Release Date: March 25th, 2016
Director: Zack Snyder
Studio: Warner Brothers
Starring: Henry Cavill (Superman / Clark Kent), Ben Affleck (Batman / Bruce Wayne), Amy Adams (Lois Lane), Jesse Eisenberg (Lex Luthor), Holly Hunter (Senator Finch), Laurence Fishburne (Perry White), Gal Gadot (Wonder Woman / Diana Prince), Jeremy Irons (Alfred Pennyworth), Diane Lane (Martha Kent), Scoot McNairy (Wallace Keefe), Tao Okamoto (Mercy Graves), Kevin Costner (Jonathan Kent), Lauren Cohan (Martha Wayne), Jeffrey Dean Morgan (Thomas Wayne)
The entire reason I started this blog was so I could talk about the various issues I had with Man of Steel. I’m not a Superman fan, but I am a comic book fan and I like to see my comic book heroes, especially the big ones, treated with respect. Man of Steel was not something I enjoyed. It also meant that my expectations for Batman v Superman were rather low. I didn’t walk into the movie thinking it was going to be some great super hero film that had any sort of weight or slight social commentary behind it. Heck, I even knew that I wasn’t going to get a fun ride like I do with most Marvel movies. Despite doing everything in my power to avoid talk of the movie, I still couldn’t avoid the news that the early reviews were not good. Walking in to Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, I knew that I was walking in to see a movie that took itself too seriously and was stuffing in too many comic book elements, but might, just might, have some really interesting action sequences and be entertaining enough. I think I set my barometer just right because BvS didn’t let me down. Yes, I had problems, but I didn’t walk out with scathing hate. It kept me entertained for the two and a half hour running time and that is a feat in itself. Would I go recommending it to people like I did Deadpool? No.
Batman v Superman follows in the footsteps of Man of Steel. BvS is a movie that is not out to make you laugh or giggle. It’s not throwing in comic book references for amusement (though there are certainly references). The movie has a stick up its ass that it can’t manage to pull out. I’d go so far as to say the stick that got wedged up there in Man of Steel actually got stuck deeper because there wasn’t a single laugh in the movie. There weren’t even attempts unless you count Clark saying he’ll flood the apartment if he gets in the tub with Lois (not a spoiler, it’s in a trailer). It just doesn’t know how to lighten up and that can be a big downer if you are expecting this movie to gain some levity from it’s predecessor.
Honestly, this felt like a Batman movie at it’s core. Yes, his name is in the title. Technically this was supposed to be Superman’s sequel when it was initially announced, then it slowly became a co film. The final product definitely does spotlight the two of them together, but the actual arc of the film, the weighty one that the one of them actually has role in influencing their outcome all goes to Batman. You see Batman’s introduction, goal, evolution, and shift in goals. Batman is the interesting one where Superman gets to be gloomy and righteous. While Batman’s arc goes through a very abrupt turn.
That said Batman was definitely one that I found was cool with. This is not the Batman most people are familiar with. This is the murdery Batman who kills people. I enjoyed who he was and how Ben Affleck portrayed him. I got the sense that he had a goal, no matter how flimsy it was. I enjoyed seeing Batman actually trying to do some detective work even if it was a little blunt.
Lex Luthor, Lex Luthor, Lex Luthor. I don’t say this because I was thrilled. In fact it was the exact opposite. I wanted a representation of Lex Luthor that felt true to who he was. I didn’t mind that Jesse Eisenberg was portraying Lex with hair and that he didn’t have the physical presence I hoped. One of the things that is so great about Lex Luthor is that he is suave. More importantly for me is that he does things himself. He fights his own battles. However the impression that I got from this movie is that he was pushing things off on everyone else. It didn’t garner the respect that I had for Lex Luthor. This Lex was filled with quirks and I didn’t find him intimidating or unsettling. He seemed more unhinged than anything. This is not a knock to Jesse Eisenberg, who I believe did what was asked of him really well, the character was just written poorly.
