[REVIEW] The Batman or The Bat-Meh? (Spoiler Free)

Coming out of the new film from DC and Warner Bros, The Batman, those around me were full of strong opinions. Some were very vocal about their dislike of the film, saying they hated it, and others seemed to really enjoy it. Then there is me with the hardest opinion of all, decidedly mixed…

Let’s talk about the positives. To begin with, director Matt Reeves and cinematographer Greig Fraser have made a good-looking film that leans into the crime noir aspects of the Batman mythology. This is a gritty, brooding, Batman that is actually putting clues together as he spies on the lowlifes of Gotham.

The cast is also impressive, as is the makeup and costuming. Colin Farrell is practically unrecognizable as a mafia kingpin version of The Penguin. Paul Dano is chilling as a serial killer version of The Riddler, and Jeffrey Wright is a terrific James Gordon.

As for our Dark Knight, Robert Pattinson does a good job with what he is given. This is a brooding, quiet, outcast, reclusive version of Bruce Wayne and who’s father seems to have had all the people-pleasing skills of the family.

This is, however, where we get into our problems. The way they have written Bruce in the story doesn’t give Pattinson much to work with. The character is stagnant and does more meaningful staring than actual growth. It’s almost episodic in feel despite it being nearly 3 hours. He starts out as Batman, and he works on solving the case of the Riddler, and that’s it.

And that’s the main issue with this film, the script. The story is extremely one note and doesn’t develop characters we care about or become emotionally invested in. They put the pieces together for the case, but that’s fairly predictable and bland. If this was just a generic detective movie without the iconic IP, I don’t think there would be much interest in the story or characters.

The last 30 minutes do put together some impressive set pieces and like I said Dano makes for a chilling villain, but I wish they had taken the time to develop Bruce as a real person with feelings and emotions. Even in a dark and brooding film noir, there still should be moments where the characters breathe and connect.

The closest we get to any of that is the relationship between Zoë Kravitz’s Selina Kyle (Catwoman) and Bruce, but even that is mostly putting the pieces together on the case and not a real romance.

Perhaps I am coming across like I hated The Batman, which again, I did not. It has too many impressive pieces to hate, but I think it could have been much better with a more nuanced and engaging script. If you love it, I understand why. If you hate it, I understand why. For me, I’m very meh on it.
But I have to pick a side…
5 out of 10
Frown Worthy

Batman vs Two-Face Review

Last year Batman appeared in 4 films, only 1 of which I liked. It was a throwback to the old 1966 Batman TV show called Batman: Return of the Caped Crusaders. I liked it because it had a sense of joy about it. I felt happy watching it and wasn’t put off like I was the other 3 films. This year so far I’ve seen 2 versions of Batman I really liked- Lego Batman and Justice League Dark. Both were well made and engrossing stories although different in tone. So now, before Justice League comes out, we have a sequel to last year’s best Batman film entitled Batman vs Two Face, and just like the last I enjoyed it very much. In fact, in many ways I think it is an improvement upon its predecessor, which is about all you can ask for in a sequel.

This version of Batman is of course campy and full of big pows and bams when they hit each other. Maybe it is nostalgia talking but I like that style. It’s a lot of fun to watch.

Adam West returns as Batman in his last role, which is neat to hear. It was worth doing this movie just so he could do that one more time! We also get to hear Burt Ward as Robin and Julie Newmar as Catwoman. Some people say that these characters sound old like their voice actors, but I don’t see it that way. They honestly sound like they have always sound to me. I think people have the image of them as old, so that makes the voice sound old but it doesn’t impact me.

But all that said, the real standout is William Shatner voicing Two-Face/Harvey Dent. He is fantastic doing both parts. It’s a shame this wasn’t discovered now because he could have been doing this part for years like Mark Hamill has done with the Joker. He was that good.

The script in Batman vs Two-Face is an improvement upon the original film. It is less episodic and a more of a compelling narrative. They sacrifice some of the jokes, but I was ok with that. They also limit the cameos, which were overflowing in the last film. Here it was really fun to see King Tutt and The Bookworm back with story arcs!

This is not a parody film like Lego Batman or the previous film. This is a Batman movie with a few jokes thrown in. They do a great job showing the two sides of Harvey Dent/Two-Face and the struggle that Batman has over his loyalty to Dent. Is he going to stay true to his friend or will he protect the city from Two-Face? It plays out in a compelling way.

If you like Batman and are open to different interpretations than I think you will really enjoy this film. The animation is good, it clips along nicely, it’s funny and is a great way to say goodbye to Adam West. I recommend it highly.

Content-wise it is fine for kids. There is a little bit of innuendo from Catwoman but nothing too bad.

Batman: Killing Joke Review (Spoilers)

Batman-The-Killing-joke-movie-posterIs there some kind of Batman writers strike I’m unaware of? I have to imagine there are hundreds of thousands of writers penning Batman scripts right now, dying to be made into a movie. And yet out of all that we get two such poorly written scripts as we got this year in Batman v Superman and now Batman: the Killing Joke. That’s right. Unfortunately the animated Batman movie everyone was hoping would redeem the franchise sadly did not. In fact, in my opinion it is even worse.

I sincerely wanted this to be good because I love Mask of the Phantasm and list it as one of my top 50 favorite animated films of all time. To read that post click here. I had reason to be hopeful. They were going with an R rating which could mean they were taking some creative risks (I checked it out and it isn’t too hard an R so I decided it was acceptable for me).  They had a really strong trailer and most importantly the original cast of Kevin Conroy and Mark Hamill are back as Batman and Joker with great voice actress Tara Strong as Batgirl. This sounded great!

