The Best and Worst Cast Members of BATMAN V SUPERMAN


While I didn’t hate Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice, I didn’t exactly love it, giving it a measly 6 out of 10 in my review (which is more generous than most). I did, however, love elements of the film, so I thought I’d cover the best of BvS, countering with the film’s worst elements for a nice and balanced 2nd look at the film.

Warning! Unlike my review, this post will contain SPOILERS!

In this edition I’ll cover the cast, from the title characters down to Alfred Pennyworth and other supporting characters.

 

Best: Batffleck & Bruce WayneBatman V Superman Dawn of Justice Ben Affleck Under The CowlWhile every review for Batman V Superman loves Gal Gadot’s take on Wonder Woman, nearly as many praise Ben Affleck for presenting what most are calling the best Batman we’ve ever seen on the silver screen. I would agree 100%; it is possible to have the best Batman in what is far from the best Batman movie.

Actors in the past have been great at Batman but less stellar at Bruce Wayne and vice versa. Ben Affleck didn’t just deliver the best Batman, but also the best Bruce Wayne (which is probably the more difficult of the two roles). Batman V Superman Dawn of Justice Grapel HookThis Batman may kill… and kill… and kill… but what else is new? Batman on the big screen has been a downright serial killer, from 1989’s Batman to even the Nolan films. The latter tried to make his “One Rule” a thematic element… while allowing Bats to kill all the same. BvS never apologizes for this choice; the version of Batman that Snyder and co-writer Chris Terrio choose to use is a grizzled vet who has fought crime in Gotham for over twenty years, destroying his patience and reducing his faith that “Men Are Good” in the process. If man is not good, why not murder baddies? (I do someday want a Batman movie where he doesn’t kill… for real).Batman V Superman Dawn of Justice Ben Affleck Knightmare FightBatffleck is imposing in every way, from his stature (Affleck was partially picked because he was taller than Henry Cavill’s Superman) to his terrifying voice that uses a modulator in order to avoid Christian Bale’s worst Batman trait: The Bat Voice. He’s gigantic, with Thor/Captain America sized muscles that make every Batman actor before look scrawny, even Bale. This Batman’s fighting style is smooth, fast, yet brutal in a way that seems to emulate the amazing combat of the Arkham video games and capture the feel of the comics in a way that Batman movies never have. His training sequence looked mind-boggling difficult. And his aforementioned dark(er) outlook on life completes the package: one badass, brutal Bat. Batman V Superman Dawn of Justice Ben Affleck Bruce Wayne At Wayne GravesMeanwhile, Ben Affleck’s Bruce Wayne has more depth than any before. He’s not awkward like Michael Keaton or a half assed-cover story for his true Bat Identity like Christian Bale’s version. He’s charming when he needs to be, brooding like any good Bruce Wayne (but not too brooding, another poor choice made by Bale) and… a hero. Even when he’s not in the Batsuit, hidden under the curtain of night, Bruce Wayne is just as much an action hero as his alter-ego, from his heroics at the opening Battle of Metropolis to perusing the criminal underground to steal data from Luthor’s lead henchmen (you know, that Russian Dude).Batman V Superman Dawn of Justice Bruce Wayne Ben Affleck Metropolis YellLong story short: Ben Affleck is the first actor to rock the roles of Batman AND Bruce Wayne.

 

Worst: Superman & Clark KentBatman V Superman Dawn of Justice Henry CavillSuperman continues to disappoint, maintaining the weaknesses that made his character feel “off” in Man of Steel. In fact, Henry Cavill seems to have gotten worse at the role, making decisions that seem completely off the mark for the character, especially considering Superman is supposed to be less brooding and have more faith in humanity than Batman.Batman V Superman Dawn of Justice Clark Kent Henry CavillCavill’s worst offense? Clark Kent is downright cocky. While Cavill said in interviews that he felt that Christopher Reeve’s portrayal of Clark Kent was so downright clumsy that he would draw more attention to himself than is smart when you are a superhero by night (correction: in Goddamn daylight) who doesn’t bother to wear a mask. In an effort to fix what he sees as a problem the character has had, Cavill over compensates and completely misses the mark, making Clark Kent waaaay too cocky and not the humble man he should be when he’s not wearing (dull) red and blue.

