batman vs superman movie review
“Get f**knig hyped!” was something I actually typed into the Discord server to my editors hours before I went to go see this movie, I’ll embarrassingly admit. I was excited. I was very excited. I loved Man of Steel. I thought it was a truly underappreciated film and a borderline masterpiece. I could be wrong, but I honestly think if we go back and watch the Man of Steel again we’d see a brilliantly shot movie with a terrifically paced narrative. The fact that I love Man of Steel so much might coincide with the fact that I never read comic books as a kid. No, I didn’t side with Marvel in the corporate loyalism wars of comic book fandom. I just never read comics. I had video games. So, why am I sitting at my computer right now telling you about how much I loved Man of Steel? Because I’m sitting here reviewing its unusual predecessor and direct sequel: Batman V Super: Dawn of Justice. I really wanted to like this movie, but there’s barely anything to like. This film is terrible and a virtual failure, not just as a film, but in storytelling.
Let’s get what I dug about this film out of the way first: the acting is outstanding with the exception of one. Affleck’s Batman is unprecedented, Gal Gadot is great as Wonder Woman, and Henry Cavill’s Superman is second only to Christopher Reeves. If you’re a lover of great performances, then you’ll probably want to see Ben Affleck play a veteran vigilante whose run out of f**ks to give. It alone is worth a matinee ticket (non-IMAX, non-3D, non-70mm). Along with the fantastic performances is killer costume design. Whoever did the job in creating the superhero outfits did an amazing job. Okay, I think that’s about it”¦yep”¦pretty sure that’s everything I liked. Let’s move on.
Batman V Superman is not only one of the worst movies I’ve ever seen, but one of the worst stories I’ve experienced that has been professionally distributed. It’s the kind of movie our professor’s deconstruct in film school to show us what not to do and then assigns us to theorize how we can do it better. It’s a good-bad movie like Troll 2 or The Room. It’s a failure on every level which left a theater silent in awkwardness as we left. I heard virtual sighs from behind me throughout the film, and although I wanted to turn around and tell the guy to shut up, I didn’t because I understood him and his pain. I was shaking my head in confusion trying to understand what was being said and make sense of certain scenarios in my head. There were scenes where I questioned what the point of them was; one in particular scene involves Lex Luthor and a Kentucky Senator loitering over a fireplace with glasses of whiskey. During this scene, nothing is said that progresses the narrative of the overall plot (or lack thereof), and everything that is said is painful to hear because of Eisenburg’s performance of Lex Luthor. I can’t blame him. Jesse Eisenburg is a great actor. He had to have been given terrible direction, or he’s trying to one up Heath Ledger in getting an Oscar for his performance in a comic book flick. He proceeds to fail on every level. Eisenberg portrays Luthor as if Lex was a child who forgot to take his ADHD medication. Twitchy, annoying, pitiful, and sad in a lot of ways. Also, as the main antagonist of the film, he lacks motivation for wanting to get rid of Superman. I mean, we understand why he wants to do it, but we never get a clear picture as to why he arrived to his conclusion and go off the deep end in many cases.
This also happens with Diana Prince (Wonder Woman) whose entire presence in the movie is treated as if it was an afterthought. Her presence is never explained, she never gives us any details as to what she’s doing, and we have no idea why she returned to the world after being in self-exile for a century. She just kind of shows up. However, unlike Eisenberg’s performance of Luthor, Gadot nails Wonder Woman to a tee. She’s fierce, strong, badass, and beautiful.
Also, I’m 80% sure Batman just kills people now, erasing the moral dilemma of Batman’s code of justice. Teetering on the edge of what’s right and what’s wrong, what’s good and what’s bad, the Joker and Batman on two sides of the same coin. If Batman doesn’t kill Joker in the next movie he’s in, then we have an incredibly inconsistent universe and character or at least have a ”˜returning to the light moment.’