What a letdown!

killing joke1Ok. Let’s talk about Batgirl aka Barbara Gordon.

The first 30 minutes are actually her story.  The trailer is very deceiving in that regard.  Joker does not appear in the film until the 37 minute mark and it is only a 75 minute movie. I’d love to see Batgirl but alas we have another poorly written female superhero character. Barbara Gordon is a character out of a soap opera (please don’t do that to Wonder Woman DC. please!). When her and Batman interact it didn’t feel genuine or earned at all. I didn’t even like her design which is very boob-focused. I know why artists design female characters this way (look at the rebooted female Power Rangers designs which are also very boob-focused). But it’s such a cheap way of making a character sexy. Batgirl should be sexy because of who she is not because she has a ridiculously large bosom.

killing joke2She’s also a throwback to female characters I thought we had moved past. She’s basically a plot device for the male characters to trick, manipulate, encourage and rape (you read right) whenever the story needs her. She makes no plans herself aside from looking in a mirror and saying ‘Barbara what are you doing?’. Sigh. Give me a Mary Sue any day over this kind of convenient woman. killing joke4Batman’s character is once again very flat and we get almost no Bruce Wayne. I mean next to nothing. So any kind of hiding who he is or struggles with how he is treating Batgirl are completely lost in a gruff bland guy wearing a mask. I think you may see Alfred once but it’s mostly just Batman grumbling about Batgirl getting in his way and other bland things. He might as well have been made of cardboard.

killing joke5It’s called Killing Joke and you’d think that Joker and Batman would be together a lot. At least the trailer would leave you to believe that. Alas, just like Batman v Superman the title fight is very brief (about 7 minutes) and it resolves in a completely nonsensical way given the character development we’d seen so far.  Then they give additional endings after the fight and I didn’t buy it for one second.

The animation isn’t even that good with nothing really special about it. It all feels like images we’ve seen before with amusement park rides and shadowy figures. When will they learn that just having a dark color palate doesn’t make something dark. You could have something truly disturbing in the sunlight. I mean Jaws creates fear and it is on a sun-dripped beach. It’s the characters that we get to know when they are taken to dark places that it becomes dark. Come on Hollywood- do better!

killing joke6

We also get another origin story because that’s exactly what we all needed right? Sigh…And it’s not even an interesting origin story but one with more corny melodrama. There have been like 30 animated Batman movies let alone the live action. Does anyone in the world not know how the Joker became the Joker? or how Bruce’s parents are killed? (I’m talking to you Batman v Superman). We all get it. Move on to something interesting in a story!

I’m so disappointed. At this point my hopes are on Lego Batman to save the character. I get that those who love the comic book may love this. I can’t say one way or another. All I know is I didn’t like it and was very letdown by it.
As far as the adult content it’s there but nothing really shocking or interesting done with it. No pencil in the eye moment for people who like that kind of thing. Blast…

The only really good thing I can say about this film is that the voice cast is strong as expected. I just wish they had been given something strong to do. It feels like they kind of decided last minute to make it R rated instead of it being an integral part of the design and story.

Maybe other people will like it but I thought it was a soapy mess and I really hated the way they portrayed Barbara Gordon. Next time make her an actual character that makes choices and then has a real story arc instead of a cog in your dopey movies timeline.

Overall Grade- D+

How to Fix Superman


Some Batman v Superman spoilers!


Ever since the disappointment (to most) of Batman v Superman I have heard lots of talk (oh so much talk…) and one thing I’ve heard repeatedly is ‘Superman is a boring character. You can’t do him right in a modern movie’.  When I first heard this I agreed.  On the surface it seems obvious.  He’s a near-Messianic character (especially in the Snyder movies) who only has one physical vulnerability of kryptonite.  Perfection can be interesting in a way but it is more about the way that perfection is responded to not the character himself.  But the more I thought about it the more I wondered if this was too easy an answer.  If you think about Superman’s enduring appeal over the years there has to be more to him than his similarities to Jesus.  Surely a boring character can not be consistently popular since 1938? So what went wrong and how do we make Superman interesting again?  I have some ideas.

Now I should start by saying I am not a comic book expert but I have consulted a few, and I have seen all of the Superman movies. I know there are different eras in the comics and my friend at @howtolovecomics  helped enlighten me a little bit on the character, but I am mostly going from a movie perspective.

superman returnsSuperman Returns is a flawed film but one thing I noticed on my recent viewing is he isn’t all brawn, and he isn’t all emotion either.  He has to be smart in order to succeed.  For example, in the great plane sequence he can’t just fling the plane around because there are people on board. And he can’t save each person individually because he’s still only one person.  There are also multiple pieces breaking off and crashing at the same time so deciding what to fix where requires some smarts.

According to my friend, Superman was a smarter character in the 60’s comics.  @Howtolovecomics explained “There were a lot of stories in the 60s where Superman had to use his brains to get out of a situation, which I like. He still used his powers, but he had to use them in a way that solved a puzzle.”

batman-v-superman-trailer-096If you think about it this element of Superman’s intellectual abilities is completely missing in both Man of Steel and Batman v Superman. In MofS he is confronted with brute strength and barely eaks out a victory. If anything Zod is actually smarter than Superman with some sound logic to what he is trying to do. Superman has the emotional weight of the film but most of the movie he gets advice from people. He doesn’t figure out much on his own (there’s not much to figure out just be bigger and stronger than your opponent and fight/hide at the right time).

