Batman/Superman: SuperGirl

Superman_Batman_Supergirl_TP_DC Fanbase

Superman Batman Supergirl Cover, Image Source: DC Fanbase

Last week I finished rereading a graphic novel in the DC Universe.  It was in the Batman/Superman universe and it told (or more accurately) retold the SuperGirl origin story and the first meeting of Kara Zor-El.

I really liked this Graphic Novel a lot–although I think it one me over in large part due to Michael Turner’s artwork (an artist from Crossville, TN who died way too soon & who will be missed).

STORY
I like the way that the story was told and I also liked the dual-inner monologue that allowed the reader to see the story from both Batman’s and Superman’s point of view.  I also liked the actual narrative of the plot and the way that the story unfolded.  Kara’s “capture” and subsequent turn to the dark side seemed a little forced, but considering the time constraints of the story and the compressed nature of the narrative, I was able to look past this minor flaw.  I did think that they made too much of the dislike of Krypto (the Super-Dog) of Kara as it seemed to be going somewhere, but doesn’t actually pay-off.  I think it could have been rectified had their just been a panel or two showing a reconciliation or acceptance of Kara by Krypto at the end.  It wasn’t major, but no resolution of it did bother me a small bit.

ART
Michael Turner was an extremely talented artist.  I have another graphic novel by him that I will also be rereading and responding to later, but I enjoy reading stories that have his artwork.  His style is very bold and expressive and he reminds me of my favorite comic/graphic artists–Todd McFarlane and Jim Lee.  His style was very mature and I’m glad that his work became popular and got a wider exposure before his untimely death.  His style has that element of vivaciousness without devolving into “cartoony” that some artists seem to slip into when they draw.  His two page spreads were among the best in the business as they seemed among the most readable–either visually or when paired with words.

GRADE
A+.  If it isn’t apparent, I really like this story and this graphic novel.  The art and the story come together and produce a very strong narrative that I could (and have) read over and over again.

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“I rebel.”

Star Wars Rogue One

Source: Screenrant (via Google Image Search)

MINI-RANT: Summer Movies 2016 and Low Review Scores

“This is a rebellion, isn’t it?  I rebel.”  This line comes from the upcoming Star Wars Story: Rogue One movie and it is perfect for the way I feel right now about review scores and many (not all) reviewers this summer.  Let me be clear: I am in FULL rebellion mode.  I no longer trust reviewers to give a good unbiased opinion as to whether a (summer) movie is good or not for 2016.

As an example, here are some numbers from Rotten Tomatoes (at the time of this writing): The Legend of Tarzan (Critics 36%, Audience 71%), WarCraft (Critics 29%, Audience 79%), X-Men: Apocalypse (Critics 48%, Audience 71%).  Metacritic isn’t much better: I checked a Metacritic score for a movie (I believe it was Independence Day 2: Resurgence) and found that a “reviewer” gave it a 0 rating!  Zero, really?  As an educator who has graded a ridiculous amount of student work, I know that zeroes SHOULD be reserved those who don’t turn in the assignment.  If you turn something in, you get some credit for it, if just for attempting it.  I’m not giving the reviewer’s name nor linking to his review as I don’t want to give him “hits” for the review.

These are gaps of 30-40 points with a 50 point gap on the extreme end.  Are critics so out of touch with their audiences’ expectations, or is something else to blame.  To me, this goes far beyond giving a negative review to a product you don’t like and delves into the realm of propaganda.  You don’t like something and you don’t feel anyone should like it, so you bash it and badmouth it to the point where it can’t make enough money to survive in the marketplace.  How else would you explain the Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice numbers?  BvS (Critics 27%, Audience 66%).  Compare that to Captain America: Civil War (Critics 90%, Audience 90%). Again, all numbers are at the time of writing.

<Sarcasm tag on>Wow, would you look at that?  A movie that the critics liked and want to see more movies made in that style happens to match almost identically, some might say magically, the audience rating.  What a strange coincidence!<sarcasm tag off>.

In reality, if reviewers are really doing their jobs and objectively looking for things in the movie that were well done and things that were off-putting, then the audience and critics should be nearly in lockstep (within, say about 10% of each other to account for various tastes in the marketplace.)  Let’s see if this holds true: Secret Life of Pets (Critics 75%, Audience 69%), Independence Day: Resurgence (Critics 31%, Audience 36%), Central Intelligence (Critics 68%, Audience 70%), Conjuring 2 (Critics 79%, Audience 85%).  If critics were as out of touch with their audiences as the BvS and WarCraft scores indicate (among others) shouldn’t The Secret Life of Pets be off by 20 or 30 points?

This is why I’m rebelling.  I’m going to see the movies that I’ve already determined that I want to see irregardless of the critical reception.  I may be swayed by the audience reaction should an audience score be much, MUCH lower than I anticipated, but right now, as a group I feel that many mainstream “reviewers” are not trying to even be objective about some of the movies that are releasing this year.

In closing, I think I’ll mention the review that I saw of Batman v Superman the night after I saw it in the theaters (yes, its gotten SO bad that I don’t even watch the reviews until AFTER I’ve seen the movie for myself).  One reviewer called it “a mess” and couldn’t wait to talk about how bad it was.  Yet, I enjoyed it and my mother and stepfather who grew up on the golden age Batman and Superman comics enjoyed it.  So, I’m left to wonder, was the movie really that bad, or are you (as a critic) tired of Zack Snyder’s “style” because its the same “schtick” that you saw in 300 all those years ago (which was a “revelation” back then because it was NEW) and now you want to punish him and DC/Warner Brothers (which is all this particular reviewer really seemed to want to do).

