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2017 Summer Movie Preview – Cinemaholics

The Cinemaholics Podcast has never been this summer movie peviewy. Will, Maveryke, and I take a close look at our most anticipated releases from May to August and from from Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 and Spider-Man: Homecoming to Wonder Woman and Baby Driver.

We also unpack some huge DCEU rumors involving The BatmanThe FlashWonder Woman, and Suicide Squad 2. Then we finish things out by doing mini reviews for Going In StyleSmurfs: The Lost Village, and Teen Titans: The Judas Contract.

EMAIL US YOUR FEEDBACK & QUESTIONS: cinemaholicspodcast [at] gmail.com 

Go on…2017 Summer Movie Preview – Cinemaholics

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Get Out, Rock Dog, & A United Kingdom Review – Cinemaholics

In my new weekly podcast, Cinemaholics, co-host Will Ashton and I finally reviewed Get Out, along with I Don’t Feel At Home In This World AnymoreRock DogFences and A United Kingdom.

We also talked about the Razzies, some news coming out of the DCEU’s Batman and Nightwing movies, and our own version of the Oscars, where we picked our own winners in our own ceremony. Obviously.

Go on…Get Out, Rock Dog, & A United Kingdom Review – Cinemaholics

Review: ‘The Accountant’ Is More Than Just ‘Jason Bourne’ With Autism

accountant

And weirdly enough, The Accountant (starring Ben Affleck) is moderately better than the actual Jason Bourne movie that came out this year.  

From the outset, this somewhat flat-looking action thriller from Gavin O’Connor isn’t done any favors by its own marketing and conception. Because the idea seems to be positioning Affleck as some sort of CIA killing machine who happens to be an accountant for some reason and happens to have mild personality disorders. But in reality, the script is ideally more personal, even transcendent at times compared to previous attempts to recreate autism in an actor who doesn’t have it.

Affleck plays Christian Wolff, a mild-mannered CPA who cooks the books for the most dangerous criminals in the world. Frequent flashbacks show the progress Wolff has made over the years to conquer the negative effects of his high-functioning autism, while still channeling the positives. In this case, he’s driven to finish absolutely everything, no matter the puzzle or challenge, which is why he’s as capable as he is physically and mentally.

If the movie allowed itself to simply focus on just this aspect of the movie, throwing in a new challenge for Wolff as he has to uncover a mysterious accounting error for a large robotics company (and befriending wide-eyed Dana, played by Anna Kendrick, who breathes much-needed life into Affleck’s onscreen presence), then The Accountant could be something great and easy to recommend. But instead, the film opts to throw in various other storylines and pointless mysteries in order to further flesh the world out, possibly for franchising purposes. It’s essentially the wrong version of John Wick, which set up a massive world beneath the text that viewers want more of, which is why that movie is rightfully getting a sequel.

accountant

The odd thing is that The Accountant certainly puts the work in. J.K. Simmons and Cynthia Addai-Robinson play Treasury agents in search of Wolff, but little comes of that development except to put off emotional payments for another time. There’s no fluidity, though, to how they link back to the main plot despite some interesting stakes-raising and the very fact that both actors are incredibly believable in their roles. The same goes for Jon Bernthal as the angsty, sarcastic hit man who regularly appears to add more shock value to the script by Bill Dubuque (The Judge).

To put it more simply, The Accountant is messy and disorganized, despite having a semblance of a compelling plot worth its own movie. Many of the surprises saved for the third act are predictable by the end of the first, and some mysteries end up being far less potent than what audiences will come up with themselves. At the very least, the action is graciously shot by a focused O’Connor, who employs an even style that makes viewers uncomfortable at exactly the right moments, getting them inside Wolff’s head whenever possible to allow some gleaning from his low points.

It’s just too bad the film never allows time for viewers to really understand Wolff’s actions, not just the background for them. Using flashbacks to explain his various character relationships and “powers” is great, but the evolution of Wolff as a person is never fully explored, at the expense of making him harder and harder to care about as the film jumps around to other characters. And if a movie really wants people to buy that Affleck is a math genius and an unstoppable warrior, then it needs to commit to making the case.

Grade: C+

Extra Credits:

  • Jeffrey Tambor is also in this for some reason, so don’t blink.
  • The Batman and DC Comics nods are all over this one. Simmons, of course, is set to play Commissioner Gordon. We see issues of Action Comics here and there. Wolff himself uses money and brawn to fight crime, essentially. He recites the Solomon Grundy rhyme to calm himself, which is a villain from the DC comics. You might recognize Addai-Robinson from Arrow, in which she plays Amanda Waller.
  • My favorite story from production comes from Anna Kendrick, whose mother is a real accountant and had to explain the math to her daughter after reading the script.
  • Oh, and John Lithgow is in this.

