Friday, November 17, 2017
Things To Do

Review: 'Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice' a brooding, self-serious blockbuster

RECOMMENDED READING


Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice was supposed to settle a fanboy debate older than Adam West. Instead it raises another:

Is being a superhero really this much of a drag?

Perhaps only in the DC Comics movie universe that director Zack Snyder is starting, although not yet with a big bang. Man of Steel kicked it off with a baldly theological take on Superman's origins -- Moses with a cape -- and a catastrophe quotient turning off as many viewers as on.

One collateral victim of that movie's climactic showdown over Metropolis was a building owned by Gotham City mogul/Caped Crusader Bruce Wayne, allowing Snyder to turn an Easter egg into a flat action omelette. Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice buckles like that skyscraper under the weight of pretension, so serious.

If you're watching a superhero movie this weekend and smiling, it's a Marvel.

BvS, as fanboys abbreviate, is a 2 1/2 hour blockbuster nonetheless, somber as the funeral kicking it off. Again we get Batman's psychological origins, cribbed from Christopher Nolan and thankfully finished with the end credits. The movie also ends with a coffin, offering a spoilable hint of where Snyder's head is at.

But first, we get that Metropolis assault from Bruce's perspective, giving Ben Affleck plenty of time to set his square, stubbled jaw for a long haul. Bruce sees one employee lose his legs, a child her parents, and knows that flying dude in tights must pay.

For the record: The BvS screening was held the same day as the Brussels terrorist attacks, making this callously destructive movie one of those personal litmus tests of what entertainment is.

That much is coincidence but other narrative elements add to the movie's ponderous tone. Superman's triumphs also make him distrusted by a U.S. senator (Holly Hunter) and picketers labeling their savior as an "illegal alien," and "aliens are not Americans." A suicide bomber plays a key role. Snyder uses reality as a prop without concern.

Batman's nature is deadlier than ever, an object of horror, branding criminal prey with a bat emblem, or jamming a buck knife in someone's neck. This isn't a birthday party Batman, and Affleck offers no conflicting hints to make Bruce appealing. Even Clooney displayed more personality beneath the cowl.

Yet that is where Snyder focuses his attention too long, while Henry Cavill's Superman continues his nobly dull quest to help mankind, and a Kevin Costner cameo reminds him why. Cavill still has the look but not the feel of an action hunk, perhaps not entirely his fault.

"Are you going to love me, or be you?" Superman's girlfriend Lois Lane (Amy Adams) asks Cavill's Clark Kent from a bathtub. His response is the one time in BvS that Cavill starts to cut loose, and Snyder cuts away. A bit more Christopher Reeve in script or execution would go a long way.

When these comic book titans finally clash, the sound deafens and curiosity wanes; a Super shove here, a Bat blast there. Thankfully, Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot) shows up for the last 15 minutes to battle a lightning storm villain that Spider-Man 3 wouldn't touch. The cheers her entrance receives are purely relief that something exciting is finally happening.

With any luck, more will happen in the inevitable Justice League universe that DC hopes can compete with Marvel's Avengers head start. We get glimpses of the Flash and Aquaman here, neither resembling their classic comic book incarnations. Then again, Batman and Superman aren't yet measuring up to expectations, either.

Contact Steve Persall at [email protected] or (727) 893-8365. Follow @StevePersall.

Comments
Jeffrey Tambor accused of sexual harassment by his ‘Transparent’ co-star

Jeffrey Tambor accused of sexual harassment by his ‘Transparent’ co-star

"Transparent" actress Trace Lysette has accused actor Jeffrey Tambor of sexually harassing her on the set of the Amazon series.Lysette’s allegations mark the second time the star, who plays Maura Pfefferman on the critically acclaimed dramedy, has be...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Thanksgiving sides beyond the classics: corn casserole, Brussels sprouts salad, pecan pie carrots

Thanksgiving sides beyond the classics: corn casserole, Brussels sprouts salad, pecan pie carrots

There are probably a handful of essentials, things you must have on the Thanksgiving table lest some family members begin to riot. But I find there are often a couple of slots open for new things, chances to get weird or creative or, gasp, healthy. ...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Top things to do in Tampa Bay for Nov. 19

Top things to do in Tampa Bay for Nov. 19

Randy Newman: The legendary Oscar-, Grammy- and Emmy-winning singer-songwriter is known for hits like Feels Like Home, You’ve Got a Friend in Me and Sail Away. Every ticket purchased includes a physical or digital copy of his forthcoming album Dark ...
Updated: 3 hours ago
Here are this week’s pop culture winners and losers

Here are this week’s pop culture winners and losers

WINNERS:Taylor SwiftFollowing the death of his mother, Gloria, The Tonight Show host Jimmy Fallon shared a touching story with the audience about his mom squeezing his hand three times and saying "I love you," when he was a kid. "Last week, I was in ...
Updated: 3 hours ago
Review: ‘Marvel’s Runaways’ pits rebellious teens against their evil parents

Review: ‘Marvel’s Runaways’ pits rebellious teens against their evil parents

The parents in Runaways really are the worst.Hulu's new Marvel series follows a ragtag group of teenagers who have to band together to defeat their own parents, who are collective members of a secret criminal organization called the Pride.In the wake...
Updated: 3 hours ago
Top things to do in Tampa Bay for Nov. 18

Top things to do in Tampa Bay for Nov. 18

CraftArt Festival: More than 120 fine craft artists from around the country will be on hand for this annual street festival with a children’s activity tent and an artists’ demonstration tent. From ceramic artists throwing on the wheel to glass blowin...
Updated: 4 hours ago
What to watch this weekend: ‘The Punisher,’ ‘Search Party,’ Elizabeth Smart Lifetime movie

What to watch this weekend: ‘The Punisher,’ ‘Search Party,’ Elizabeth Smart Lifetime movie

GRIEF AND GUNS: THE PUNISHERMarvel fans first saw Marine veteran Frank Castle (Jon Bernthal) in Netflix's Daredevil series. The brutish anti-hero finally gets his own series with The Punisher, exploring what he did after helping Daredevil (Charlie Co...
Updated: 4 hours ago
If you only listen to one XTC song this week, this is it

If you only listen to one XTC song this week, this is it

Spearsy is almost back from vacation. Until then, here's Dr. Dim again:Well, it had to happen, Never Found in the 80s' XTC Week is drawing to a close, but what a great song we have today! From English Settlement (1982) comes this nearly perfect song ...
Updated: 5 hours ago
Before you hit the mall: here are some key holiday shopping hours

Before you hit the mall: here are some key holiday shopping hours

Plotting a shopping strategy for the holiday weekend? Here’s a look at holiday store opening hours for some major retailers:Thanksgiving8 a.m.: Kmart1 p.m.: JCPenney4 p.m.: GameStop5 p.m.: Best Buy, Macy’s, Toys "R" Us, Kohl’s6 p.m.: Old Navy, Target...
Updated: 5 hours ago
First look: Harry Potter’s Christmas finally arrives at Universal Orlando

First look: Harry Potter’s Christmas finally arrives at Universal Orlando

Christmas has finally come to Hogwarts at Universal Orlando, with the promise of warm butterbeer, a Frog Choir singing carols and a magical light show projected onto Hogwarts Castle nightly followed by fireworks. It opens to the public on Saturday. C...
Updated: 10 hours ago