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Monday
Mar 28 2016

Movie v Its Ensemble

Spoilers Ahead- Many of you have surely taken in the large spectacle clashing of Zack Snyder'sBatman v.Superman: Dawn of Justicefor either popcorn fun or schadenfreude curiosity after the critical drubbing.Even the film's fans and apologists have to admit that substantial missteps were made.

One of the most gruesome of the film's plentiful sins is how it hangs its enviable cast completely out to dry.This is a cast of Oscar winners,legends,and future greats (poor Scoot McNairy!) giving it their all,but still completely out to sea.The luckiest are the ones that are still used too sparingly: Laurence Fishburne and Diane Lane don't have time to make a mark,despite giving the grim actioner its only laughs.

But the film has a huge actor problem.There are many moments of its cast being underserved,undervalued,or placed into outright embarrassing situations.And there's one glaring example I just can't get past...

Batman v.Superman: Dawn of Justicewill live in infamy as the film where,for an uncomfortable stretch of time,Holly Hunter stares at a jar of pee.

It's supposed to be a tense moment,the intimidating chalice an outright threat upon Hunter's crusading senator.As if we didn't already know her to be a game actress,Hunter forges through the scene uncompromised by its absurdity - and maybe one of the film's rare honest emotional beats.But this is Holly Hunter,people - doesn't she deserve more?Should we really be asking the star ofThe PianoandBroadcast Newsto be afraid of bodily fluids for the sake of our superhero fun?

It's a genuine mindboggler moment,one of the outright strangest in recent blockbuster entertainment.How could something so silly make it through what must have been an endless approval chain of executives surrounding this movie.Once the footage becomes available,it's meme-ready,so expect gifs and endless YouTube loops of the tete-a-tete between Hunter and Grandma's Sweet Peach Tea.Oh,and then she blows up?

Another strangely included moment is Amy Adam's peek-a-boo naked bathtub scene.In a completely expository sequence,she's dunked in opalescent water before a fully-clothed Henry Cavill to have a conversation that could have as easily taken place on a sofa or in a broom closet.Yet for some skeezy reason,she is very PG-13 naked for a long while and it's all quite icky and embarrassing for the actress.

Adams works overtime to successfully make Lois the only living,breathing human in the whole picture (excluding Hunter's pee-pathos),that it's doubly gross to reduce her to fruitlessly ogled with the malest of gazes.She is actually an exciting Lois Lane,tenacious and sharp as a tack,confident and unapologetic.The film completely misses that this already makes her a sexy presence in the film without ever taking her clothes off.

AsNathaniel noted in his review,some of its problems come from a misread of its legendary characters.Yes,Bats & Supes are now scowl monsters.But it goes further with Lois Lane now a centerfold and Alfred losing all emotional significance in relation to Bruce (you had Jeremy Irons to work with here,people!).

However,the most misunderstood from a textual level is Lex Luthor,sending Jesse Eisenberg into a hyperdrive of manners and ticks.The Lex Luthor ofBvSisn't the Lex Luthor of the comics,but he is about seventeen other DC villains all wrapped up and locked into Eisenberg's (eventually) bald head.The chainsawed reinvention leaves Eisenberg with barely a wisp of comic lore to draw from,and it is just as alienating for the audience.

You'd expect Eisenberg to draw a good deal of the jeers for such histrionics,but it's not as if the script or Snyder's perspective on the character give him a clear framework to go free.The actor is arguably saddled with the most incoherent and interminable plot elements and the least amount of character motivation on the page.Who can blame him for trying his damnedest,but he's just one of the many in the film that deserved so much better.

He shares some of the few actorly fireworks with Hunter in the only showdown with levels beyond scowls,grunts,and punches.Too bad this intriguing moment also sets up that earlier mentioned doozy of a WTF moment.Peach tea,anyone?

Which actor do you thinkBatman v Superman: Dawn of Justicehung out to dry the most?

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Reader Comments (8)

It's hard to say,if only because the great actors in smaller parts possibly had to endure more (though all your examples are so on the money and I totally agree).Hunter had to pull of that weird pee-in-a-jar scene,but who the hell greenlit Eisenberg makin' it rain with hostage photos of a gagged,terrified Diane Lane with WITCH scrawled on her forehead?How much did Tao Okamoto get paid for getting cast as a character originally written as Luthor's bodyguard/hitwoman only to get reduced to.An ornament?What was her function?And then she went with Hunter,hopefully onto something better.Or every single one of Gal Gadot's outfits having a cleavage window of some kind.A vital piece of character revealing costume design,I'm sure.The larger the function the more crap they put up with,but the smaller parts are so nonsensical you almost wish they could've been written out so the actors and their characters didn't have to deal with being in this.

March 29,2016 | Unregistered CommenterNick T

I'm sure these actors go in with their eyes open knowing it's yet another superhero franchise so I don't think they wish to take this too seriously as critics sometimes do.Hey I'm certain Holly Hunter knows this is neither Piano nor Top of the Lake,and a duel with Grandma's peach tea isn't exactly out of proportionate expectation.It's time to move on and see whether this movie has legs to sustain its box office momentum.There are so many other projects to look forward to.

March 29,2016 | Unregistered CommenterPete

Hunter needs a 5th nomination and a 2nd Oscar.

March 29,2016 | Unregistered Commenter/3rtful

If it gets Hunter onto something richer then i'm ok ith it.

March 29,2016 | Unregistered Commentermark

Holly Hunter has already a superhero franchise under her belt....and a FAR,FAR better one at that: "The Incredibles"....and she has far better role in that one too.

March 29,2016 | Unregistered CommenterIrvin

Irvin one movie doesn't make a franchise.

March 29,2016 | Unregistered Commenter/3rtful

I hope future generations don't view any of these Superhero movies as classics or benchmarks.

March 29,2016 | Unregistered Commentermark

/3rtful: The second one is finally happening.Fifteen years later,and because Brad Bird's attempt at a live-action career has fizzled out,but it's happening.

March 29,2016 | Unregistered CommenterVolvagia

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