    Thanks for reading this. Seriously. You can subscribe to my posts by clicking “Follow” in the right sidebar. 

    Or just say hello on Twitter: @JonNegroni

 

Review: ‘Suicide Squad’ is a Guilty Pleasure Worth Admiring

suicide squad review

Note: This review is spoiler-free, but it does contain a major spoiler from the ending of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. You have been warned.

When it comes to comics that center around bad guys defeating even worse guys (and gals), Suicide Squad is one of the most lasting and recognizable of the lot.

It wasn’t the first book to be about villains, of course (though this movie is the first comic book film to have a main cast of villains as characters). But it was one of the first that was actually successful. And that’s probably because Suicide Squad essentially defined the idea of reluctant heroism found in the vilest of our society.

That’s tricky territory, because it presents a philosophical debate that modern society is mostly split on: Are people inherently bad, or are they tainted by an inherently bad world? 

suicide squad review

Fortunately, Suicide Squad doesn’t dwell on these questions for easy dramatic fodder (at least, not as much as it could have). Instead, it takes a note from some of Marvel’s recent films by emphasizing character over spectacle, at least with some of its titular bad guys.

In case you’re unfamiliar with the set up of Suicide Squad from the comics — of which the 80s run is still the best — the idea is simple. A shady black ops leader named Amanda Waller (played by Viola Davis) wants to assemble her own team of metahumans, like Superman, and unhinged specialists, like Batman, in the wake of Superman’s death from the end of Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice.

The team is codenamed “Task Force X,” but as one of their recruits points out early on in the film, they’re really a “suicide squad” in the sense that they’re not expected to live through the mission that takes up the majority of the film. And that’s because most members of Task Force X are dangerous villains, accompanied by a Colonel and “good” metahuman to reign them in.

As noted earlier, the structure of Suicide Squad is brazenly different from typical superhero and comic book films. It’s focused and constrained to one major location, a familiar technique if you’re caught up with director David Ayer’s other work.

suicide squad review

And the decision to limit Suicide Squad to one mission ends up being one of the film’s greatest strengths, because by the end credits, the viewer is left feeling as if they’ve gone through a significant ordeal with these characters, even if the movie doesn’t always stick the landing with some of its big moments.

There’s as much good as there is bad with Suicide Squad, in the sense that Ayer and his team succeeded at getting this movie right where it really counts — notably with  standout characters like Deadshot (played by Will Smith). The problem is that like previous entries in the DC comics cinematic universe, Suicide Squad just doesn’t sweat the details enough.

These details include basic plot mapping (the opening scenes, for example, are a glaring mess), action set pieces (especially toward the end), and the film’s worst offense: its script. Though Suicide Squad has its moments of surprising and smile-inducing dialogue, a great deal of it comes off as hastily tacked on in order to elicit a reaction, usually humor.

For that reason, Suicide Squad practically forces the viewer to accept it in a very specific way. That is, it’s painted and executed as a guilty pleasure movie, and you get the sense that the movie has no aspirations for self-importance or melodrama. Which makes it an easy film to get lost in and just enjoy, without having to “turn your brain off,” for the most part.

suicide squad review

One of the reasons the movie swings more toward guilty pleasure has a lot to do with the care Warner Bros. has put into better fleshing out its world of DC characters, and a good number of them are paraded beautifully. As revealed in the early trailers, Batman (reprised by Ben Affleck) has a small presence in this film, and it plays out about as well as his best moments from Batman v Superman, without any of the confusing quirks added to the character.

And it goes without saying that Suicide Squad is brimming with loving references to other DC stories, reminiscent of how shows like Arrow and The Flash insert subtle asides for eagle-eyed viewers. Put simply, this is the first DC comics movie that does a good job of establishing a coherent personality for this world of heroes and villains, while also integrating it in a more graceful way than we’ve seen in the past.

The only weak link worth mentioning is certainly the Joker (played by Jared Leto), who is balanced with the other characters in this film in a gratifying way so as not to steal the spotlight. This ends up being for the best, though, because this is easily one of the most uninteresting depictions of the Joker of all time, not just in the movies.

