Fan Rants: Coming Clean About Batman V Superman

trinitylargeIf you read this blog with any sort of regularity, you may know that on Saturday I saw Zack Snyder’s Batman V Superman. You may also recall that I thought it was, ahem, flawed. Nothing weird there, right? The film’s 29% rating on Rotten Tomatoes suggests I wasn’t alone. What I didn’t expect was the amount of time I’d spend defending a position that, quite frankly, I thought I’d already made pretty clear. So let me try this one more time.

Shall I tell the real reason why I didn’t like BvS? It wasn’t just the sloppy writing, or the less-than-inspired dialogue, or the fact that I’ve seen high school health videos with more emotional complexity. It was the fact that I was expected to enjoy, even connect with, a story that so obviously wasn’t made for me.

As a lifelong fan of the superhero genre, I’ve reached a sort of begrudging acceptance of the way things are; women may not be equally represented in blockbuster tent-poles, but at least the women we do see are invariably spectacular in their own ways. And when the trailer for this latest DC offering was released, I was just as excited as anyone by the prospect of finally getting a Wonder Woman worthy of the name. It wasn’t as though my hopes weren’t realized. In the seven minutes she’s on screen (yes, that is the actual batman-vs-superman-ew-pics-2number) Gal Gadot’s iteration of Diana Prince proves herself to be much more savvy, capable, and interesting than either of the titular heroes. Of course, if you blinked at any point during the movie, it’s a performance you probably missed. In fact, there are really only four notable female characters in the entire film, and by “notable” I of course mean “has any kind of speaking part at all”. Lets take a (somewhat spoiler-y) look at how these women were used in the film. It won’t take long; like I said, it’s a short list.

batman-v-superman-dawn-justiceLet’s start with Lois Lane. Smart, independent, award-winning reporter who manages not to choke on lines like, “I’m not a lady, I’m a journalist”. She’s the one person who even attempts to figure out what really happens during a desert shoot-out, for which Superman is blamed (despite the fact that he doesn’t use guns…). An attempt that, by the way, is dismissed as a misguided effort to stand by her man. So much for that. At least there was still something for her to do in the film. She also appears as the prettiest piece of bait you ever saw. 635944238331424071-BVS-19098r

Then there’s Martha Kent (Diane Lane), adopted mother of Superman and purveyor of pithy, home-spun wisdom. She represents Clark’s deepest connection to his own
humanity, a trait that is repeatedly called into question. So you think she’d feature pretty strongly, right? PSYCH. Her husband’s ghost has more lines than she does. Luckily for Martha fans, she does also make a cameo as Hostage #2.

Next let’s look at the most overlooked and tragically underused character of them all. Senator Finch (Holly Hunter) is the only person in this movie who acts with any kind of Screen-Shot-2015-07-13-at-11.46.10-AMclear motivation. She’s strong, she’s decisive, and she’s the only person trying to demand accountability in a realistic way. The only problem? We’re not really supposed to like her. Whether by intention or by reflex, Snyder plays her off as a nag; a woman of a certain age who just complicates matters for the men involved. Not only is she a victim of the Capitol Bombing, she’s specifically targeted by the parties responsible. For what? Being too aggressive? Too articulate? I’m not sure what the message is here, but I know I’m not comfortable with it.

Which brings us back around to Diana Prince. That bastion of Badassery. That oasis of empowered womanhood. It is worth noting that the most impressive woman in this movie isn’t allowed to be such without a whip, thigh-high boots, and a tight leather outfit.

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So stop asking me why I didn’t like this movie. Stop asking me to explain myself again and again. Gender politics aside, it was an underwhelming movie-going experience. Gender politics included, it’s actively harmful to how women are represented in film, particularly in superhero films. If that’s something you are ok with, I guess we’ll just have to agree to disagree.

Whitney Weldon

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The Reviews are In: Batman V Superman

BvS_ImaxYou wanna know the real difference between Marvel and DC? It’s not just that Marvel has consistently given us funnier, more heart-felt, better written films. (If only it were just that). It’s that I can’t shake the feeling that DC is making movies they think we want to see, while Marvel is making the movies they want to see.  Most Marvel films project a sense of joy and exhilaration that I’ve yet to see matched in one of their DC counterparts. Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice doesn’t even try to break that streak. It’s a movie that revels in it’s own joylessness, and like every other Zack Snyder movie yet made, any substance it might have gets overshadowed by it’s own style.