As you probably guessed there were tons of characters slammed into the movie. Some of them were better served than others. Some of them I liked despite their presence being flimsy. Surprisingly it was the cameos of the other characters that were generally the best handled. Aside from an obvious world set up we got with one of the cameos, they were done through files. Files that were information on meta humans. We got to see brief clips of them on record and that was it. They weren’t intrusions and as such I didn’t mind the way they set up these future players. What I didn’t love was the one in movie cameo that contributed to one of the weakest elements of the films. Also it didn’t make much sense. Not to mention it allowed a cheat for a specific character that made a leap for more information quicker. It didn’t work. Wonder Woman however did. I enjoyed seeing her on screen. That said, she was notably a woman of few words and I have some things I may explore about that in the near future. However her presence did make me a little more excited for the Wonder Woman film. Don’t even get me started on Doomsday though because if there was another mistreated character other than Lex it was him.
There were a number of structural problems that the movie had. The story was framed as a Batman story. However it was also trying to wedge in Superman. The way that the movie was composed took leaps. Now this may be in part because the original cut is three hours long and this cut was two and a half. I can’t help but wonder who why the editing choices they made were done. If there there parts left on the floor that would have explained motivations I would have preferred those over some of the lackluster action scenes like the Batman desert fight. The series of events didn’t always make sense and that came from the odd structure of the movie as well as the logical leaps we were supposed to take.
Now I’m going to combine all the technical problems here there were a number of them. I’ll start by mentioning that the score was straight up distracting at times. A great score should amplify emotion and suck you in. Even a good score should go unnoticed except for how beautiful it may be. How it enhances something. This was not a good score. It took me out of the movie. It was overbearing volume wise at times. Worse it was just not good at times. The sound effects done through foley were also rather clunky. I’m talking during fight scenes the sounds didn’t sound quite lined up. The depth perception of the sound was off. To make the prior to complaints worse the actual sounds came off as fake. One scene in particular (*coughdesertfightscenecough*) was extremely bad to the point I laughed in the theatre.
Then there were the logical problems. There were a number of fantastical scenes that happened through the movie that just didn’t make sense. We were never given any reason or even indication as to why they were happening. However it made me think one character in particular was having a mental break. Not only that but their inclusion sometimes blurred a line and I wasn’t sure exactly how any of it worked. Then there were just the plain old logical leaps we had to take throughout the movie in order for the plot to keep moving forward. It wasn’t sure what it wanted to do. That problem ultimately comes down to script problems.
Now one of my biggest problems with the movie was the fact that the entire plot is based off the idea that people are questioning Superman as a hero because of the destruction in the wake of his battle with Zod. People are weary of this god like man and with good reason. People died many people. There were also people who had their lives destroyed. This was the core of the story and how that destruction and the destruction that comes in Superman’s wake, disregarding whether he is good or bad, is at the heart. It is what sets Batman on his path and Lex. However, when the film reaches it’s climax it just straight up forgets about all the destruction. While I don’t think it was as catastrophic as Man of Steel, it was pretty bad. I also can’t imagine what the fallout would be like in Metropolis and Gotham City. It just ended up feeling extremely disingenuous that the focus would be on the aftermath, yet the script called for that sort of destruction again. It ended up feeling like spectacle for spectacle sake.
If you wanted desperately to go see Batman v Superman, then go see it. Just don’t expect a game changer. Don’t expect something awesome like was seen in The Dark Knight. Don’t expect anything much. If you set your expectations low and shut off your brain there’s a chance that you will like it. Enough. There is also that chance that you are going to hate this film. It twists things in ways that irritate me to no end. However I sat through the entire movie not feeling like it felt overly long other than a couple scenes that maybe carried on longer than necessary. My real problems came out when I allowed myself to think for even a moment. If you aren’t already invested in BvS this is one you could easily skip.