Granted, the movie works hard to dress Leto up as the Joker, and sparse dialogue certainly sounds like something Joker might say. But upon close inspection, this version of the Joker does virtually nothing reminiscent of what’s fundamental to the character. There’s nothing he truly does that sets him apart from a flamboyant crime boss/pimp who wants to find his girlfriend.

suicide squad review

Yes, he wears funny costumes. Yes, he looks weird and kills people. But there is far more to the Joker than “oh by the way” scenes of him laying on a floor surrounded by knives. And that’s because his only true motivation in this film is to get Harley Quinn back. There’s no chaos, comedic insanity, or diabolical planning to anything he does or wants to do in the film. He simply acts like he is crazy, rather than truly showing it, and it’s one of the film’s biggest disappointments.

Thankfully, Joker is not the crux of Suicide Squad. Far from it. So it’s easy to overlook the shortcomings of his character in lieu of this film as its own standalone story. It’s not easy, though, to overlook the fact that too many characters in Suicide Squad have poorly fleshed out character ideologies that make sense of their own payoffs toward the end. They do it in spades for Deadshot and Diablo, but that’s about it.

Lastly, the soundtrack does little to enhance or even complement the story, instead only reminding viewers that Guardians of the Galaxy did a much better job integrating a playlist with the rhythm of its plot (as proven by the film sharing one of the same songs from Guardians). In Suicide Squad, it really just feels like the music was added out of obligation, not because it was essential to the scene it was put in.

suicide squad review

And better thought (and edits) put into the scenes is all it would have really taken to make Suicide Squad a better movie than what we’ve gotten, which is a guilty pleasure that only looks good by comparison to the in-universe movies its attached to.

Grade: C+

Extra Credits:

  • There’s a mid-credits stinger and…well, it’s not that relevant or surprising, honestly.
  • I’m not a fan of most David Ayer movies, so Suicide Squad sort of defied the odds in my case. According to all the evidence, I should have hated this movie.
  • The chemistry of the cast is one of the film’s biggest strengths, as emblemed by the fact that a lot of them got “SKWAD” tattoos for the movie.
  • It’s not saying much, but this is my favorite live-action depiction of the Suicide Squad. That’s what full Will Smith can do for a film.
  • A standalone Harley Quinn movie featuring other DC femme fatales has been announced by Warner Bros., but it’s likely that the success of Suicide Squad will still determine whether or not that actually happens.
  • For once, Cara Delevingne wasn’t one of the worst characters in a movie.

    I’m Jon and thanks for reading this. You can subscribe to my posts by clicking “Follow” in the right sidebar. Or just say hey on Twitter! @JonNegroni

Marvel Has Been Successful Because It’s Better at Being Different

marvel better different

Until the end of the “superhero golden era” finally comes, we won’t be able to analyze the full impact that Marvel Studios has had with its cinematic universe of movies. But even though we don’t have the full picture at our disposal, everyone has their own reasonable guess for how and why Marvel been the dominant superhero movie franchise for nearly a decade, in terms of both critical and fan reception.

Some of the effects of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) are quite obvious, and I think that’s why vague observations about Marvel Studios are tossed around by its naysayers. When you think of shared universe movies — that is, movies that share the same characters and other sandbox elements without being direct sequels — you might feel the urge to groan a bit, especially if you watch and keep up with a lot of different movie franchises that all strive to replicate what Marvel did so well with Iron Man in 2008.

Sony tried to kickstart a Spider-Man shared universe of villains and ultimately failed. Universal has long been planning a shared universe of monster movies, citing they could have the “Avengers” of Dracula, the Frankenstein monster, the Wolfman, and more. Even a Hanna-Barbera cinematic universe is reportedly in the works, planned to kick off with a new Scooby Doo movie. And this year’s Ghostbusters ends with a universe-setting teaser straight out of the ambiguously defined Marvel formula.

Marvel’s most direct rival, and for several obvious, yet key reasons, is DC Comics, which Warner Bros. owns the exclusive rights to. After a hugely successful trilogy of Batman movies, all helmed by Christopher Nolan and universally praised by fans and critics, Warner Bros. took the next logical step toward establishing a shared universe of their own that could do for Wonder Woman and the Flash what Marvel managed for Iron Man and Captain America, just to name a few.

marvel better different

Remember, just one year after Nolan’s Batman trilogy ended with The Dark Knight Rises, Warner Bros. released Man of Steel, the perfunctory beginning of what was meant to be something completely different compared to anything put out by Marvel Studios.

Except, well, Marvel has already  been “different” by its own standards for years, and it’s found great success doing so, while DC Comics hasn’t. At least not on the same scale.

