BVS: WHY ALL THE HATE?
If you are judged by the strength of your enemies, then BATMAN V SUPERMAN: DAWN OF JUSTICE is a truly ‘great’ film! Fine, it does have issues. God knows, we noted and highlighted those here , before providing a second opinion (nb that is not a back-track; just the same tunes in a differing key: think the difference between Nolan and Snyder).
‘BVS‘ seems to be a product that grows on you, with multiple viewings / distance away? The images and themes get time to stew inside the mind. A clarity emerges from the initial brain bashing fuzz of CGI saturation that defined the film’s climactic battles. The glimpses of light and logic begin to climb from the overcrowded script and the gems of promise outshine the dour drabs of the gratuitously somber.
There are particular lines and associated philosophical themes one can cite that become clearer and more resonant one week on, certainly. Old Affleck ally KEVIN SMITH even highlights a parallel between the Bruce Wayne worldview here and that of DONALD TRUMP (I also noted Trump’s parallels to the Batman Returns baddie, Max Shreck so maybe there’s a Batman /Trump axis at work?).
Smith’s is a jokey one line, but interesting, nonetheless. Typical of his style, whereby genuinely warm insight and love for the art-form plus a bitingly satirical wit get thrown away in quick glimpses amidst his usual chorus of expletives and adolescent sex references. I say that, as a ‘fan’ of Smith’s podcasts and writing. Have a listen. You’ll hear the good AND the bad.
Speaking of which.. BATMAN V SUPERMAN: DAWN OF JUSTICE, and the associated fall-out. A cultural phenomenon in itself. Warrants its own meta-textual review, right? So we flashed the Frank signal! Take it away, FRANK MENGARELLI…
“That’s how it starts. The fever, the rage, the feeling of powerlessness that turns good men cruel.”
Zack Snyder’s BATMAN V SUPERMAN DAWN OF JUSTICE is unlike any superhero film we’ve seen before. It is brazen and it is bold, it is disjointed and over packed with setting up the new DC Universe. When I say that this film is a complete mess, I mean it in the way of how APOCALYPSE NOW is a complete mess.
BvS cannot be compared to any existing, non-universe, DC film that came prior, and it certainly cannot be compared to anything that Marvel has done. Marvel likes to follow a template. They know what works and what doesn’t, and they certainly do not take many risks at all. BvS takes risk after risk after risk, and by doing so Snyder has made a remarkable film.
The casting of Ben Affleck as the fifty year old Bruce Wayne/Batman was a brilliant move by Snyder and Warner Brothers. We know who Batman is. We’ve seen Batman’s story countless times. There’s nothing more that can be said about him. Michael Keaton was perfect, Val Kilmer was admirable; George Clooney fully admits his turn almost killed Batman, and the Bale/Nolan trilogy was a godsend to the Batman’s onscreen presence.
Now, we get to see the version of the Batman that some of us have always wanted, and a lot of people didn’t even know they wanted. We see what comes after everything we have seen prior. The Batman is older; he’s even more cynical and jaded. He’s given up on hope and resorted to his anger, his vengeance. He has become a killer.
Affleck’s take on Batman may just be the best one yet. He has resorted to his primal brutish instincts with one goal in mind. He doesn’t want to make Superman submit; he doesn’t want Superman to stand trial and have society serve justice for the atrocity he’s brought to the world. He wants to kill him, and if he can’t, he will die trying. Affleck transforms the Batman into a battle worn warrior. He is a man who doesn’t care about peace and justice, he is a man who has a blatant disregard for hope.
Zack Snyder is the epitome of a polarizing filmmaker. He has a solid fanbase who are passionate about his films. Snyder has an equally loud echo chamber made up of people who strongly dislike him. Who refuse to give him credit for anything positive.
There is not another filmmaker alive who could have made a Batman/Superman film that sets up not only the Justice League, but also an entire new universe to be explored. Zack Snyder, takes everything that was thrown at him: a follow up to MAN OF STEEL, introducing a new Batman without spending a film giving him an origin, introducing Wonder Woman, Cyborg, the Flash, and Aquaman. Snyder not only did all these things, but excelled in a remarkable way.
Yes, it’s another superhero film. Yes it’s another big budget blockbuster. Yes, it’s going to set up multiple franchises that we’ve already seen. But it has never been done in such a magnificent way. Affleck, along with Jeremy Irons as the new Alfred, and Jesse Eisenberg as the smoke screen for the real Lex Luthor, all bring pre-existing gravitas with them. Immediately adding validity to characters so we don’t need to spend a movie a piece building up backstory for them.
Film critics, whether professional or Facebookers/bloggers, who don’t like this film, who are relishing in the critical shit-storm this film received, already made their minds up that they were going to hate this film. Much like IndieWire and a few other websites tried their absolute hardest to sink TRUE DETECTIVE season 2 before it even aired, the way some critics approached the new Star Wars film in a highbrow, disregarding way – DAWN OF JUSTICE suffered much of the same fate, but none of that matters. The film is going to and already has broken box office records, and the dark and dreary foundation of the new DC Universe is set.
There is a striking moment in the film that was shown in the first trailer. The second Robins suit is displayed in the Batcave with spray paint on it: “The joke is on you, Batman!” Not only does this tell us, in part, of why the Batman is so angry and rage filled, but I can’t help but think that is also a way of Snyder saying that to his haters, those who rallied hard against this film: the joke is most certainly on you.
ALL ABOUT FRANK:
Everybody relax, Frank’s here! After going to film school at Columbia College Chicago, FRANK MENGARELLI decided to underachieve with his vast knowledge of film into a career in civil service. Frank had a brief stint as a film blogger, and then he met the heterosexual love of his life, Nick Clement. The two instantly bonded over their love from everything to Terence Malick to THE EXPENDABLES films. Some of Frank’s favorite filmmakers are Terence Malick, Martin Scorsese, Quentin Tarantino, Sylvester Stallone, Oliver Stone, Abel Ferrara, Lars von Trier, Steve McQueen and Spike Lee.
Some of his favorite films are THE TREE OF LIFE, STAR WARS (all of them), BAD LIEUTENANT (1992), THE THING and ALL THAT JAZZ. Frank spends his free time with his dog Roger, collecting any Star Wars collectible he can find and trying to finish his pretentious, first person narrative novel(la), LARGE MEN IN SMALL CARS.