David Thompson
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March 23, 2016

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sk60

It's now soared to 36%.

David

It’s now soared to 36%.

I was toying with the idea of booking tickets but now I think I’ll wait until it’s on Sky and can be watched while drinking a good red. I wasn’t overly impressed by Man of Steel and the thought of a film that’s even more portentous and glum – by most accounts positively joyless - doesn’t appeal. A little superhero angst goes an awfully long way.

Ted S., Catskill Mtns., NY, USA

And 2h 33m to boot. The '35 Mutiny on the Bounty was a pretty long movie for the day (even then the Oscar contenders tended to run longer than the average A movie, I think), but still it only runs about 2:20.

Don't get me started on the color scheme, either. I'm trying to imagine how the color schemes of today (either orange/teal, or denatured with as little color as possible) would handle something like Diana Ross in Mahogany.

David

And 2h 33m to boot.

It does rather test the endurance. There’s something to be said for brisk pacing and plot economy.

Ted S., Catskill Mtns., NY, USA

Or as Alfred Hitchcock supposedly said, "The length of a film should be directly related to the endurance of the human bladder."

Craig Mc

Or Billy Wilder who said that every minute over 90 was worth double.

David

Or as Alfred Hitchcock supposedly said, “The length of a film should be directly related to the endurance of the human bladder.”

Thing is, I tend to go to early morning screenings, which often necessitates a visit to the multiplex café and the gulping down of several cups of coffee. You can see how my cunning plan may have a flaw.

svh

Did someone tell Jesse Eisenberg he's playing The Riddler?

DMS

Variety seemed to think it was decent but flawed http://variety.com/2016/film/reviews/batman-v-superman-review-dawn-of-justice-1201735801/
a reviewer I trust here in Oz seemed to think the same.
http://www.mediaweek.com.au/review-batman-vs-superman-dawn-of-justice/
I like Affleck and I reckon he will work well as Batman

I'm in - don't care what Rotten Tomatoes 4 review collation says.

DMS

Just looking at a heap of reviews - most of the problems seem to be related to grittiness and the fact that it's men getting angry and being dark and punching stuff.

That's a feature not a bug for me.

Never trust a leftie review of a film.

Rob

The plot sounds a bit contrived.

WTP

Batman wins or it's fixed. Of course in MY (rather limited) comic book universe, Justice League never happened. Same goes for Chachi on Happy Days and Sammy Hagar with Van Halen. And wtf with Affleck as Batman? It's an affront to Bob Kane, et al. Now put Batman and Spiderman together, you got my attention.

David

Never trust a leftie review of a film.

Some of the left-leaning reviewers of Man of Steel had interesting political objections, and by interesting I mean peculiar. One disliked the film because Superman is “white, male and American.”

Tim Newman

There’s something to be said for brisk pacing and plot economy.

I remember the '90s when a Van Damme film would be done and dusted in 90 or 100 minutes. Now every film needs to be dragged out near the 3 hour mark. If I'm watching them on TV at home, I normally give up.

WTP

Now every film needs to be dragged out near the 3 hour mark.

FWIU, that was the target for Castro's speeches. Coincidence?

sk60

41%

David

41%

Heh. What’s odd is that the Rotten Tomatoes score usually corrects downwards. Spectre, for instance, opened at ninety-odd and then quickly sagged to its current, fairly accurate, 64%. Or meh as they say in the trade.

Flubber

I preferred Spectre to Skyfall. Skyfall was goddamn awful, yet the majority opinion is that its a masterpiece. Meh.

David

I preferred Spectre to Skyfall.

Brain fever, obviously.

Daniel Ream

I could go on about the character of Superman for days if not interrupted by strong drink or a punch to the face, but pace the previous link, it is possible for a Superman story to be neither gritty and insufferably emo nor campy and cartoonish. Joe Kelly's "What's So Funny About Truth, Justice and the American Way" ought to be the iconic modern Superman story, but DC's writers have had a mad-on for Spandex Jesus for so long that they've destroyed the character. The only plotline they can do any more is "OMG nothing could stop Superman if he went evil, so let's have him go evil".