With Batman v Superman, Superman is again completely disengaged intellectually.  Lex, who can challenge Superman in terms of brain power, is solely focused on manipulating Batman into confronting the God-like power of Superman. Nearly every time he is confronted by Lex, Superman is caught off guard. For example,  he doesn’t expect what happens to his Mother or put together anything before the Senate incident.  Basically Superman in these films is a ‘big lug’- a sweet, big guy who is very sincere and strong.  He’s like the Michael Oher or the Wreck-it Ralph of comic books. (In fairness Batman can be very easily manipulated in this world also but he is at least putting pieces together).

I guess this type of character can work but again it is usually because the things around him are interesting or the quest they go on is engaging.  None of that happens to this modern Superman.  He stands around a lot, saves people in montages and we are told contrasting views on how to think about him.  No wonder the character seems boring!

smallvilleOne of the things that made Smallville a good show is there were constantly things that Clark Kent couldn’t control despite his massive powers.  In addition, he was confronted with a smart enemy who challenged him in the best portrayal of Lex Luthor by Michael Rosenbaum.  This is obviously easier to do with a Superman who is growing up and going to high school but not impossible as an adult.  There are plenty of things that Superman can’t control as an adult that if we could see into his mind  would make the character very interesting.

For example, in Batman v Superman we get a scene where he is rescuing a woman at Day of the Dead.  Why did he pick that woman?  Why not the surely hundreds of women in car accidents right there in Gotham/Metropolis?  From what we see there is plenty to keep Batman busy.  We are given no motivation and so we assume it is because Zack Snyder thought a Day of the Dead rescue would look cool.  You see what I am saying?  He’s still only one person and this modern version treats him like he can part the Red Sea and bring down plagues upon the entire world. He must make choices and those choices could be really interesting.

superman2Not only can he not be everywhere and save everyone but he can’t control the choices of other people. He can give speeches at the UN (Superman 4 reference! Oh no!) but in the end he can at best be a symbol that hopefully will motivate a ripple effect of good choices.

Last year I did an Adventures in Reading segment over on my other blog.  This was an attempt to dive into genres of literature that I hadn’t experienced.  I still need to do graphic novels but did comic books and manga.  It was a lot of fun and for the comic book segment I came across a Superman issue entitled DC 507 Adventures of Superman Bloodsport.

bloodsport1In this story a Vietnam vet looses a job to a black man in an affirmative action type situation.  This causes him to become very bitter.  He justifies his hatred by claiming those in the in a poor neighborhood called Hob’s Heights are ‘taking not giving people’.  He only see’s them as welfare drains and addicts and thinks the world would be better if they were done away with.

While this type of villain could become very preachy, in the talented writers hands it could be very interesting.  Hate is completely out of Superman’s control.  The man in the wheelchair could have become this kind of character in Batman v Superman, but he is again used more to manipulate Batman than Superman.  The thing that is interesting with Bloodsport also is that he is a trained army sniper, military veteran who takes over an entire project development- making it harder than you might think to get rid of him.

bloodsport3There is also an emotional heft to the story with a little boy who is murdered at the beginning.  The Mother then turns to alcohol and Superman has to try and help her as well.  Again, could be very saccharine but in the right hands it could also be another thing that Superman can’t control.   You have this loss, grief, and addiction that he can’t make go away with his powers.  There’s something there that could be interesting.

Now I can hear you saying ‘Boy Rachel, your Superman sounds like a real downer.  Isn’t that what you didn’t like in Man of Steel?’.  At least to  me, in Man of Steel there wasn’t a moment of inspiration, a moment of hope- which is what Superman is about in the end.  If he is able to use his powers, intellect and empathy to help make things better would that not be a more rousing hero movie?   I mean that is ‘truth, justice, and the American way’ if I’ve ever heard it!

bloodsport2And you can make it a little bit fun as well.  Throw in some quips and give Lois some moments of witty banter with Superman but the film would feel inspirational, heroic, instead of dark and dismal.

superman3So in summary, if someone asked me to fix Superman I would give him obstacles he can’t control.  Make him use his intelligence, not just his powers, to make decisions and win.  I would present him with a villain like Bloodsport who truly hates for definable reasons. Not just being bad for the sake of being bad.  This throws in more elements he can’t control.  Give him characters he loves who make poor choices like addiction and then show him grappling to help those loved ones.   This makes the character interesting instead of simply a God-like edifice we don’t care about.

What do you think of my idea?  Anything there? How would you make Superman interesting or do you think he is an inherently boring character?

Batman v Superman Spoiler Review

batman v superman11I can’t sleep so might as well write.  This will be a spoiler review.  If you want my nonspoiler review click here.

Ah Batman v Superman…the movie that broke a million fanboys hearts. Immediately I got some flack on social media for being a ‘hater’ and a ‘Marvel fanboy’ (probably only time in my life I’ve been accused of being a dude but there you go).  It’s no secret that I am not a big Batman fan and I do prefer Marvel’s brand of movies.  However, I can honestly say that preference has no bearing on my response to this film. It really doesn’t. (I’m not that big a superhero person to begin with)  As you will see in this review none of my issues have anything to do with tone, characters, humor or any of those Marvel strengths.  My issues have to do with the way the story is laid out, Lex Luthor manipulation of Batman and especially the ending.

So let’s get talking!

I was really with Batman v Superman for about the first hour.  I watched all 14 previous theatrically released Batman and Superman films going up to this film so I had just seen Man of Steel.  Some might call it apologetic to address the carnage and destruction caused in that film but I thought it was a really interesting way to set up conflict.

