Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice [2016]

MPAA (PG-13) CNS/USCCB (A-III)  ChicagoTribune (1 1/2 Stars) (2 1/2 Stars)  AVClub (C-)  Fr. Dennis (1 1/2 Stars)

IMDb listing
CNS/USCCB (J. McAleer) review
ChicagoTribune (M. Phillips) review (M. Zoller-Seitz) review
AVClub (A.A. Dowd) review

Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice [2016] (directed by Zach Snyder, screenplay by Chris Terrio and David S. Goyer, Batman [wikip] [DC] [IMDb] created by Bob Kane [wikip] [IMDb] and Bill Finger [wikip] [IMDb], Superman [wikip] [DC] [IMDb] created by Jerry Siegel [wikip] [IMDb] and Joe Shuster [wikip] [IMDb]) is a very DARK film.  There.  Understand or accept this point of departure and you'll understand where this film is coming from -- Christopher Nolan's [wikip] [IMDb] bleak if commercially successful "Dark Knight" interpretation of DC Comics' Batman [wikip] [DC] [IMDb] canon -- even as at least some PARENTS will wonder (rightly, I do believe) if this film (and really _a lot_ of the DC Comics inspired films of the last 10 years) are really "good for their kids."  Honestly, I would have rated the film R and apparently an "R-rated" version of the film will come-out with the film's future release on DVD.

The film begins where Snyder's / Goyer's Superman reboot Man of Steel [2013] left-off with Superman [wikip] [DC] [IMDb] (played by Henry Cavill) battling renegade Kryptonian General Zod's spacecraft over the skies of the Superman [wikip] [DC] [IMDb] canon's "Big City" Metropolis [wikip] ... 'CEPT we the Viewers see the action from the horrified "man on the street" perspective of Bruce Wayne / Batman [wikip] [DC] [IMDb] (played by Ben Affleck) who only sees the flying Superman battling Zod's craft, PERHAPS saving a human passerby or two, but nonetheless allowing (or at least NOT PREVENTING) wholesale 9/11+ style damage to the city including to (billionaire...) Wayne's own office Tower, resulting in the deaths of thousands of people including many of Wayne's own employees.

AS SUCH ... Wayne does not see Superman as much of a hero.  Sure Superman eventually defeats Zod's spacecraft BUT (1) through _super-powers_ that NO HUMAN BEING HAD, and (2) at the cost of lots-and-lots, indeed, THOUSANDS of HUMAN INNOCENTS.  Thus Wayne wonders if someone like Superman could really be trusted.  Sure, he's good ... NOW, _but_ "what about 50 years from now ..." and he adds "if there's even a 1% chance that he'd turn against us, we'd be better off assuming that the 1% chance was A CERTAINTY."

Wayne's not alone ... others from Lex Luthor [wikip] [DC] [IMDb] (imagined here as a "super-rich if unstable/arguably evil wiz kid" played by Jesse Eisenberg) to a sincere "no one should be above the law" Senator Finch [IMDb] (played by Holly Hunter) to Clark Kent / Superman's [wikip] [DC] [IMDb] own boss at The Daily Planet Perry White [wikip] [IMDb] (played by Laurence Fishburne) believe that Superman, with his _super powers_ is a potentially _very dangerous_ man.

'Course, Clark Kent / Superman doesn't exactly see the masked / caped armed-to-the-teeth vigilante Batman from the notoriously corrupt city of Gotham as exactly a "man of virtue" much less "hero."  Indeed, his (having grown-up in) Smallville, Kansas sensibility would militate against that. 

So in this (thankfully fictionalized) world where NO ONE seems to trust anybody, 'cept of course OTHERWISE "hard-hitting" / cynical reporter Lois Lane [wikip] [DC] [IMDb] (played by Amy Adams) who by the end of Man of Steel [2013] who had come to trust, even fall in love with Clark Kent / Superman [wikip] [DC] [IMDb].  Instead, EVERYONE comes to suspect that EVERYONE else is in cahoots "with the bad guys" (assorted generally _darker skinned_ / _accented_ Slavic / Islamic / Chechen arms dealers / terrorists) who are shown to exist in that fictionalized world as well.

So who's actually "good" in this story?  Well, there's Clark Kent / Superman's adoptive parents Martha and Jonathan Kent [wikip] [IMDb] (played by Diane Lane and at least in a flashback/dream sequence by Kevin Costner) arguably Lois and ... (different Viewers will have differing opinions).

And this then is A SIGNIFICANT PROBLEM that I'm increasingly having with DC Comics' (as opposed to Marvel Comics') film adaptations: DC's are NEEDLESSLY / UNHEALTHILY BLEAK.

So at minimum, I would say that the DC Comics' based films are GENERALLY _NOT_ FOR KIDS and even if they TECHNICALLY manage a "PG-13" rating, they're still, at least IN SPIRIT, "R-Rated" productions and PARENTS SHOULD TREAT THEM AS SUCH.

Understand that is not a bad film, but it is certainly _not_ a cheerful one, and I would definitely not recommend it to anyone who is not at least in their upper teens.  It's just too dark, too depressing and _even the film's portrayal_ of "the Evil doers" is not particularly healthy or useful to an uncritical audience:


So, bottom line, this is _not_ a good film for kids and may not be all that great for adults as well.

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