Monday, June 27, 2016

Batman v. Superman Ultimate R-rated Edition Review

I didn't watch BvS in theaters. Ultimately, I thought Man of Steel was an OK movie, but it didn't leave me craving more. It felt bloated and too much like fanfic (in a bad way), but ultimately I gave it a positive review and I was at least interested to see where it would go.

The studio shot themselves in a foot a bit by announcing there would an R-rated cut of the movie released because people like me that weren't rushing out to the theaters would just go, "OK, I'll see it when the director's cut comes out". Especially with the negative reviews focusing specifically on the choppy editing of the film.

I'll assume you've seen the film, so spoiler alert. 

Again, I don't have a point of reference for the theatrical cut, but if this one is anything to go by, holy crap the theatrical version must have been bad. Jena Malone wasn't an integral character by any stretch of the imagination, but she was exposition out the wazoo in every scene she showed up in so I don't see how (although I never heard anyone reference her by name, so if she's supposed to be Barbara Gordon, that's hidden from the viewer).

I just went back and rewatched her first scene to see if maybe there was a nameplate somewhere, and realized that the scene is placed about twenty minutes after it should be.

Probably not Batgirl
To be clear, she plays some sort of forensic character purportedly working for the Daily Planet. At one point, Lois Lane comes into a board meeting saying the crime lab people can't identify the bullet and she needs a plane to DC. Twenty minutes later, the unnamed Jena Malone character is examining the bullet and offering the theory that Lois Lane takes to her boss twenty minutes earlier. Is she a Time Lord? 

In Lois's next scene, she says, "experts at the Pentagon can't identify . . . " so is Jena Malone supposed to be the expert at the Pentagon? But then, why would Lois be surprised by Jena Malone's theory that she herself provided earlier?

There are some cool set pieces and even some cool character moments in this movie, but I found myself repeatedly incredulous over character motivations.

First, I can get Bruce Wayne's initial motivations against Superman; acquiring a way to defeat Superman fits right in with everything you would expect about Batman. What doesn't make sense is holding Metropolis against him and actually acting on trying to defeat him. Zod is apparently a matter of public record and Superman fought him his army, and the world engine thing off by himself. Knowing that he's pretty much unstoppable, Batman absolutely would find a way to stop him. But I don't get why the Congressional explosion galvanized him to try to kill Superman. Seriously? It's pretty obvious to everyone involved that events were manipulated and he believed that the bomber dude did it because of Lex's subterfuge with the returned checks. How does one of Bruce Wayne's employees trying to kill Superman lead to Bruce Wayne trying to kill Superman?

The biggest, most ridiculous part of the entire movie is Lex's motivations. I was actually OK with the way they chose to portray him, but it's never explained ever why he took the actions he took at any point. Some crap about having Daddy issues was implied. It's never revealed how he figured out not just Batman and Superman's identities, but four meta-humans that barely have a public presence. And then the freaking Kryptonian ship obeying his every whim, including orders that directly contradict Kryptonian law. That's lucid.

AND WHY DID HE KILL MERCY? Was she not up to snuff? Like it's not suspicious he's not there even though he has a reserved seat because he sent his secretary to die? Also, one of the worst uses of a cool character. 

Then what the hell is up with Superman's walk of death up a mountain? I get needing to have a vision or whatever with his dad, but is he insane? Are ghosts real? Did he know he'd encounter a ghost on top of the mountain? Why did he walk? Is it a real ghost? The story told is implied to be real. WHAT?

 Lois randomly asks a janitor in an abandoned building she's randomly walking through if she knows him when she's supposedly trying to contact Clark to tell him the bomb was encased in lead? Am I getting that right? Would it have been too much to ask for Lois to punch Lex before being thrown off the building? Or maybe not stand staring out without a guard rail while the known psychopath circles behind her?

