At the heart of superhero stories are our modern myths, a way of how contemporary society deals with the real world through easily recognizable pop icons. It’s not about things like continuity or consistency or “rules” or even sacredness so much as the tradition of interpretation and re-telling. Comics writer Alan Moore once had a saying, “This is an imaginary story… aren’t they all?” And that cuts right into what Zack Snyder has done with his messy yet endlessly audacious superhero opera, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.
Historical inaccuracies are forgivable in period-set films, especially when they are so clearly more “fantasy-oriented” or anachronistic or just for the sake of enriching the atmosphere, style, story and entertainment value. The problem is that 300: Rise of an Empire just is not much fun or entertaining. We live in an age where trashy rock ‘em sock ‘em “junk food” films have been pretty much perfected. Unfortunately this awkward spinoff to the 2006 Zack Snyder film 300 sort of forgets much of the stylish grindhouse ingenuity of the original in favor of a heavy handed talky/expository affair that is at times jingoistic, misogynistic, mean-spirited and ultimately dull. Whereas Snyder’s film was a macho death-fantasy, this one plays like a derivative cover-band recreation that misses what made the original so special and enduring. The film depicts a war between white (or orange, as per the film’s odd color palate) people who “don’t negotiate with tyrants” and the brown people who hate their freedom. The original film had its fair share of troubling implications but the stylish way in which beefed-up dudes slaughtered one another whilst half-naked made the film far too silly and over-the-top to have its issues be taken seriously. This film however, dumps much of the testosterone power fantasy in favor of…philosophical debates and exposition which all but put a spotlight on the film’s troubles.