As we all know, Superman and Zod caused a lot of havoc in their fight and what we see in Batman v Superman is this destruction includes Wayne Enterprise’s Metropolis building.  In fact, Bruce is down on the street the day of the fight and saves a friend and a little girl from the falling building.  Seeing such power makes Bruce worried (and maybe a tiny bit jealous) about Superman and he wonders if something should be done to stop him before he turns evil and is unstoppable.

All of this set up works pretty well.  We get to see Bruce as this tougher, more grizzled Batman.  He has been through a lot and has become kind of reckless in the way he treats the criminals, even branding them with a bat when he captures them.  He also is willing to shoot people, which personally I didn’t have a problem with.

But there’s a problem that the movie also sets up with all this good Batman stuff.  He’s sort of shown as a private investigator looking into Lex Luthor and Superman. This makes him seem all the dopier later on when he is played so completely by Lex, which isn’t a good look for our Batman.  I don’t want a dopey Batman.

Meanwhile Clark Kent has some kind of understanding at the Daily Planet where he can get random stories but be gone for long segments as well.  Perry wants him to cover local football and not investigate Batman.  Superman’s beef with Batman is a lot less convincingly developed than Batman’s with Superman in the film. In fact, when it comes to the final fight Batman is a bit of a bully to Superman which is a strange sentence to write…

As part of Bruce’s investigation into Lex, Bruce attends a party at Lex’s house and Clark Kent is there too.  This is a fun scene but problematic also.  First of all, Bruce goes into the food prep area and finds all of Lex’s servers laid out without a lock or guard or anything.  He puts his transfer device on the server and in 7 minutes gets all of Lex’s files…really?

Now the movie tries to claim this is all part of Lex’s plan but Lex doesn’t even know Bruce is coming to party and how does he know that Bruce is Batman?  Same thing with Clark Kent being Superman?  We are given the impression this is the first time Clark has been to such a gathering and yet Lex introduces Clark and Bruce as if he knows who they are but nothing in the files seems to corroborate this kind of knowledge.  This is a major plothole in the film. In a world where Lois and Perry are the only one’s who know Clark’s alter-ego it doesn’t really make sense and they needed some kind of explanation on his super-secret knowledge.

Anyway, we also meet Diana Prince at the party and she see’s what Bruce is doing (everyone see’s what he is doing. Even Lex’s assistant does!).  Clark also figures out that Bruce is Batman at this point because he hears Alfred talking to Bruce (I didn’t realize Superman’s powers included that kind of hearing capabilities).

So, Diana see’s him making the transfer and takes the transfer device.  She tries to look at it later on but it is military encoded.  I liked Gal Gadot.  She’s sexy, strong and I look forward to her getting more time on screen.

At the same time, Lex is throwing the party because he wants to convince a senator played by Holly Hunter to turn over a piece of kryptonite found in the Indian Ocean.

They try to explain that Lex views Superman as the devil but for a dark gritty Batman movie he’s kind of an old school comic book movie villain, which makes it stand out.  He just kind of wants to get rid of the good guys because they are good guys spoiling his bad guy plans.  Like I said, Snyder gives us lots of speeches about God and Godlike power and that’s compelling motivation for Batman to be afraid of Superman but why that bothers Lex Luthor so much isn’t exactly clear, except it stops him from doing bad things. Kind of lame villain if you ask me.

I didn’t really like this version of Lex Luthor (I realize he is Lex’s son Alexander Luthor) but he just became kind of annoying because he didn’t really fit in with the feel and tone of the rest of the film.

But Lex is certainly quite the planner because he evidently had it all arranged that Batman would get the information,  investigate Superman and do everything that he wants him to do throughout the film.  Bruce learns about the metahumans from the files and this gives us some very awkward introductions to Aquaman, Cyborg, Wonder Woman etc.

Lex also seems to be able to predict Batman’s dreams (remember at this point we have no clue he knows Bruce or Clark from any other party guests).  Bruce has a dream of The Flash who can time travel and warn him about an impending threat. (Are you getting the feeling that the story is all over the place?)

Meanwhile, Superman is sad that people don’t like him but yet they do seem to like him.  The  movie is very inconsistent in that regard. Nevertheless, there is a hearing at the Senate with the Holly Hunter character.  Lex again predicts Superman will arrive and blows up the Senate.  This is a horrible act of terrorism and yet it seems to be forgotten by the movie and is never really talked about again…

Evidently Luthor is doing this to make people dislike Superman even more but this seems like an unnecessary step for Luthor.  If the main point of his plan is to get Batman to fight Superman who cares what the public is thinking?  They were already having a hearing.  Isn’t that enough to peak Batman’s interest and you know he has already stolen those files and is looking into it.

And Batman is a pretty lame private investigator.  You’d think with all of this he could find out about Clark, the Kents and everything else.  I mean these files are oddly specific and if Lex knows that Clark and Bruce are Superman and Batman, which he seems to at the party, why wouldn’t he have put all of that information on the files?  Wouldn’t he want Batman to know all about Superman?

If he doesn’t know about Clark and Bruce’s alter egos than his plan is nonsensical and he has the worst security on his home.  It’s hard to believe he has other motives for Bruce to have those files other than that he knows Bruce is Batman. It really makes no sense.   Well, and I guess he knows about Diana because she is on the files so why isn’t he trying to manipulate her?

