Review: Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice
I’m not really sure what I think about Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice. I can’t bring myself to say it’s a bad movie, because it’s competently made and sometimes enjoyable. But I can’t bring myself to say it’s a good movie, because it’s utterly joyless and, at times, terribly made. Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice is the Transformers of superhero movies. It’s a big, CGI mess of darkness and explosions, but sometimes it’s fun seeing these characters on screen, and it’s going to make all the money.
Movie Rating: 5/10 – Alright.
At the very least, it’s kind of cool to see these superheroes on the big screen together. Part of me did get excited to see Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman standing together against adversity (even if we’d already seen it in the trailers). But another part of me wished the movie was more fun. BvS is a dark, drab, gritty production that puts even the Christopher Nolan Batman movies to shame. This film is the exact opposite of the successful and wonderful Marvel movies. There’s no charm, no joy, no heroics and, most important, no fun.
Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice is the grimdark superhero trend taken to its ultimate conclusion. If you like your superheroes as grimdark and serious as possible, this might be the movie for you. But I would have liked something more enjoyable.
Join me after the jump for the full review and lots of SPOILERS.
Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice might be the most pretentious movie I have ever seen — something I should have known from the title alone. What really struck me about this movie was how deep and serious every single line of dialogue tried to be, whether it was spoken by Superman or Lex Luthor or Alfred or whoever. Nobody talked like a real person. Everybody was just a character delivering the most melodramatic lines I’ve ever heard in a superhero movie, or possibly any movie. It bordered on parody.
Yet, for the life of me, I can’t remember any of the lines. They were that meaningless.
That tone carried itself into the acting and the action as well. This wasn’t a movie about people. This was a movie about being big and dramatic. This was a movie where Superman’s heroic rescues are done in super slow motion, so that we can see and feel the full impact of the big, dramatic stuff he does.
This was also a movie where Lex Luthor kidnaps and gags Superman’s mom, then taunts him with photographs of her in tears, her makeup smudged. That…that was a little too much for me. That pulled me out of the picture and made me question what the heck I was even watching.
I guess this just isn’t what I want from superheroes anymore. Perhaps, once upon a time, I was into the dark and gritty stuff. It has its place. But DC and Snyder go too far in BvS. Marvel does the dark and gritty thing with Daredevil and their other Netflix shows, but even those have some light to counteract the darkness. BvS is all darkness. It is the absence of light. Even Superman’s costume is as grim as he is, actor Henry Cavill’s face a near-permanent scowl. The only moment when he even approaches happiness, he’s sharing the screen with a naked Amy Adams.
I thought to myself, with all the kids in the audience, that we couldn’t even go one scene of happiness without some sort of titillation.
Of course, when the movie was over, the kid that was sitting behind me in the theater said he absolutely loved the movie (his dad, not so much), so what do I know?
Speaking of ‘going one scene’, one of my biggest complains is the pacing of the movie. I didn’t like the pacing in Man of Steel either. That movie moved too quickly and too haphazardly, never taking time to enjoy a moment or really establish a scene. BvS is similar. The first half of the movie cuts rapidly between half a dozen different plots, giving each scene only a few minutes to develop the next plot point before moving on to another randomly selected scene. It was a weird way to make a movie, and not surprisingly, the whole film got a lot better when we actually focused on the titular fight, and then the finale.
There were things I liked about this movie, I think. ‘Liked’ feels like a bit of a stretch. Everything I ‘liked’ about this movie, I wish it was done just a little bit better. But for what it was, I enjoyed a few things.
I felt that Ben Affleck did a fine job as both Bruce Wayne and Batman, but then I never doubted him. I was never a Batffleck hater — though there were parts of the movie where I saw him more as Ben Affleck than as Bruce Wayne. But I still felt he did a good job, and I am optimistic about an Affleck-led solo Batman movie. Keep Snyder away from it, and it could be something really good.
Likewise, I liked actor Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman. She made the most out of the role both in and out of costume, and kicked plenty of butt. I don’t feel that she was shoe-horned into the picture at all. She was a strong addition, and I’m likewise interested in her movie next year. Also, that little jazzy bit of rock music that started playing when she showed up was probably the only music I liked in the movie. The rest of the soundtrack was just as overbearing as the dialogue.
