The crush of lent is done and my heart can now go to lighter places … like a movie review of a comic book movie.
I went to a late showing of “Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice” the other night. The theater was not full, as I had expected, but it was mid-week, so I wasn’t sure to make of this. The movie — at 2 1/2 hours long — was actually ok. There was some things I disagreed with, stylistically, but overall, I liked it.
What astounded me was the criticism — not by the newspapers or the blogs — but by two guys in the bathroom immediately afterwards. These two were adults, apparently big comic book fans, who didn’t like the continuity pieces where they saw the movie veering off some timeline they had seen in the comics. They had names for sequences I had never heard before, as though they had a special code that only comic geeks would understand, which no doubt made them feel superior. I was amazed at how passionate and intellectual their remarks were — as though they had Ph.D’s in Comic Book Literature (which they might have). I thought to myself, “Ouch. What a tough room” as I left and went home.
Lately, there have been memes going around about Matt Affleck’s face when questioned about bad reviews… “the moment Ben Affleck realizes the movie sucks”, as though he agrees with the snooty ones complaining about the movie. The clip should really be titled… “the moment Ben Affleck realizes that the critics think it sucks. Huffington Post has an article titled. “25 things wrong with [the movie]”. The critique is just as confusing as it claims the movie is. Really?
So here’s the deal with the movie — the part I haven’t heard addressed. A) It’s a movie for goodness sake! It’s not a documentary or Shakespeare. Beside that, it’s based on comic books! Lighten up! It’s supposed to be fun — not comedy, but fun…
B) This movie borrows a classic comic book theme: The crossover where your two heroes meet in the same book. Somewhere in the world, this technique is loved by competitive ten year olds who want to know who would beat whom — their hero or yours. Because, of course, they’re both “good guys”, there’s a misunderstanding of something one hero thinks or has heard about the other. That’s the premise of this movie and it has been around since I was a ten year old. It’s a marketing strategy for the comics and this movie does that very well, if you remember it’s a comic book movie. If you are looking for Shakespearean sonnets, this probably “isn’t the movie you’re looking for”.
Where it goes wrong for me is, oddly, in the opening credits. The titles are done in this font that tends to play down the story, and not make it BIG. This movie is BIG, if it nothing else, so that just seems out of place.
Next, it uses, to poor effect one of the lamest of all writing tools– the dream sequence. The dream sequences are just like dreams — filled with flashes and archetypes. That means they jump around, are hard to follow, and not all that easily understood. If you took those out of the movie, it would be a great movie. On top of that, all of the dream sequences are what’s shown in the trailers. Going in, you’re led to believe that they are the story. They are not.
My last critique isn’t really about the film, per se. It’s about the publicity. Does Yahoo own the rights to some part of the movie? Every morning, I get an email of the important stories of the day. And, every day there would be another still shot of some piece of equipment. While I love Jennifer Garner and like Affleck, if I hear or see another article on their break-up and how good or bad they are as parents, I’m going to throw up! By the time I got to see the actual movie, I didn’t expect much because of all the teasers and previews and “behind the scenes” cuteness. If you have to tell me how much I’m going to like it, it’s probably not worth seeing. Over the course of time, you’ll hear about much money this movie lost. If you take out the advertising budget, it’s probably a lot better for everyone. The movies stands on its own, not as a classic operatic piece of cinema, but as a pretty good movie from the comics.
I would see it again, if that says anything. I’m not really surprised it’s doing so well at the box office because of that, and despite what the critics say. They are surprised that people are making up their own minds. Is it Oscar-worthy? No. Is it worth your money? Yes. If any move is worth $11.25 plus popcorn, this movie is.
Anyway, for what it’s worth, Batman vs. Superman is enjoyable if you don’t overthink it.