Anyway, despite being a very suspect person Luthor is able to gain access to the kryptonite, Zod’s spaceship and Zod himself which seemed highly implausible.  And not just that but there are power outages caused by his activities and he is in there for quite some time learning from the Zod spaceship.  Don’t you think someone from the government might monitor that kind of access? I mean call me crazy but I don’t think he would be able to make Doomsday and activate the ship like he does without anyone realizing it.

But there’s also more of his plan…(It’s quite the plan and I remind you this is all in a gritty comic book movie not a Schumacher silliness movie).  He ends up obtaining the kryptonite. Batman tries to stop him in a long car chase but instead they kill lots of people and destroy property.  Whatever it’s a decent car chase.

Then Batman ends up breaking into Lex’s offices and stealing the kryptonite and this is all supposedly part of Lex’s plan to pit Batman vs Superman.  This is quite the plan! How does he even know that Batman knows about the kryptonite at all?I guess there is the car chase but Lex isn’t there.  They are just a bunch of cronies and how did Lex get to take possession of the kryptonite in the first place?  He makes a deal with a lolly rancher guy but this is quite the leap a private citizen would get access to a major radioactive substance, an alien vessel and alien body for no reason at all…

Anyway, Batman gets it and Lex wants him to have it.  That’s the part that makes no sense.  How could he possibly predict all of this is going to happen and that it is all going to lead to the takedown of Superman?  Wouldn’t it make more sense to use the kryptonite himself instead of orchestrating Batman to do it?

But that’s what he does and Batman begins training to take on Superman.  He designs a new suit and does some crossfit.  It’s very exciting.

Then we have Lex further mad scientisting himself in the spaceship and he combines his DNA with Zod’s because evidently the ‘Genesis Chamber’ tells him what to do.  He creates a Doomsday creature which was  a generic kind of crappy looking CG creature. I was shocked at how bad it looked.

He abducts Lois to try and lure Superman out of hiding and she gets rescued for the umpteenth time in the film (I didn’t think Lois and Clark had good chemistry in this version).  But that’s not all he has done.  He has captured Martha Kent, Clark’s Mother (again how he knows Clark/Superman backstory doesn’t really make sense).  This manipulates  Superman to go and confront Batman.

Batman is there in his super duper Batsuit having been totally manipulated by Lex into designing a kryptonite spear and gas pellets to take down Superman.  Superman tries to talk to Batman about his mother but he won’t listen and the two fight.  It’s an Ok fight but more smashing into things than a martial arts style match if that makes sense.

I was a little surprised how close to taking down Superman it got but that makes the ending even worse.  Batman is just about to spear Superman with the kryptonite spear and Superman says ‘Martha’.  Now we saw earlier in the film Bruce’s mother’s name is Martha, as is Clark’s mother.  This is it and he not only stops killing Superman but he agrees to go with him and save his mother.  This is completely ridiculous.

It’s not like this is a spur of the  moment angry fist match and Martha would wake him up.  This is a plan that has been in the works for months.  That he has thought about and weighed out.  He has trained, made weapons, even had that warning from Flash in his dream about the future.  There is no creditable way that Martha would have made him stop killing Superman at that moment.  It makes no sense to this admittedly dopey but dark and gritty character they’d built up to that point.  You can’t have him killing lots of people and branding people and then have something so lame stop the Batman v Superman match.

And then they don’t stop there!  Not only do they work together to find Superman’s Mother but he refers to Superman as his friend!  Are you kidding me?  And he is mourning him later as if they were so close.  I don’t think one word away from killing him is a friend…

When Lex realizes his plan for Batman to take down Superman hasn’t worked he unleashes Doomsday and we get a tedious segment that seemed right out of the Raimi Spiderman movies more than a dark and gritty comic book movie. You’ve got your one note cheesy monster fighting Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman.  (Like really how different is Doomsday than Sandman in Spiderman 3?)

And here’s where I really got annoyed with the film.  We all know there is a Justice League coming out in 2017. And not only do we know that but the movie hints at it again and again with all the Metahuman file shoehorned bits.  So with that knowledge…

They kill Superman.  And not only do they kill Superman but they have a long drawn out funeral, processional and mourning process with Bruce, Lois and Diana grieving. This really irritated me because I felt like the movie was trying to invoke phony emotion out of me.  I don’t feel sad about Superman dying because I know it isn’t real.

Now you can make the argument that Zack Snyder knows we know and this is all just a fun little teaser for Justice League but that almost annoys me more! We already know from the earlier dream you have introduced a time traveler in The Flash. I’m not stupid Zack.  I know exactly what is going to happen and it greatly annoyed me.

I think he thinks we are all stupid.  That we are going to somehow find this intriguing and that there is going to be debate about what might happen next, kind of like the ending of Force Awakens did with Luke.  Force Awakens is fun speculation because we don’t know what is going to happen with Luke or what he is going to be like.  We all absolutely know for sure that Superman is going to be in the freakin Justice League! Give me a break!

There is even a shot of the coffin that greatly insinuates The Flash and the time travel and everything else and it all just makes me groan!

So in conclusion, Batman v Superman started out promising with the bounce off of Man of Steel.  The charisma of most of the performances kept me from being miserable.  However, Lex Luthor’s plan has so many plot holes as well as the script as a whole.  How he gets permission for certain things, knows about certain things, and how the Senate explosion is never talked about again.

Batman is cool but he is also kind of stupid if we believe he is a pawn in Lex’s scheme.  Wonder Woman is cool but underused.  Lex is annoying. Lois is a damsel in distress.  Superman stands around a lot and while people are making speeches about God.

But all this would have been fine if they hadn’t had the climatic fight end so unbelievably, bland Doomsday sequences, and the cheap, phony trick of killing off Superman.  That was unpardonable and it really irritated me.

