Movie Review: A clash of the titans that fails to leave its mark

Movie Review: A clash of the titans that fails to leave its mark

By ANUBHAV PARSHEERA | | 26 March, 2016
The metaphor of Superman as an illegal immigrant struggling for his identity has been spoken about at length.

Set in a fictional universe (we know that because no one seems to be mocking men wearing capes) after the events of Man of Steel, metropolis lies in ruins as people begin to question the unchecked  powers of the God-like Superman. The film opens with a ground-level view of the events that formed the climactic battle between Superman and General Zod in Man of Steel.  As buildings are razed to the ground, and people are maimed, Bruce Wayne looks on in despair. This plants the seed of distrust in Wayne. Clark Kent(Superman) on the other hand, sees the justice that Batman doles out as being un-systemic and gratuitous.   

Those against Superman, see him as a threat to their idea of an ideal world, and in order to stop the supposed threat, however real or unreal it may be, have no qualms in using brute force(see any parallels here?). Contrastingly, Superman sees Batman as nothing but a vigilante with violent means.

Director Zack Snyder is known for his gritty, visually rich superhero movies such as Watchmen, Man of Steel, and 300(almost a superhero movie) etc. This movie is as appealing visually as Man of Steel.

For those completely uninitiated with both protagonists, the gritty movie involves a noble billionaire Bruce Wayne(Ben Affleck), who invests his fortune on fighting evil and dressing up in bat-themed costumes as Batman(Ben Affleck’s mouth), and has an overall unhealthy obsession with bats. The previously mentioned Batman squares off against a cape wearing alien man who also has a secret human identity which he masks wearing a pair of glasses. I know it sounds a bit odd when said out loud, but it’s not that weird.

Cast:

Ben Affleck’s Batman is a physically imposing one, and will please those in favor of a buff bouncer-like Batman. However, his agility is compromised as a result and it is evident in the way Affleck moves in the large suit. Comparisons to Nolan’s Batman will be unfair for now. Affleck does as credible a job of dressing as a bat and being menacing as can be done. As Wayne, he seems much more at ease and is a good choice for the role. It is Jesse Eisenberg, as a young Lex Luthor who proves to be the most interesting of the lot. His Luthor is under-confident at times, yet a charismatically played character.

Henry Cavill plays Superman, a man with the abilities to shoot lasers from his eyes, immortality, x-ray vision and the super ability to hold an expression on his face for the longest time. In a role that does not require him to do much else but grimace, Cavill is quite believable. Physically, he is tailor made to essay the role of the man in the red cape. He does as good a job here as he did in Man of Steel, which I guess doesn’t say much.

Themes:

When, Superman appears for a congressional appearance, signs reading “Superman is un-American” can be seen. The metaphor of Superman as an illegal immigrant struggling for his identity has been spoken about at length. His identity as a god (who was kind of the original illegal immigrant ) also starts the debate of whether absolute power can be wholly good. In this debate, Superman who is often seen to be symbolic of state power stands opposed to humanity, symbolized by Batman, who is almost equally flawed. Instead of resolving or addressing these issues further, the movie goes down the road more taken and a CGI fest climax which results in detachment from the proceedings.

The intersection of the good with the bad is constantly visible as both men cause heavy damage to property and human life. A violent Batman is an interesting direction that the character will be taking.  

The movie is drenched in allegory but at times, we just wish the superheroes would super punch each other more frequently. The marketing of the film has borrowed from the original Indian schoolfight marketing strategy which spread through word-of-mouth such as; “Bhai! Batman aur Superman ka panga ho gaya hai. Ground mein mil rahe hain. Chal dekhne chalte hain.” The film has gained traction largely because of the relative novelty of two superheroes squaring off against each other. The culmination of their rage in the fight sequence is the highlight in an otherwise only average movie. The film may as well have been titled Batman and Superman: Slightly differing opinions.

Most superhero squads have the sex ratio of a nightclub on Monday nights, and a Delhi nightclub on all nights. Things are no different here. Gal Gadot as Wonderwoman is the token female superhero but owns every scene she is a part of.

Women in the movie:

Most superhero squads have the sex ratio of a nightclub on Monday nights, and a Delhi nightclub on all nights. Things are no different here. Gal Gadot as Wonderwoman is the token female superhero but owns every scene she is a part of. Fortunately, she will be getting her very own movie as a part of the coming lineup of DC movies.

While the men are busy brooding over the nature of their existence and other deep stuff, the women keep themselves occupied getting kidnapped and rescue. After being rescued by Superman in Man of Steel, Amy Adams, as Louis Lane returns here to be saved a few more times. To round off the female-saving spree, Batman then saves Superman’s mother Martha Kent(Diane Lane). Lex Luthor’s villainous ideas seem to stem from an excessive exposure to Bollywood from the 80s and 90s.  

Making money:

The much touted movie is not just a movie about two conflicting ideologies, but much more. It is also about DC Entertainment and Warner Bros wanting to make a lot of money really quickly and countering the Marvel Universe juggernaut which has been on a roll. Interestingly, it was Marvel’s Avengers that was first inspired by the success of DC’s Justice League comics back in the 1960s.

Hollywood’s newly discovered insatiable thirst for the men and women in tightly fitted clothes is not a secret. With this film, the roots of the Justice League series have been planted, and the dates of Justice League Part 1 and Part 2 have already been revealed, which means the big screen will be flooded with oddly dressed muscular men for the next few years at least.

Similarly, Marvel has also recently outlined their plan for the coming few years, and the calendar is jam- packed. As many as 11 movies from the Marvel Universe are to hit screens in the next 3 years. The issue with setting up coming movies is the risk of losing steam in the own.

Verdict:

To its credit, most of Batman Vs Superman is not that bad. It gets brownie points for not going overboard in the VFX department for most of its duration and maintaining a dialogue-heavy movie. However, those brownie points are lost because of the weak writing and a weaker final battle.

The conclusive confrontation, which leads Superman, Batman and Wonderwoman to fight Doomsday the monster created by Lex Luthor is forgettable to say the least. Notably, Doomsday is the only villain in the comical canon which has successfully killed Superman. Here, he is just a snarling creature jarringly thrust into the movie.       

Leading to the climactic battle, which is a complete downer, the movie is fleetingly interesting. If you’re expecting punches thrown and large scale explosions, this movie can be watched. Also, if you want your superheroes to be meaningful while they spout pop philosophy and look into the darkness as it rains, there’s some stuff for you in here as well.

 

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