Where strange fact and stranger fiction collide
I know I publicly said I had little interest in Batman V Superman: The Dawn of Justice, but I didn’t say I wasn’t going to see it. I took my niece and nephew to its opening weekend. I was underwhelmed. I wish I could say I was surprised that Hollywood was putting out C+ movies, but I am really not.
Now DCotU is not really a place for reviews but I really do have to review BvS, to get to this week’s point. So it doesn’t sound like I am just ripping on the movie, let me say what I liked about it. Jeremy Irons is probably the best Alfred ever. Not your traditional English butler, he is ex-SAS and the head of Wayne Corp security. He is the only one who can get away with being snarky to Bruce. I wish the movie had been just about Alfred versus Lex Luther (Or better Alfred v Mercy Graves) that would have been an awesome movie. As for Gal Gadot, she was spot on as Wonder Woman, and I am officially excited about a WW movie. Besides that well, the movies cinematography was gorgeous, but other than that the movie was lack luster.
The two big problems were one, characters I just couldn’t care about it, and two, no sense of fun.
I could not care less about Batman, Superman or Lex Luthor. Not the acting nor the story made me care one iota about them. But Diana Prince and Mr. Pennyworth, I did care about. Now you could say it is just my well documented love for minor characters, well it was a hit and mess with the second bananas too. –SPOILERS—When Jimmy Olsen was outed as a CIA agent and summarily executed, it was not the WTF moment that Snyder was hopping for from me, but rather I had a, gee that scene was lame response. And when Lex’s right hand woman Mercy Graves, was sacrificed by her boss, my emotional response was more because of the loss of the potential seen in her charterers past incarnations than anything in BvS.
Also the movie had little fun to it. I was surprised how few laugh lines there were, even after dark and menacing scenes. Even Lex came off more as spoiled, and clueless than crazy fun like most versions of the Joker.
Here is a minor third complaint and I know I am going to go off on a tangent here about something I talked about two weeks ago, Sex in hero movies. There is this scene where a non-married Clark Kent and Lois Lane, basically get bossy in a bath tub. Clark is fully clothes and she is naked. Again I am not a super prude, but like my nephew and niece half the audience (at the showing I went to) wasn’t in high school yet. Maybe if these characters had been interesting, this scene would have been romantic or erotic. But it seemed to come out of nowhere and seemed inappropriate for intended audience it just seem to smack of lazy writing.
There is a more subtle and sophisticated sex scene involving Bruce Wayne. The girl in his bed is so out of focus, I couldn’t tell if she was a light skinned African-American or a dark skinned Caucasian. Now this worked because it wasn’t throwing sex at the youth of audiences’ faces, and it was symbolic that everything besides being Batman is obscured in Bruce’s life. It is a smart good detail that may be indicative of one of the problems, Zack Snyder seemed more focused on the details than the story.
Now I am not anti-Snyder, I get he wanted to create a complex, dark ad gritty world, but he did it at the cost of characterization and enjoyment this time. He has succeed before in 300 and Sucker Punch. If he can make doomed Spartan’s trading homoerotic quips and a lobotomized teenage girl’s fantasy fun and make me care about the players in those movies, then Super Friends should have been a softball for him.
A while ago Warner Brother’s talked about upping the raunchy factor on Suicide Squad after the phenomenal success of Deadpool. I think that is a dumb idea for a movie already in the can. Now with audience attendance dropping for BvS after the first week because of its low fun factor quotient, the top brass is saying they think they should re-shoot SS to make it more fun. I am tenitivly OK with that, despite my general leaning don’t mess with a finished product (I am looking at you Lucas and Spielberg). There rumor is that the one liners in the trailers are about the only ones in the whole movie. Nerds around the world heard it wasn’t going to be the kooky, off beat Dirty Dozen we were led that we would be getting. If we are lucky this may be a case of executive meddling that just might pay off.
OK now that I just ranted all over Dawn of Justice, let’s talk about some good fun movies. The first movie I ever saw that made feel like saving the world might be fun, is Ghostbusters. It is funny and sharply written. You got the feeling that the guys would rather be saving New York from demi-gods than anywhere else. They also seemed to be the kind of dudes you‘d like to hang out while, playing pool and telling ghost stories.
Star Trek:TOS Had some great scripts (and some clunkers too) but I think the thing that made it a classic is the chemistry between the ship’s crew. You cared about them, and with the large ensemble cast there is someone you can identify with. These where characters that you cared if they lived or not. This is what has made Star Trek a classic.
A show that deals with some dark topics and still radiates fun is Dr. Who. There are some very dark things climbing out of the cosmos in this show. It has a list of dead guest stars and extra that rivals Game of Thornes and Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Still the Doctor and his companions sally on with this infectious sense of fun. Even Queen Victoria calls them out on the carpet, for not taking the threats seriously enough, but as the audience we love this sense of whimsy. It is why we come back to the time traveler over and over.
One of the grittiest TV shows ever, is Jessica Jones. You would think that a show that is patterned on a controlling and abusive relationship, might have no Joy in it. But there is, at Portland’s Wizard World, Krysten Ritter, said the core of the show is not the relationship between Jones and Killgrave but Jess and her adopted sister Trish Walker. It is this relationship between Trish and her the titular characters that keeps her going. (In the comic book it is Carol Danvers, that is her inspiration and reason not to give up) The familiar bond and love is the lighthouse to the character and the audience in a dark world.
There may not be much joy In Netflix’s Daredevil, but there are characters that we care about. Not only Murdoch, but his partners Foggy and Karen. Even anti-heroes like Stick, The Punisher and Electra. We care about them enough that as Matt loses his friends and what brings joy into his life we continue watching because we have invested in the charchters before things begin to get really dark.
If you are still not convinced that a story can be dark and gritty but still fun, all you have to do is look at Sin City. Nothing is darker or grittier than this noir classic. Still the protagonist find some joy in what they do, sometimes in the most perverse activities. Just look at Dwight when he stuffs Jackie’s head in an unflushed toilet as punishment for abusing a woman. That was something that was missing from the sequel, the sense of fun.
So why is fun so import? Honestly I think it is more important now, with all the things going on in the world. We need some escape. Movies really picked up after the depression, because America need some escape, form what was happening with the depression. Studios and producers understood, that the audiences back then need someone they could relate too and some fun in their life. Unfortunately modern movie execs seem to have lost that knowledge.