To be fair, Man of Steel and Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice were not financial failures, but they did fail to live up to their profitable potential, making less money domestically than Deadpool, which is based on a character far less popular and recognizable than Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman. And even more recently, Suicide Squad has been panned by critics for sharing a lot of the same flaws of these movies, though it will still open to huge box office numbers, regardless.

What’s odd, then, is that the films have been criticized by many for being too different, using phrases like joyless and dark to color a picture of a movie that doesn’t deliver the same experience viewers got with most of the Marvel movies.

marvel better different

Supporters of these DC Comics movies have a right to call out this opinion for being intellectually dishonest. Of course a movie like Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice is different, they say. If it were the same formula as a movie like The Avengers, then critics would complain just as feverishly.

Both sides of this argument have it wrong, then. Because what they both forget is that while there is a bare-bones formula to the Marvel movies that makes them feel cohesive — that is, it’s easy to believe the movies exist in the same universe at all — none of them are all that similar to any of the others in just about every other way, unless the movie is a sequel, and even then, Marvel movies have a habit of changing entire subgenres in between their sequels.

One of the best and most famous examples of Marvel being “different” involves the entirety of what sets up the first Avengers movie, which serendipitously released the same year as The Dark Knight Rises. The very concept of setting up an ensemble superhero film after several standalone pictures that establish the characters was brand new at the time and, more importantly, untested.

Yet The Avengers is the highest-grossing superhero film of all time and was universally acclaimed by moviegoers, which holds up even today.

marvel better different

It’s fair to judge Marvel for being good at being different based on the fact that people loved The Avengers, despite how risky the structure of it was, and because it provided a sizable return on investment both financially and even culturally, hence we’re even having this debate about superhero movies being different.

What’s even more interesting, though, is the fact that Marvel movies have continued to be different and surprising, even though they have a proven formula they could repeat on end to minimize the risk of failure.

For example, the Marvel films that have truly defied expectations include Guardians of the Galaxy and Ant-Man, arnhich were both proven hits for the studio, despite being completely different from any other Marvel film in tone, structure, and many other crucial elements.

Guardians of the Galaxy is an action comedy set in space, and most of its characters aren’t even human. That’s a far cry from any other comic book film, period, let alone Marvel movies like Iron Man and even Thor. The premise of Ant-Man is absurd enough, despite the movie actually taking place on Earth. Yet it feels so different as a superhero movie because first and foremost, it’s really a heist film with bits of Edgar Wright’s unique editing style thrown in.

marvel better different

The upcoming Doctor Strange, set to release this November, is also a movie that — judging by the marketing and previous knowledge of the character — looks and feels different from previous Marvel offerings, because it seems to be tackling unchartered territory in terms of fantasy elements and dimensional science for the hero of that movie to experience.

These movies, excluding the as of yet unseen Doctor Strange, have been hits with both critics and casual audiences because yes, they’re different. So it’s strange, then, when both critics and naysayers of Marvel movies speak as if this cinematic universe has a firm license on vague storytelling elements, like humor and quipping. There’s a desire for DC to be the other side of the coin, different and more progressive than what might be called a mainstream superhero franchise with Marvel.

The problem with that desire, though, is that Marvel has already been the other side of that coin, and the other side of many coins that they, themselves, have inserted into the zeitgeist of superhero films. They don’t always get it right, of course, and some of their risks have been paid off better than others, but if DC should take notes on being “different” for the sake of surprising and delighting its fans, it should really be paying more attention to Marvel. Not less.

Because being different, while a good start, is not a merit on its own. Fantastic Four was different, which we can all agree on. But that definitely didn’t improve what was inherently flawed with that film. A non-Marvel movie that’s great at being different is Deadpool, made by Fox, proving that a superhero film doesn’t have to be made by Disney in order for it to be beloved by just about everyone old enough to see it.

marvel better different

I still have high hopes for DC Comics moving forward, though not nearly as high as I used to three years ago. But if you’re reading this and feeling a bit alienated because you want DC Comics and Warner Bros. to keep taking risks and producing films with these iconic characters that demand to be different from what we’ve seen before, then you can definitely take solace in one, major thing: The DC Comics movie universe under Geoff Johns — their new Chief Creative Officer and co-developer of The Flash on CW — kicks off next year with Wonder Woman.

And from what we’ve seen so far of that movie, the future could still be quite bright (not dark) for DC Comics.


