Special Subhash K Jha Review: “Ignore What You’ve Heard About Batman V Superman, Just Experience It”

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There are actually three super-heroes combating that dreaded ‘E’ force—Evil, what else—as all around us

​”​Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.” So predicted poet W B Yeats.

Now, the truth of Yeats’ lines hits us with persuasive force in Superman V Batman.

It’s a world filled with images of unspeakable devastation. The skyscrapers crumble to the ground as rapidly as the conscience of a civilization that no longer cares about wrong or right.

Batman V Superman embraces and celebrates that destruction towards which humanity hurls with impunity and insensitivity. Let’s get one thing clear. This is not an easy-viewing film. And for those addicts of Marvel Comics’ super-heroes hoping to see Batman and Superman rip off their masks to unleash a furious hand-to-hand combat the weight is infuriatingly long. The anticipated fight between the two heroes comes after lengthy bouts of existential doubt built around the theme of Good Versus Evil.

Should we trust in heroes to rescue us from Aramaggedon? And really, the struggle to save civilization from catastrophe is fraught with futility when you know that it’s all going to end in a heap of ruination anyway.

In the film that plays out like a disembodied symphony of ruination there are prolonged images of self-doubt projected from the collective conscience of the idolized super-heroes onto a world hellbent on self-annihilation.

Can the collective might of Superman and Batman slow down humanity’s inevitable destruction specially when the two super-heroes reveal themselves to be…well, just one of us, really! But with the power to rise above the mundane if only they are able to overcome the bouts of self-doubt that are thrust on them by a civilization on the look-out for heroes and super-heroes to provide hope of redemption in these times of despair.

Director Zack Snyder does not flinch from the fear of complicating his commodious canvas with a clutter of conscientious conflicts. A lot of savage fun has been poked during the last two days by critics at the narrative snarls which hit out at our expectations of a grand duel between the two superheroes.

Like it or not, this epic work is a lot more than just a sum-total of Batman’s games of one-upmanship with his batty arch-rival. It is an epic work of colossal conflicts that does not edit out the superfluous elements in the drama merely to keep the proceedings on a tight leash. As a film meant to provide epic entertainment for comicbook fans it takes grand leaps of faith, gamboling from one unrelated image to another, all joined by the idea of humanity’s hurling end, hoping that the sum-total of images and themes would come together to denote the devastation that awaits mankind.

Most of all, Batman V Superman: Dawn Of Justice humanizes the super-heroes. It tells us not to put excessive faith in those whom we trust to diminish and disable destiny’s tyrannical thrust. Both Batman (Ben Affleck) and Superman (Henry Cavill) come across as weak and washed-out, way past their prime, ill equipped to combat humanity’s self-inflicted crimes.

Devotees of the two super-heroes would be dismayed to see how rigorously and mercilessly this subverted super-hero film humanizes the super-heroes, rendering them emotionally and physically compromised, or for that matter how silly the callow scientist villain Lex Luthor (Jesse Eisenberg) looks in his efforts to own the world with his technological delusions.

There is almost a caricatural element to Luthor’s character. Most of the time the influential politicians and entrepreneurs he is seen hobnobbing with, are barely able to hide their contempt and ridicule for Luthor. I specially liked Holly Hunter’s senatorial smirk each time she tries to deal with Luthor’s juvenile aspirations to run the world.

With disturbing cheekiness Batman V Superman laughs at all those self-appointed Gods who offer hope for a dying civilization. This films tell you in a language brimming with contextual crypticism and with images that are more often disembodied than cogent, that we must look for our ‘God’ within ourselves. This statement is driven home with ironic force when Batman and Superman join forces at the end to rescue the latter’s mother Martha (Diane Lane) from the villain. (The reason for this collaborative mission: Batman’s mom’s name too was Martha. Makes you wonder: what if the two super-heroes had dads named Luthor!)

Oh yes, the two super-heroes get extra fighting fuel from Wonderman, played with feisty fury by Gal Gadot who is all spunk and spark signifying something substantially sexier than oomph.

This is a film that revels in bewildering ruminations, constructs spirals of dark ominous themes to show the meek shall never inherit the earth. And the strong are too busy fight their own demons to pay attention to what they were created to do.Save the world.

God save the super-heroes!

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