And some people may be inclined to say ‘oh, it’s just a fun popcorn movie Rachel.  Just turn off your brain and have fun with it’.  I poo-poo that idea because don’t try to sell me on darker, grittier realistic Batman and Superman and then expect me to go with such nonsense.  Wasn’t that the whole appeal of Man of Steel is that it wasn’t the man with the red underwear saving people?  It was more than the old school popcorn movies?  Now they want to have it both ways. No way.

Also, someone said would I be as annoyed if they killed off Captain America in Civil War?  No because we’ve had 3 Captain America movies and 2 Avengers.  It is a lot less obvious we need Cap in Infinity Wars as we need Superman in Justice League.  Therefore, such an ending has that debate and feels more authentic and believable. There is no way Superman is dead where I could believe Cap really is dead (hopefully not though as that would break my heart!).

Well, and Zack Snyder has already said ‘I’m a comic book guy. I was trying to be 100% accurate to the comic books’.  I’m no expert on Frank Miller and dark and gritty comic books but I’m pretty sure they don’t involve crackpot scientist with elaborate schemes that manipulate Batman.  Plus, you are making a MOVIE not a comic book, not a video game, not a music video.  You need to tell a coherent story with a satisfying ending for this movie.  It comes off as not only a weak excuse but kind of blaming the comic books for the problems of the film. Not goona fly.

So there you have it.  My long rambling spoiler filled thoughts on Batman v Superman.

Overall Grade- C- although more I think about it the more annoyed I get.

Batman v Superman Spoiler Free Review

batman v superman11I was going to wait to do a spoiler free review of Batman v Superman until I see it Thursday (I ended up getting into an early screening today!).  But I felt I should put a few comments down because some people will want to take their children to this movie and might hope I could give them some guidance in that regard.  This review is spoiler free so I can’t say what happens but something happens that I think could seriously upset small kids.  Just trust me.

Now let’s get on with my initial thoughts.

First I will remind you guys I’m not that rabid a Batman fan to begin with.  The movies tend to focus too much on villains and Batman is usually a bore.  I like my superhero movies to be about heroes rather than villains.

That said, I went to Batman v Superman optimistic and hopeful it would be a fun comic book movie.  And for about an hour in I was enjoying it on that level and then unfortunately it takes a turn I did not like at all.

I will also say that my brother who is a huge Batman fan hated the movie, so take that for what you will. He was very upset and not in a good way.

It’s hard because one of the things that didn’t work at all is highly spoilery but suffice it to say that Zack Snyder thinks we are all stupid.  He somehow thinks he can make a movie with a million hints at the Justice League Movie coming in 2017 and yet expect us to buy the ending…Come on? When you guys see it you will know what I mean.  There is no way the ending is legitimate and it is all done to squeeze phony emotion out of fans and leave you in a phony cliffhanger for those dumb enough to buy it.

Ok. Off soapbox.  There were things that worked quite well.  Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman was actually quite good.  If you had told me going into it that one of my favorite things about Batman v Superman would be Wonder Woman I would have said you were crazy but there it is.

Also, I liked some of the character development we got in the first hour of Batman and Superman.  Ben Affleck was good as Batman although he is manipulated rather easily.  But I thought the building off of the destruction of Man of Steel and questioning Superman’s powers was pretty good.  Cavill is fine in the film but I still don’t see any chemistry between him and Amy Adams’ Lois Lane.

Jeremy Irons is good as Alfred although underused and Lawrence Fishburne as Perry White had a few moments of comic relief.  Holly Hunter as a senator was kind of wasted.

Jesse Eisenberg didn’t work for me as Lex Luthor’s son but it’s not entirely his fault.  The screenplay makes some leaps that I found hard to believe.  He is granted clearance to things he really shouldn’t be.  He’s places that don’t make sense for him to be at and he seems to know Clark Kent and Bruce Wayne’s alter-egos when he is first being introduced to both of them.  He also manipulates Bruce very easily.

Let’s talk about the action.  There’s really only one extended fight scene and then 2 dream sequences. The dreams were kind of annoying.  The long fight scene is ok but the way it ends does not make sense for either character.

We all knew they would go from being enemies to friends within the movie.  It’s in the title so I don’t think that is a spoiler but how that happens did not feel authentic or believable at all.   Batman makes such a drastic shift and for a reason that I didn’t buy.

Boy it sounds like I really hated it.  I guess the charisma of the stars provided enough marginal enjoyment for me to give it a ‘meh’ rating.  I can totally see why my brother hated it.

I think a lot of fans will phantom menace this movie.  It has a very low rotten tomatoes score and already I’m hearing defenses and ( if you liked it that’s awesome) but I wouldn’t be surprised if a lot of people come down on this movie once the novelty has faded and they look at it more objectively.  We will see.

Oh and Doomsday looks terrible.  I couldn’t believe how bad the CG was on him.  Usually Zack Snyder at least gets that kind of thing right.

I just don’t know how anyone defends that ending.  Zack Snyder tried to trick me and it’s not going to work! I may not be a huge Batman fan but I’m not stupid either.

Overall Grade- C-

I also don’t think Man of Steel fans will like this movie.  It doesn’t have any of the sci-fi or edgier elements of that film.  It’s a lot of people talking about Gods and God-like powers and not much of the showing like in Man of Steel.

My youtube review.  A bit rambling but say what I needed to say.

