(Before the real discussion begins I’d just like to say that 3D is the definitive version of this movie to go to. Usually movies in 3D are nowhere near as good as the 2D or they lose resolution. But for some reason this movie actually got clearer in 3D. I think it might have been becuse they used a 3D camera instead of a 2D but I’m not sure. However, everything in the 3D version for some reason just looks clearer, better, and more defined and more importantly stylistically works within Snyder’s and Fong’s look on the film and the low shallow depth of field on certain shots. Combined with the particles in screen and certain things, like Superman using his laser vision, going from being a meh in the 2D to a Woah that’s cool in 3D. If you don’t take my word for it just go see for yourself.)
So HERE IT IS
Black and Blue … Man vs God
And a Whole lot of angry critics following at it’s coat tails all the while trying to sink the ship.
That at least is the narrative that’s been fed from metacritic & rotten-tomatoes and many other review aggregate sites in their approach to reviewing this movie.
And I’m going to go right out ahead and say it …. for the most part a lot of the shellacking, among critics, this movie has been getting is largely … unwarranted.
After I walked out of the Movie Theater I had no clue how this movie could get anything lower than a 6.5/10 AND that is only if I was being of an extremely critical nature and I mean EXTREMELY critical.
In fact if you read any review that complains of the movie being “too dark” or “too gritty” or “not in the spirit of superman” then go ahead and throw that review in the dumpster and burn it. Honest I’m sick and tired of people who just simply don’t get the direction of Snyder’s film style or more importantly of his heavy use of Tenebrism or Chiaroscuro. Someone might say a renaissance painting by Caravaggio is “dark” but that’s not a negative but rather simply a stylistic choice and often is actually a boon.
There are a lot of faults in this movie, but there also is quite a lot of good. Yet, I’d like to make an explanatory note of an issue with movies in general and more often of Comic book movies as a whole.
Anytime extremely high levels of logic (or ill logic in some cases) are applied to any movie of any sort those said movies will fall apart. Part of the magic of movies is that the best ones will sort of “win” you over and at that point (similar to inception in how a person’s subconscious will accept a dream) the person stops trying to decipher or make logic and simply starts accepting or floating through or as some people might say … enjoy it. The vision or dream becomes real and a person’s defenses are lowered and it becomes “good”. Sometimes a movie might do something that brings a person “out” but for the most part most good movies have this and this allows them to bypass a lot of their problems.
With this film I didn’t really see the hook until nearly a quarter of the way through and for the most part if you keep to the hook this movie is actually quite palatable and a quite good. Images of Superman floating down to a crowd at Day of the Dead, or him pulling a ship as shown in the cover image, are incredible combined with the monologue by the talking heads discussing about Superman. The movie asks some very significant questions of the nature of power and more importantly of the nature of having too much power or power that is unchecked. There are a lot of subtle things in this movie that I didn’t see the first time that I eventually did see on the second run through. A LOT and I think part of that may be that I had more time to be critical since I knew what was going to happen. But a lot of inner clock work of the movie revolves around the discussion of whether Clark (Superman) is a God or angelic being or a devil or is he actually just a regular Joe just trying to do the right thing. It approaches super power in a very worldly real way in a sense that it splits and divides opinions and more importantly causes tribal divides of who gets to decide what is right and wrong.
And for this reason it’s the saving grace of the movie. Everything in the movie falls into this discussion. It’s messy, it’s interesting, and also highly philosophical which is part of the reason why it goes over so many people’s heads.
Contrary to popular opinion this movie is NOT a comic book movie. Rather it asks what would happen if you put the comic book versions of the characters into a REAL world and let loose what might happen. This point is hammered home especially by the fact that events within the film are heavily interlocking in discussion of how their are so many illogical choices going on so to speak among some of the characters and those involved. However, as we all know the real world isn’t perfect and in fact people often make highly illogical choices. I’ll go into depth on some of these choices below in my spoiler area where I address some issues I think aren’t issues but we’ll get there.
Now for the seams of the movie. If ever there are any points in a film that I could have edited a movie together then I instantly start notching off points, so to speak. In this film there were quite a few to be honest and some of the intros to Justice League hints felt FAR too long and could have been done more tastefully and more quickly. In this regard to editing my friend explained to me that the movie felt like a, “directors cut,” and to that end I would entirely agree. The stuff that is tightly edited however, is done exceptionally well. Still that leaves quite a bit of extra drag on the film that easily could have left out a good 15 to 20 minutes of unnecessary footage.
