So just how super is the new movie "Batman v Superman"? Our critic David Edelstein knows HIS answer to that one:
I saw the best minds of several generations standing in a line for days to see "Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice," as if it were a religious pilgrimage, and it does inspire awe. The images are so mythic, so darkly beautiful, that the lousiness doesn't hit you all at once; it seeps in like ... it's hard to find an adequate simile ... like Kryptonite into Superman. It leaves you green and a little pukey.
It's a weird match to start, right? The fight should end with one punch, seeing as Superman is an alien with unlimited powers while Batman's just a guy with fancy toys.
Ah, but what if Batman had Kryptonite and a super suit so he could get thrown through walls with no ill effects -- and Superman was endlessly regenerative, getting zapped and leaping back up?
Why, the fight would last hours ... or feel like hours.
Why do they want to fight? It comes down to civil liberties. Really!
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In a prologue, Bruce Wayne, played by Ben Affleck, whose Bat-mask by the way doesn't hide the mole on his cheek or his dimpled chin, so how could anyone ... never mind. Bruce witnesses the partial destruction of Metropolis from the last Superman film, "Man of Steel," and blames not the villains but Superman, played by Henry Cavill, an illegal alien.
The comparisons to 9/11 are unmissable, and Bruce goes over to the Dark Side. He uses Dick Cheney-esque language with his butler, Alfred (played by Jeremy Irons):
Bruce Wayne: "He has the power to wipe out the entire human race, and if we believe there is even a one percent chance that he is our enemy we have to take it as an absolute certainty. Now I have to destroy him."
Alfred: "But he is not our enemy!"
Superman is hardly a sunny counterpoint, always wondering if he has a right to play God -- the guiltiest savior imaginable. He's easy bait for Lex Luthor, whom Jesse Eisenberg plays as a cross between his Mark Zuckerberg in "The Social Network" and the Joker. He's ham with a side of ham.
The movie has about six opening scenes, and subplots galore, and introduces Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman, who mostly loiters in the margins and preens more than acts -- but wowza, dig the costume!
Like the last Marvel films, "Batman v Superman" is so busy setting up sequels and spin-offs it barely tells a story, so you're overfull, but you're starved for a real movie.
Which is not to say the ones in line for hours won't worship at its altar: Superheroes are their gods.
No wonder the studio opened it Easter weekend!
More from David Edelstein:
- Classic romantic movies
- A tribute to Alan Rickman
- Reviews: "The Hateful Eight" and "The Revenant"
- Jennifer Lawrence mops up everyone in "Joy"
- "Creed," "Room" and "The Big Short"
- "Spotlight" and uncovering the church's sex abuse scandal
For more info:
- "Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice" (Official site)