It’s as though Cavill forgot to leave the cockiness of Napoleon Solo on the set of 2015’s The Man From U.N.C.L.E.

 

Best: The New Supporting Cast – Jeremy Irons, Jesse Eisenberg, Gal GadotBatman V Superman Dawn of Justice Ben Affleck Bruce Wayne and Alfred Pennyworth Jeremy IronsBatman V Superman must have had a different casting director than Man of Steel because the difference in casts are night and day, day and night (Thanks, Lex luthor, for that).

Let’s start with the Batman Universe’s 2nd most featured character, Alfred Pennyworth, played by Jeremy Irons this go around. With an older Bruce Wayne/Batman than ever before, and the 1st big screen Alfred without White Hair, the age gap between the damaged boy and his butler (now, more of a guardian, mechanic, and even sidekick) has never been slimmer. And while Michael Caine made a fantastic Alfred who was far less conventional/clichéd than Micheal Gough in the two Tim Burton and two Joel Schumacher films, Jeremy Irons does it even better. He’s more hands on from designing/fixing up the helmet under Batman’s cowl (complete with voice modulator that even makes Alfred sound terrifying) to piloting the Batwing remotely during the warehouse fight.Batman V Superman Dawn of Justice Review Alfred Pennyworth Jeremy IronsAgain, while Michael Cane’s Alfred and Christian Bale’s Bruce Wayne had great chemistry, it doesn’t hold a candle to the relationship of Jeremy Iron’s Alfred and Affleck’s Bruce. They really feel like an old married couple who have been doing this crime fighting thing for 20 years, with Alfred no longer trying to talk Batman out of being Batman. But do not fear, he but is just as sarcastic about the whole situation as Caine.Batman V Superman Dawn of Justice Lex Luthor Drinks Jesse Eisenberg Though most people would disagree, I also found Jesse Eisenberg’s younger, unconventional Lex Luthor  just as enjoyable as Skyfall/SPECTRE’s twenty-something Q; a real breath of fresh air. I love how he played the character, cocky at moments (like his introductory shot where he makes a basket 1st try), condescending (feeding a Military General a cherry Jolly Rancher or addressing Holly Hunter’s Senator Finch), awkward (stumbling through that speech at his Gala), and downright psychotic (Lois Lane was right!). Unlike the usual Genius-Billionaire-Rea- Estate-Mogul  we are accustomed to, Eisenberg’s Luthor is not a stable man… at all. And it works!

It’s not Jesse Eisenberg’s fault that the script makes Luthor’s plans unfollowable.Batman V Superman Dawn of Justice Wonder Woman Finally, while I wasn’t as gaga for Gal Gadot’s Diana Prince/Wonder Woman as most, the character was a welcome addition to the film. Though I know little about the character, it seems like Gadot nailed it.  

 

Worst: The Man of Steel Returning Cast – Amy Adams, Henry Lennix, Lawrence Fishburne, Kevin CostnerBatman V Superman Dawn of Justice Lois Lane Amy Adams Henry Cavill Clark Kent Perry White I hate to speak in absolutes, but NONE of the returning cast from Man of Steel brings anything interesting to the Batman V Superman. Maybe the reason isn’t a different casting director, but character fatigue (already) as we’ve seen all these cats in Man of Steel. Of course, it’s also possible (and very likely) that Luthor, Alfred, and Wonder Woman are just more complex characters than the following two dimensional place holders.Batman V Superman Dawn of Justice Henry Cavill Saves Lois Lane Amy Adams Amy Adams may have been the victim of a bad script, but she didn’t save the role of Lois Lane like Jesse Eisenberg did with Lex Luthor. She’s the victim most the film (Superman saves her 3 times!) and her lack of investigative reporting skills make you wonder how she figured out Superman’s identity in the first film! How long does it take to track a bullet back to Lex Luthor and LexCorp, really? Worst of all, her performance doesn’t add any weight to Superman’s death at the end of the film. Somber Bruce Wayne and Diana Prince lingering the background carry more emotion than Clark Kent’s girl.Batman V Superman Dawn of Justice Perry WhiteEveryone else is also just so “Meh.” Henry Lennix is great on NBC’s The Blacklist, but is the world’s most boring Military General in Batman V Superman. Lawrence Fishburne plays Daily Planet Editor Perry White as though he has never read a Superman Comic, but once watched J.K. Simmons as Daily Bugle Editor J. Jonah Jameson in Spider-Man nearly 15 years ago and said, “I’ll do that!”

