“Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice”
It is clear that superheroes have entered a new era in 2016. They hate each other. With the soon to be released new “Avengers” film, Captain America and Iron Man are duking it out before restoring brotherly love, and now Batman and Superman do the same thing.
Yet before discussing the shortcomings of director Zack Snyder’s “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice,” let’s identify its strengths. First of all, you are not likely to see a film this year where all women wear such fantastic shoes. Ranging from a U.S. senator (Holly Hunter) and Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot) continually wearing sexy outfits at lavish parties to Superman’s squeeze Lois Lane (Amy Adams), you see a series of five-inch heels that would make Manolo Blahnik weep.
Secondly, forget the hokey script and see this film at an IMAX theater. It is largely one gigantic battle from beginning to end, and the special effects will make you feel that someone sprinkled cocaine on your popcorn.
On the other hand, you do have to accept Ben Affleck as Bruce Wayne/Batman, and that leaves you feeling as if you are rooting for Ted Cruz to beat Donald Trump. While Christian Bale brought resonance and grace to his Batman performances in Christopher Nolan’s films, Affleck’s maudlin performance makes you wish that Michael Bay would release a new hokey “Transformers” film quickly.
Thankfully, you get a bit overwhelmed by the battle scenes, and it helps distract your attention from an amateurish plot. Henry Cavill’s emotionless Superman faces charges of tyranny because he kills terrorists to save Lois’ life while Batman uses kryptonite discovered by Lex Luthor (a psychotic Jesse Eisenberg) to eliminate Superman.
Other than Wonder Woman, the only authentic character in the film is Jeremy Irons as Alfred, Batman’s loyal and sarcastic aide de camp. However, the real shortcoming of this film was to ignore Wonder Woman until the closing sequence. At that point, Gadot brings the only interest and intrigue to this lackluster film, turning your head at every scene as she stays at a distance from men acting like young boys in a schoolyard. A sequel will be tolerable if it spends more time focusing on her smirk while in combat.
While I have referred to Eisenberg’s performance as Lex Luthor, I should also say that he may prove to be one of the most annoying characters to appear in a Marvel film. Cavill’s Superman is constantly dazed and confused, while Laurence Fishburne’s Perry White can’t understand why he is ignored as the Daily Planet’s editor. And poor Amy Adams mourns her lover’s possible demise while ignoring her mindless contribution when she tried to interview African terrorists on their home turf.
If Ben Affleck will continue to appear in the future as Batman, I suggest that he also play the caped crusader in a sequel of “Gone Girl” (2014). He’d be perfect as the devoted husband of a psychotic wife who doesn’t care if he lives or dies. Now that would be a movie worth seeing.
“Eye in the Sky”
Like many, I was quite intrigued by the previews for director Gavin Hood’s “Eye in the Sky.” Unfortunately, the film itself turns out to be terribly disappointing, and I can only quote my sarcastic good friend who sat next to me, “If you give this film a good review, I’ll kill you.”
Helen Mirren, the accomplished English actress, plays Col. Katherine Powell, a no-nonsense member of a secret intelligence organization out of London whose goal is to either capture or kill notable terrorists. Locating two chief targets in a rundown building in Kenya, she calls in a drone strike given the discovery that a terrorist attack is about to be unleashed.
Up to this point, the movie is terribly intriguing, as it focuses on life in the nearby Kenyan community as well as sophisticated drones shaped like hummingbirds and flying beetles that are used to further the investigation. More to the point, a kill zone is established until a young Kenyan girl is seen outside the target facility selling bread made by her mother.
Everyone associated with Powell is thrown into confusion. The American pilot Steve Watts (Aaron Paul) whose hand is on the trigger, doesn’t want to proceed and risk killing the child. Powell’s supervisors, led by the late, great Alan Rickman as Lt. Gen. Frank Benson, are left in a quandary when British political figures want to scratch the entire operation.
Quite frankly, it is here that the movie collapses under its own weight. In scene after scene you are forced to endure moments where government officials move up the chain of command to escape responsibility.
Regrettably, it becomes annoying to watch Mirren’s and Rickman’s characters driven to the point of madness.
The film’s profound weakness is that it challenges everyone to ignore history. War has always been hell, and it has involved collateral damage at every turn. Think of World War II and the bombing of Dresden where tens of thousands of German civilians were killed by the Allied air attack. Close to 150,000 Japanese citizens died when atomic bombs were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, yet most Americans to this day consider those attacks justified in that it brought that awful war to a close.
Don’t get me wrong, the performance by Aisha Takow as the little girl is as moving as it is endearing, as is Barkhad Abdi as an undercover operative who is trying to save her life. He is as effective here as he was in his classic role in “Captain Phillips” (2013).
Nonetheless, the film became rather foolish when it seemed to urge the viewer to save a little girl’s life and let terrorists flee to kill numerous innocent human beings as happened recently in Pakistan, Paris and Brussels. War always has costs, and you can’t tell me that innocent people didn’t die on the evening we eliminated Osama bin Laden.
George C. Scott’s General Patton said in “Patton” (1970), “Now I want you to remember that no bastard ever won a war by dying for his country. He won it by making the other poor dumb bastard die for his country.”•
Robert Hammerle practices criminal law in Indianapolis at Pence Hensel LLC as of counsel. When he is not in the courtroom or the office, Bob can likely be found at one of his favorite movie theaters watching and preparing to review the latest films. To read more of his reviews, visit www.bigmouthbobs.com. The opinions expressed are those of the author.