Monday, February 18, 2019

Missed Opportunities

Having reviewed Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice last night just to fill in time on a boring evening, I was surprised to find myself more interested in it than I had been the previous time I saw it.  At first exposure, I was feeling it would also be my last exposure.  Of course, all the complaints by fans are true and too numerous to enumerate.  Yet, I was struck by the fact that there was a story hiding in there that could have been worthy.  

It might be unfair to blame Jesse Eisenberg alone for the bizarre deformation of Lex Luthor.  After all, there was a director somewhere off camera who should have been paying attention to character development, even if the writers seem to have largely skipped it.  To attribute all of Luthor's motivation to a form of madness, and a rather high-school-social idea of madness, was a great collective sin.  At this crucial developmental point, there should have been an Iago in the making.  As with Nero in  Racine's tragedy Britannicus, his is the birth of a monster.  More than tragedy, it is opera.  It calls for a magnificent aria instead of a disjointed raving.  Puccini could have found material of fine lyrical quality in the consciousness of most of these characters.  Instead, they were foreshortened by special effects that manage to cancel themselves out in an endless tautology.  

Yes, Gal Gadot managed to bring some class to the act, but even her part was shorn of its full potential.  She, more than Ben Afleck's Bruce Wayne represents the real meaning of the Justice highlighted in the subtitle.  Too bad her lines kept reiterating the same note of disgust about the Great War, instead of bringing the need for order amid gratuitous violence into clear focus.  It would have made a very good sci fi performance into a great one.  And speaking of lines, the saddest omission of operatic perfection of all was Amy Adams's Lois Lane.  She managed to construct a decent character -- not a minor achievement in this trainwreck -- through anguished looks and facial language.  Couldn't they have given her a bit of decent dialogue?  In ways, she is the tragic heroine here, but how misused! She deserves something better to work with in the future.

To go on much further would risk ranting.  It's not exactly SO, but it does take place partly in space and it certainly should have had more OPERA!  A lesson for future universes, onscreen and off.

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