Dawn of Justice opens two years after Man of Steel laid waste to Metropolis and exposed the existence of square-jawed, steely-eyed aliens (Henry Cavill). It’s a new world, and not everyone is rolling with the changes. Bruce Wayne (Ben Affleck) doesn’t trust Superman’sBVS-1 ostensibly good intentions, and makes it his mission to stop him before he can do some real damage.  Also trying to put the screws to Superman is Lex Luthor. The Man of Steel’s nemesis is played here by Jessie Eisenberg, who seems to think that the only things required for a compelling bad guy are facial tics and a few schizoid-style loose associations.

For a movie that’s supposedly about the struggle between Idealism and Realism, this movie has little of either. Even for a comic book block buster, there’s a mind-numbing over-reliance on CGI effects, so nothing feels grounded. We never get a sense of the “real” Batman-v-Superman-Dawn-of-Justice-Wallpaper-HDworld that Bruce Wayne is trying to preserve. A fact that isn’t helped by the weirdly timed, totally nonsensical dream sequences (seriously, don’t ask). Meanwhile, Clark Kent’s trademark zeal for truth, justice, and the American way is slipping; in fact, Superman spends most of the film wondering whether mankind is worth the trouble of saving. By the end, it’s hard to remember why these good-doing dudes are fighting in the first place. And when they do finally settle their differences the moment has no impact, making their feud feel a little toothless.

It’s not that I’m prejudiced against DC. I just wish that, for once, they would start to measure their films in the depth and honesty of their stories and characters, rather than the number of times they make things go boom.

-Whitney Weldon

 

The Fangirly Show: Episode # 9 Fangirling Over Period Dramas

Whitney and Ellen gab about their favorite period dramas (and boy, do they have opinions on those). Plus, the stirring conclusion to their Oscars pool in which Whitney has to try and struggle through a dramatic reading of horrible fanfiction featuring multiple Batmans (Batmen?) and a buff Mickey Mouse. You have to hear it to believe it.

You can listen and subscribe HERE on iTunes or you can go HERE to listen and let us know your thoughts in the comments below.

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Rocky: It’s Way Better Than You Think

This blog is already WAY more telling than I would like. So in keeping with the spirit of confession, I’ll admit that, while I can take or leave sports movies as a whole, I have an unnatural and consuming passion for boxing movies. Cinderella Man, Million Dollar Baby, Southpaw, Creed (most recently). But none of these, with the possible exception of Creed (thanks to the many talents of one Michael B. Jordan), are even in the same weight class as the most iconic boxing movie of all time…

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Rocky.

Rocky I, specifically.

This is a franchise that has gotten a weird rap. It’s become synonymous with bad 80’s acting-

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And still stands as the poster child for the Homoerotic Training Montage.

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But the first Rocky (1976) is a film of surprising depth and nuance. It’s two parts indie drama, one part underdog story.

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Rocky Balboa is just a young mook from Philly who thinks that opportunity has passed him by. Until world champ Apollo Creed (Carl Weathers, before he got a stew going) gives him a shot at a the big time.

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But the real heart of Rocky isn’t the big fight, or boxing, really. It’s the shockingly tender and grounded love story between Rocky and his main lady, Adrian.

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If there’s one thing you should take away from this movie, it’s that Rocky loves Adrian.

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Love.

But in between the shouting and the showdowns, we’re given the most unintentionally comedic training montage in the history of cinema.

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This movie hasn’t resonated much with millennials. Probably because it wan’t directed by Joss Whedon. But if you’re looking for a movie that is unexpectedly sweet, and smart, and subtle, take a chance on the Italian Stallion. I guarantee you’ll eat lightening, and crap thunder.

-Whitney Weldon

 

The Reviews Are In: Zootopia

Me, when I realized I was the only person over 20 in the theater without children.

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Me, when I realized I didn’t care.

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Me, after it dawned on me that Zoototpia is the greatest animated film of all time

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Me, when the lady next to me wouldn’t SHUT UP.

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Me, during the DMV scene.

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Me, when I realized that a fox and a bunny can totally be best friends.

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Me, when it ended and I had to go home and eat my feels.

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Whitney Weldon