Joan

I think I'll wait for Captain America: Civil War.

mojo

The only super-hero that was worth a damn was Wonder Warthog.

Face it, Superman was lame. A humanoid alien with powers brought on by the color of the sun? Good powers, though, flying, x-ray and heat vision, yadda yadda. But why is he hanging around Earth?

Batman, on the other hand, was clearly a psycho. With a teenage "ward". Yeah, ok, whatever.

Me, I'm a Villan man.

WTP

Batman, on the other hand, was clearly a psycho.

Batman, like most super heroes, was misunderstood and got bad press. He wasn't really psycho, he was just brooding. The media bias was compounded by his being an evil, corporate industrialist (presumably) capitalist. Plus, let's remember he was only human.

Robin never figured in to MY (rather limited) comic book universe either. Was never a fan of circus people. They always looked down their noses at us carny-types.

R. Sherman

Movies come and go, but I prefer the classics.

sk60

Going back down again. 38%.

Will keep you posted.

David

Going back down again. 38%.

The suspense is... surprisingly bearable.

David

Wait a minute. Prometheus has a score of 73%.

That can’t be right.

mojo

The classics indeed. High camp is under-appreciated.

And you meet the nicest people.

Hal

Superman is “white, male and American.”

Superman is American?!?!?

Hal

The suspense is... surprisingly bearable.

Ayup. And currently at 37%

A friend and I walked out at the end of the Batman and Nicholson total fiasco with rather emphatic reactions of no, No, and I could do better with my eyes shut . . . and apparently there hasn't been too much improvement . . .

One interesting bit I find with the assorted storytelling is that the Robin Hood and King Arthur legends took several centuries to grow to be an interconnected and convoluted nest of variations, where thanks to Gutenberg, we've been able to watch Marvel, DC, and Rip Off Press manage all that in less than a century . . . .

Hal

Wait a minute. Prometheus has a score of 73%.

That can’t be right.

Of course it can: Ridley Bloody Scott.

Now, as far as entirely everything else in Prometheus aside from the cinematography, absolutely everything makes perfect sense when you watch Prometheus with the missing ending.

Ted S., Catskill Mtns., NY, USA

Why Batman v. Superman, anyway? Did Batman sleep with Lois Lane or something?

Hal

I preferred Spectre to Skyfall.

Brain fever, obviously.

Skyfall was definitely well done and definitely something more than Casino Royale, Part III.

Spectre, in turn, has already gone down in history as merely being the JB fraternal twin to Abrams' attempt at a Star Wars movie---Take a known franchise and deliberately and openly do absolutely only Wave The Big Character references, where, you silly people, plot and storyline and logic are merely what real movies have. We are here to Present An Icon . . pause . . . Present The Next Icon . . . pause . . . Repeat . . . roll credits when you run out of icons.

---After Abrams' attempts at Star Trek, how'd y'think he got handed Star Wars?!?!?

Why Batman v. Superman, anyway? Did Batman sleep with Lois Lane or something?

Consider the level of scripting that resulted in Prometheus, the last several versions of a Batman movie, Spectre, Abrams' SW movie . . . .

Tim Newman

Wasn't Skyfall that Judi Dench film where the audience got all weepy over her, and Daniel Craig played bit parts in different suits?

David Gillies

Batman v Superman has an 8.3 on IMDb. The fanboi effect shouldn't be discounted, but I've generally found a high score on IMDb to be more indicative of a film I will like than a low score on Rotten Tomatoes indicating one I will not. And since I don't watch movies on behalf of anyone else, that's good enough for me.

sk60

33%

David

I’ve generally found a high score on IMDb to be more indicative of a film I will like than a low score on Rotten Tomatoes indicating one I will not.

