Like most of you guys, I grew a little worried when I saw the less than stellar reviews. I mean, a Batman vs. Superman movie HAS to be an exciting endeavor that even a lack of story can’t bring down. That’s not to say that the story shouldn’t matter. It certainly mattered in the influential Frank Miller graphic novel The Dark Knight Returns, which the movie is partially based on. Alas, after having seen the movie, I kinda have to side with the critics on this one
Zach Synder is a pretty weird director for me. Its seems like whenever he includes less in his movies, they turn out great (Dawn of the Dead, 300). But when he goes the other way and attempts to cram everything he can, they kinda fall flat (Watchmen, Man of Steel). Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice unfortunately falls in the latter. This is not one movie, this 5 different movies being stuffed into 2 hours and 30 minutes, which can leave viewers wanting more.
Let’s get the positives out of the way first:
If you get Zach Snyder, of course you get great action and BvS certainly delivers. The action scenes, particularly the ones with Batman, are thrilling and intense. The special effects may go overboard with some scenes, but for a movie with this much intensity fused in, I’m willing to let it slide.
Ben Affleck is a delightful surprise as Bruce Wayne/Batman, as he conveys him as a brooding and world weary aging man who has a bone to pick with Superman. Almost every scene involving him are definitely the highlights of the movie and I can’t wait for the stand alone Batman film that Affleck is planning to direct AND star in.
I was more surprised at how well Gal Gadot plays Wonder Woman, as I wasn’t really crazy about her casting for the Amazon Warrior. I was really rooting for a sorta UFC fighter Gina Carano look alike casting, but whatever. Gadot is pretty likable and bad-ass here and like Affleck, I would really like to see where she takes her character in future films, if I’m willing to (more on that later). My only gripe with her being in the movie is that she didn’t really have to be in this movie. That’s not to say she was in any way a negative factor, but what I am saying is that cutting her out of the movie would have shortened the film’s runtime of 2 hours and 30 minutes and leaves open the option to do better justice (haha, get it?) for her in her own origin film.
Henry Cavill and Amy Adams are still great as Clark Kent/ Superman and Lois Lane, respectfully. Their chemistry fares a little better here than in Man of Steel and I find myself still rooting for their relationship and seeing how things have changed after the events of Man of Steel.
The intro is where I’ll bridge the good and the bad of this movie because I was pretty divided about it. The intro is cut into two halves (Not a complete SPOILER ALERT) Bruce Wayne as a child during and after his parents’ death and Bruce Wayne as an adult running through the city while Superman and General Zod duke it out. The intro with the ADULT Bruce Wayne is perhaps some of the best character introduction I have ever seen. We meet Bruce as the man he becomes and see what his values are. It was then and there I realized that Affleck would be a pretty convincing Batman and I can’t wait to see what he brings to the table. Now let me refer back to the OTHER half of the intro with child Bruce Wayne
The film’s awesome second half of the intro, however, is brought down by what I think is one of the worst intros I have ever seen. This first half of the intro is where we meet Bruce as child, dealing with the aftermath of his family’s murder while remembering the murder itself. (I’d put a spoiler alert there, but honestly if you don’t know THAT part of the Batman lore by now, I don’t know what to tell you). Anyways, the first half of the intro was jarring to watch, as the editor continues fading back and forth to the present and past, while fading to black before the next scene may point out. It was a bit disorienting to watch. (SPOILER ALERT sorta) After young Bruce runs away from the funeral, he falls into a well and finds a cave of bats lying dormant and things go from interesting to ridiculous. After Bruce accidentally awakens the bats, they surround him. Initially frightened, Bruce then stands his ground and begins floating upwards with the help of the bats. I shit you not, my jaw was open by the time that scene ended, in disbelief. (SPOILERS END HERE)
Jesse Eisenberg’s performance as Lex Luthor is just god-awful, like Arnold Schwarzenegger as Mr. Freeze awful. Every scene with him just made me want to gouge my eyes out and cover my ears. He plays Lex as this young billionaire jerk with a bit of ego problem; kinda like his portrayal of Mark Zuckerberg in The Social Network (a favorite of mine), but on the opposite spectrum. He tries to be dimwitted in the public so no one can see his “true evil genius side” in private, but I didn’t buy either performances. He doesn’t come off as an evil genius Lex Luthor is, but more like some brat kid who has a lot of money and just to show off how better he is than everybody. I have to give Eisenberg and the director credit for trying to take Luthor in a different direction, but this was a textbook example of how NOT to do that. Rather than wanting to see him be defeated, I just want him not to show up anymore. I seriously hope that he doesn’t show up in any future installments, but something tells me I’m not that lucky
One of the film’s biggest problems is that there is TOO MANY plot lines for it to cover. Let’s list some here that can easily be it’s own movie:
-Bruce Wayne begins as Batman
-Batman wanting to fight Superman
-Superman dealing with the aftermath of Man of Steel
– Wonder Woman begins
– Bruce Wayne encountering Wonder Woman
-Lex Luthor wanting to defeat Superman
(If you haven’t seen all of the trailers then SPOILER ALERT)
– Doomsday wrecking havoc
(SPOILER ENDS HERE)
You could take just two of these and still make a pretty compelling movie. If you have too much going on, each of the plots won’t develop fully, leaving much to be desired. As i mentioned before, this is a big problem with Zack Synder. Too much doesn’t mean it’ll be good. There were times I forgot this was technically a Superman film because some of the plot points don’t involve him
The Superman/God symbolism is very hard for me to choose a side for. It makes for an interesting idea to see how people would react if somebody like Superman were to show up to Earth, but there were times when the film alludes to that symbolism heavy-handedly that I’m like “Okay we get it”. The point of symbolism is not to bring to much attention to it and let the audience figure it out. Subtlety can work wonders if you trust your audience. Speaking of subtlety….
The film tries to cut into Marvel’s market of superhero movies and really wants to let you know that a Justice League movie is in the works. What Marvel does expertly is leave clues in their films alluding to a future movie for the audience to find and get excited about. Man of Steel did a good job hiding some references around to signal for what’s to come. But my god, this film really wants to let you know what’s coming. They pretty much show you who’s playing who and what they look like. This wouldn’t be a problem if it didn’t stop the movie in it’s tracks!! Might I say again that this is a 2 AND A HALF HOUR MOVIE! The point of foreshadowing future installments is to leave hints around so that the main movie can keep moving forward. I was literally thinking “This is cool, but DUDE go back to the movie!”. This sucks because I really wanted to be excited about these cameos, but I’m more annoyed how abruptly everything stops for this scene alone!
Also, and this is one problem I have just as a fan of the Superman lore, but WHY would you have DOOMSDAY, the only villain capable of killing Superman, as the second film’s main villain with such short amount of screen time? The “Doomsday killing Superman” storyline is perfect for a stand alone Superman film, or even the Justice League’s first antagonist as a team! Anyways, I digress
(SPOILERS END HERE)
Overall, it’s a film with lots of potential that, instead, is wasted. I can’t say that it’s a bad movie because it has a lot of redeeming qualities, but I will say that I won’t pay to see it again should anyone ask me to go. My main concern is that Justice League will be directed by Zach Synder and honestly, if he doesn’t learn his flaws by now (which I doubt he will), I might not be amped enough to want to go see it. DC fanboys will probably love it, everybody else, it’s up to them to decide
Overall rating: 2.5/5