Finally, the epic comic book movie our collective childhoods have been waiting for, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. Yes, the Batman, the Superman, going one-on-one before our very eyes. I’ll try to touch on what the movie is about without spoiling anything: Bruce Wayne, played by Ben Affleck, is pissed that Superman’s brawl with General Zodd ruined the lives of, well, pretty much anyone who lived in the surrounding area (see the climactic events of Man of Steel). Donning cape and cowl to become The Batman once again, Bruce decides it’s up to him to do something about Superman, while Clark Kent, played by Henry Cavill, wrestles with the global criticism of his alter ego’s presence in a world, both terrified and awestruck at the realization that they’re no longer alone in the universe.
First of all, Ben Affleck’s Batman is dope. I had my doubts initially, but Ben Affleck really nailed the whole brooding aspect of Batman/Bruce Wayne, and dare I say it, his Batman was actually scary. I mean, he was incredibly INTENSE, and brooding aside, there’s even more! He’s dispatching bad guys with a certain Steven Segal-like prejudice, karate-chopping necks and breaking arms left-and-right, branding criminals, and delivering badass dialogue throughout (this is surely a testament to Mark Millar’s interpretation of Batman in The Dark Knight Returns). I’d have to say everything that was Batman — Batcave, Bat-Wing, Batmobile, Alfred (played by Jeremy Irons, a great casting choice), and Joker references — made it into this movie. With that said, I’m surprised this movie wasn’t titled Batman: Justice League Rising, because Ben Affleck’s Batman steals the show. He’s interesting, he has better scenes, and every time he’s on screen, he’s dynamic — whether he’s a man tortured by the death of his parents, a playboy billionaire, a detective, or even as an unhinged super-violent superhero. Don’t believe me? That’s fine, but the movie literally opens up with Bruce Wayne, and then a brief (and at this point, unnecessary) Batman origin story. This pseudo Man of Steel sequel doesn’t open up with Superman doing super things; no, it’s Bruce Wayne doing Bat-things.
There were plenty of action sequences towards the tail-end of the film, and needless to say, I’d have to pick Batman’s sequences as the standout (could you tell what I loved about this film?). One amazing Bat-action sequence (Baction?) would have to be the warehouse scene that was briefly shown in one of the film’s many spoilery trailers. The full sequence looks like something straight out of Batman: Arkham Asylum (video game), because here he is taking on multiple enemies at once while utilizing his Bat-arsenal. If the director of this movie, Zack Snyder (300, Watchmen, and Sucker Punch), got something right, it was Batman’s movement in action. Christopher Nolan, the legendary director of The Dark Knight Trilogy, made masterpieces of film, but (in my opinion) never delivered on any of Batman’s fight scenes. Snyder gets it right, and I’m all the more grateful for this.
Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman was also surprisingly good. I did not see that coming, because I thought she didn’t fit the Amazonian build; however, she manages to pull it off. She doesn’t get enough screen time to explain her origin — she’s just a part of the movie’s plot — but it’s interesting to see her move about because her part plays out well. Again, Bruce Wayne/Batman gets the interesting scenes by interacting with Gadot’s character, and later when she shows up in her Wonder Woman outfit, she steals the show. This movie did a hell of a job introducing her character, even for a brief moment, but what I feel sells her presence is her theme song. I mean, seriously, the theme music for Wonder Woman is crazy! The music rattled me in my seat (a breath of fresh year, I should say); it’s different from the sound of Batman or Superman, and I felt as if her sound didn’t fit with the tone of the movie, BUT, when it plays, it PLAYS, and it demanded my attention. Matter of fact, this is her theme:
Doesn’t that make you want to ride a warhorse into the fiery depths of Tartarus while waving a flaming sword in the air? Or, I don’t know, lift weights? Anyway, it got my blood pumping, and — I won’t lie — I was, at that moment, ready to throw my money at the upcoming Wonder Woman solo movie. Anyway…
Zack Snyder delivers outstanding visuals as usual, and makes another movie that appears to have been ripped directly from the pages of a comic book — or in this case, an episode from Justice League Unlimited (that’s an animated series). There are short cameos of future Justice League members in this movie, and it’ll momentarily allow people who recognize them to geek out. That could be a good thing and a bad thing; in this case, it really took away from BvS as a whole, yet still delivered as a treat for anyone still paying attention. Which leads me to…