Worst of all is Kevin Costner who gets to appear as the figment a dream (in a movie full of them). A farmer telling a story about a farm incident that has little to do with the plot, unexplainably on the top of a mountain? This does seem to be a theme as there are a lot of stories/metaphors that don’t make any sense in BvS. The role is certainly a stretch (not) for Costner , who often plays farmers and doesn’t seem to realize he’s in a move in which someone invested $250 million dollars.Batman V Superman Dawn of Justice Michaek Shannon as Zod CorpseMichael Shannon as Zod is actually the best cast member to return…and he’s just a corpse!

 

But that’s not all the Best and the Worst of Batman V Superman! Yes, we all know there is a lot to cover in the “Worst” department, but there is actually more in the “Best” column as well, I swear!

Want more? Read “The Best and Worst Scenes In Batman V Superman” Now!

Batffleck Soars and Visuals Are King In Uneven BATMAN V SUPERMAN


Note: This is a Spoiler Free! Review of Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice. If it wasn’t in the trailer (a disappointingly large amount was) or the 1st act, I won’t reference anything too directly. There are so many universe building moments and DC Easter Eggs for a Geek to pour over that I will likely cover in a follow up discussion full of spoilers in the coming days.

How many reviews have you read for Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice that were written by someone who has seen it twice? How many reviewers are self proclaimed amateur Batman Scholars? And yet, not so blindly obsessed with the Caped Crusader  that he proclaims a ridiculous “20 out of 10! Best Movie Ever!” Well, soon you will have read one such review!

Batman V Superman is not the best superhero movie ever made, in fact, it doesn’t come close, not even cracking my top 10… or likely even top 20 Comic Book based films. Yet, it’s also far from the worse. Neither should be a surprise in today’s world where we have received 2-6 Superhero Films a year since 2002’s Spider-Man.

Batman V Superman Dawn of Justice Review Heroes Face Off Henry Cavill Ben AffleckBvS is both better than I expected, yet still a bit of a visually beautiful mess. After all, Zack Snyder is at the helm; the controversial Director behind a horrible film (Sucker Punch), a fan favorite I hate (300), an incredibly average comic book film (Man of Steel), and another beautiful mess that I have a soft spot for (Watchman). Snyder continues to showcase the same weaknesses (plot, story pacing) and strengths (incredibly rich CGI visuals that truly brings comics to life). Luckily, Snyder has help from writer Chris Terrio who has written Academy Award nominated films like The Town, saving BvS from being the complete train-wreck it could have been.

The opening credits scene is a perfect sampling/representation of the film as a whole.

The movie opens with Martha and Thomas Wayne’s funeral (yes, we’ve seen this before), which flashes back to the Wayne Murder in Crime Alley (something we’ve more than any other Comic Book scene). I went to Batman V Superman with my best friend, a self proclaimed Superman fan, who has watched everything Batman with me from The Dark Knight films, to animated features like Batman: Year One and The Dark Knight Returns, and even TV’s Gotham, in addition to having read countless comics. More than most, this friend has a hatred for the Wayne Murder that pops up in all these stories, especially the once artistically genius choice to showcase Martha’s pearls crashing to the ground; that by this point has become just as repetitive a image as as young Bruce Wayne screaming under the spotlight of a street lamp.Batman V Superman Dawn of Justice Review Wayne MurderWhen we saw the funeral, and then the flashback to a family walking out of a Zorro film, yet again, we both sighed. Then something amazing happened… Zach Snyder actually presented the scene in a way we’ve never seen it before with an very creative and bold choice. Instead of Joe Chill (the man who murder’s Bruce Wayne’s parents) ripping the necklace off Martha’s neck, he slips his gun against her throat so that the gun’s hammer holds the necklace tight between her neck and the gun. When the gun fires, the hammer recoils, splitting the pearl necklace and dropping the pearls in a very visual pleasing, surprising, and brutal way.