I’m Jon and thanks for reading this. You can subscribe to my posts by clicking “Follow” in the right sidebar. Or just say hey on Twitter! @JonNegroni

Snarcasm: That Martha Moment in ‘Batman v Superman’ Is Smarter Than You Think

martha batman v superman

Snark + Sarcasm = what you’re about to read.

I didn’t care for Batman v Superman, but you have to admit that the movie has at least succeeded in getting people to talk about it. And I applaud any fan of the film who is continuing to defend it in a way that’s constructive and meaningful for both sides of the debate.

But at some point, your defense of this movie becomes more akin to speculation, rather than an honest interpretation of what’s presented. What I mean is that it’s easy to fall into a trap where you’re adding an interpretation to your defense that makes the movie seem better, except that it doesn’t flow from what’s been set up in the narrative. This is one of those times.

John Campea is a skilled critic, though I disagree with him often and certainly with this movie. One of his latest videos is titled, “Defending the ‘Martha’ Scene in Batman v Superman,” and it’s his case for why the movie is smarter than people give it credit for.

I obviously disagreeSpoilers for the movie from here on out.

I know the movie’s been out for months and months and months,

It’s only been two months, so don’t sweat it.

As one of the people who like Batman v Supermanthere’s one criticism that movie always gets (you still see it joked about all the time all the time) and I wanted to give a defense of it. And the moment I’m talking about in Batman v Superman is the “Martha” moment. You know what I’m talking about. You see the jokes all over the place online, right? 

Sure, but not just jokes. People genuinely criticize the movie for this moment without poking fun at it. Hopefully, your defense will cover this, and not just the knee-jerk meme reactions that turn the opposing argument into a straw man.

I just think that that scene has been misunderstood a lot. 

In a soft way, he’s basically saying here that there is a correct way to interpret this scene, by saying most of us “misunderstood” it.

Because then he goes on about three times, saying what boils down to, “your way of interpreting this scene might have been different than mine and that’s cool.”

Well, which is it?

…I actually see that scene as a strength in the movie as opposed to a major major flaw in the movie.

If a film falls down in a forest, but no one is around to hear it…wait, no, that’s not how i goes.

My point is that even if you’re right, and we’re all just too blinded by the Spidey-light to see this moment’s greatness, the fact is that this scene, the most pivotal point of the film, was in fact a massive failure for the majority of moviegoers when they first experienced it. That doesn’t make the movie bad on its own, but it is a crucial flaw of the execution that you need to accept.

Batman and Superman finally have their fight. They had a definitive winner. Batman was the winner of the fight. And of course, Batman is about to deliver the killing blow to now a downed, helpless opponent. And Superman raises up his hands and says, “Save Martha.” And of course, Batman has his freak out, like “what did you say that name, why did you say that name.” Here is how I interpreted it the first time I saw the film, OK.

Here we go.

Look, Batman is the detective, right? 

Clearly not a good one, like at all,  in this movie, but go on.

And what we know as an audience up till that point is that Lex Luthor has actually been playing him and been playing both of them. Even when Bruce thought he was playing Lex, as it turns out, Lex was playing him.

He was? Because here’s what really happened with Bruce and Lex in this movie. Bruce steals a bunch of Lex’s information about metahumans and uncovers the secret about kryptonite. Then he steals the kryptonite to build weapons to kill Superman. Lex was never “playing” Bruce or manipulating his actions here. He simply allowed Bruce to carry out his plans, while somehow also knowing he was Batman for some reason that’s never explained, and then manipulates Superman, which let’s admit is not hard to do in any interpretation of the character.

Sure, Luthor says to Superman that he’s been playing them because he’s been fueling the animosity between both characters. But one of my main issues with that scene is that this line makes no sense. Luthor had nothing to do with the opening scene where we see why Bruce hates Superman to the point that he does.

If we’re to believe that the blowing up of the congressional hearing is all it took for Bruce to take action (which isn’t the case because he was already gearing up for the fight), then we have to believe that Bruce is a total idiot for “detecting” Superman’s involvement in any of these situations he’s obviously being framed for.

martha batman v superman

Even when Bruce is justifying his decision to kill Superman, he seems to admit that the guy hasn’t done anything wrong, yet. But the “if there’s a 1% chance” line along with his nightmare where Superman really does kill him has everything to do with his fueled animosity toward the guy, not Luthor himself.

But by all means, continue.

He thought, “Oh, I was so smart. I broke into his house and his party. Got that information. Turns out, that’s what Lex wanted all along.

Really? His plan was to hope that Batman would show up and steal something from him? That’s the extent of his manipulation?

