Battery Yates

Battery Yates
Battery Yates, Sausalito, CA

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Disappointing v Uninteresting v Meh

A Review of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016)

"Nobody cares about Clark Kent taking on the Batman." - Perry White

I first started writing a different post in an effort to decide whether "Uninteresting" captured my reaction to this film. It tested a lingering weakness in the ten-point scale that I developed over two years ago: whether an "uninteresting" cultural text merits a rating at all (putting it in a rather damning undefined space) or if it sits uncomfortably between "OK" (Rank 5) or "Bad" (Rank 3). After all, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice did prompt a response from me. It kept my interest, in fact, for the full, overlong two-and-a-half hours. In some ways, "disappointing" would be a better description, but that implies more that I had higher hopes for the film in the first place.

Now I just feel disappointed that I had such hopes.

Batman v Superman ultimately doesn't thrill, inspire, entertain, or do much else for me than make me feel "meh," which in my mind is just a more colloquial synonym for "uninteresting." To be sure, it did offer handful of notable moments. The music was pretty epic at times, as with the late entrance of Wonder Woman (although bad at others, including what amounts to the Lex Luthor theme). The millions of celebrity cameos kept my attention more than almost anything else (save maybe Henry Cavill's too-short shirtless scene), especially the appearance of U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow of Michigan as the governor of Metropolis's state. Does that casting choice imply that Metropolis is in Michigan, then, essentially a larger version of Detroit? One character mentions off-handedly that Gotham City is on the other side of the "harbor," too, possibly situating it where Buffalo or Chicago stand in our universe?

Note for a moment that my mind went to these tangential thoughts while watching Batman v Superman in an attempt to entertain itself.

On the whole, the movie felt forced and hackneyed, full of action and overpowered masculinity and beautiful CG without much humanity. The choreography of battle from Bruce Wayne's dream scene typifies this point better than any other moment. Watch it over again and see what I mean. The actors clearly aren't fighting; they jump into the frame with an athletic bounciness that belongs more in a Cirque du Soleil production than an epic action film. They taunt more than spar with Batman and fold instantly in his presence. I don't think the director wanted to make Batman that powerful in hand-to-hand combat. Well, maybe he did, which is even sadder.

Worst of all, Batman v Superman suffered from one of the gravest sins of all storytelling: not having much of a story. I bet you five bucks that a writer (or worse, a committee of writers) sat down one day and thought, "Hey! Let's copy the Marvel/Avengers film craze by pitting Batman against Superman! Wouldn't that be awesome?!" The conceit came first, the "plot" begrudgingly thereafter. This process doesn't necessarily have to result in an insipid story, of course, but it doesn't usually lead anywhere promising.

I don't really recommend watching Batman v Superman unless you have an undying love of the DC comics universe. If you do have such a passion, you'll overlook the lack of character development out of your previous experience with its characters and moderately enjoy the passing of time. If you don't, you won't find much to hang your mask on here.

My Rating: Uninteresting, 4 out of 10