Rated PG-13 for intense violence, pervasive action and some sensuality
Latest DC Comics Adaptation Pits The Man Of Steel Against The Caped Crusader
Let’s face it, Christian Bale’s Batman was going to be a hard act for any actor to follow, especially Ben Affleck who had already proved underwhelming as a superhero when he played Daredevil back in 2003. And the departure from the franchise of Chris Nolan, the legendary director of the critically-acclaimed Dark Knight trilogy, only served to lower expectations even further.
Thus, it’s no surprise that Batman v Superman: Dawn Of Justice would indeed prove to be a bitter disappointment. The picture was directed by Zack Snyder who also helmed the 2013 reboot of Superman, called Man Of Steel.
The first problem with this terribly-flawed, second offering in the DC Extended Universe series rests in its interminable 2-and-1/2 hour running time that could have easily been trimmed down to less than 90 minutes. For example, why bother revisit the backstory about what inspired Bruce Wayne to become Batman, when the murder of his parents had previously been addressed in numerous other episodes?
The second issue with the production has to do with Batman and Superman’s (Henry Cavill) being cast as adversaries for the bulk of the film. Yes, the source of the tension between the two is adequately explained, but the audience nevertheless grows increasingly impatient since we’d much rather see our beloved heroes quickly resolve their differences in favor of joining forces to fight a real villain.
After all, there is an eminently detestable adversary waiting in the wings in the person of the diabolical Lex Luthor (Jesse Eisenberg). Too bad this tortoise-paced blockbuster takes forever to arrive at that epic showdown. Instead, we’re forced to endure the meaningless machinations of a convoluted adventure less concerned with coherency than with atmospherics, action and special f/x.
Besides those superficial bells and whistles, director Snyder exhibits an annoying fondness for support characters with nothing much to do, from Clark Kent’s colleague Jimmy Olsen (Michael Cassidy), to his boss Perry White (Laurence Fishburne), to Bruce Wayne’s butler Alfred (Jeremy Irons). The film also features a plethora of cameo appearances by celebrities Neil deGrasse Tyson, Anderson Cooper, Brooke Baldwin, Soledad O’Brien, Nancy Grace and Dana Bash who merely distract from rather than advance the plot.
More enjoyable are the relatively-purposeful roles played by Lois Lane (Amy Adams) and Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot). But by the time the long-awaited battle royal with Luthor and his henchman Doomsday (Robin Atkin Downes) finally rolls around, you’re so tired of peeking at your watch that you just want it over and done with as fast as possible. Make it stop!
A classic case of moviemaking excess resulting in a patience-testing blockbuster adding up to way less than the sum of its parts.
Fair (1 star)
Running time: 151 minutes
The Brainwashing Of My Dad
Frustrated Daughter Indicts Fox News In Mind Control Documentary
Jen Senko’s father, Frank, was a life-long Democrat until he retired and started watching Fox News and listening to conservative talk radio hosts like Rush Limbaugh. Gradually, the aging World War II vet’s open-minded beliefs were replaced by right-wing attitudes.
Frank began parroting the talking heads and eventually became so intolerant of minorities, gays and the poor that he could no longer discuss politics with or even sleep in the same bed with his relatively-liberal wife. These developments distressed Jen who placed the blames on a “Republican noise machine designed to distort, confuse, create fear, smear people and deliberately disseminate misinformation.”
And she sets about proving that statement in The Brainwashing Of My Dad, a scathing indictment of the right-wing media as dangerous tools in the hands of a power elite interested in mind-control. Directed by Ms. Senko and narrated by Matthew Modine, this is a cautionary exposé apt to resonate with the viewer to the extent one agrees with its progressive point-of-view.
Thus, I suspect that it will appeal to folks sitting in the left side of the choir while rubbing those across the church aisle the wrong way. Regardless of one’s political persuasion, the picture does make a persuasive bipartisan point, namely, that TV is likely to continue enjoying its pervasive influence so long as the masses remain “lazy and want their thinking done for them.”
A thought-provoking examination of the media’s effect on Boobus Americana.
Very Good (3 stars)
Running time: 90 minutes
JSenko Productions / Cinco Dedos Peliculas
OPENING THIS WEEK
For movies opening April 1, 2016
Collide (PG-13 for violence, profanity, sexuality and drug use) Action thriller about a couple of American tourists (Nicholas Hoult and Felicity Jones) backpacking across Europe who end up on the run from drug smugglers in Germany. With Anthony Hopkins, Ben Kingsley and Nadia Hilker.
Meet The Blacks (R for sexuality, violence, drug use and pervasive profanity) Horror parody of The Purge revolving around a nouveau riche family which unwittingly moves from the ghetto to Beverly Hills on the annual holiday when crime is legal. Ensemble cast includes Mike Epps, Zulay Henao, Mike Tyson, George Lopez, DeRay Davis, Charlie Murphy and Perez Hilton and Paul Mooney.
Miles Ahead (R for drug use, nudity, sexuality, brief violence and pervasive profanity) Don Cheadle produced, directed, co-wrote and stars as Miles Davis in this impressionistic biopic chronicling the highs and lows of the legendary jazz trumpeter’s troubled life and checkered career. With Ewan McGregor, Michael Stuhlbarg, Keith Stanfield and Emayatzy Corinealdi.
Catching The Sun (Unrated) Green economy documentary extolling the efforts of entrepreneurs in the U.S. and China to capitalize on the race to solar energy
Francofonia (Unrated) World War II drama giving a cinematic tour of the Louvre while explaining how the museum managed to prevent plunder of its collection during the Nazi occupation of France. Co-starring Vincent Nemeth, Louis-Do de Lencquesaing and Benjamin Utzerath. (In French, German, Russian and English with subtitles)
God’s Not Dead 2 (PG for mature themes) Courtroom drama revolving around a public high school teacher’s (Melissa Joan Hart) fight for her career and her First Amendment rights after being suspended for having a classroom discussion of Jesus. With Jesse Metcalfe, Robin Givens, Ernie Hudson, Pat Boone and Senator Fred Thompson.
Marinoni: The Fire In The Flame (Unrated) Reverential documentary chronicling the career of champion cyclist-turned-master bike maker Giuseppe Marinoni. (In English, French and Italian with subtitles)
Natural Born Pranksters (R for crude humor, dangerous stunts, and for pervasive profanity and sexuality) Practical joke comedy highlighting the work of such YouTube sensations as Roman Atwood, Vitaly Z and Dennis Roady.
Pandemic (Unrated) Sci-fi thriller revolving around a research doctor (Rachel Nichols) who represents the last hope for a cure after a virus wipes out New York City and threatens to decimate what’s left of humanity. With Mekhi Phifer, Missi Pyle and Alfie Allen.
Sold (Unrated) Adaptation of Patricia McCormick’s bestseller of the same name chronicling the real-life ordeal of a 13-year-old Nepalese peasant (Niyar Saikia) sold to Indian sex traffickers. Supporting cast includes Gillian Anderson, David Arquette and Seema Biswas.
Standing Tall (R for profanity and some sexuality) Coming-of-age drama about a juvenile court judge (Catherine Deneuve) and a special ed teacher (Benoit Magimel) who join forces to rehabilitate a teen (Rod Paradot) in trouble with the law since being abandoned by his mother at the age of 6. With Sara Forestier, Diane Rouxel and Elisabeth Mazev. (In French with subtitles)