BvS Shot One
A gun sits a little left of center with a pearl necklace being pulled around the hammer until it’s taught.
Now let’s think about that shot for a moment. There is some solid imagery here, and as a standalone shot, one might think that its a particularly good one. It’s just plain handsome. That being said, let’s think about what the shot is telling us. First and foremost, we know that the gun is being pointed at someone at a very close distance; this is a kill-shot. We also know that whoever is about to be murdered is opulent, or at least dressed well. We also know that the necklace has been pull taught, and a basic understanding of how guns work will tell us that when the trigger is pulled and the hammer pulls back, it is going to snap this necklace. Some amount of care, or at least focus, went into pulling that necklace to the distance at which it won’t snap until the hammer is pulled.
This gives us the last piece of the puzzle; the man holding the gun. We haven’t seen him yet, but we know that he is about to pull off a kill-shot that will simultaneously snap this symbol of wealth. It’s stunning, and it paints the picture of a psychopath, or a revenge kill, or any number of passionate killings.
BvS Shot Two
Batman’s mother falls, the necklace shatters into a million pieces, and we get a glimpse of the killer reeling from his own actions.
Let’s apply the same technique and break down this image as a standalone. We know from this shot that this woman has just been murdered, that her necklace has broken, and that the man who did the killing is immediately regretful of his actions. There isn’t much information we need from off-screen, its all right here.
A keen reader might have already noticed the issue, but lets spell it out. The murderer in Shot One is not the murderer in Shot Two. And I mean that as though these are two different shots telling two different stories, not given in the sequence in the film. Shot One’s murderer is passionate, aggressive, really in the act of killing, and maybe even psychopathic. Shot Two’s murderer is a street thug with sticky fingers and a conscience.
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Knowing that these are subsequent shots, lets think about Shot One again, but from this new light. In this light, knowing that these two shots are incongruent, we are told something about how Shot One was designed. It was designed to be, first and foremost, a spectacle shot. A shot that makes the viewer go, “Wow, what a cool shot.”
There’s nothing wrong with the odd spectacle shot, especially in a popcorn blockbuster. In fact, a lot of movies are designed around the spectacle shot (like every Fast and Furious movie). For some movies, the spectacle shot is the reason you paid the price of admission. BvS‘s director, Zach Snyder, is even known for his spectacle shot (think 300, Watchmen, Sucker Punch). The problem, at its core, is that this should not have been a spectacle shot, or at least it should not have been so incongruent within the sequence itself.
What this tells us, is that decisions were made with a high priority on the spectacle. The film didn’t earn the right to be a spectacle like the Avengers, by having five films to introduce characters and get us used to the universe before going for the big money shots. It came right out of the gate with one poorly received Superman flick, and then this two hour mess of spectacle shots and character introductions.
In case nobody’s noticed, the trend lately has been to make a good movie first and foremost, and make it a blockbuster second, i.e. Mad Max, Deadpool, and the like.