Of course, nothing in the movie actually sets this up or leads us to believe any of this is part of Luthor’s plan, but that’s probably why Campea’s interpretation is so much different from, you know, pretty much everyone else’s.

Anyway, so here you have Bruce Wayne, who is the detective, and he figures all this stuff out on his own, normally, and he has this moment where…remember that one big conversation he had with Alfred, where Bruce has convinced himself, thanks in no small part to the manipulations of Lex Luthor, that Superman is actually a monster.

Yes in small part. In the atoms of that small part. Because at no point does Luthor steer Bruce toward wanting to kill Superman. That’s all been established by the first 20 minutes when his character watches the collateral damage from Man of Steel occur.

He has convinced himself that he is a threat to humanity. When he’s talking to Alfred, you know, it’s not just, “Hey, I know he’s a good man, but you know, if there’s a 1% chance he could destroy the earth, we gotta take that certainty.” No, it’s like, “That son of a b***h brought the war to us!” The movie gave us glimpses…he’s convinced that Superman is a monster and will be a catastrophe for the earth. 

Nothing says Batman like a guy who — instead of figuring out who the enemy is and understanding them — decides to just kill the guy to death because…well you’ll have to watch the Director’s Cut to get more “glimpses” of that.

He’s about to finish him off, and remember up to this point, we haven’t seen Batman kill an unarmed, helpless person.

Right, we’ve only seen him blow up criminals driving cars setting off chain reactions of other cars blowing up more criminals. No big deal.

Superman reaches out his arm and he says, “Save Martha.” And what I saw happen onscreen was, number one, we all know Batman is a little bit disturbed. We know that. We’ve always known that about Batman. But when he reaches out and in his last breath, he doesn’t beg for his life, he doesn’t say some ominous threatening thing that a super villain would say in that scene.

Really? A lot of super villains will say anything to get out of being killed, including, “if you kill me, she’ll die! Ha ha ha!” Not saying Superman was going for that, but the point remains.

He uses his last breath to plead for the life of somebody else.

No, Superman says, “You’re letting them kill Martha.” He doesn’t plead for anyone’s life. He basically throws a guilt trip at the guy in the hopes that he’ll put the spear down. Also, he’s doing this in a very odd way. He’s calling his mother by her first name instead of “Mom” for some writers-team-related reason. And how will Batman know who’s he’s talking about? Superman can’t say, “Martha Kent” because…well,  because then Batman won’t get confused and the plot will be halted. The writing team strikes again.

Eventually, Superman does say, “Find him…Save Martha.” But again, how are these pronouns and first names helpful in any way? Superman doesn’t know Lois Lane isn’t going to pop in and add some much-needed exposition.

They’ve set up in the movie that Bruce has some loose wires when it comes to memories and visions about his own mother.

Yeah, it’s almost as if the purpose of their existence was just to pay off this one moment in the movie, not to cohesively flow with the rest of the narrative.

This being Bruce had convinced himself was a pure monster…he sees him in that moment reach out and asking for the life of somebody else. He’s asking the guy who’s about to kill him, “Please go and save this person.” 

So that’s why your experience was so much different than everyone else’s! Because you apparently watched a screening with drastically different dialogue. I mean, come on, Zach Snyder’s version of Superman asking please?

That creates a disconnect for Batman. It’s a contradiction to what Batman believes about this being laying in front of him.

That’s why after this line, Batman puts the spear down realizing that Superman isn’t a monster.

Wait, what? Oh, that didn’t happen at all, did it. What really happened was, he kept the spear up and started yelling, “Why did you say that name? Martha? Why did you say that name? WHY DID YOU SAY THAT NAME?”

What a disconnect, wow!

Lois Lane comes in and she throws himself (herself?) down on top of him. This creates another disconnect for Batman because he sees a famous, intelligent human being who loves this person pleading for his life.

Except, well, Lois doesn’t plead for Superman’s life. She says, “It’s his mother’s name! It’s his mother’s name!”

Which is why, class, everyone paid more attention to the fact that “Martha” was said as a coincidence, rather than this idea that Batman could have a change of heart. Few will disagree that your interpretation is what the movie was trying to do. But the execution was so sloppy and mishandled that audiences were forced into an interpretation that latched closer to what was actually happening onscreen.

Think about it. If these disconnects are so relevant and compelling, why did the movie have to also point out that their moms have the same name? By your logic, he could have just said, save my mom, and Batman would have gone through the same change of heart.

It’s not misunderstood. We know what Snyder and his writers were going for. You are simply misunderstanding the execution, believing its stronger than it really is.

