‘Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice’ Movie Review

Regardless of your thoughts on it, Man of Steel made a big splash when it was released almost three years ago. While a lot of the reception was rather chilly, it was enough for Warner Bros to move ahead with the next part of their DC Movie Universe, much in the way that Marvel Studios has done with the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Man of Steel was its Iron Man, for better or worse, and WB desperately needed to get the ball rolling towards an eventual Justice League. In that regard, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice will likely get the job done, although this is an exceedingly uneasy foundation. In every other capacity, i.e. in being an actual movie, it could and should be viewed as nothing other than utterly disappointing.

The film picks up two years after the events of Man of Steel. The world has been introduced to this alien named Superman and unease has settled throughout. Can you trust a being that can melt you to a cinder with little to no effort and what are the consequences if you do? These are questions that Gotham’s Bruce Wayne asks himself. Believing that mistrust in the Kryptonian is warranted and having been in Metropolis during the attack in Man of Steel, he takes it upon himself to take Superman down with everything he’s got. And hijinx ensue. Oh wait, that’s not right. Sorry, not that kind of movie.

Dawn of Justice isn’t necessarily what one would define as bad. The problem, though, is that it’s not in any way, shape, or form good. It’s this completely nebulous thing. This isn’t like Ant-Man where it’s just aggressively mediocre. That’s not it, either. It seems to be none of these things and, yet, all of them at once.

Let’s start off with things that worked. That’ll probably be a shorter conversation to have.

Firstly, the reason for the distrust towards Superman seems valid and analogous to our reality. Whenever a disaster or attack occurs, it seems that someone gets blamed other than those that perpetrated the act. Similar to an attack like 9/11 or the recent attacks in Paris or Brussels where muslims as a group get the remaining brunt of the blame that’s left over from what society has given to the terrorists involved, Superman is left holding the bag in the eyes of discerning individuals, like Batman. The cultural relevance of that is intensely wired in and important to this day and age.

Ben Affleck as Batman is pretty great, also. It’s really the performance of Bruce Wayne that does it. It plays believably as a guy that’s been punching bad guys in the face for twenty years and even considers himself a criminal at this point. The character of Batman is more problematic, which we’ll get to later, but the performance really grounds Batman’s conflict with Superman. You get that he would have seen so many supposedly good guys gone bad over the years that an all-powerful “good guy” would give him serious pause. It’s not hard to imagine that he’s lost one or two Robin’s over the years and Harvey Dent has likely hit his Two-Face days by now. Affleck really makes you understand his paranoia and apprehension and why he’d want to act.

Batman, however, pales in comparison to Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman. While we only see in her in full Amazonian armor for a few minutes in the last act, that is enough to make the entire two-and-a-half hour run-time completely worth it. Her presence brings so much energy and raw, warrior spirit that anyone not interested in a stand-alone Wonder Woman after seeing this film is a deranged crazy person that has no idea what he wants (c’mon. If anyone doesn’t want this, it’s a dude and an MRA one at that).

That was the good; now for the bad. 

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The biggest offender of Dawn of Justice is just how unbelievably, atrociously boring it is. It’s okay to be boring. It’s okay to be long. But if you are both boring and long, that is where we have a problem. Virtually every scene with Superman is boring. Somehow, they even managed to make his fight scene with Batman at the end dull. I honestly didn’t think that was possible, but Snyder and Co. did it. When it’s not being boring, however, it’s weirdly cruel. The biggest, most prominent example of this (although it comes and goes without you realizing exactly what happened) was its use of longtime Superman ally Jimmy Olsen. Sans spoilers, what the film does with his character is so brusquely antagonistic and almost mean spirited that it seems like Snyder is trolling his audience.

But mostly it’s boring.

What works perhaps the least in Dawn of Justice is, other from Wonder Woman’s appearance, everything that follows Batman and Superman’s big fight. What stops the fight ultimately is so mind-numbingly stupid that it boggles the mind that it actually happened. And then they have to go fight the actual villain of the film that I won’t spoil here, but if you’ve seen the trailers, you already know who or what it is. This is where the film goes from boring to simply being a mess. It’s a CG hodgepodge of insanity that nothing can really be followed and any sense of geography is practically nonexistent. The villain has been referenced in other reviews as resembling a literal giant piece of poop and I can’t do better than that. That’s what it looks like. It looks like actual crap. It has no personality or anything of substance to it and it just carries over the characteristic of being exhaustingly boring.

God, is this movie dull and lifeless.

And then somewhere in this movie there’s Jesse Eisenberg’s Lex Luthor. He’s easily the weirdest, out-of-place part of this film. It’s not clear if it’s Eisenberg’s performance or the writing, but this does not feel like Lex Luthor in any way. Honestly, it feels like a more purposed Joker. Everything from the characterization to the performance to the mannerisms scream The Joker. He does not fit in with this movie and he’s clearly trying to do something different with the character, but it just does not work at all.