How a Rotten Tomatoes score is arrived at is probably a thread in itself.

What makes me reluctant to give Snyder the benefit of the doubt, though, is past experience. He’s a strong visual stylist – his films usually look great – but he doesn’t have a sense of structure or an ear for tone, which results in quite a bit of dissonance and, at times, an unpleasantly nihilistic aftertaste. (“He saved us!” says Perry White, amid the miles of scorched rubble and countless unseen corpses.) And Snyder doesn’t seem able to deliver the emotional notes he aims for - he fumbles almost all of them. (See Jonathan Kent, death of.) An overbearing soundtrack telling you, very loudly, to EMOTE NOW isn’t enough. It just makes you aware of where the emotion should be, but isn’t.

It’s telling, I think, that in Man of Steel, despite all the booming and visual spectacle, Snyder couldn’t deliver a set piece anywhere near as elating as the ‘Lois and helicopter’ scene in Richard Donner’s 1978 film or the rescued airliner in Bryan Singer’s otherwise misconceived mess. I’m not sure elation, or a sense of heroism, is something that Snyder knows how to do. Which is a bit of a setback if you’re making a mainstream film about well-loved superheroes. He doesn’t seem interested in, or is unable to create, likeable characters.

There’s also the problem of the premise. In the comics, the two lead characters have generally been depicted as contrasting in both their skillsets and personalities, and hence some room for conflict, for drama. But in Snyder’s hands, Superman doesn’t have much of a personality or worldview and is by default almost as gloomy as Batman. Instead of day and night, hope and cynicism, it’s grim and grimmer.

David

Wasn't Skyfall that Judi Dench film where the audience got all weepy over her,

We must chase the heathen from the village. To me, my henchlesbians!

Hal

We must chase the heathen from the village.

Don't forget to give the address.

A different David

"The only super-hero that was worth a damn was Wonder Warthog." I haven't seen a Wonder Warthog comic in a long, long, long time. That must date me.....

Speaking of long times, "The Revenant" suffered from being too lengthy as well. Anything after about 90 minutes is tedious for the most part. There are, of course, always some exceptions. Like those movies with an intermission.

What I really don't understand is the preoccupation with comic book movies. I find it somewhat disconcerting that people in their mid 20s AND OLDER are still fascinated by these movies. These comic book characters were originally targeted to children. Does this mean arrested childhood is the new norm?

Hedgehog

Spectre, Skyfall...

I didn't even see Spectre. I saw Skyfall only because of some commercial tie-in with Aston Martin. Not that I have an Aston Martin myself (I'm more of an Italian car guy), but it was free, so... I just can't get used to Daniel Craig as James Bond. He looks more like a Russian villain to me than a man in the employ of Her Majesty's Secret Service. Plus those suits he wears make him look like a sausage in a too-tight casing. Like if you were to prick him his innards would explode all over the screen. And who wants to see that?

Hedgehog

The preoccupation with comic book movies is an interesting one. I think comic book superheroes were originally somewhat aspirational - a way for a depressed country to deal with its real-life problems by providing bigger-than-life characters who solved everything while making onomatopoeic noises.

The fact that for the past ten years or more these comic book superheroes are back in vogue ought to tell us something about the state of the country. But here I am on my hobby horse again.

witwoud

Hedgehog: "The fact that for the past ten years or more these comic book superheroes are back in vogue ought to tell us something about the state of the country."

Isn't it just that the nerds who grew up on Superman are now the ones in charge?

Ray

Skyfall is the one where the diversity hire is so shocked at unintentionally shooting Bond, James Bond, that she forgets to shoot the bad guy and consequently all of Britain's spies are exposed and tortured to death. And everybody is too polite to mention it. Perhaps it was her first day.

David

Isn’t it just that the nerds who grew up on Superman are now the ones in charge?

