BATMAN V. SUPERMAN: DAWN OF JUSTICE. "I so wanted it to be a good movie," said a friend of mine the day after the opening of this studio tentpole/global happening. In addition to speaking for mostly everyone, that assessment is spot-on.
Aside from the hyper-driven, vertically integrated marketing hurly-burly, Batman v. Superman is still an iconic story, one going back to the DC Comics of the 1930s, and the desire for it to be a satisfying movie is not holding things to a dizzying standard.
The cinematic standoff between Batman (Ben Affleck) and Superman (Henry Cavill) is helmed by Zack Snyder (300), who has done better and knows better. The premise had promise, especially as a follow-up to the violent end of Man of Steel, in which thousands of innocent people died, and the launch of a new Batman (Ben Affleck, who is surprisingly solid and the least of this movie's problems).
One can see where most the money went; it's a wonder of production design, set pieces and strum und drag aplenty. But we also get a two-and-half-hour cacophony of collapsing buildings, baffling dream sequences, congressional hearings and rushed exposition.
This is the heart of the problem. In the tap-dance between franchise-building and storytelling, Batman v. Superman seems assembled on the fly as Warner Bros. lays groundwork for spin-offs and sequels to catch up with Marvel's Avengers series. Still, there are glimpses of such DC mainstays the Flash and Cyborg in the vast, disorganized narrative of this movie. There is a strong villain in Lex Luthor (a suitably unctuous Jesse Eisenberg) and the most welcome bits include Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman — good enough to make me wonder (sorry) about the potential of William Moulton Marston's comic creation as this whole enterprise lurches ahead. I'm already far back in line saying that the genre is in a post-Deadpool world. That movie's world-upending success, both as a film and global phenomenon, gave the Hollywood-comic snow globe a serious flurry of a shake. That scrappy, R-rated take on something from the middle reaches of Marvel's canon, on the heels of Guardians of Galaxy, makes Batman v. Superman seem like the potluck guest who shows up with fancy but disappointing deviled eggs long after everyone has eaten.
Lastly, from a personal nerd standpoint, Batman v. Superman misses an opportunity to delve into the contrast between its characters. This was done brilliantly in Frank Miller's four-part comic The Dark Knight Returns in the mid-1980s. Decades later, we have some amazing movies from the American comic genre, but we also have the dull, money-hauling roar of Batman v. Superman to show us where things went wrong. PG-13. 151m. BROADWAY, MILL CREEK, FORTUNA.
MY BIG FAT GREEK WEDDING 2. The sequel that no one really expected is nevertheless here. Nina Vardalos penned and starred in a 2002 movie that was the very definition of a crowdpleaser breakout sleeper hit. It was, and still is, an endearing movie that tells a story that doesn't appear onscreen as much as it should: The horror of dating with two dozen family members second-guessing you. Vardalos returns as Toula, now happily married to Ian (John Corbett), the harried non-Greek-American from the first film. Now with a typically sullen-but-great teenaged daughter, we have, yes, another wedding.
Sure, there's some rote-ness and predictability at work here in numbers so high that only a dog could hear them, but there's also something refreshing about a story operating outside the metronomic rom-com track and going in a sillier, more fun direction into what love can be at any age. So I'm calling that a win. PG. 94m. BROADWAY, MILL CREEK, FORTUNA.
— David Jervis
For showtimes, see the Journal's listings at www.northcoastjournal.com or call: Broadway Cinema 443-3456; Fortuna Theatre 725-2121; Mill Creek Cinema 839-3456; Richards' Goat Miniplex 630-5000.
GOD'S NOT DEAD 2. A Christian teacher (Melissa Joan Hart — hey, Sabrina) beset by civil liberties baddies goes to court for talking about Jesus. PG. 121m. BROADWAY, MILL CREEK.
10 CLOVERFIELD LANE. This tight, paranoid, claustrophobic thriller of a monster movie is well-acted, compelling and enjoyable from first frame to last. Starring Mary Elizabeth Winstead and John Goodman. PG13. 105m. BROADWAY, MILL CREEK.
DEADPOOL. A bloody, clever, distinctly adult Marvel vehicle for Ryan Reynolds' weird charisma. A fun break from the steady flow of grim comic adaptations. R. 108m. BROADWAY, MILL CREEK.
DIVERGENT: ALLEGIANT. See it through if you must, but this chapter of the YA futuristic dystopian action series lacks narrative inspiration and compelling characters. PG13. 120m. BROADWAY, MILL CREEK.
MIRACLES FROM HEAVEN. Jennifer Garner stars as a woman on a mission for her ill daughter, whose recovery stumps doctors. PG. 109m. BROADWAY, FORTUNA, MILL CREEK.
WHISKEY TANGO FOXTROT. Tina Fey stars in a freewheeling comedy about a war reporter that's compelling, funny and peopled with interesting characters, but misses the chance to take risks and say more. R. 111m. BROADWAY, MILL CREEK.
ZOOTOPIA. An animated animal take on the odd-couple buddy movie with Jason Bateman, Ginnifer Goodwin and Idris Elba. PG. 108m. BROADWAY, FORTUNA, MILL CREEK.
— Jennifer Fumiko Cahill