Batman V. Superman: Dawn of Justice
based on characters published by DC Comics
2016 • 151 minutes • Warner Bros. Pictures
There is no way to prepare for the horror show that is Batman V. Superman: Dawn of Justice.
I thought I was prepared. I had read every negative review, starting with Helen O’Hara’s. I spoiled myself silly, starting with the first episode of Overinvested. I took every measure to gird my loins, in the hopes of yielding the finest bad movie schadenfreude of the year, possibly even the decade.
But there’s no way to be prepared for the nihilistic slog of this film. As I told Captain Cinema upon exiting the theater, I felt like I had gone through childbirth without the reward of having had a child. We had to go home and watch Star Wars: The Force Awakens just to remember the taste of strawberries, as the saying goes. (That and a heaping helping of tiramisu definitely helped.)
Before I get into spoiler territory, because I am going to get into spoiler territory, here is the simplest and easiest way to know if Batman V. Superman: Dawn of Justice is for you. This is a film where the audience is honestly surprised when Batman threatens to throat-punch a villain with a sizzling Batbrand and doesn’t. If that level of violence and character assassination appeals to you, congratulations, please enjoy all of Zack Snyder’s cinematic oeuvre.
2003 • 121 minutes • Columbia Pictures
Was Gigli the last movie America hated in unison?
I mean, let’s take a look at the nominees for this year’s Razzie Awards—we’ve got Fantastic Four, Fifty Shades of Grey, Jupiter Ascending, Paul Blart Mall Cop 2, and Pixels. They’re all worthy of the nomination (Jupiter Ascending ought to win, on the basis of being pure glory and also that Eddie Redmayne performance), but there’s little ongoing cultural fascination and professional fallout regarding those films. I mean, there is Until Death Do Us Blart, an annual podcast where Tim Batt, Guy Montgomery, and the McElroy brothers review Paul Blart Mall Cop 2 on Thanksgiving every year until they all die. There is that. But even The Cobbler, perhaps the most recent bad movie to stay in popular imagination longer than it was in theaters, didn’t derail the careers of either its star or its director or cause a larger cultural conversation about its ending. (HOW CAN YOU DO THAT TO YOUR MENTALLY ILL WIFE?!)
Was the world just a little smaller thirteen years ago, when even USA Today, a newspaper largely distributed by forcing it upon hotel patrons, published an article rounding up the most cutting reviews of the film? Or is Gigli just that bad?
Thornfield Hall by Emma Tennant
Emma Tennant’s Thornfield Hall appears to have gone through a few stages in its life—originally published as Adele in 2000, it was reworked into The French Dancer’s Bastard in 2006, before it became Thornfield Hall and published by Harper. Tennant’s written other pieces of fanfiction, such as Pemberly, a sequel to Pride and Prejudice, and Elinor and Marianne, a sequel to Sense and Sensibility, so I would have encountered her even if I’d decided to do my project on Pride and Prejudice instead of Jane Eyre. Of course, either encounter would be unpleasant…
based on Battlefield Earth by L. Ron Hubbard
There’s a certain moment that occasionally happens when I watch movies. I’ll be watching with friends or by myself, and as the title credits try to make themselves discreet against the opening scenes of the film (this has gotten less popular nowadays, which I thoroughly appreciate), I’ll notice the credit “based on a novel by…”. Immediately, I change the way I watch, because I’m going to have to review it. As you can imagine, this gets interesting when I’m watching a film with my Film Depreciation crew, because riffing often gets in the way of plot points. (This is why people have a hard time watching movies with me; at the premiere for The Hunger Games, an acquaintance of mine warned me that if I spoke a word during the film, so help me God… I promised her I would be as silent as the grave. I did riff the trailers, however. It is only fair!) And that’s exactly what happened with Battlefield Earth. Oh, boy.
The Paladin by C. J. Cherryh
A one star review? I’m just as surprised as y’all are, quite frankly. I never thought my first one star review would go to a C. J. Cherryh, a recommendation from the magnificent Jo Walton, author of Tooth and Claw, and a book beloved by lots of people. I was quite looking forward to The Paladin, and I was delighted to find that my local library had it. I enjoyed parts of it, and I’m certainly not giving up on Cherryh just yet. But my requirement for a one star review is a book that’s offended me on some level, and lo, The Paladin offends me.