Finally, the motivations in the third act stretches the limits of credibility even further. I can understand Clark recognizing Doomsday is a Kryptonian creature and I thought they did a good job of Batman figuring it out too, but then Lois having a psychic revelation that they need the kryptonite spear that she threw in the random pool of water inside the building? Superman asking Batman if he found the spear yet when he didn't know the spear was lost? And why did Superman fight Batman? I mean, he can hear and recognize Lois pounding on concrete underwater and goes to save her but he can't figure out where his mom is when he has x-ray vision and super hearing? Batman figured it out in literally seconds due to plot convenience. Why would Superman think he needed Batman's help to find his mom? Also, isn't his mom in Kansas? But they flew her to Metropolis/Gotham for reasons? Her mouth is ungagged! Why doesn't she call for help at any point in time? In the building she was unsupervised in the freaking room!

WHAT IS THIS MOVIE

Look, if you can turn off your brain and you just want to look at pretty things, you'll probably enjoy either version of this movie, but don't go into the R-rated version expecting it to make any more sense. If this is an improvement on the theatrical version, then I would say that critics were too nice to the theatrical version. There are glaring inconsistencies, plot conveniences, and freaking omniscience displayed at varying times.

Freaking Lois just wants to be near the BvS fight for literally no reason. She goes whenever Superman is fighting something? Unlikely. She doesn't even know why he said he needs Batman's help or he has to kill him. Superman just enigmatically says, "I have to go to Gotham to convince him to help me . . . or he has to die." "Clark," "No one stays good in this world."

WHAT THE FLIPPING CRAP IS THIS MOVIE

Furthermore, Batman sent Diana the email with the meta human information after he lit the bat signal? That makes sense. Does Aquaman need to hold his breath? I thought he could breathe underwater? Why would Lex want people to kill people that are branded by Batman? Also, why would Batman want to brand people? Wouldn't criminals be like, "Oh, you got caught by Batman too? He's a real prick, isn't he?"

Not that Gal Gadot needed to display much range in this movie, but I had zero issues with her playing the role of the unnamed Wonder Woman (even though Lex gives her a WW logo in his meta files). I hope this means that she's growing as an actress and will do a good job in her stand-alone film.

Why does Superman even start hitting Batman? He came to convince him and as far as he knows, there's nothing Batman has that can hurt him, so why start throwing Batman around?

In the Dark Knight comic that they borrowed a lot from, there's an important fact that ruins this movie. Batman says quite clearly that he KNOWS SUPERMAN WON'T GO ALL OUT AGAINST HIM. But this Batman seems to think that Superman will do that and because he will do that, he needs to end him, but if that's the case, then what chance does he really have?

Also, why doesn't he just shoot Superman after he gasses him? There's no need to beat him around.

Unless the whole thing is just a dick measuring contest? Because that's really the impression I got.

The Martha thing is just stupid. Who calls their mom by their first name? Why would Superman think Batman is a good guy at all or would be able to save his mom? Why would he trust him? Why would he think Batman could save him when he couldn't? And Alfred finds Martha by tracking the Russian? Good thing Lex only used one person ever to do anything criminal ever. How much egg would be on Batman's face if he ended up just beating up the Russian guy and Martha was locked up somewhere else?

I'm sorry. I knew that the problems discussed by critics would be serious problems for me when watching this film, but I really hoped the Director's Cut would address those issues and I'd be able to enjoy it. The character choices I can understand being controversial, but I was OK with pretty much all of them in the context of the film. I found them annoying, but adaptations adapt, you know. The railroaded plot with convenience after convenience and lack of character motivation ruined this film for me. Maybe the theatrical version is even worse, but it's hard to imagine that's the case. It's a damn shame.

I have no motivation to see anything related to this universe in theaters. If Suicide Squad and Wonder Woman are good, I may start giving the DCEU a shot again, but what a serious bummer. I can't imagine we will get a good live-action BvS movie in the next twenty years, but hopefully we'll be able to get a good Justice League.