With a title as pompous and serious as this, don’t expect to laugh much when watching the 2016 sequel to Man of Steel by director Zack Snyder.
This is a dark, heavy and not subtle film. But surprisingly, it has some good moments.
After the movie opens with yet another version of Bruce Wayne’s parents’ death, you already know that this sequel will focus more heavily on Batman. That opening scene is dramatically shot in slow motion with Hans Zimmer now ominous but so effective style of music. The scene works even though most of us know what will happen.
The movie then jumps to present time. It’s the same scenes as the end scenes of Man of Steel. Superman is fighting villain Zod and in doing so destroys many buildings in Metropolis.
What’s clever is that these scenes are seen from Bruce Wayne’s point of view. Ben Affleck who plays Wayne is surprisingly convincing and the best incarnation of Batman I’ve seen since Michael Keaton. He watches in horror as Superman destroys – unwittingly but carelessly it seems – the city where many of Wayne’s employees work and live.
This sets the movie forward. From that moment, Wayne/Batman vows to stop Superman as he finds he behaves as an unrestricted god.
The premise is good, even if overly simplistic.
Lex Luthor, one of Superman’s iconic ennemies, is thrown in the mix, plotting to kill, you guessed it, Superman. Jesse Eisenberg gradually improves in his depiction of the character as the film advances, or I became used to his jittery, nerdy, geeky portrayal of a man who is supposed to lead a massive business organization. Gene Hackman remains far superior in his portrayal but at the end of the film, with his buzz cut, Eisenberg seems suddenly more menacing and into the role, less a parody of his usual way of playing.
Wonder Woman is introduced in this film and she is a breath of fresh air as she doesn’t act constantly as if this is serious-heavy entertainment. This is a superhero film not a philosophical treaty on good vs. evil. It’s a blockbuster movie. It’s supposed to be at least a little fun. She seems to gets this more than the director. Gal Gadot who portrays Wonder Woman is not often on screen but her presence literally illuminates the film.
Holly Hunter is also in this film. What happened to the Oscar winning actress of one of my all time favorite films, The Piano? She was alright as a senator convinced that Superman must stop acting without consulting the government. But she was also just briefly there.
The one moment of humour of the film was a line delivered by Diane Lane (who plays Superman’s mother) who after Batman tells her he is a friend of her son says: “I figured as much.” It’s very brief but makes you wonder why there isn’t more one liners like these in this film. It is so so serious.
Overall the film is less boring than Man of Steel. It moves along. I enjoyed most of the fight scenes but couldn’t get over the fact that Superman is so disliked in this film. So much so that SPOILER ALERT, Superman dies! Why is the most iconic of all super heroes given such a sad treatment by Hollywood? There is resentment towards good characters but admiration for more ambivalent ones. It’s not cool to be all good… He is also lazily played by Henry Cavill. He’s handsome but really one dimensional. And unlike in Man of Steel, we only see him once briefly shirtless!
The film’s soundtrack is also heavy but I have to admit it was effective. The new themes of Batman, Lex Luthor and Wonder Woman were all spot on. Lex Luthor’s theme reminded me of how imaginative Zimmer can be. Not just playing the same three notes louder and louder like he seems to be doing these days.
This is an over-the-top film aimed at pleasing mostly 12-year-olds so don’t expect complex plot twist, subtlety or logic. However, it’s at time grandiose and impressive despite being marred in a strangely constructed narrative. The end is overly patriotic – American that is – but gives us a tiny hope that Superman might not be so dead after all. Which then makes all the seriousness of his death for the previous 15 minutes jut ridiculous.
Oh and Kevin Costner appears very briefly in it! Not to mention Amy Adams, who is trying her best to make the character of Lois Lane not completely irrelevant.
I don’t think it’s a bad as what I had heard when the film came out. It’s 5 out 10 for me.
Seen April 26, 2018