I should imagine it’s a convergence of things. Partly the generational aspect you mention, and the fact that comic book adventures are now much easier to depict on screen in fairly convincing ways. Spectacle sells. Comic book characters also provide an in-built audience, a familiarity, a ready-made mythology to exploit. A lot of the marketing has in effect already been done. There are decades of stories to draw from and no end of gadgets and vehicles to sell in toy form. They also lend themselves to the franchise model, which is currently in favour.

And of course some of them are great fun.

WTP

I find it somewhat disconcerting that people in their mid 20s AND OLDER...

What I find disconcerting is the time and effort spent in English class and whatevs studying Turn of the Screw, Giants in the Earth, or being preached to about how damn important Thomas Wolfe or even some of the shiite Earnest Hemingway (the commie loving bastard) wrote was...all the while being brow beaten by parents and school administrators for reading such "trash" comics. That is what little I was able to get my hands on. I had to sneak MAD Magazine into the house like it was Playboy or Penthouse. Which come to think of it was good practice.

I swear to God, in my 35 years since graduating high school not ONE damn person has mentioned Thomas Wolfe or Giants in the Earth to me, yet I am a loss in certain geek circles (and here) when the finer points of DC vs Marvel come up. Thank God (again) that Spiderman and The Phantom* (*For the Ghost Who Walks) were published in the newspaper. And further more, I still say Superman is a p***y.

Now wtf is that bottle of xanax...

mojo

Any thoughts re: films now that "they" have invented that algo that can take any actor's performance and put anybody's face they like on it, in real time?

Think the stars of Hollyweird have much chance of pulling down those multi-mil salaries for phoning it in?

Daniel Ream

Comic book characters also provide an in-built audience, a familiarity, a ready-made mythology to exploit.

The book Sleepless in Hollywood: Tales from the New Abnormal covers this in detail. With all the conventional revenue streams from movies tanking badly, studios are only taking safe bets. Superhero movies tick off all the boxes for "safe bet".

David

Superhero movies tick off all the boxes for “safe bet”.

It’s presumably easier to market a film based on an iconic property already known to millions of people who also go to the cinema. And again, the serial nature of comic storytelling lends itself to franchise movie-making. And then there’s all the merchandising. That said, I approve. I spent many, many hours reading Marvel comics as a kid and it’s quite entertaining to see them being realised one by one in IMAX and surround sound, albeit with varying degrees of success. I’m afraid I’m one of those people who chuckle knowingly at the cryptic post-credits teasers.

Hal

Any thoughts re: films now that "they" have invented that algo that can take any actor's performance and put anybody's face they like on it, in real time?

Oh, that's just standard voiceover work, aka how animated movies talk . . .

The main issue will continue to be productions by those who can't write, can't find stories, don't read, and have no more genuine existence than a hipster, and therefore don't know what a bookstore or library is and have no understanding of where the rest of us so easily find lots of stories and also have actual lives of actual events,

Daniel Ream

I'm a little different. As a raving comic book geek (Yes, I also got the "...would be to court death" reference at the end of Avengers I) but also a fan of wider-ranging tastes, I'm not about to give a movie a pass just because it's catering to my tastes. I'm a sysadmin, but I'll freely admit that Harrison Ford's Firewall was not a good movie.

There are already signs that the superhero genre is getting played out; Age of Ultron was a muddled mess of visual chaotica with too many subplots flying around, and Mardisvelney has used up all the A-list heroes and is digging into the B- and C-list characters that have no mythic resonance and that nobody knows.

The best observation I've heard came from a film review I've lost the link to: superhero movies are this generation's 80's action movies. The Arnie movies, the Rambos, the Die Hards, the JCVDs. Over-the-top, corny, splashy, fun but ultimately disposable.

David

superhero movies are this generation’s 80’s action movies… Over-the-top, corny, splashy, fun but ultimately disposable.

I don’t have a problem with films being disposable provided they’re sufficiently compelling while I’m watching them. There are very few films I go out of my way to watch twice. I can think of maybe a dozen. And as vices go, making something that entertains millions of people for a couple of hours, not including the pleasing anticipation, something that keeps hundreds of thousands of other people gainfully employed, isn’t that awful.