When you get down to it, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice is not a terrible, irredeemable film. It is a mess and it does severely suffer from being two-and-a-half hours long, but there are many good parts to it, also. Gadot’s Wonder Woman and Batfleck really make it work, which is enough for any film. The movie probably would have benefited from a different and probably a more fastidious editor, but what we’re given isn’t bad, either. Cut a couple dream sequences, because there are about three in its runtime, and especially don’t make us watch The Waynes die again. Honestly, how many do we have to see Batman’s parents die before it’s enough? I think we’ve seen every possible way that they could conceivably die at this point. Ultimately, the film is just disappointing and that might be the worst thing of all.

‘Daredevil’ Season 2 Episode 3 “New York’s Finest” is a fascinating debate between warring ideologies

If ever there was a way for Daredevil to bounce back from its lackluster previous episode “Dogs to a Gunfight”, this episode four “New York’s Finest” was certainly the way.

In truth, the entire episode could have just been an exchange between Daredevil (Charlie Cox) and The Punisher (Jon Bernthal) and that would have been perfectly fine. No complaints, no arguments, just forty-odd minutes of a philosophical and moral debate between these two characters. It goes for more than that, but that simplicity would have been superb. That’s not to say we didn’t get that conversation in spades. The series stands still for a moment in this episode and we get to see these separate ideologies verbally battle it out and, honestly, it was wonderful.

It was everything one could hope for. Occasionally weighed down by hackneyed and cliched dialogue, it was a genuine and engaging back-and-forth of differing world views and perspectives on the human condition. Do you allow a chance for redemption or do you kill a criminal so he doesn’t have a chance to do more harm in the future? Again, the dialogue isn’t always there, but Cox and Bernthal’s performances elevate it to this outstanding sparring of words. Perhaps the strangest thing is that you get where both of these men are coming from. You certainly don’t condone what The Punisher is doing, but you get his point of view. Daredevil arrests a criminal and, if you’re lucky, he’s gone for a couple years. He’ll get out again, though, and probably do the same type of thing all over again. The Punisher ends the cycle. It’s not right, but, in his eyes, it’s necessary. The Punisher calls Daredevil a “half measure”, and maybe that’s correct, but as we in the hospital with Foggy (Elden Henson) and Claire AKA The Night Nurse (Rosario Dawson), he’s not helping the problem. The Punisher is just helping to set the city on fire faster. People are still dying and innocents are still being hurt.

The debate escalates naturally to the point that we all expect, which ends with them fighting, because of course, which in turn leads to the the best fight sequence of the series since the one-take hallway in season one’s “Cut Man”. Everything from the choreography to the direction to the editing is executed so magnificently and is nearly flawless. It feels like someone watched The Raid every day for a year and figured out how to do something on that level. Every move of the camera is precise and carries the momentum of the fight so wonderfully,

All in all, this was a great episode for Daredevil. It was nice to see Rosario Dawson back on the show, all the while teasing her appearance on the upcoming series Luke Cage. We got to see Foggy be the loud lawyer we all know he can be. Again, the only weak link is Karen (Deborah Ann Woll), who is off threatening a District Attorney, by herself, for some godforsaken reason. Even she can’t take away from the overall greatness of this episode, though.

‘Daredevil’ Season 2 Episode 2 “Dogs to a Gunfight” is an unnecessary bore

“Dogs to a Gunfight” is in no way a thrilling hour of television. Much of it is quite tedious. A good deal of it is spent talking and pondering and bickering. These are all things that Daredevil tends to revert to when it’s not dealing with Matt Murdoch (Charlie Cox) in the Daredevil costume. This could probably be helped if the show was more of a courtroom drama, but that’s a conversation for another day. Again, dialogue-heavy scenes are perfectly acceptable if that’s what you want to do. There’s nothing at all wrong with that. It just so happens, however, that when Daredevil does it, the result is more or less of a snoozefest. It has to accepted that Daredevil is enjoyable when it’s this action heavy hour of television, but that when it goes back to the normalcy of human drama, it becomes more boring. It’s fine in most episodes when there’s a more even balance between dialogue and fight scenes.

The episode is ultimately a long series of character interactions, with a decent fight at the end, that tries to draw some thematic and philosophical conversations between characters that feel more or less like a retread. Matt and Foggy have the same discussion, for the most part, that we’ve seen them have before. Matt wants to be Daredevil-ing it up and Foggy doesn’t want him to. We’ve already been here before. Yes, Matt could have died in the last and, yeah, he should take it easy for a moment, but if Foggy could not sound so godforsakenly shrill about it, well that would just be swell.