So, until review scores get back in line with (what I feel) are audience expectations, I’ll trust my own judgment on what is good and bad at the movie theaters.  Does that mean that I’ll probably see a “clunker?”  Probably, but at least I won’t miss a truly spectacular movie because a reviewer has an axe to grind (aka Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice) or even a fun summer popcorn movie (aka WarCraft).

Batman Vs Superman Review (No Spoilers!)

Batman v Superman

Okay, so (like Star Wars: The Force Awakens), I wanted to wait and take a moment before posting my (non-spoiler) review for Batman vs. Superman (BvS).  Unlike, Star Wars:FA, it wasn’t so much because of spoilers, but for other reasons which will become clear in a moment.

I LIKED IT

First, this blog post is not going to be one of my more popular ones–I already know that even as I’m typing these words because I’m going to go against “popular opinion.”  I actually LIKED the movie (quite a bit, actually).  I don’t use the “A” movie (Exceptional)/”B” movie (everything else) paradigm that you seem to hear (aka A-List talent vs B-List talent, or triple A movie vs a B movie).  When I rate things, I’m doing so using the scale that universities use for their semester grade reports:

  • A (Superior/Exceptional)–You’ve gone above and beyond in order to create something few could achieve.
  • B (Above Average)–This is a good product with some minor flaws that detract slightly from the overall experience, but is still better than many would achieve.
  • C (Average)–This is “good enough.”  You’ve done just enough to meet the requirements, but haven’t done enough, but have too many flaws to be better than others like it.
  • D (Below Average)–Not up to “standards.”  This has too many flaws, isn’t crafted well, or ignores requirements.  It is well below what most can achieve.
  • F (Failure)–Simply put, unable to succeed.  A product that is lacking in nearly every respect.

After seeing it, BvS for me is a B (Above Average).  It better than a “typical” action movie (I’ll get into why I think so in a moment).  It is competently made (i.e., it holds to the western philosophy of BME–Beginning, Middle, and End.  It has a Protagonist & Antagonist.  It has rising action, it has a climax, it has falling action, and it resolves.)  It follows Fryetag’s Triangle perfectly.  For that reason alone, it should not be rated lower than a C.

However, the critics would have you believe that the movie is a D/F and that it fails on many different levels.  And the justification just isn’t there for me.

OPERA IN MOVIE FORM

I liken the movie to an Opera.  It is a long movie (over 2 hours and 30 mins) and much of the first part is setting up the Batman/Superman, Bruce Wayne/Clark Kent dynamic.  But this a movie that is larger than JUST a comic book movie.  It touches on contemporary real world elements such police brutality, the nature of God and man, what it is to be a hero, what it is to be a above the law, discourse vs unilateral action, what it means to be a democracy, and what it means to be good/bad in today’s “modern” society.

All of this is in a “comic book” movie.  Critics slam this as being too much, having too many plot threads, “a mess,” as I heard one reviewer put it.  No, its not a Marvel movie, but then DC isn’t Marvel.  They have always done things differently than Marvel.  Many critics seem to be slamming the movie NOT because it is a bad movie, but because it is not a MARVEL movie and doesn’t use’s Marvel’s “template” for movies.

BvS isn’t as good as my current favorite Marvel movie, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, but it WAS more satisfying to me than Avengers: Age of Ultron.  It wants to have a conversation that the critics don’t seem to want to have in their “comic book” movies.

DC MYTHOLOGY

If you like graphic novels, see the movie.  If you like comic books and are up on your DC mythology, see the movie.  This movie includes a LOT of knowing nods and scenes to those who like comics (DC comics and graphic novels and properties) and does NOT try to explain to those who don’t.  I caught several striking scenes from various DC media: Injustice: Gods Among Us, Batman: The Dark Knight by Frank Miller, various BvS Graphic Novels, The Flash (TV show, current version), and others.

The iconography is striking, but there too, the critics want to complain.  Zack Snyder (the director) is “style over substance,” I heard in more than one review.  But that is what Snyder is KNOWN for.  300 was NOT a “great” movie when you get right down to it, but it was a visually striking movie.  Why is that not good enough now?  Because it’s a KNOWN quality about him now.  Only if you’re NEW and FRESH do the critics seem to take any notice.

WHY THE DISCONNECT?

I’m linking to a YouTube video to help explain what’s going on with the review scores.  Basically, the Youtuber is correct: there is a contingent who want to use social media to FORCE Warner Brothers to cater to them (fans) or those who want to punish the movie in some way (critics).  I’ve seen this before in other mediums: MASS EFFECT 3 for video games comes quickly to mind.  Many fans hated the ending of ME3 and social media outcry FORCED Bioware to go back and “redo” the ending of the game.  This is what I feel is happing here.  However, this has been building since World War Z, Man of Steel, Jupiter Ascending, and most recently, Gods of Egypt.  The Youtuber ‘s (Grace Randolph) channel “Beyond the Trailer” is one that I’ve recently found) and she does a great job of quickly of explaining a lot of my problems with the critics for BvS, in particular.  It’s short–only 13 minutes long and very informative:

Beyond the Trailer (Special Report BvS)–Grace Randolph

There is nothing inherently wrong with the movie.  It should be getting B’s and C’s.  Not the D’s and F’s that it is currently getting.  This is a good movie, with some flaws that keep it from being exceptional, but not one that should be denigrated as a failure.