David Gillies

The Netflix Marvel series are well worth a watch. I'm not much of a superhero nerd, but they are startlingly moreish. They might even rise to the level of good drama in their own right.

Quint&Jessel, Sea of Azof, Bly, UK

This hero, right here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AM0NHRFgRHo

Hal

And it's well into David's Friday morning, and I need to get to bed.

31%

sk60

30%

Best review: "It's like putting your head in a beehive for two and a half hours."

[+]

Saw. Regretted. It's a fucking omnishambles.

David

Sad Affleck.

Geezer

There are very few films I go out of my way to watch twice. I can think of maybe a dozen.

I would enjoy seeing the list.

Hal

Oh.

Dear.

From today alone . . .

Albeit then an unrelated educational observation;

Joan

Sad Affleck.

Perfect.

Rafi

quite a bit of dissonance and, at times, an unpleasantly nihilistic aftertaste.

E.g:

http://birthmoviesdeath.com/2016/03/25/zack-snyder-explains-the-shocking-thing-he-did-to-a-beloved-dc-character

Hal

And further . . .

Hal

Oh, and at least apparently holding at 30% . . . . .

Daniel Ream

...making something that entertains millions of people for a couple of hours[...] isn’t that awful.

Oh, don't misunderstand me; look at how many of those 80's action movies are cultural touchstones now. It just saddens me that given the stories that superhero movies could be making - they are, ultimately, the 20th-century expression of the Campbell Hero Myth - they're choosing to default to slam-bang grimdarkery.

Look at Ant-Man: in amongst the coloured power suits, there's a pretty good movie about blended families and what it's like to be a father ejected from his own daughter's life and the struggle to deal with that conflict. Using a superhero movie to do that is the ideal way to anchor that in a man's POV instead of the usual female one.

sk60

Falling again. 29%

David

It just saddens me that given the stories that superhero movies could be making - they are, ultimately, the 20th-century expression of the Campbell Hero Myth – they’re choosing to default to slam-bang grimdarkery.

Yes, I think this is where Synder fails, quite badly, and to a lesser extent the Christopher Nolan films too, which, a few scenes aside, I didn’t much like. A lot of 90s comics were terrible for this reason too. Again, there’s a nihilism that jars and is quite at odds with notions of heroism and that aforementioned, rather important, sense of elation. Villains can be nihilistic, heroes not so much.

There’s a scene in the first Avengers film in which Tony Stark is hurled through the window of his penthouse and is falling to his apparent doom, pursued by an autonomous, somewhat tardy, suit of armour, which wraps itself around him as he falls. On one level it’s silly, but it’s a visually wonderful idea and seen for the first time in a cinema it’s quite thrilling, in fact elating. It works dramatically – which is to say, emotionally - because Tony Stark is a likeable character and we want him to survive.

Ditto the ‘barrel of monkeys’ scene in Iron Man 3, in which an explosion on Air Force One results in 13 passengers – more than our hero can carry - falling without parachutes from 30,000 feet. Naturally, an ingenious solution presents itself, albeit one that necessitates a bit of teamwork in difficult circumstances. That the solution is somewhat improbable in no way diminishes the spectacle and tension – and the elation when it (just barely) succeeds. Again, we, the audience, want the hero to prevail and so there’s an emotional pay-off. That’s what makes it exciting, suspenseful and fun.

This is the kind of basic stuff that Synder doesn’t do well, or even seem to understand.

[ Edited. ]

Lancastrian Oik

Late to the party as usual, but I have really enjoyed Gotham, which has proved to be quite startlingly strong stuff with some excellent casting.

Charlie Suet

Um.

I really enjoyed it...

David

Um. I really enjoyed it...

Glad to hear it. What are we missing?