The film as a whole (with one giant exception) offers great visual takes on heroes and action set pieces we’ve seen before (in one case, literally, but that in a later…), much like his Watchman film flawlessly captured what looked like actual panels from a comic book. It’s not just perfect CGI, it’s great choices including a visual tone that doesn’t just feel richer than Man of Steel‘s faded look, but also more true to a comic than Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy (visuals and a certain actor being the ONLY way the film tops the now sacred trilogy). The characters, costumes, settings, and action look fantastic from this new take on the “Pearl Scene” to the rained out battle between Superman with a fantastic rendering of the Batman “Battle” suit that’s even better than how Frank Miller was drew it in The Dark Knight Returns.Batman V Superman Dawn of Justice Review Ben Affleck Steps on Henry CavillVisually, things do fall apart in the grand finale, where you have a boring flaming backdrop (EVERYTHING is on fire!) and messily animated Heroes literally lunging/flying at each other over football stadium length for epic punches, even when said characters are not known for flying.

Back to the opening scene: though presented in a brand new brilliance, we’ve seen it all before… many, many times. So follows the rest of Batman V Superman; though we’ve never watched Batman fight Superman in live action, we’ve seen all the pieces before. Superman’s scenes don’t feel fresh, which isn’t a terrible crime as this film is direct sequel to Man of Steel. Though he’s never looked so good, we’ve seen Batman in a ridiculous amount of movies. Marvel has already stolen the magic of bringing multiple titans to the same battlefield, and the destruction of the finale may be over red burning ground instead of Man of Steel‘s grey rubble, but really, what’s the difference (besides the not subtle at all lines about how everywhere anyone fights in Gotham or Metropolis is “uninhabited”)?

Batman V Superman Dawn of Justice Review Ben Affleck Bruce Wayne MetrpolisThe 2nd scene, though one of the best in the film (if not the best), is not just a repeated image like the death of the Waynes and the ever present Pearls, but a literal repeat of the Battle of Metropolis from Man of Steel, this time from Bruce Wayne’s (Ben Affleck) perspective. The scene is visceral and real with painful yet effective 9/11 imagery, from Bruce’s race to the Wayne Fiances skyscraper to the building’s collapse and the remaining, living victims. The destruction is more real and seems to be on an even larger scale when we are watching the laser vision of Zod and Superman (Henry Cavill) rip Wayne Fiances to pieces from a far, with the two “Gods” (really Aliens) just specks in a sky flying around giant ships exploding, destroying nearly everything.

It’s not just the visuals that make this stand-out scene so emotional, for the film’s other greatest strength is also essential in saving what could have been boring Batman/Bruce Wayne scenes in any other Batman actor’s hands. I’m of course referring to Ben Affleck, who is indeed the Batman AND Bruce Wayne we have always deserved (no actor has pulled off both sides of the coin so evenly). His brooding and anger are the only real thing in this film (because all those visuals I’ve been praising were manufactured in a computer).Batman V Superman Dawn of Justice Ben Affleck Bruce Wayne Looks At BatsuitQuick props to Jesse Eisenberg as Lex Luthor and Jeremy Irons as the latest Alfred Pennyworth for both not playing their roles conventionally, yet still delivering satisfying versions (especially Jesse Eisenberg!).

Back to the opening of the film: it’s a dream! And this film has an overabundance of dreams/possible visions, from Bruce’s apocalyptic “Knightmare” (get it?) of a world run by a heartless Superman, to Clark Kent seeing Pa Kent (Kevin Costner) in the mountains. These kind of scenes drive the story forward (and even begin to set up the greater universe including the Justice League) in a movie that feels surprisingly slow with so many characters packed in.