Then it goes to a third stage of disconnect for Batman.

Seriously? According to you, the guy should have an aneurysm at this point.

She explains, “That’s the name of his mother.” Now you gotta understand that these are three points of disconnect for Bruce in this construct he’s had in his head about Superman, this monster that’s gonna be the destruction of the world.

The problem with this is that when you’re watching the movie, you don’t feel any real sympathy for Superman that can be related to what Batman’s going through. All of these arguments for why Batman should sympathize with Superman fly in the face of everything we’ve watched and learned about the character throughout the movie.

He’s violent, aggressive, and acts like he’s above everyone else because he refuses to participate in his own defense. Even when he goes to the court hearing, the script prevents him from ever getting a word out. So when we’re supposed to believe that he’s not a monster for arbitrary reasons like, “Well, he has a mom and some woman loves him,” we’re left wondering why that’s enough for Batman to drop his weapons and suddenly work with this guy.

batman v superman wrong

It’s not satisfying, to the point where we’re also left wondering if the “Martha” connection is meant to be a stronger emotional weight than it should be, which is where the criticism and a lot of the jokes come from. Again, the problem has more to do with the execution than the idea itself, so if you ignore the main flaws of how this plays out in the film, you’re going to like it more and find it weird that everyone else disagrees with you.

Campea goes on to explain that Batman freaking out over all this is somehow him “figuring it out” because he’s such a great detective and compares it to how a supercomputer thinks.

Seriously. Seriously.

“This guy has a mother, too!” won’t quite hold up in court, and it doesn’t negate any of Batman’s hatred for this guy who’s caused the deaths of so many people. Campea even argues that he’s figured out that this is all Lex Luthor, except that also doesn’t make any sense because again, Lex Luthor had nothing to do with the events that cemented Bruce’s hatred for this guy.

When a lot of people saw, (starts doing a jokey impression) “Wait a minute, Superman says his mom’s name is Martha, too, and Batman goes, ‘Oh, well we should be best friends!'” I get why some people saw that. 

Sigh.

What I saw was a complex, intelligent deconstruction of the great detective putting the pieces together when new information was brought into it.

What everyone else saw was, “Wow, this screenwriting is trying to be complex and intelligent but it’s doing a horrible job. Am I really supposed to believe what I’m seeing right now?”

This is exacerbated by Batman calling himself Superman’s friend ten minutes later, adding to the steaming pot of bloated confusion that is this movie.

Don’t get me wrong. Campea is a good guy, and nothing about this video is mean-spirited or meant to make people feel stupid for disagreeing with him. He’s simply offering up his own perspective and why he thinks that makes the movie better.

batman v superman wrong

That said, it’s also clear to me that a little reaching is going on in order to pass the movie off as better than it really is. And it’s veiled as deep film analysis in order to convince people that they missed something when they first saw the movie.

But no, this isn’t another one of those under appreciated films that will one day be celebrated despite the fact that it was somehow ahead of its time. Films like that have always been criticized more for their content and brazen style, not fundamental misunderstandings when it comes to filmmaking and how to tell a unique story.


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Unopinionated: ‘The Dark Knight Rises’ Is Better Than What You May Remember

dark knight rises unpopular opinion

Every week, readers send me their unpopular opinions, and on Unopinionated, I explain why they’re unpopular in the first place.

From my inbox: “Sad to see you hating Batman v Superman, when The Dark Knight Rises has to be one of the worst Batman films of all time. That’s not an unpopular opinion, it’s just fact.” – Cheyenne

It’s interesting how quickly some have turned on The Dark Knight Rises (TDKR), a powerfully ambitious film that is quite easy to unpack for various flaws and plot holes that we’ve all come to expect from Christopher Nolan’s brand of filmmaking.

Not that this is an excuse. TDKR is absolutely a flawed movie. Part of that might have to do with how it is justifiably compared to its predecessor, The Dark Knight, which has cemented itself as a lasting future classic within the pantheon of superhero movies (despite the fact that it is far removed from what constitutes a typical superhero film).

dark knight rises unpopular opinion

Expectations were always going to be lopsided with TDKR, so it was surprising to see mostly positive reviews surface as the movie was released. As the years have gone on, however, there’s been a quiet movement to shift the consensus of that film to something much less grandiose than the two Batman films it wrapped up.

And I’m among the fans of this movie who wished for a more cohesive film, structurally. TDKR has not one, but two “rebirth” narratives it forces its Bruce Wayne to endure. Multiple time skips, an overabundance of key players, and some familiar beats from TDR are just a few complaints that weaken the overall product of this film, but they don’t even come close to undercutting how potent this conclusion truly was.

