Review Roundup - Super Punch Out

BATMAN V SUPERMAN: DAWN OF JUSTICE (2016)

Oh boy, where to even begin here. Right from the outset there's that weird title which looks like something they've taken from the Castlevania series (maybe Dawn of Sorrow would be a better fit, or Curse of Darkness). So let's step back for a second. Man of Steel came and went, to mixed reviews. It was underwritten and had a lot of problems in tone, but for the most part it was kind of average. I could just look at it as a sci-fi spectacle movie, and at least at the time think of what they might do next with the character. I certainly didn't predict anything like this, which takes all the worst parts and amplifies them. To come right out and say it, this is a bewildering mess. It wastes all the potential from the titular conflict and takes elements from comics like The Dark Knight Returns amongst others and just kind of throws them in haphazardly without any apparent planning, and in doing so loses the depth and nuance they originally contained. What I'm saying here is that it's no good.


Set ups and payoffs, characterisation, plot arcs and plot twists, satisfying action finales. It's the kind of thing you'd expect in a super hero movie with heinous villains pulling strings behind the scenes and brewing powder kegs ready to explode at any moment. But one of the most mystifying aspects of this film is that rational thought and logical deduction seems to have been left at the door. I mean they have the Man of Tomorrow versus The World's Greatest Detective and neither one seems to be able to see all the obvious ploys and frame up jobs involved here. Superman is blamed for some kind of massacre in Africa but doesn't seem that interested in clearing his name until the last minute, and Bruce Wayne is pushed into fighting him for the most simplistic reasons. Then again this is a story in which Batman has been battling criminals for decades and only now Clarke Kent decides to write an article on him. Because of course the audience has just met him...

The first half of the movie isn't so bad. It's really boring but it's never quite this headache inducing. They spend so much time replaying Batman's tragic childhood for some reason when it could have been done in a few seconds of flashbacks. It's clear this is the story they really wanted to tell, and he gets all the best moments from weird nightmare scenes in his family crypt to the action set pieces. However so much of it is totally pointless. At one point he kills 20 thugs in the Batwing to steal from Lex Luthor, but fails to do so... and then off screen has to do it all over again. The lack of structure is really strange, and by the time the major clashes arrive all sense of who is doing what, and why, has been lost. But then again so many of the other choices are also bizarre.

Maybe it's because of the big rush to make a team up picture. Wonder Woman isn't too bad as she plays off Bruce Wayne in the scenes were each lead is without their costumes. But the sequel bait scenes later on are so cringe worthy that it's almost like a bad joke. They really didn't have a more creative way of showing future Justice League characters than having an email attachment showing them... each with a teaser trailer and matching logos? And the less said the better about Jesse Eisenberg whose Lex Luthor seems seems to have wandered in from a Looney Tunes animation or one of the old Joel Schumacher Batman films. They throw in terror attacks and giant CGI monster fights with the same lack of tact, and nobody acts like a human being whether the are from Earth or not. They say there's a longer cut of this with more character motivation to iron out the issues, but if some of these major problems are still included then I can't see how much it would help. Filling out a few of the gaps in logic might make it smoother, but with such a trainwreck I can't imagine it being a lot better.

1/5

BONUS REVIEW
THE VVITCH (2015)


The Witch is a sinister, slow burning horror feature set in the 17th Century after English settlers have moved to America. After being thrown out of the town because of a religious dispute, a single family has to start over by farming on the edge of an eerie forest that hides more than just the local wildlife. There's a lot of discussion about faith but isn't just a story about paranoia or ill founded beliefs in witchcraft, it's clear from the start that things are very real after their new born child goes missing. What's interesting is how the characters deal with this problem as their domestic situation unravels and their crops fail. Soon their are accusations and arguments, even before things go really bad.

It's a dark and creepy looking film with lots of misty woodland scenes and household dialogue lit with the smallest candles. But this is a horror film after all and it certainly delivers on weird and disturbing imagery. The atmosphere in general is really claustrophobic and depressing but the quick looks into the supernatural are what leave a lasting impression. There's a lot of debate on the nature of original sin and the evil of humankind, and the cast are all great including Anya Taylor-Joy as the oldest daughter and Ralph Ineson as her father. It's all pretty miserable but this isn't trying to tell a heart warming story; and it delivers in terms of both grim period detail and harrowing nightmare fuel.

4/5