Review – Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice

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I said in my last post that I was excited. I was ready for the ultimate showdown. I wanted man vs god. I wanted comic book excitement. I at the very least wanted to be entertained. What I got was one of the most frustrating cinema experiences I have had in a long time.

This is a mess, a film with an incoherent structure, plot, and in Jesse Eisenberg’s Lex Luthor one of the most irritating characters of recent times.

Fearing the actions of Superman are left unchecked, Batman takes on the man of steel, while the world wrestles with what kind of a hero it really needs. With Batman and Superman fighting each other, a new threat, Doomsday, is created by Lex Luthor. It’s up to Superman and Batman to set aside their differences along with Wonder Woman to stop Lex Luthor and Doomsday from destroying Metropolis.

Sounds like a simple enough plan for a film right?  Those who endured Man of Steel all reacted  in a similar way to Affleck’s Bruce Wayne (who is without question the most miserable Batman we have ever encountered). The reckless destruction of Metropolis did make us question what good Superman was doing and to be fair this was an interesting opening to the film. Almost as if director Zack Snyder wished to give us a cinematic right to reply for his previous endeavours. However once this slows down all plot, logic and reason disappear.

We are left with shots from CNN and the views of various media heads on who Superman is, what good he does or doesn’t do all while he’s off up a mountain with the spirit of his dead Dad for a reason I’m still not sure of!

Meanwhile Jesse Eisenberg is twitching  around like a philosophy student on a Red Bull high form an all night library session. Reciting to the viewer everything he’s ever learnt in class about the nature of God. Somehow he develops something close to a plot to make our two heroes fight each other for something.

There are inexplicable dream sequences, which may point to future film intentions. There is an erratic score. The 3D is headache inducing awful and unnecessary.   There is a good 30 minutes plus of CGI third act incoherent battling. Gal Gadot appears as Wonder Woman appears, which is refreshing, but at the same time not I’m not 100% sure why she was in Metropolis in the first place and she has very little to do or say really.

Ultimately this will film will make a bucket after bucket of cash. My keyboard bashing frustrations will not stop this juggernaut I realise that. My only hope is that a critical lambasting from all corners of the globe may make executives think twice about advancing with this DC universe too hastily.

Captain America – Civil War is next on the superhero cinematic production line and to be fair while Marvel movies can suffer from dullness at times but they at least make sense!

Superhero  fatigue is a reality now. Batman v Superman did absolutely nothing to change that.

 

*Thanks to MovieHouse for screening access

 

 

 

 

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The return to Dogma

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This is my first blog post in a while. There are lots of reasons for this, finding time to write has been a struggle but when I finally did there were no words.

It didn’t matter what I tried to write no words came . Recently I wanted to write a piece on my favourite films to date this year and I struggled  to articulate it. So I made a conscious decision to take a break from trying.

Today changed that. Via Twitter (O how I love Twitter) I discovered that Dogma is to be shown this weekend on Film 4 here in the UK. When I read that something stirred. You see Dogma and I have history.

On the films initial release I received several chain emails (remember those) telling me all that was wrong theologically wrong with Dogma. Major gripes included the profanity in the film, God depicted as a woman, the glorification of abortion,  the list went on.

Also on those emails was a final line asking me to forward the email to 5 more ‘true believers’  and that if I ‘truly loved Jesus’ there would be no shame in doing so. NOT MANIPULATIVE AT ALL! Apart from anything this final guilt filled line contained  quite possibly more bad theology than anything  contained in the film.

I didn’t forward a single one. However I did reply. I replied with 4 simple words ‘Have you watched it?’.

Non response was the main reply to my inquiry but several did pop back asking  why I would even consider this? Did I not read the email at all?? Did I really love the Lord?

The rights and wrongs of Dogma’s theology were not my point in making that response to people. What I wanted to put across was that I couldn’t get into a discussion with anyone on a film if I haven’t watched.

Taking a stance on anything without engaging with it, regardless of art form or topic, is wrong.

For the record I enjoyed Dogma. It does not contain  perfect theology throughout, however very few films do. Also what or who does have a 100% record in their theology I certainly don’t.

What Dogma does provide are some great moments of truth.

For example when Bethany (Linda Fiorentino) sits down with Metatron (played by the always brilliant Alan Rickman) and questions why God would call her to help stop the angels Loki and Bartelby re-entering heaven she is reassured that her 9-5 as an abortion clinic worker holds no restriction on God’s plan. Metatron tell her “Noah was a drunk. Look what he accomplished. And no one’s even asking you to build an ark. All you have to do is go to New Jersey, and visit a small church on a very important day. “

The point being that no one is off-limits to being used by God. It’s not Bethany’s job  that brings the call its her heritage.

I may watch Dogma this weekend I may not. Overall I am grateful that it exists. It starts conversations regardless of your view on it. When I had the idea for this blog it was one of the films that came to mind when considering films and faith.

Above all else I’m grateful for Dogma today as it helped me start writing again.

The Pope, Terence Malick & a sleeping God

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POPE Benedict XVI admitted it sometimes felt as if ‘God was asleep’ during the troubled days of his papacy as he gave an emotional farewell in St Peter’s Square before tens of thousands of pilgrims on the eve of his momentous resignation.

I loved the brutal honesty of that statement. It’s something we rarely talk about those difficult moments when it feels like God just isn’t there.

Shortly after this statement I had the opportunity to see Terence Malick’s latest film ‘To The Wonder’ which among other things depicts the absence of love and for one character in particular the absence of God.  

Javier Bardem’s character Father Quintana is so desperate in his search for God that he spends time in some of the poorest areas of his time desperately seeking for glimpses of God at work. Quintana no longer feels the ardor he knew in the first days of his faith, and wonders if he ever will again.

I can relate to this. I have often wondered about the sleeping God, the God who feels absent.

When I have lost loved ones (long before I feel I should) I have wondered.

When I watch footage of Belfast streets engulfed in riot I have wondered.

When I see footage of starving and sick from around the world I have wondered.

When I hear horror stories of abuse I have wondered.

I understand what Pope Benedict means. I have been there myself. Deep down I know that God often speaks in the calm, still, small voice and not the authoritative storm calming cry.

My faith has been shaken but never waivered, even in its darkest moments. I appreciated Pope Benedict’s honesty and think that more need to be this honest in their leadership of churches. 

God is not asleep and never is, always present is what we have been taught. What we need to be taught is what to do when it feels like he is asleep.