Good to hear, TCR, I´m still a fan of Gervais and look forward to this one.
Speaking of internet and media hate, by the way...
BATMAN V SUPERMAN: DAWN OF JUSTICE
I avoided this. Reading all the reviews made me scared of watching the film. I´ve always loved Superman as a comic book character, still adore the first movie with Christopher Reeve, and can enjoy all the other films as well, consider Brandon Routh as underrated as SUPERMAN RETURNS and even appreciated MAN OF STEEL which got lots of hate already.
But this one got to be the punching bag for everybody, it seems. Too dark, totally incoherent, a narrative mess, Jesse Eisenberg as Lex Luthor is annoying, this is not how Superman is supposed to be. Only Affleck´s Batman got some positive notes. Zack Snyder, however, was singled out as the culprit, the bad director who ruins everything.
WB got in panic mode, scrapped the planned two-parter for JUSTICE LEAGUE and sneaked in the news that this upcoming film, again directed by Snyder, would be a stand-alone film with LOTS of humour, of course. And that may be actually even creatively good for that film.
But BATMAN V SUPERMAN is a different story, and IMO it needed to be this dark. It also is a clear MAN OF STEEL sequel despite people complaining that Superman is only a supporting character in this one and Batman steals the film.
He doesn´t. This is a direct continuation of MAN OF STEEL and deals with the way the world now views this alien creature nicknamed Superman. A god-like entity who instills joy but also great fear. Who knows what he decides to do? Who knows which alien enemies he attracts to Earth, resulting in bloodshed and carnage again?
But this story is not told through Superman´s eyes alone, it is told through from Batman´s viewpoint as well - and that, folks, is a great and mightily interesting idea since Batman is also a self-appointed authority who says he wants to fight crime but does so like a true vigilante, not shying away from the kind of violence that his opponents employ. To have these two conflicting heroes/anti-heroes oppose each other, first in a welcome long stretch through their alter egos with words and behaviour, and only later on with actual fighting - yes, that was clever of Snyder and transformed a movie which could have been just another blow-em-up-destruction-porn into a character piece.
And while Affleck indeed is in fine form as Bruce Wayne/Batman (IMO miles ahead of the one-note Christian Bale), it is Henry Cavill as Clark Kent/Superman has the more difficult role and still pulls it off without showing off, in a controlled and restrained performance, the kind which only looks easy but in fact is so difficult and rare - most actors would have overacted this in order to steal the attention. Cavill´s Superman is charismatic yet introverted, powerful yet afraid of what the world will think of him and how he really puts them all at risk.
Jesse Eisenberg is annoying? Of course, he is - because he must be! He is putting a fresh spin on the Lex Luthor character, making him a young tech mogul who thinks he is cleverer then everybody and is an unashamed sadist, taking a sheer delight in hurting other people, manipulating them so he still can feel superior to the world. It is, IMO, the best Luthor on film yet.
Gal Gadot convinces as Wonder Woman as well - but this truly is only a small supporting part. A whole Wonder Woman film with her will be interesting - and this film has established her very well.
The main idea of the film, however, and this is what totally surprised me, is something that lifts Snyder´s film from being a thoughtful, visually brilliant take on the Superman/Batman stories to a story about our current world climate.
Yes, it does, bear with me. Since Batman represents cynicism which is considered cool and disregards rules and laws of his own, it is no wonder that so many people prefer this character nowadays. We live in such a world. Superman, in contrast, represents pure idealism, and these days easily gets ridiculed as the "boyscout" - as if being selfless and doing good deeds is silly. BATMAN V SUPERMAN even goes further and depicts a world which either falls into religious worshipping of Superman or blatant hatred against this god-like creature descending from heaven. Batman rather wants to destroy Superman because even if, he says, there is only a one percent chance that Superman could be dangerous he already has to be viewed as dangerous and therefore must be killed.
The film therefore basically is a story about how our modern world has become so cruel and disillusioned that it cannot bear the thought of someone who actually wants to be human and even acts more humane than those people he constantly saves. But when these two sides get into conflict, there can be no winner. In fact, Batman has to realize that he is fighting the wrong enemy and that he has lost what Superman represents: a basic humanity. Superman´s final act in the film enforces this again and puts every doubt to shame. At the end, it is not cynicism that prevails but idealism - and even Batman is fueled by it to move forward.
Wouldn´t that be a better world for us, too, in which people could start to drop their cynic side again and start to behave constructively, acknowledging that the greater good is something to strive for and, yes, much more cool then everything else?
So why did the film fare so badly this spring with the fanboys and the critics? Mass hysteria, it seems, a lynchmob mentality that was fueled by the first bad reviews and snowballed into a common need for hate and putting something down which did not offer what was expected. That this film was so much better was sadly overlooked.
By the way - this is a review for the cinematic cut. I´m looking forward to watching the expanded cut with half an hour more footage. Call me crazy. Or give this film another try.