All Batman Movies Quick Thoughts

I must confess- Batman and I have a rather troubled relationship.  You know how some people just don’t get Star Wars and why everyone loves it?  Well, that’s what Batman is for me.  Out of all of the versions of Batman I only really love 1 of them. Only 1 would make my top 200 favorite movies list.

That’s not to say that I hate them. In fact, most of them I find watchable and even enjoy, but it’s just not my fandom.My biggest problem with most Batman movies is that Batman gets sidelined in favor of the villains.  I like my superhero movies to be about heroes not villains.

That said, I’m going into this week’s Batman v Superman with an open mind and perhaps less insane expectations than the fanboys.  I hope I will like it!

Nevertheless, it had been years since I had seen most of the Batman films so I gave them all a rewatch.  I decided to do kind of a Hit Me with Your Best Shot treatment to all these movies and picked one shot that I think captures the movie best and then add a few thoughts on each film:

(For my thoughts on all the Superman movies click here)

Batman 1966- charming and completely ridiculous. Wears out its welcome at nearly 2 hours but the villains are silly fun and Adam West is very dapper as Batman. I like how everything is labeled. That cracks me up. Batman 1966-2This is my favorite example of the labeling I will just add because I think it is so funny.  They label the entrance to the bat cave and Dick and Bruce’s poles.

batcaveBatman 1989- I didn’t like it. People talk about Michael Keaton being so great, but he’s hardly in the movie. Next time you watch it pay attention to how much dialogue and screen time Keaton actually has and it will surprise you.   Jack Nicholson as the Joker just shouts a lot.  I mean there’s a long unnecessary Prince musical number in the middle?  I don’t get the appeal to be honest. Even the makeup I don’t really like. batman 1989-2Batman Returns- Starts strong and Penguin/Catwoman are creepy and memorable. But  it gets too fetishy for my taste. Almost no Batman in this film- like seriously there are long segments with the villains and then Batman/Bruce Wayne appears briefly. Cinematography and art design is cool and feels like a Tim Burton movie, so at least it has that going for it.  The Penguin running for office plotline is a snoozefest. It scared me as a little girl and definitely has some horror elements but now it feels more icky than scary for a good chunk of movie.Batman REturns2Batman Forever- Jim Carrey is fun as Riddler but Tommy Lee Jones is awful. For a movie meant for children it earns its PG-13 rating with violence and sensuality. Plan by Riddler to overtake all the brains in Gotham with his TV device sure gets implemented quickly and is very silly. It needed to be developed more but instead we get lots of shouting, lame action and Nicole Kidman spouting 90s era pop psychology. The whole movie is silly and special effects look really bad. Batman forever2Batman and Robin- Some so bad its good appeal. Unfortunately even that is marred by a surprising amount of male erotica (and female) for a film made to sell children’s toys.  The action is ridiculous with characters defying gravity and having powers that don’t make sense. The one liners are groan inducing especially from Arnold and Uma Thurman is so bad. Careers were ruined all over the place. Batman and Robin2Batman: Mask of Phantasm- Love it. My favorite Batman movie.  I love the animation, and I love the relationship between Bruce and Andrea Beaumont. It’s a Batman movie actually about Batman! Imagine that! The script is so good.  I particularly love the conversation at the end with Alfred and Bruce about walking the line between good and evil.  Mark Hamil is fantastic as the Joker and he is used more sparingly than Dark Knight. Great Shirley Walker score. (I’ll do a full review of this one of these days)mask of phantasm2Batman Begins- Overlong  but I like it because it is about Batman. I think the cinematography is good and I like that it embraces comic book sensibilities a little bit more than other Nolan films (microwave emitter and all). Liam Nieson is good as Ra’s al Ghul and one of the more complex Batman villains.batman beings33Dark Knight- I’m not as high on this as everyone else but it is well done. Heath Ledger is great. I’m just not that into crime dramas and think the movie suffers when Joker is off screen. Plus, Harvey Dent’s transformation is so sudden from renegade DA to threatening to kill a child. I needed more time with him and Rachel to buy their relationship and the drastic change. Batman/Bruce Wayne is lost a bit because Joker is so strong. But I totally get why you love it so don’t kill me.Dark Knight222Dark Knight Rises I like the more hopeful tone and Anne Hathaway is great. Bane’s Marxist revolution and the focus on manipulating the masses is interesting. More focus on Batman/Bruce Wayne than Dark Knight. I like my Batman movies to be about Batman! There is too much of Bruce watching the action instead of participating and Marion Cotillard character is weak.  However, as with all the Nolan films, it looks great and is well done.  It was better than I expected it to be (I saw for first time a few weeks ago).Dark knight rises battleIn general, I guess I’m just not that big of a Batman girl but we’ll see how Batman v Superman does. Maybe it can win me over? Here’s hoping! batman v superman11Can any of you relate to my feelings on any of these films?  What do you think of them? I would love to hear your thoughts.

My Family Movie Night youtube review of Batman 1966

Blindspot 3: Dark Knight Rises

dark knight risesThis month I am taking care of my Blindspot entry early.  This is the series where we watch a classic we have never seen before and give our thoughts on it.  I have already done Blade Runner, Tron and now we look at The Dark Knight Rises.  Yes my friends, today I saw Dark Knight Rises for the first time.  I’m probably one of the few Americans who can say that!

The reason why I was hesitant to see it was because I didn’t really care for Dark Knight (I know shock. Ah, horrors, I have no taste!).  It was too cynical, violent and frankly creepy for me.  It was dominated by a mesmerizing villain and I don’t like stories about villains.  I like stories about heroes.  So I was reticent to see the final installment and then the Colorado Shooting happened and it put me over the edge.  You can read my thoughts on that day here.