A great fear of mine going in was that, not unlike Watchmen (which also had soooo many characters and events to cover) or overstuffed semi-messes like Spider-Man or even Avengers: Age of Ultron, this film would feel rushed, trying to get to the big battle referenced in the title as quickly as possible with little thought and space given to the connective plot tissue.Batman V Superman Dawn of Justice Review Final BattleQuite the opposite is true, in fact. The movie is almost too slow, allowing the themes of what it means to be just a man in a God’s world  and absolute power corrupting to breath for the 1st two acts. That is, before any theme or reason from earlier in the film is quickly forgotten in favor of “Smashy, Smashy, Punch Time” in the 3rd act.

Are there plot holes? God, yes, but I don’t want to go in so far as to spoil any plot points, nor am I trying to be “Honest Trailers” or “How It Should Have Ended.” Some plot holes and choices do make more sense as a comic fan as they are less of a stretch for someone who has read variations of these stories in the comics. Others are just dumbfounding, but even the Marvel films are guilty of that sin.

One thing The Avengers did pull off that BvS fails at, is giving Batman something to do when fighting a villain meant for the likes of the more powerful Superman and Wonder Woman. While armies of aliens or robots in the two Avengers films gave heroes with no powers (Hawkeye and Black Widow) or limited ones (Captain America) something to fight, Batman runs and stands around more than he fights in the grand finale, waiting for Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot, who is okay, but doesn’t shine) and Superman to do all the real fighting.

So, there you go! A review written by someone who had the chance to put the thoughts generated by not one, but two viewings of Batman V Superman down on (digital) paper.

Is this a Batman V Superman that rivals The Avengers? No. Is it a watchable film that actually makes you excited for the prospect of Justice League: Part One? Absolutely!

The old, classic, Zack Snyder mixed bag.

5_Star_Rating_System_3_stars

 

 

 

A JACK RYAN for the 21st (or is it 24th?) Century


Jack Ryan is back! After a long hiatus following the worst film the the “Jack Ryan” franchise.

In an age where subtitles appear bigger than the franchise name (see below; MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE – GHOST PROTOCOL & STAR TREK INTO DARKNESS – also starring Chris Pine) comes JACK RYAN: SHADOW RECRUIT, a franchise that seems to be attempting to cast as many actors to play the Tom Clancy character as have played other, more well known icons like 007 and Batman.

Wait... all the logos are for Paramount films.. is this a paramount Paramount conspiracy? (Pun very much intended).
Wait… all the logos are for Paramount films.. is this a paramount Paramount conspiracy? (Pun very much intended).

Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit PosterJACK RYAN: SHADOW RECRUIT seems to be a reboot to the franchise. Jack gets his first ‘in-the-field’ mission, just as he did in HUNT FOR RED OCTOBER.

Instead of Ben Affleck and Morgan Freeman (both will now have worked in the Batman-universe), Harrison Ford and James Earl Jones, or Alec Baldwin and… again… James Earl Jones, this time we have Capt’Kirk himself, Chris Pine, playing Ryan with Kevin Costner as his government contact/father-figure/aid.

The first Jack Ryan movie not based off an actual Tom Clancy novel (notice the poster says ‘based on the characters created by Tom Clancy), is also the first Jack Ryan film to have the character’s name in the title. All because, unlike in the days of CLEAR AND PRESENT DANGER and PATRIOT GAMES, HWood knows we are too stupid to make the connection unless all upcoming films carry ‘JACK RYAN’ in the title.

I kind of like it, as long as Paramount keeps using subtitles instead of numbers. Numbers date a movie (which is why even Marvel dropped them after the IRON MAN franchise), though SHADOW RECRUIT sounds it could be just as much the name for the next MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE film. GHOST PROTOCOL… SHADOW RECRUIT… tell me I’m not the only one who thinks these spy titles aren’t generic, focus-group tested, Hollywood executive garbage!

The trailer and more! After the jump! Continue reading “A JACK RYAN for the 21st (or is it 24th?) Century”