Karen and Matt have a necessary, but frustrating debate about Daredevil’s role in The Punisher (Jon Bernthal) rising to prominence with his vigilante approach and the people’s general acceptance of it. This is something comic book superheroes have struggled with for decades. Like in The Dark Knight, if you put on a mask and beat criminals in the dark- which is essentially what Daredevil does- wouldn’t someone less virtuous than yourself take a page out of your book? This was a conversation that needed to happen, but any interaction between Matt and Karen is frustrating what with their flirtatious dynamic and lack of any real social skills together.

The big point about “Dogs to a Gunfight” is that this is a real nothing episode. It’s a stall for time until it gets to the next place that it really wants to go. What that is precisely is anyone’s guess, but this episode feels like a waste of everyone’s time. This is probably a flaw in the thirteen episode paradigm that Netflix does with most of its shows. Not all shows are created equal and not all shows need thirteen episodes. EIght, nine, ten episodes would be fine. In a ten-episode run, it’s more than likely that this episode would have been severely condensed.

And we’d have been all the better for it.

‘The X-Files’ Season 10- A Postmortem

This is the first article of The Lost Cause. This is also generally the part where I tell you what shape the website will take and what it will look, but the most honest answer is “I don’t know”. At this point it could be anything. What I can say for certain is that there will be articles about TV and other about film. I’m not going to guess or predict what that will ultimately turn out to be. We’ve got to start somewhere, though, so here we go.

There’s an inherent risk reviving anything- be that film, television, books, or video games. Look at The Godfather Part 3 or Futurama: properties that were once great, but came back as an indisputably lesser version of itself. In some instances it’s a matter of too much time having passed; others it’s the creative force and executives behind it that had no idea what they were doing. Sometimes it’s both. Tv revivals are the name of the game today, though, so let’s all just buckle up.

The big question here was whether or not this revived season of The X-Files would be successful and if it would be any good. The first part of that is: yes, from a viewers standpoint, it did decent numbers. Its highest was sixteen million and its lowest was just over seven. Certainly well enough for network television but nothing to write home about.

Then there’s the question of the quality, which is another discussion altogether.

To say that Season 10 is uneven would be a laughable understatement. In a six episode run, only two of these were any good. It’s not a ringing endorsement for the continuation of the series when the only episodes of any quality were the serialized ones (“Mulder and Scully Meet the Were-Monster”; Home Again”) and the mythology heavy ones (“My Struggle”; “My Struggle II”) were abysmally terrible. In a television landscape where the overarching story is everything that matters and the episodic format is quickly becoming obsolete and played out, why can it be that stand-alone entries were, by leaps and bounds, the most engaging and most fulfilling?

The mythos of the show has become so convoluted and hard to follow at this point, having changed and been altered so many separate times in its ten seasons that it’s almost impossible to keep track of now. What began in 1993 as a simple enough investigation into a government conspiracy regarding the existence of alien life and a possible cover-up  of that fact has now, twenty-three years later, morphed and twisted itself to death into a completely different conspiracy where aliens actually did come to Earth but a shadowy cabal has repurposed their technology to put alien DNA in people and control people? The X-Files has fully gone to a place where it’s too ridiculous to even hope to understand the larger plot.

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One of the most major problems that faced season ten is that the show would be honestly be better off if its creator, Chris Carter, had less and less to do with it. The episodes from this season that he wrote were the mythos-heavy “My Struggle” and “My Struggle II”, which leads any casual observer to conclude that Carter is only interested in the details of the series when those details are wildly uninteresting at this point and it’s the installments such as “Mulder and Scully Meet the Were-Monster” that are the standouts of the season. This is the shining jewel of the tenth season. Masquerading as a simple monster hunt and a reevaluation on Mulder’s part as to whether or not the monster cases he’s taken on and believed in so unflinchingly in the past is little more than smoke and mirrors that modern day technology can easily debunk. It’s a wonderful exploration into what it’s like to be human and and a great twist on the monster transformation trope.

But, to be frank, even an episode like this is far and in between in this season. You still have to endure an episode like “Babylon”, which is a stand-alone and several types of awful. It’s an episode so devoid of any meaning, yet tries all too hard to convince you that it saying something profound about terrorism and the power of words and how we treat our enemies. The outcome is essentially nonsense. With bad plotting, direction, and writing, the only slightly redeeming qualities are the presence of Lauren Ambrose and Robbie Amell, who bring a much needed breath of fresh air to the series and without these two, the episode would be completely unwatchable. Although Amell is criminally in both of the episodes he’s in (“Babylon” and “My Struggle II”), in typical Robbie Amell fashion.

To be honest, if they ended The X-Files and gave Robbie Amell and Lauren their own spin-off instead, that would be perfectly fine by me.

In short, was this tenth season of The X-Files good? No. Was it worth watching? Yes. Is it frustrating? Absolutely. Would I watch twenty more seasons if they continued to give me any hope that they’d make more episodes like “Mulder and Scully Meet the Were-Monster”? Without a doubt.

And that’s the single greatest thing I can say about this season.