Batfleck vs. Momma’s Boy: Yawn of Injustice

I know. Movie reviews normally happen a lot closer to the release date of the film. Sorry.

 

Actually, my interest in this movie was low from the get go. Admittedly, I prefer Marvel to DC and the bar for superhero movies had been set pretty high by the MCU. That said, this film should have been good. It contains the three most popular DC characters and sets up what was meant to be an interconnected movie universe to compete with what Marvel are producing. But you know all that. So, rather than do a straight review I thought I’d just highlight the 3 best and 3 worst parts of the film.

 

Worst First

  1. The opening third of the movie.

I walked in with low expectations. Almost every review I’d seen online suggested this was a farce. ‘News’ headlines suggested the film’s failure would drastically alter the plans for a DC shared movie universe. I knew it was going to bad BUT it was worse than I thought.

 

It opened with Batman’s origin (again! See below.) and then moved through a variety of scenes that barely seemed connected. It was confusing; I had no real idea about what was going on and I didn’t care for the characters.

 

If I was editing the film, I would cut most of this. The film seems to run for an hour more than it needed to. I blame Peter Jackson. He started this. Movie used to be 90 minutes then he came along with his sprawling three hour epics and, all of sudden, every movie has to run for as long as it possibly can. Stick to the core plot!

 

  1. Really? Do we need another origin story?

I saw an interview of sorts the other day. Someone had seen Captain America: Civil War and said that he loved the fact we don’t get another origin story for Spider-man. Why do we need one for Batman? Surely the vast majority of the people seeing the film know how/why Batman donned the cape. Even if they don’t, there’s still no need to show it – it’s a guy who fights crime dressed as a bat, what more do you need?

 

Yes, I understand it’s linked into the key reason Bats and Supes stop fighting (again, see below) but IS IT REALLY NECESSARY? Superman’s origin is included in the film through dialogue only, it was enough.

 

  1. Marthaaaaa

Spoilers – although it’s so far past the release date it’s not worth highlighting.

 

In the big battle (not the one at the end vs Doomsday but the one in the film’s title – the one we came to see) Superman is about to be brutally murdered by Batman when he mentions his mum’s name which also happens to be Batman’s mum’s name. This is all it takes to stop Batman in his tracks, if only his villains knew…

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It’s weird. Superman already called Batman ‘Bruce’ during the fight sequence. No reaction. But he says his mum’s name and Batman can’t function anymore. Honestly, anyone with Google or Wikipedia could find out the parents’ names of a high profile public figure. It was lame.

 

Saving the best ‘til last

 

  1. Batfleck

There was a lot of criticism in the casting of Ben Affleck as Batman. His other superhero film (Daredevil) was panned and he’d had a string of terrible films in front of the camera BUT he was fantastic. Reportedly, he put on 11 kilograms for the role and it shows. His Batman is a brute.

 

This is the most vicious, violent Batman that has hit the big screen. It’s funny, I think his and Michael Keaton’s are the best Batmen and yet their casting brought controversy before their films were screened. Adam West is a laugh but you’re not meant to take his Batman seriously. Val Kilmer was bland, George Clooney was terrible and Christian Bale started fine but the further into The Dark Knight Trilogy you get the more annoying his Bat-voice becomes.

 

There’s a suggestion now that Affleck will get a solo Batman movie – that, I will see.

 

  1. Jesse Eisenberg (mostly)

This guy is fantastic. I haven’t seen him anything else except Zombieland and that is a killer movie. He was brilliant in this. Yes, his portrayal would have suited the Joker or Riddler better but there is no doubting his acting chops. His Lex Luthor is the Mark Zuckerberg of villainy which is weird because I’ve just Googled him and that comparison is why some people hated him in this film – I thought it was a logical portrayal for a character often presented as a jilted CEO with a jealous streak.

 

Anyway, I liked him. Even if he was weird as.