I quoted my cousin who said:

“How about the very movie that was showing in the theater where the shooting took place?! I know The Dark Knight Rises is the movie of the Summer, but I walked out because of how intensely violent I felt it was and the ruthless killer Bane was dark and evil. After 20 minutes I went back in because I didn’t want to feel left out… (wish i would have chosen differently now.) i know its bold to say, but we cannot keep watching this violence on screen and expect to be exempt from it in real life!”

I admit I have become a bit more immune to these things than back then but the violence in Dark Knight still bothered me when watching it a few weeks ago.

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So that’s all kind of background to my viewing experience today.  And…

I have to be honest- I liked The Dark Knight Rises a lot more than I thought I would.  Why?  Well, at its core is a message of hope that a city can rise up and confront evil.  In the Dark Knight, on the other hand, the most noble soul turns into the villain.  It’s the opposite message.  Everyone, even Batman has an angle and isn’t that different from the Joker after all.

That’s not to say it is perfect but I did enjoy the viewing experience a lot more.  I know I’m unique in that but I’m not writing these reviews to tell you what you want to hear but what I truly believe.

So basically the plot in Dark Knight Rises is Bruce Wayne is blamed for the death of Harvey Dent, who is looked at as a hero.  He goes into hiding for 8 years.  Bane, a masked beast of a man, played by Tom Hardy is on a mission to remove corruption from Gotham by removing what he see’s as injustice. Injustice with the government, wealth, commerce and everything else.

dark knight rises2

Bane is trained by Ra’s al Ghul from Batman Begins (who trained Batman) and he is also on a mission to kill Batman who killed Ra.  Bane tricks Catwoman Selina Kyle to get Bruce Wayne’s fingerprints and he stages a takedown of the stock exchange destroying Bruce and Wayne Enterprises.

The plot does get pretty convoluted at that point but Alfred resigns (and is missing most of the movie), Lucius becomes involved, Commissioner Gordon is hunting down Bane as best he can and we get to meet John Blake who is essentially a Robin-type story.  There is also Wayne Board Member Miranda Tate played by Marion Cotillard who wants to see a fusion reactor produced for energy but Bruce fears it could get into the hands of people like Bane.

Bane tries to stage a type of Marxist revolution killing off the powerful and rich while manipulating the common people with fear.  This is in the end is not effective when many people fight back (literally in a type of battle) and Batman pays the ultimate price.  The film leaves us with the message “a hero can be anyone”

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One of the things that bothers me about most Batman movies is Batman is always the most boring person in the film.  Dark Knight Rises is an interesting situation because he is not really the lead character.  The City of Gotham is the lead, and its transformation is what is compelling.So basically Batman Begins is about Bruce becoming Batman.  Dark Knight is about the Joker and the power of evil and corruption.  Dark Knight Rises is about the City of Gotham and it finding its hope again.

That’s not to say there aren’t problems in the film.  Batman is in the film too little and there are probably too many scenes of Bruce watching the action in prison.  Also it can be difficult to understand what Tom Hardy is saying with that mask on.  There are also other plotholes like his speedy recovery with a leg brace from a debilitating injury but it’s a comic book movie.  I guess I expect that kind of heroics in a comic book movie.  I don’t watch this genre for gritty realism. And in reality there are plotholes in Dark Knight whether people chose to acknowledge them or not.

I’m not saying Dark Knight Rises is a masterpiece. I don’t know if I feel that way about any superhero movie outside of The Incredibles; although there are many I enjoy.  I’m just saying I appreciated the change in tone from the previous installment.

dark knight rises3I also loved Anne Hathaway as Selina Kyle.  She was confident, sexy, and smart.  Her performance certainly wipes the bad taste out of my mouth from Halle Berry’s Catwoman.  That’s for sure!  I thought she was really entertaining.

dark knight rises6Miranda Tate while fine was more of an average character, and I don’t know that I completely buy her big reveal at the end.  It feels a little cheap to me.  Nolan didn’t need to make everything in all 3 movies tie up in a perfect bow.  We even see Scarecrow in a cameo during the sentencing scene.  That wasn’t really needed.

Also  many of the other characters are relegated to bit roles.  Alfred has very powerful moments but then is missing for most of the movie.  Gordon we don’t see enough of , as well as a number of other characters.

dark knight rises8As far as Bane goes I found his political motivations to ‘share the wealth’ kind of interesting but like I said he is tough to understand at times and is a little one-note.  The fight scenes are intense but perhaps because I wasn’t as creeped out by Bane as Joker they didn’t bother me as much as the violence in Dark Knight.

If I’m honest you do kind of tell this was the B storyline that they had to use with Heath Ledger’s passing but I still think it turned out very well.

Dark Knight Rises feels like a comic book movie and not a crime drama.  That said, having seen how the story ends I do appreciate the Dark Knight much more than I did before (it might not sound like it but it is true).  I can now see the story as a true trilogy and the hopeful ending does make the middle violence a little more palatable. It is almost better to think of the 3 films as one long movie and not 3 separate stories.  dark knight trilogyOf course the direction is well done by Nolan with beautiful cinematography from Wally Pfister and terrific score from Hans Zimmer.  I don’t think Nolan has made a technically bad movie yet.

You could definitely make an argument that Dark Knight Rises is self-indulgent at its 165 minute time and there are definitely lags but over all I enjoyed it much more than I thought I would.  Chop this one up to low expectations if you want.

There’s hope for Gotham and that makes me happy!

Overall Grade- B