You don’t owe these people any more. You’ve given them everything. – Selina Kyle

What the film does spectacularly is stay on target with what Batman Begins set out to do in the first place (and what TDK carried on so superbly). That is, these movies have always been about holding a mirror up to the deepest fears we have about the post-9/11 millennium — the deconstruction of American capitalism through outside forces, terrorist attacks based in nihilism, and highly invasive government tactics — only to show us how ludicrous it is for us to think that one man can save us all.

Of course, we root for him anyway.

dark knight rises unpopular opinion

TDK played with this direct parallel by pitting the “clean” politician, Harvey Dent, against the vigilante secretly known as Bruce Wayne in a love triangle, of all constructs. By TDKR, audiences are convinced that no one man can save Gotham, but perhaps everyone can unite in righteous fear against a force they don’t understand. This, of course, speaks more relevantly to current events of 2016 even more than 2012, when Barack Obama was poised to win his re-election and the Occupy movement was in full swing.

TDKR makes it clear that violence always has a purpose, whether it’s for the sake of violence as illustrated in TDK, or to be a forced resurrection through the events of Batman Begins. There’s a reason Nolan chose to end this trilogy on the shoulders of the League of Assassins, whose seemingly anarchistic goals are based in some eerily sound logic carried over from the first film.

The film actually begins during a time of peace, eight years after the events of TDK. This peace, of course, is based on the lie that Harvey Dent (and his morals) survived his own death. The white knight was chosen over the dark knight, except the dark knight is the one who made this choice possible.

Speak of the devil and he shall appear. – Bane

Forced into exile, Bruce Wayne has spent this time letting others run the city, and even his company, believing once and for all that the city no longer needs a “Batman.” Meanwhile, a new threat named Bane has set a plan into motion that couldn’t be more ambitious: an actual takeover of Gotham City, effectively making it the hostage of a rogue network of fascist mercenaries.

dark knight rises unpopular opinion

Three new faces enter Wayne’s life as this plan takes off, and they couldn’t be more dissimilar. A young cop named John Blake represents the faith Wayne once had in the Batman role. Miranda Tate, a board member of Wayne Enterprises, helps Wayne enact a new plan to create sustainable and clean energy for Gotham. And the wildcard is Selina Kyle, a thief who shifts between wanting to save the world or giving up to profit off of the chaos.

A good part of the film is used exploring what these new characters mean to Bruce Wayne as he embarks on a war against Bane, but also against his own uncertainty and entanglement with the darkness that he hasn’t been able to shake since the Joker came around.

I don’t know why you took the fall for Dent’s murder, but I’m still a believer in the Batman. – John Blake

But it’s truly the more established cast that helps make the spectacle of TDKR worth caring about. Gary Oldman, Michael Caine, and Morgan Freeman all return to reprise their roles as a shade of Bruce Wayne’s standalone mentor. And Christian Bale himself delivers a more compelling, pain-stricken Wayne than even the TDK, but mostly because that movie did the work to set him up.

Dark Knight Rises unpopular opinion

And that’s the biggest advantage TDKR has, and it’s what helps it overcome its various shortcomings. The film is improved by what came before it, and it also improves them, as well. While franchise blockbusters like The Avengers are to be commended for their commitment to world-building, TDKR is to be celebrated for how complete its story is across its three offerings.

Nolan does a splendid job balancing energetic set pieces (the opening hijack scene is a highlight) with what would descend into mindless fantasy, otherwise. And they save TDKR from being devoid of any fun or awe considering how lacking this film actually is of Batman himself.

A hero can be anyone. Even a man doing something as simple and reassuring as putting a coat around a young boy’s shoulders to let him know that the world hadn’t ended. – Batman

But when viewed as a continuation, not a standalone film, these flaws suddenly become less entrenched with the film itself. From start to finish, TDKR works more as an honorable resolution, rather than a climactic high achieved by TDK. Perhaps we wanted something more groundbreaking, or even faithful to the comics that founded this character and how his story ends in our own imaginations. Our expectations aside, TDKR still delivers something that makes sense within itself.

Grade: B+


Do you have an unpopular opinion you want challenged? Let me know in the comments and I’ll take it on in a future Unopinionated article. Or you can email nowconspiring@gmail.com

I’m Jon and thanks for reading this. You can subscribe to my posts by clicking “Follow” in the right sidebar. Or just say hey on Twitter! @JonNegroni

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