 

  1. The big bash

The movie took ages to get going. I likened it to Ang Lee’s Hulk where you wait three quarters of the film to get the thing in the title. Once we get to the title fight, however, things get awesome! Batman kicks Superman’s butt (as you’d expect) and it shows how calculating and formidable he is.

Then, the DC trinity punch on with Doomsday and they look like they’re having a ball. Gal Gadot pulls these awesome faces during the battle where she gets hit and the camera slows down and focuses on her. Her face is equal parts sexy and bring-it-on; she actually looks like she’s having fun. In fact, her Wonder Woman really brings this scene together.

 

Overall?

 

Look, it wasn’t that bad. I liked it but I’m not rushing to see it again. I think the main problem was that they were trying to reproduce what Marvel are doing but with their own aesthetic. The difference is, Marvel have been building towards the Avengers and the films to come since the first Iron Man movie. DC were simply trying to do too much too soon.

 

Hopefully Suicide Squad will right their ship.

Teaching by Numbers

4 – the rough number of hours I see my students for on any given week. This doesn’t include time lost to public holidays, excursions, assemblies or any other inconvenience.

40 – the number of weeks in a school year. At four hours a week, this means I have 160 hours to improve the abilities of my students.

1,739 – the number of full time students at the high school where I work (as at Semester 1, 2016).

85 – the number of students I currently teach. These are across 4 classes (I have one less class than most staff because I am in a semi-managerial position).

180 – the rough number of students I taught in my first year at my current school. This was 6 classes of around 30 students each and doesn’t include students who changed classes throughout the year.

12 – the years I’ve been teaching.

1,500 – the amount of students I have taught over this time. This is calculated at 12 years teaching 5 classes with an average of 25 students. It’s not a perfect calculation for a number of reasons but it’ll do for the purpose of this post.

2.5 – the minimum number of pages I expect my Literature students to write per hour in any given exam/test. I think the average in my current class is just under 5 pages, I have had students consistently write 8-9 pages and I think the most produced in one sitting was 12 pages.

3 – the number of hours in the Literature exam.

20 – the minutes it takes me to mark many of these responses. Depending on the task, marking takes me between 8-45 minutes per response.

6 – the number of different year groups I have taught while teaching full time.

17 – the number of English teachers in my office. There are 2 other staff also teaching English that are housed elsewhere in the school. As an Associate Dean (2IC) I have some responsibility in ensuring that these people feel supported.

6 – the number of EAs we share an office with.

2 – the hours (on average) I’m at work before and/or after school each day.

5 – the days per week I have to do some work (marking/planning) at home.

12 – the number of weeks holiday I get per year.

20 – the hours of professional learning I must undertake per year to “maintain the currency of his or her professional competence” (TRBWA).

64,854 – the starting salary of a teacher in Western Australia.

98,084 – the highest possible salary a teacher in Western Australia can earn without seeking some form of promotion.

 

Once cherubic

I’ve just written a post on mental health. It’s a touchy subject and I’m saddened by the fact that at least two of the younger people in my extended family have self-harmed and attempted suicide. I’m saddened too about the number of young males in my local area who have taken their own lives this year. This, then, is a poem I wrote when my cousin first went down this path…

 

“Once Cherubic”

 

In such a sanitary world

I should be wiped from the face of the Earth.

I’ve caused little but trouble since birth

and I tire of the slaps on the wrist;

perhaps it would be better for all

if I simply ceased to exist.

 

This isn’t a new train of thought

(this engine has seen its fair share of use)

but it’s a busier line than I remembered.

I look around at the other passengers

– so many of us

– so many, so young

when I see a familiar face among the fray.

To gaze upon her soft skin

and eager eyes

hurts more than any blade.

I numb my pain with alcohol;

she number her with drugs

until her liver failed.

Doctors spent days

bringing her back

but she’ll never be the same.

Once cherubic,

she will forever be known now

for her darkness;

nothing will be innocent or easy again.

 

An invisible tattoo

labels her as a suicide risk.

It has become an unshakable

part of her history,

its shadow cast over her future.

 

In my darkest days

a black hole dwelled in the pit of my stomach.

