I’ve dreaded for three years now that I’m going to eventually walk into a movie theater and see this film. I was one of those people who thought Man of Steel was a waste of time and space, and I wasn’t in the minority. Warner Bros. freaked out and announced a month after that film’s release (at Comic Con, no less) that the next Superman film was going to be Batman v Superman. The Comic Con crowd ate it up, but I just rolled my eyes at the idea. A month later, they announced that Ben Affleck was going to play Batman, which I actually thought could be a great idea. That was one thing that made me curious to see this film. Then about a year after it was announced, Warner Bros. decided to send a big f-you my way for hating Man of Steel, and decided to release Batman v Superman on March 25th, my birthday. They knew that not only I was going to give them my money, but on my birthday weekend no less. Damn. Here’s my review of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.
The film begins from the point of view of Affleck’s Bruce Wayne, as he navigates Metropolis during the massive Man of Steel climatic battle that destroyed the city. Hundreds of thousands are killed, and Wayne is left very bitter after the incident two years later, where the film picks up. We then cut to Superman himself, Clark Kent (Henry Cavill), whose having to deal with that aftermath as well. A United States senator played by Holly Hunter begins a committee exploring the possibility of somehow monitoring the superhero. One of the people vying for this is Lex Luthor, in a questionable portrayal of Superman’s arch nemesis played by Jesse Eisenberg. Batman and Superman eventually meet and fight, and then some other things happen in the film (this is a very convoluted plot).
Zack Snyder, the director of the cinematic “masterpiece” Man of Steel comes back to direct with a script by Chris Terrio of Argo fame and David S. Goyer of mediocre superhero movie fame (Blade: Trinity, Man of Steel). I was a little bit optimistic about the film since Affleck brought on Terrio to rework Goyer’s screenplay, but that optimism quickly escaped once the film began. Actually, that’s a bit of a lie, because the film starts out pretty promising. The sequence of Wayne going to Metropolis is really well done, and a lot of the stuff with Wayne and Batman early on in the film is pretty effective. Affleck’s portrayal of the Dark Knight is actually the best part of the film, and I wanted to see even more of that story than the story of Superman and the other convoluted and unnecessary storylines. The problem with this film is that the stuff that’s pretty good is just, well, pretty good. Thanks to Snyder’s hacky and macho sensibilities as a director, a lot of moments that could’ve been great end up being lost and unseen opportunities.
One of the biggest reasons as to why I was so jaded going into this film are the DC fans. I’m not saying all of them, but the ones who defend Snyder and his mediocre Superman film before this one as if it’s an untapped gem of modern American storytelling. That’s fine if you like Superman and Batman and all of these characters. I loved the first two Christopher Nolan Batman films and really enjoyed the third one, even though that one was a bit of a mess. I just don’t understand the love for Snyder, whose never been a good filmmaker, and Warner Bros. has decided that he will be DC’s answer to Kevin Feige. Feige, for those who don’t know, is the guy in charge of all the Marvel films, and is responsible for each films production and tone. Warner Bros. doesn’t really have anyone like that, and Snyder is the unofficial answer to that, which is problematic.
While Snyder is undoubtedly a master when it comes to the visuals in his film, he still doesn’t know how to tell a compelling story with compelling characters, and this film is no different. With the exception of Affleck, I could’ve cared less about every character in this film. Cavill is still flat as Superman, Amy Adams is fine as Lois Lane but somehow feels underused every time we see her. Jesse Eisenberg is flat-out awful and horribly miscast as Lex Luthor. I thought it was a strange casting choice when it was announced, and even stranger when his version of the character was fully realized. He wasn’t threatening or funny or even entertaining. He was just another unnecessary noise to this already noisy and bloated film.
The worst part of this film was the very bloated running time and its convoluted plot. I mentioned that the film starts out with some promise, but quickly loses it as the two and a half hour movie chugs along. We don’t get that “fight” between Batman and Superman until nearly the third act of the film, which feels like an eternity. I felt like I was in that theater all day, and I really couldn’t wait to leave when it was all said and done.
Along with Affleck’s solid performance as Wayne, Gal Godot has a promising glorified cameo as Wonder Woman, a character that I wanted to see more of but it’ll have to wait another year before she gets her own spinoff film. Luckily, Snyder won’t be directing that one, so the Wonder Woman movie might be worth a damn. Unfortunately, Snyder will be ruining the Justice League movie, which he’s also directing and is expected to start filming in the coming weeks. My expectations for that film are now lower than ever thanks to this film, and will unfortunately be another massive disappointment for the studio.
But then again, Batman v Superman is scheduled to make nearly 200 million dollars this opening weekend, which is huge. Warner Bros. definitely has a money-maker on their hands, but this film won’t leave the impact on the zeitgeist that The Avengers did four years ago, or any of the Chris Nolan Batman films before. I’m interested to see the audience reaction to the film, since the unapologetic Snyder fans love the film, and the critics like myself think this film is close to being absolute garbage, and a slap in the face to two great characters. If you feel like you have to see this film, wait for it on DVD to rent, or HBO. You should save your money and go see Everybody Wants Some!! in a few weeks, which is one of the best films of the year. It’s just a shame that Warner Bros. is putting all of their cards with Snyder, but maybe they’ll learn a lesson or two after the critical disaster of this film. At least Civil War will (probably) be good in May.