[+]

What are we missing?

http://io9.gizmodo.com/batman-v-superman-spoiler-faq-of-justice-1767720335

Daniel Ream

Yes, I think this is where Snyder fails, quite badly, and to a lesser extent the Christopher Nolan films too, which, a few scenes aside, I didn’t much like.

I felt the same way. I binge-watched the trilogy again recently, and as much as I wanted to like them, watching with a critical eye rather than a fanboy eye I kept wondering exactly what it was Nolan was trying to say about Batman or heroism in general. The movies are quite muddled about Batman's moral compass and the message they're trying to impart in general. There are a number of possible arguments one can make, but one shouldn't have to, I don't think. Superhero stories are morality plays, and you can't execute a morality play if the audience never quite grasps what the moral is.

I think the sublime Not Getting It moment for me was the end of Batman Begins' "I won't kill you...but I don't have to save you" moment. One can make good arguments for Batman, the DC Universe's Cthonic icon of remorseless justice, either being okay with killing or never being okay with killing, but one thing Batman doesn't do is split hairs like that. That kind of legal semanticism is anathema to the entire character.

As for Superman...DC has spent so many decades besmirching the character because modern comic book writers can't accept the notion of an incorruptibly good and noble hero that I don't think there's any way back. Snyder clearly just doesn't like Superman. Just the amount of screen time lavished on Batman is proof of that. And despite being a lifelong Superman fanboy, I still have no idea what the hell Sir Christopher Wren has to do with the Superman mythos.

David

[ Reads spoiler FAQ ]

Wow.

Hal

I think the sublime Not Getting It moment for me was the end of Batman Begins' "I won't kill you...but I don't have to save you" moment.

Had to do a bit of Googlemancy, and . . .

In that issue, The Batman takes three steps into a tent, knocks R'as al Ghul ass over teakettle, and is last seen dragging al Ghul off somewhere unspecified, where I think---I'll let someone else do that Googlemancy---the next time that al Ghul is seen in the stories, he's very much alive, having wound up all the way off in a prison cell in Gotham City . . .

Hal

http://io9.gizmodo.com/batman-v-superman-spoiler-faq-of-justice-1767720335

Hmmmm . . . . Skimmed through bits and pieces . . . for a train wreck viewing variety of attendance, I do note that I have a matinee showing available nearby . . .

---Went to see Gods Of Egypt for just the same reason . . . Now as far as demonstrating utterly energetic cluelessness, that one managed to make the Marvel comics grasp of Norse mythology almost plausible . . .

Daniel Ream

[ Spoiler FAQ ]

You know, I hate smarmy millenial snark like this because it's lazy. Literally everything the FAQ says "wasn't explained in the film!" was damn well explained in the film if you were paying any attention. I'm not going to argue the film was bad, but for heaven's sake, let's be fair about how it was bad.

Hal

. . . for a train wreck viewing variety of attendance, I do note that I have a matinee showing available nearby . . .

Oh, dear.

---Yes I bloody well did make the point of catching a matinee . . .

Sooo, as noted above, Prometheus gets 73% on Tomatoes because of cinematography by Ridley Scott.

In bvs, not only does the script make even less sense than even Prometheus, the cinematography sucks.

Therefore, what's the point of making bvs, aside from blowing $250,000,000? Actually, that's easy to answer: The only point of bvs is to be a standard production staff employment project, so that anyone named in the credits got to have a paycheck, where if any profit turns up, that's a bonus.

Literally everything the FAQ says "wasn't explained in the film!" was damn well explained in the film if you were paying any attention.

Ahhhh . . . Scuzzi? I was paying very close attention, just like the writer of the FAQ, and quite actually the FAQ is utterly accurate, now that I've read through it all.

. . . damn well explained?!?!?!!

'k, to pick just one bit of total cinematic gibberish, where was there any explanation of that bit with what was supposed to be The Flash?---Particularly noting that one can only do such an I.D. by A) being a viewer of the movie, who B) has read a number of the comics . . . .

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