A laundry list of things I didn’t like, and I wish I wasn’t aware of those things during my viewing, because I wanted to like this movie. However, right off the bat (not THE Bat), BvS does the same thing Man of Steel did: pooping itself in the second half of the film. There was a certain scene, a certain possible saving grace that could’ve been the turning point in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. A certain moment when there were hints of an interesting political thriller waiting to happen, but just as quickly as it was introduced, it was instantly removed and forgotten. Instead, BvS tries too hard to be good. BvS is like a classroom assignment, a powerpoint presentation that went too long, and failed to bring a message home; but even though it might’ve failed to deliver an informative and cohesive point, it still gets a ‘C’ for effort*. That’s the thing, much of this movie does drag on, and I caught myself wondering when this was going to end. I was waiting for it to be over, because it ultimately didn’t feel like a focused movie. I felt like I was just watching things happen in BvS. At one point, it felt like I was watching one scene after the other, and many times I caught it going off the rails because it kept trying to expand the world of Batman and Superman. Don’t get me wrong, it’s nice to see all these other characters make cameos — that’s cool — but it takes away from the main plot. The story is no longer fluid. It just doesn’t work. Everything that’s stuffed into this movie felt forced. So, as a FILM, this movie doesn’t work. Not one bit.
As for the rest of this laundry list of things I didn’t like, well, where do I begin? First thing I noticed? Batman is killing the shit out of people in this movie, but Michael Keaton’s Batman (my favorite) killed people as well, so… it is what it is? Doomsday, that big gray ninja turtle (pictured above) that was in the trailers, looks horribly rendered, and its fight scene with the proto-Justice League (Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman) was anti-climatic.
Let’s talk casting: I’m not a fan of Jesse Eisenberg’s Lex Luthor, or Amy Adams’ Lois Lane. The entire cast did their jobs, but the direction taken with some of the characters wasn’t my cup of tea. Lex Luthor is apparently The Riddler in this movie, or some form of this jokester, because Eisenberg did not play him as the calm, collected, and composed genius villain that Luther is supposed to be. Instead, this Lex Luthor is erratic, a man with a nervous ticks, and an inability to speak in front of an audience without falling apart (really?).
On the other hand, Lois Lane is kind of a tool in this movie. Now give me a second to explain myself, because there were attempts to depict her as a strong, go-get’em journalist, but from the get-go and up until the end, she appears to be more of a device to give Superman a weakness (other than Kryptonite). Ultimately, she appears to be a liability, a damsel in constant distress — I actually kind of felt bad for Superman, because he obviously had bigger issues to deal with (being depicted as both a god and an enemy). Which leads me to another problem here: wasn’t this supposed to be a sequel to Man of Steel? It’s more of a spin-off that happens to have Superman somewhere in there. I felt bad for the guy. Like Lois Lane, he isn’t given much to work with. He’s flying around solving other people’s problems, but never given a considerable amount of character depth. It appears that this movie used Superman’s platform to deliver a considerably interesting take on Batman, a pitch for a Wonder Woman movie, and yes, a Justice League follow-up. Superman, the star of this film, is put on the back burner (there’s literally a scene where he just stands and says nothing). I mean, look at his mug throughout the film. He looks like he understands what’s happening, and doesn’t like what he sees. There isn’t one moment here where Superman comes off as a winner, and it’s sad, because I had the same face after watching this movie.
But hey, it’s Batman versus Superman, of course I’d recommend that you’d go watch it. It’s not a terrible film and it’s not a great film — it’s teetering somewhere in the middle ground, losing its footing several times as it laboriously makes its way towards an anti-climatic end. If you’ve seen the trailer, you’ve seen the movie. The kids are going to love it, and it does enough to kick off this year’s season of blockbuster events. Although, I was disappointed initially, I have to say that it could have been worse. I mean, it’s not like there’s going to be a longer version of this in the near future, right?
*God, I hope that analogy reaches you.
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Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice Review photos courtesy of Warner Bros