to stop it.

Perhaps that’s due to the world we live in – bombings and shootings take place like clockwork nowadays. There are no red capes and shadowy bats to protect us. And even if there were – would we feel any safer?

The more attention you give something – the more power you give to it. Perhaps if we turned our back on those things designed to keep us afraid (Mr. Trump, ISIS, etc. etc. etc.) they would turn and devour themselves. That’s too simple an answer I know – and it’s an idea that many would reject. You have to fight. That’s what we are told… over and over and over again. That’s what life is all about… right?

And I think that’s the thing about the film that just makes it so heavy. Even the heroics we are shown – which aren’t many – are painted in dark and shadow, or fiery explosions and slo-mo. They are super serious and over dramatic. Had they been presented in different lighting or a different speed, maybe they wouldn’t seem so ponderous and bloated.

The movie is bogged down with its own sense of seriousness and importance – its bleak from the get go and never really lets up. The images we are shown are dropped on us with the weight of that giant Superman statue they erected in the center of Metropolis. Everything is dark and shadowy and full of foreboding. Even the most poignant moment – between Kal-El and his mother – takes place at night.

Its as if Snyder was doing everything not to remind people of the daytime destruction of Metropolis and loss of life from Man of Steel. Or maybe they just had to set it during dark hours because of all the CGI with Doomsday…

Bruce Wayne’s paranoia and fear comes across loud and clear in this film, more so in this incarnation than in any other version we’ve been shown.

This version of Bruce Wayne’s/Batman’s almost psychotic leanings aren’t just focused on the criminals and oddballs of Gotham but to the fate of the entire planet – to the point that he predicts the existence of a being (well known in the comics but as of yet not introduced in the cinematic versions of the DCU) with no foreknowledge of it – that symbol burned into the landscape was there just to pander to the fans of the comics, to get them all worked up and excited, but it had no bearing whatsoever on the narrative of the film – it was shown to us in all its apocalyptic glory and then – dismissed, forgotten. It was all for show.

To be fair, of course he would be thinking on a planetary scale because of what the Kryptonians almost did to the planet. But those dream sequences and “visions” really didn’t work for me – he already had enough motivation to go after Superman – “seeing” him as a murdering tyrant in some imagined futuristic apocalypse scenario just seemed gratuitous.

But, Batman is an American and it’s such an American concept to prepare for, gear up for and then rain fire down on anything we see as a threat. Even though we create more violence and danger than we prevent. There’s a sequence in the film that sort of addresses that – and I’m glad they put it in because it really is a nice character moment for Kal-el – its the question we all face – do I take action to prevent tragedy even though that action may in turn cause some tragic event somewhere else?

BVS1

There’s a lot to like about BvS: Dawn of Justice.

We finally get to see the Bat and the Son of Krypton on screen together – and Wonder Woman and Aquaman and the Flash. I’d like to talk more about that – but again I can’t go into detail because it would be spoilers for those that haven’t seen it.

There is supposedly an R-rated version being released with the Blu-ray when it arrives later this year, with an extra 20 minutes or so of footage… but I’m not sure it will make it a better film.

And there is lot to ponder about BvS: Dawn of Justice.

I’m not going to say dislike, because I didn’t really dislike it – I just have questions about the choices that were made.

Some people will be happy with all the mayhem and fighting and action – like I said there are some great visuals.

I was pleasantly surprised by how the showdown between Supes and Bats got started – again, not giving away details for those that haven’t seen it.

But the ending left me baffled.

We can discuss that after its been out for a while – when more people have seen it.

I give BvS: Dawn of Justice a 6 out of 10.

It’s loud and big and a lot to swallow – there’s almost too much to it. It’s heavy and oh so serious. The stakes are all the way at the top at the start of the movie and they never really go anywhere after that… it starts at the ceiling and stays there. And it ends on a huh? note.

Maybe that’s just me.

But like I said, there’s that one moment at the top of the film that threw me out and I never really got back into it… we can chat about that later.

I disagree with his characterization - but that's just me

I disagree with his characterization – but that’s just me

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