Took two long flights over the past week and a half, which meant movies. Some thoughts:
Batman vs. Superman
This movie is not good, but I liked it more than I expected. Wonder Woman is in the film for some reason, and Jesse Eisenberg decides to play Lex Luthor as a somewhat less menacing, less dangerous version of Mark Zuckerberg. I’m going to credit that last as an actual decision and not an accident, and it’s… interesting. Maybe the point is that Luthor has never conceived of a scheme to dominate the lives of everyday people so grandiose, and so completely successful, as Facebook? Would Batman or Superman have destroyed the algorithm on Zuckerberg’s dorm room window?
With respect to the two principles, I thought Affleck was just fine as Batman, and that Snyder mostly got Batman right. Cavil’s Superman remains a disaster, however. It doesn’t make sense for Superman to dislike humans as much as Cavil seems to dislike people. A grudging sense of responsibility isn’t enough; even Brandon Routh’s Superman was clearly sad and unhappy, but he didn’t seem to resent human beings. Unless they manage to fix this core problem at the heart of the DC movie universe, there’s gonna be trouble ahead.
Bridge of Spies
I guess I’m just done with Spielberg? This is a movie about spies and airplanes, and it had Alan Alda; I feel that I should really have enjoyed it. But nothing was surprising; every emotional punch, and every plot point, was hopelessly telegraphed. Maybe Spielberg should stop making historical films, so at least we could pretend to be surprised? Hanks mails in yet another Stand Up White Guy Beset by Troubles, and Sebastian Koch is in the movie for some reason.
The sole upside was Mark Rylance, who turns in the classic “I don’t know why I’m in this movie, so I’ll act as if I’m in some other movie” kind of performance that Alan Rickman perfected. That, and the shootdown of the U-2 was pretty cool.
I quite liked this one. I’ve thought for a long time that Apollo Creed is really the most interesting figure in the Rocky universe, the only one that makes the story interesting from a political and social point of view. Creed draws upon Ali, but he’s not a “streets of Louisville” kind of guy; from the first, he’s more comfortable in the boardroom than in the ring, which is a fascinating message to send in 1977. He has to back Rocky in III, because he has to die in IV; Clubber Lang would never care enough about the Soviet Union to bother fighting Ivan Drago. Creed brings Apollo’s story full circle (including the reference to the third Creed-Balboa fight), and manages to get a creditable performance out of Stallone. And until the final fight (and including even much of that), the fight scenes easily clear the rather low bar of “most realistic boxing scenes in a Rocky movie.”