It would drain me,

destroy me –

an emotional void that caused physical pain.

I would plan my demise.

Occasionally I would make my death bed,

set up what I needed,

but I could never follow through.

 

She has taken the first step,

I hope she never takes another.

Invisible Illness

I’ve been holding off on writing this. I pride myself on my way with words. I teach English, I write poetry. Words are my life and yet, sometimes, words aren’t enough. I’ve been holding off on writing this because I’ve been afraid of getting it wrong, of not doing justice to the people it has impacted. In the novella “The Body”, which became the film Stand By Me, Stephen King wrote:

king quote

The reason our language keeps expanding is because there will never be enough words to articulate our feelings nor to explain the world around us. Whether you’re consciously aware of it or not, most of what we know is defined by what we know it’s not. Don’t believe me? Try explaining what hot is without giving reference to cold, or give a meaning for darkness that doesn’t use the word light; it is part of the reason similes and metaphors exist – because they allow us to explain things we otherwise couldn’t.

 

As I said, I’ve been holding off on writing this. With good reason too, I’m already concerned about how far off topic I’ve gotten and I haven’t really started. This is meant to be about mental health.

 

There’s a stigma attached to mental health that exists only because it’s a largely invisible illness. Many people discredit the resilience of the current generation and, at times, I agree with them. But there is clearly something affecting our youth and, just as clearly, not enough being done to support them.

 

Near where I work there have been 5 suicides in as many weeks.

 

What does it say about us when suicide is the leading killer of Australians aged 15 to 44? We preach ideals of this being ‘The Lucky Country’, of a fair go for all. I don’t think we can still claim that “she’ll be right” when this many people choose death.

 

I’m no stranger to suicide. At a time when I was struggling to find my place in the world and my sense of self-worth was practically non-existent, my uncle and aunty took their own lives. While my mum was crying over their loss my dominant feeling was jealousy – I wished I had their strength. I know now that strength is the wrong word and I have seen the effect their deaths have had on their children but at the time I cursed them for completing actions that I had dreamed of and occasionally prepared for but never attempted.

 

I was in my teens and there was a darkness inside me. There still is. My life is better than I could have ever hoped for and yet I still imagine my own death. I don’t feel the emptiness anymore, however. For much of my life I had struggled to articulate how this felt but a student of mine recently described it as like an apple without its core – it’s still an apple but it lacks that part that gives it life.

 

With that simile I’ll hark back to what I was getting at towards the start of this blog post, that many people lack the words or understanding to comprehend what people with mental illnesses are going through. Another student confided that his relationships with his friends fell apart because he turned to drugs to combat his depression. His friends labelled him as stupid for putting his physical health at risk but they didn’t necessarily understand the ‘need’ behind the drug taking, in that they made this student feel normal – something that had become unfamiliar to him. In our conversation, this student identified that people don’t understand depression because they “can only empathise with the saddest they’ve ever felt”. If you’ve never felt the lows of depression, how can you possibly understand what people are going through?

 

I’m not saying I was ever clinically depressed. I had a low point that was pretty damn low but, for all I know, it could have been just a portion of what others go through. I don’t pretend to understand mental illness. I’m not a doctor. What I am is an empathetic human being with two functional eyes. Any idiot can see that too many people are taking their own lives.

 

I don’t have solutions.

 

But if you have anxiety or depression or any other invisible illness, what I can offer you is advice. The saying ‘time heals all wounds’ is false but time does provide many things. Mental illness is still relatively new, it has only recently been accepted as reality and, as such, the medical industry and the general populous are still coming to grips with what it means and how it may be treated. Time will provide greater understanding and, with that, greater support. Time will also give you a chance to grow. What incapacitates you now may only aggravate or annoy you in future; you will develop strategies to cope and greater resistance to the things that currently trigger a response.

 

Time won’t heal you but it will help if you let it. In the words of Dylan Thomas –

“Do not go gentle into that good night.

Rage, rage against the dying of the light.”