Review: ‘Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice’
*choo choo* The hate train has left the station, time to jump on the wagon. But is it really that bad? … Oh, who am I kidding. It is. Word of warning, if you still want to be interested in seeing Batman v Superman at the end of this, I suggest you skip to the “The good news”.
After the fan screening, praise about the movie started to flood the internet. And fans everywhere, including me, started to feel hopeful. By the time I walked out of the theatre, the 10/10 ratings stopped and Batman v Superman was getting crucified by the critics.
In the aftermath of the events in Man of Steel, the world is still divided about having a lawless “god” walking amongst them. It seems that no matter how many people Clark Kent saves, he will still be held accountable for those he didn’t save. Amongst those nay-sayers are tech mogul Lex Luthor, and billionaire by day, Bat vigilante by night, Bruce Wayne. Tensions continue to rise as Superman keeps getting involved in——No, you know what? Fuck the plot synopsis. It’s just a reminder of how good it could and should have been.
The bad news
With a movie like Batman v Superman, that carries this much hype, the first couple of minutes are essential. The Force Awakens grabbed your attention and held on to it, BvS doesn’t. A poorly edited opening scene shows us young Bruce Wayne’s sad backstory, one we’ve seen countless times before, but in a way that is both lazy and distant. From then on, the story just starts jumping all over the place. They’re trying to make so much happen in this movie that none of it comes across as believable.
Even less plausible are the characters. They have about as much chemistry with each other as I do with…uhm, chemistry. The dialogues are stale, with no tension whatsoever. It’s a friggin’ Batman vs Superman movie, I mean COME ON, tension should be pouring out of body parts I didn’t even know I had. And the motivations that drive these characters are dubious at best. The entire conflict/alliance thing between the Caped Crusader and the Man of Steel will just confuse its audience, tilting heads 45 degrees.
A part of the solution would have been the supporting cast, unfortunately their screen time is either way too short or just simply wasted on random unnecessary scenes. Jeremy Irons’ Alfred is a throwaway character with some one-liners, Amy Adams as Lois Lane serves solely as a dog whistle to call Superman, and Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman gets rushed in scenes for the sake of it.
This is the risk Warner Bros and DC took by skipping solo movies and forcing a superhero brawl on this scale. It’s aggravating almost, how hard the movie tries to set up future movies. Easter eggs are supposed to drop casually, hence the name. How else am I supposed to act condescending to my non-geek friends, when I notice something they don’t. There is such an excessive exposure of DC nods that it’s impossible to miss and becomes an integral part of the story. Imagine getting a super rare toy with your Happy Meal as kid, now imagine Zack Snyder stuffing dozens of those fancy toys through your throat. Not that cool anymore, huh?
You know what else is not cool? Expecting to see a Zack Snyder style final fight, but getting an unholy child between a light-show and a Michael Bay movie instead. One big CGI fest of Shrek jumping around, Batman hiding in a corner, and some laser beams to color in the empty spaces. Even the Batman vs Superman fight is a bust, and that’s the title of the flippin’ movie. 10-year-old-me is crying…And 24-year-old-me as well.
The good news
Let’s start with the actors; despite what I said earlier, I don’t agree with all the complaints that followed the casting. Ben Affleck is the most physically intimidating live-action Batman to date and everything about Gal Gadot shouts Wonder Woman. Jesse Eisenberg as Lex Luthor is going to piss people off, but occasionally he’s edgy enough to be quirky and threatening at the same time. In terms of individual talent, it’s a cast that can easily compete with their competition. And it’s so obvious they’re all trying to do what they can with the characters they’re given, but there’s only so much a cast can do with badly written personas and dialogues.
As for eye candy, it’s not all CGI overkill. Zack Snyder and his cinematographer still know how to flex their visual muscles at times. Whether it’s Batman clobbering some kidnappers, a dystopian future, or just Superman being worshipped; it’s hard not to appreciate the Snyder style at its best.
And what follows the eyegasm is the eargasm, we’re still talking about Hans Zimmer after all. He and Junkie XL came up with separate themes for most of the Justice League members -sorry Batman- and the Wonder Woman theme is easily the best thing in this movie. Made me wanna go all Xena the Warrior Princess every time I heard it, the definition of a good score right there.
Lastly I want to applaud WB/DC for taking such different route compared to Disney/Marvel, even if it didn’t really work out this time. New MCU (Marvel Cinematic Universe) entries get judged in the grand scheme of things, they’ve been building up their shared universe for almost 10 years. Even when a Marvel movie underperforms, it gets carried by the success of its predecessors and the potential of its successors. DC doesn’t have this luxury yet. Pure cinematically speaking, they are the underdog. That’s the risk Warner Bros has taken by releasing a versus movie before setting up their characters. But it’s a risk I can appreciate because it differentiates themselves from their biggest rival.
Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice is bound to disappoint more people than the Ab King pro ever did. Wasting an Oscar level cast. Blowing through a budget that’s worth four Deadpool movies, on a CGI upset that’s not even worth one Deadpool. It’s messy, overly serious and too ambitious for its own good. If you look past the chaos there are some rare moments of genius, but they are few and far between. Hopefully this was a gamble that will pay off in the future.
Director: Zack Snyder
Stars: Henry Cavill, Ben Affleck, Jesse Eisenberg, Gal Gadot
Duration: 151 minutes (no post-credits, don’t bother)
How to watch? With a pair of glasses, preferably pink
U.S. release dates (may vary): ‘Suicide Squad’ – August 5, 2016; ‘Wonder Woman’ – June 23, 2017; ‘Justice League Part One’ – November 17, 2017; ‘The Flash’ – March 16, 2018; ‘Aquaman’ – July 27, 2018; ‘Shazam’ – April 5, 2019; ‘Justice League Part Two’ – June 14, 2019; ‘Cyborg’ – April 3, 2020; ‘Green Lantern Corps’ – June 19, 2020; Untitled ‘Batman’ film – TBA.