Batman’s moral fall is also another thing that’s never explained in the movie. There’s hints as to what might have gotten him to that point, but as an audience member viewing the movie I need something like a flashback sequence to explain it to me. That last thing this movie needed was another explanation regarding the origins of Batman. His parents died in front of him. We all know. Everyone around the world knows. Look at the grossing numbers for the Dark Knight and Batman Begins if you don’t believe me. It even does deaths of the Waynes poorly. If you’re going to go through the trouble of having that sequence in there then you need to have the rise of the Dark Knight in there, as well. One without the other just doesn’t work. I mean, the flashback is a clichÃ© storytelling tool at this point, but at least it gets the job done. Heck, the entire film lacks exposition. I have to imagine the writers of the film were more enthused by trying to create this overtly artistic and metaphorical narrative that turned into a disastrous example of what not to do in terms of dialogue structure.
It’s bad when I’m watching a movie and can tell to the line what’s not working and what is. For a two-and-a-half-hour movie, a lot of this could have been cut out and thrown away because half of it is pure garbage. The narrative in inconsistent. The rising action of the narrative consists of the film being a political thriller but ultimately fails at that. The dialogue is wasted with it preaching to me about the religious implications men and women with superpowers would have on our world. There’s a moment, an oddly racist one at that, where Superman saves a girl from a burning building and as he glides down people reach out to him and fall to their knees. Ugh, there’s so much more I can get into about the religious overtones of the stor, but can’t without spoiling the entire film. I’ll just say, as a Catholic whose parents forced him to go to CCD and still goes to mass on Ash Wednesday to make his Mother happy, Zach Snyder’s love affair with the Saint Michael is annoyingly bro-y of him. It’s almost an insult to Catholicism.
The climax consists of the namesake of the film, the actual fight of Batman V Superman. A question kids everywhere have asked many different times in many different ways. Yeah, it’s less of a fight and more of a throwing match. I might have my problems with a lot of Marvel movies, but at least Deadpool had some of great fight choreography thrown in there. It’s almost like Snyder was more concerned about tearing down old abandoned buildings than paying a decent fight choreographer to show off some good moves. It doesn’t need to be a kung-fu movie, but anything would have been better than the 20-minute-long shotput match that was Batman Vs Superman.
It’s not a spoiler to say that there’s this giant-gray-rock-monster-thing who comes out of nowhere that Lex Luthor created. This is when Wonder Woman shows up to one of the worst character introduction tracks I’ve heard in a movie. Junkie XL has done some great work over the last few years (Mad Max and Deadpool), so has Hans Zimmer (Dark Knight and Interstellar), but putting the two of them together was a really bad idea. The two composer’s style don’t match at all. In fact, when Wonder Woman does show up as an Amazon, she shows up with this Guitar-Man-eques theme song. It clashes terribly with the film and the character it introduces.
I’ll say this, the fight with the giant-rock-monster is tolerable, at least. It’s entertaining and fun to watch the Amazon take the thing on face to face and watch Superman fly it up past our atmosphere and into space. The monster itself isn’t that scary. It does this thing were it randomly explodes every now and then, but Wonder Woman and Superman just kind of shrug it off, look at each other, and continue the fight. Batman just kind of runs and hides the entire time. However, if you’ve seen the trailer leading up to this movie then you’ve seen the entire movie. I have no idea why they decided to show that moment in the trailer because it’s played off as this giant twist, but we all knew it was coming because of the trailer. The entire fight sequence seems as if it was to get the money shot of the big three all lined up for one shot and that’s about it.
This film fails, in a lot of ways, but it’s main problem is a failure in following Dramatic Structure. Every story from plays to video games follows the basic principle that is Freytag’s pyramid (that thing about rising action and falling action you learn about in middle school), and Batman V Superman throws it out the window in an attempt to be edgy and real. The resolution of the film is less of resolution and more of a check off list of cameos in order to set up the upcoming universe. The film was exhausting to watch. I facepalmed myself more times than I could have counted, and the little kid sitting next to me admitted to his Dad that he didn’t like the movie. The Dad agreed with his son. It was a beautiful moment. I’m pretty sure the entire theater I went to left disappointed. This movie will probably appeal to the hardest core of comic book lovers. The ones who go on Twitter and threaten critics for not liking their favorite corporation enough. Deadpool was a love letter to those people, but it also succeeded in being a good movie. Batman V Superman might also be a love letter to those people, but it failed being a good story. It’s the price we get when studios try to please a fundamentally frustrated bunch of folks. They handed the story telling reigns over to the fans, but a good movie was sacrificed in the process