Like I said earlier, Cavill was too dour to make for an effective or enjoyable Superman. There’s no heroism in that character, just scowling. I liked Amy Adams as Lois Lane, she’s fine. Jeremy Irons was good as Alfred. Jesse Eisenberg was…something as Lex Luthor. He could be entertaining, I suppose. But it was just Eisenberg trying desperately to recreate Heath Ledger’s Joker, and failing miserably. I liked him better than any previous movie version of Lex Luthor. At least he wasn’t trying to hatch some ridiculous land scheme.
Also, I don’t think they shave your head that extensively when you go to prison.
There’s a lot more I could say, because there was a lot to this movie. I liked the actual fight between the two main characters, because the movie was focused, though the fight itself wasn’t anything spectacular. Doomsday wasn’t anything special either. There wasn’t enough Robin for my personal tastes. The hallucinations were more weird than anything helpful, and the arrival of the future Flash was more confusing than anything else, another victim of the choppy editing. If you’re going to do something as insane as that, you should really take the time to make it as clear as day — even if daylight was verboten in this movie.
There was no way to know that was the Flash. He was dressed in armor, and when we saw the Flash later on, he wasn’t in costume.
Still, I liked the cameos of the other DC characters, even if it’s kind of silly that Lex Luthor has already given them logos.
I’m not so cynical as to fear the upcoming DC Cinematic Universe. The other movies are in the hands of other directors, so maybe they’ll do a different enough or better job than Zack Snyder. I’ve liked his past movies, like 300 and Watchmen. But I don’t particularly care for how Snyder turns the DC superheroes into big, imposing statements rather than actual people.
The most interesting and exciting moment in the film was when Wonder Woman cracked a half-second smile during her fight with Doomsday. More of that, please.
Posted on March 28, 2016, in Batman, DC, Movies, Reviews, Superman and tagged Amy Adams, Aquaman, Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice, Ben Affleck, DC Cinematic Universe, Henry Cavill, Jesse Eisenberg, Lex Luthor, Lois Lane, Wonder Woman, Zack Snyder. Bookmark the permalink. 6 Comments.
I felt pretty much like you did- I thought Affleck was fine, considering that the script required that Batman, the Great Detective himself, act like a flippin’ moron throughout ninety percent of the movie. The character was given a great disservice by the writers, but Affleck portrayed him with such conviction that I *want* to see Affleck and Irons in their own movie.
And I’m not really a Batman fan. I’m more of a fan of Tim Drake Robin than his shadowy mentor.
Wonder Woman. Holy hell… you know what a huge Wonder Woman fan I am, and the trepidations I’ve had about this movie…
If I thought the movie was lackluster in other areas, at least in this particular subject it managed to shine. Diana’s brief appearances were quite exciting (and I love how she outsmarted Bruce) and her entrance as Wonder Woman in the Doomsday fight was out of this world. As soon as the glare died down and the bracelets were in display, I kid you not people cheered in the movie theater.
That was also the only time in the whole movie they cheered, to boot. The fact that she was smirking and smiling during that fight made me smile for the only time in that movie (ok, not true- Jeremy Iron’s asides as Alfred also made me smile, god I love Snarky Alfred.) She gets rolled on the ground, then smiles and gets up with a look on her face that says “Finally, a challenge!” and goes back into the fray.
I am very likely to see the other DC property movies- except Justice League if they keep it in Snyder’s hands. Please, somebody, stop Zack Snyder.
Sadly, nobody cheered in my movie theater. There were a few chuckles, like when Batman said a swear, but no cheers. And that exciting moment, for me, was ruined with the trailers. Like, I saw it coming and had to patiently wait for the dust to die down just to be proven right – but then that sweet chord kicked in, and all was better.
That trailer did give away 80% of the movie, didn’t it? Not that there was anything that ingenious to give away…
I forgot to mention that, as a classical musician, Zimmer’s score felt like the cutting room floor findings of Bruckner’s composing scrapbook from a bad day when he was jamming with Karl Orff high on morphine. Ominous, interminable, shapeless, and awash with a chorus that was trying to be so epic that it sounded like they were being set on fire just so they could be even that more self-important. While the movie became a parody of itself, so did Zimmer become a self-parody. As a composer, he is nowhere near as deep as he thinks he is.
… Not to comment spam, but am I the only one who was ticked off at the fact that they killed Jimmy Olsen in the first few minutes of the movie?
Yeah, that was a pretty weird and dismissive use of the character.