Thursday, March 31, 2016

The Alien, the Vigilante and the Femme Fatale

Warner Brothers’ 2013 reboot of the world’s original superhero (reviewed here: was brutally maligned by critics and fanboys alike for reinventing Superman to such a degree that he’s no longer the Superman we know.  The world’s first superhero (sorry, but ‘The Phantom’ has no superpowers) has always embodied everything that’s good and pure, fighting for “Truth, Justice and the American Way.”   But in his attempt to one-up the devastation and wholesale destruction of NYC in Joss Whedon’s ‘The Avengers,’  ‘Watchmen’ director Zach Snyder saw fit to remake Supes into a much darker, morally ambiguous character who had no qualms about leveling Metropolis and inflicting collateral damage while battling General Zod in MoS.  His only soft spot and link to humanity?  Lois Lane (Amy Adams), of course.
It should come as little surprise, then, that even before ‘Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice’ was released, the very same critics and fanboys still can’t find it their collective hearts to forgive the “Crime Against Humanity” that MoS represented and continue to mercilessly pan it three years later, like this spiteful little Q&A number by Rob "What did Zack Snyder do to you?" Bricken of io9 (spoiler warning):  Well, cry me a river and get over it!  Despite low scores on Rotten Tomatoes and Metacritic, BvS:DoJ is far from unwatchable with a 7.1/10 rating on IMDB and a CinemaScore of “B” from moviegoers.  At the showing I attended, people even loudly cheered and applauded when the movie ended (I wasn't among them because giving applause at non-live performances just ain't my style).  Therefore, it should come as no surprise that the blockbuster grossed over $200 million domestically and $500 million worldwide on its opening weekend.  Better get ready for the Justice League, people.
I’m not saying that BvS:DoJ is a great movie.  It's plagued with plot holes, meaningless dream sequences that break up the pacing and a few “what the heck was he thinking???!!!” moments from its two titular heroes, not to mention the “V” in the title is really misleading since Bats and Supes only tried to settle their differences for like about two minutes.  Its world is perpetually dark, depressing and “gothic” to the point that it makes us long for the bright, fun and colorful world of the MCU.  But for all its shortcomings, the movie isn't nearly as bad as the critics would have us believe.  The visuals and FX are top-notch.  Ben Affleck is actually a pretty decent Batman and Gal Gadot exudes mysteriousness, seduction and sheer elegance as Wonder Woman.  Jesse Eisenberg also gives Lex Luthor a "mad boy genius" vibe and gravitas that we haven’t seen in the villain before.  As the last three pre-MoS films (‘Superman III,’ ‘Superman IV: The Quest for Peace’ and ‘Superman Returns’) have proven beyond the shadow of a doubt, the old Superman is dead and it’s time for us to rise above our deeply ingrained expectations and embrace the new and improved, albeit marginally less kind and gentle Superman.  That goes for you too, Kevin Smith.

Grade: B+

"It was a dark and stormy night...."
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