As for the actual movie’s production value though … holy cow is it good. It might seem like a steep price that the movie cost 250 mil to make but every cent of those dollars are in the film. Visually speaking it looks at times like a moving Renaissance painting by Caravaggio and I love that aspect. The CGI visuals are some of the best that you will ever see on screen and are FAR superior to anything you’ll ever see in a Marvel movie. Even my friend who isn’t a big Superhero guy but sees some of the movies commented to me, “dude that was way more intense than anything Marvel releases,” to which I agreed. The fight scenes are great too with everything clicking on all cylinders once it gets going. Not to mention Batman’s fighting in this film is absolutely top notch. I don’t think we’ll ever get a Batman that is quite as good as this one on screen. I mean Ben Affleck is the Batman from the Arkham games incarnate in movement and in how he handles himself. Maybe a little brutish but he gets the job done. Gal Gadot as wonder woman earned cheers in every showing of the film that I went to. But what was most surprising of a standout for me was Perry White whose dialogue, I felt, humanized and added some extra humor besides also being informative. His line, “breaking news crime wave in Gotham, in other news … water wet,” while being I think hilarious was also something that gives context for just how bad Gotham is. Along with Jeremy Irons’ Alfred you get actually a pretty funny movie between the 2 that lightens it up when it needs.
However, the stand out by far was Lex Luthor under Jesse Eisenberg’s command. In him you get an idea of a man who as he explains is trapped by the fact that supposedly “knowledge is power” and yet he really isn’t all that powerful compared to Clark. He even says it himself that its “paradoxical” that it should be that way and therein lies his reasoning for going after Clark. He can’t stand someone who asks to be above everyone in every way in the manner of which Superman is. Which his monologue, about half of the way through, explains and in many ways elevates his performance.
All of this works to make a movie which while has some problems is overall I think good. However, if you don’t get all the referential material and are just coming into comics or don’t recognize the para-demons per say in one sequence then I’d understand that.
For those people the score is – 7/10
Now for those people who are comic book fans they’ll know what is going on a little more and be a little more forgiving for misteps – 8/10
And if you’re like me and enjoy the philosophical discussion going on throughout the film of power and morality and defining those then you’ll proably give it this score – 8.5/10
To be honest Zach takes a lot of risks in this movie and is quite brave for it. I know of no superhero movie to date that has tackled this issue of morality of who gets to decide the morality that is enforced. With it being the first notable comic book movie to ask this question Zach wins me over. He brings to light the question of is it right that Superman decides unilaterally whats right and wrong and I think he does a good job fleshing that question out.
BELOW I try to answer some questions for people who haven’t seen the movie.
Ok so I’ll just answer some common questions about people’s problems in this movie.
1) the opening scene how can they pin it on superman since they used bullets and well … he’s superman.
A: Well first off if you notice that while the contractors are leaving the scene they are burning the village and people. That alone would leave very little evidence that they shot the villagers. When someone tells later that all they heard was shooting … then the sound of Superman’s arrival and then come outside to see walls destroyed and burning bodies everywhere no matter how educated they are they will equate that he used his laser vision on them or something else to kill the people. Combined with as the Lady said that the Army came in after and destroyed the whole place that would leave very little chance of evidence to refute the person’s claims.
2) Why does Lex Luthor hate Superman? He seems quite unreasonable to me.
A: He’s not unreasonable at all. In fact out of all of the people in the movie he’s potentially the most reasonable. He views superman as a threat because unlike other humans, of whom he is of similar intellect and commonality, superman is beyond and far more powerful. He can outsmart or out hire or do whatever is necessary on humanly levels to beat other people, but Superman breaks that equation because there is nothing Lex can do about Superman’s power. However, he realizes he can’t just outright kill Superman so as a result he gives him the ultimate test. God is good and yet not all powerful (equates to him being a good man that is killed by Batman) or he is All powerful and yet not all good (He kills Batman proving he triumphs over the ultimate gladiator human but yet proves that he isn’t good by killing someone that is respected as bringing Justice in Gotham). If he goes through the test properly either it will remove Superman or it will prove that he is a fraud which is what Lex wants. Lex wants Superman out of the picture. Either by human methods because he knows Superman is a boy-scout and will follow human jurisdiction placed on him (if he does murder) or by killing him. Doomsday is just the ace card to finish the job if things don’t go to plan and, judging by the manner in which he greets Clark at the ship before Doomsday’s birth, its fair to say he realized he hadn’t succeeded and so was ready to have him birthed. If Superman had followed what he said and ended up with the 2 conclusions probably he’d have just cancelled Doomsday’s birth which is important to note that he DID have control up until he was birthed.
