Passover often overlaps with Easter, so, unlike Christmas, there’s no great Jewish tradition of seeing movies on Christianity’s big spring holiday. Which is a shame because this year brought the perfect Jewish alternative to Easter brunch: “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.”
As you’ve probably heard if you pay any attention to movie reviews, Zach Snyder’s effort to bring “Dark Knight” grimness to the lives of Superman, Lois Lane and Perry White has been shredded by the critics, scoring 29 percent at Rotten Tomatoes.
Many of the predictable critiques are fair: The movie is too long at 2½ hours, too lacking in comic relief for a comic book film, too weighed down by the burden of launching a whole universe of DC Comics superhero movies, and too hard to follow the plot through a mix of unexplained technology, unbelievable emotional shifts and bizarre dream sequences.
But superhero movies always depend on an extreme suspension of disbelief. They’re pure escapism, and the bottom line is whether you walk away entertained. By that measure, “Batman v Superman” is a success, thanks largely to the Jewish actors in the two most important supporting roles: Jesse Eisenberg as villain Lex Luthor and Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman.
Gadot has received the prince’s share of the positive notices from the film, and the Israeli model/actress is stunningly effective as the immortal Amazon. She saves the title duo when they put aside their personal fight to battle an almost unbeatable abomination, and in the process she gets credit for saving the film and perhaps the entire DC film series with the soaring anticipation for next year’s “Wonder Woman.”
But Eisenberg shouldn’t be overlooked. Much like a James Bond movie, a superhero film is only as good as the villain, and Eisenberg’s manic, moody, psychotic Luthor ranks among the best of the bad. He’s not just a superrich guy putting America and the world at risk to stoke his own ego and maybe cash in; we get enough of that in the real world.