3) So the CIA knows Superman didn’t kill those people in Africa they are smart. They know its a setup. Why don’t they just vindicate him?
A: Well see that’s the kicker. They know and yet just like a real government they realize they could use something false or real or something misconstrued to get Superman to basically come under their jurisdiction or for political action. Imagine if you had the chance of putting a massive powerful being in your back pocket and being able to whip him out whenever you needed to. So at the court hearing they probably were most likely going to put the kobosh on supes and bring him under human control. Of course no one saw that Bomb coming (which I thought was awesome btw) so Lex uses it to pit Batman against supes so he can set up the situation that he needs and effectively negating the chance that Superman will become the U.S. government’s pet super powered enforcer.
4) How did Lex Luthor figure out that Superman was Clark and that Batman was Bruce Wayne.
A: Superman would have been easy. All he’d have to see is like he mentioned … direct line. He mentions how everyone is thinking circles when in fact it’s triangles and direct lines of contact. Which of course would have led him to Lois Lane interestingly because she’s the first one who leaked anything about him. Following this he probably would have kept an eye on her at which point it would have been easily realized that Clark was Superman. The rest following would have been easy. As for Batman, Lex probably figured that the only person with the Money and time to be Batman would have been someone who was of an elite aspect like Bruce who had the money, time, and technology to become him. Lex is very smart and him figuring out that Bruce is Batman isn’t quite as far fetched as one might imagine considering he did it in the comics as well.
5) Batman doesn’t kill? So why did he kill in the Nightmare scene and in the warehouse scene with the flame-thrower guy and of course the numerous usage of his Gatling guns.
A: To be fair this is a very violet version of Batman and as I would put it is someone who is a more worldly realized version of Batman. I’d always thought that the idea that Batman “doesn’t kill” was something that would never hold up in the real world if put under any actually duress and this movie shows that. If you notice Batman really only returns lethal fire on people when they put lethal fire on him. He returns what he gets. The mini-gun fires on him and he returns with his own guns. When in the plane getting shot at by .50 cals he returns fire afterward with his own mini-guns so in fairness his rules are different but he does have them. The guy is about to throw a grenade and he kicks the dude into an area with his own grenade. For the most part he tries to mitigate damage as much as possible. Like he destroys different dudes guns and he doesn’t kill the dude with the knife he just pins him to the wall (you’ll notice him moving around afterward). And of course the flamethrower. I’ve honestly thought of situations like this numerous times with Superheroes and to be honest I’ve always thought that under logical decisions of duress if the hero is asked to they will do whatever is necessary to save an innocent life. Soldiers do it all the time, cops do it, swat does it, I mean we sniper dudes who are threatening people all the time. So it makes sense to me that Batman would make a judgement call like that and simply get rid of the guy. Like the dude is straight up telling Batman that he’ll torch a woman in front of him which is why his line, “I believe you is,” is so poignant. He knows this guy has just made out his death sentence. The actual most illogical part of the scene was the fact that he was holding an M60 in one arm. I’m sorry but an M60 cannot be carried in one arm easily no matter if you’re rambo.
(side note: apparently this part was pulled almost exclusively from the dark knight returns which is awesome. here’s a pic.
(he finishes the sentence by saying, “I believe you just like in the movie,”)
6) Superman didn’t have to die … they could have given the spear to wonder woman and then she could have done it.
Maybe but as shown she had already been fighting him (keeping him down with the lasso and such). Is he supposed to toss it to her and then he takes the lasso or some other thing or what? I mean Clark’s never been the brightest guy considering everything involved so he’s probably thinking that if he stabs Doomsday he’ll be weak or die, but instead that just makes him angry and frees him from the Lasso. Plus at the point its better not to think that these people are going to be incredibly logical. They’re just trying to kill the dang dude.
7) That line by Superman about Lois being his world was stupid.
Actually it wasn’t. The whole film is all about the fact that Superman of the 1938 version everyone loves could not EXIST in this world we have to today. Similar to Jesus the real world would crucify the guy for who he is which is just a regular dude with Super powers trying to do what he thinks is right. The problem becomes who is Clark to say what is right and wrong? Who is he to decide by executive fiat who gets saved and who doesn’t? Everyone is asking him if he’s for his world or for their world or their tribe or their beliefs and yet at the end he says no to all of that. Instead he tells Lois that she is his world. That is why it’s a great introspection into his character. He rejects what the world wants him to be and what his Kryptonian parents want him to be and is what he wants to be which is someone who is willing sacrifice everything for the one that he loves. She is his world.
That’s pretty much all the majors ones hopefully I’ve addressed them. If you’d like to talk about them let me know.