As the weeks came closer and closer to the release of arguably the two biggest fictional characters in pop culture fighting one another on screen for the first time ever, I started to lower my expectations. After what I thought was a catastrophe of spoiler-ific trailers and ad campaigns, I went into this movie with the mindset that no matter what happens, Batman and Superman are about to share the big screen together for the first time and that in itself is a monumental moment. After seeing it, I’m glad I lowered those expectations.
I didn’t think it was possible to have a two and a half hour movie that felt both too slow and too rushed at the same time but in all honesty this kind of impressed me about Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016). There are three different openings to this movie and of the three, the second would have been a great cold open to segue from what happened in Man of Steel (2013) to what is about to come. Yes, MoS is the debut film of this whole DC Cinematic Universe (DCCU); but it really is BvS that introduces it to us to this universe.
This is certainly not Man of Steel 2 and to be honest it feels more like Batman is the protagonist of this movie. Ben Affleck takes the reigns as a new Bruce Wayne/Batman and there are moments where I liked the character and moments where I thought to myself, “This isn’t Batman.” I chuckled to myself a few times when Affleck’s Boston accent snuck through the cowl every few lines. It’s very pleasing to see a Bruce Wayne who is active and wants to help the world be a better place like the Bruce Wayne in Batman The Animated Series, however, to see a Batman who essentially murders people is not my cup of tea. It’s a shame though when someone like the Batman only has one fight scene really to display his skill set. It’s easily my favorite action scene in the movie and it may be one of the best Batman-centric fight scenes in recent memory. Seeing Bruce Wayne’s viewpoint during the battle in Metropolis between Superman and Zodd in MoS was great and it gave his character a lot more to get behind in terms of why he believes that this alien is a threat to the human race despite his intentions, I’ll give him that. That whole sequence was actually one of the highlights of the movie for me.
Batman isn’t the only one who has an agenda with Superman in this movie. From the very beginning, I said that Jesse Eisenberg as Lex Luthor was a terrible idea. Lo and behold, I was right. Lex Luthor should be more or less an evil Elon Musk. Not a weirder Mark Zuckerberg. I wanted to pull my hair out watching him in this movie and if people think the excuse that, “He’s not ACTUALLY Lex Luthor, he’s just his son,” can justify it, you’re lying to not only me but yourself as well. Someone else whose character I was not thrilled with was Lois Lane. Amy Adams is amazing and I love her; but she really adds nothing to the plot of this movie except to bash over the audience’s head that she and Superman love each other. It’s interesting to see the contrast between that and Gal Gadot’s debut as Wonder Woman, which I was pleasantly surprised by. At first I was agitated that Wonder Woman would be in this movie because I felt the movie would be too crowded and feel rushed; and while that is still true, I cannot deny that Gadot’s Wonder Woman could have been the most interesting character in this movie for me.
Characters and acting aside, the main problem with this film for me is that you have BATMAN and SUPERMAN in your title, and I’m bored thirty minutes into the movie. The movie is paced like my friend who takes forever to do literally anything and the content does nothing to further the movie. It’s one thing to see your favorite characters poorly represented, it’s another thing to not even give them a cause that seems worth fighting for. I had problems with MoS but in those problems I saw hints of what could have been a great and compelling Superman movie. In this, Snyder took those few pillars he built and essentially left them be. They are acknowledged in the opening few scenes so as to apologize to fans for their complaints about MoS; but then they are just left to collect dust. Even the camerawork in MoS was a redeeming trait it had and yet in BvS they switched up the shot style almost completely. That’s not to say I think Snyder is a complete hack. I think the man has a great eye and I liked his work on 300 (2007) and Watchmen (2009). I just think he doesn’t have a strong grasp on the superhero genre. Both previously mentioned works are darker in tone and trying to bring that to a movie about Batman or Superman can have its advantages, yes; but not when you make them cold blooded murderers and seasoned alcoholics who don’t seem to care about anything or decide what to care about. I mean by the time the titular heroes have their fight, you don’t even know what each is fighting for and it makes you wonder what’s the point of them even sharing the screen if they can’t form a cohesive thought (Or at least one on their own).
In the end I will say BvS should have been a fun time seeing the caped crusader take on the man of tomorrow. Unfortunately that wasn’t the case and I cannot even defend the movie with the titular fight that happens because not only does it not happen soon enough, it also ends far too soon. Zack Snyder tried squeezing in way to much to crank out a DCCU and it’s the fans and hype boys like me that suffer. I hope the other negative reactions to this will force Warner Bros to start heading in a different direction with their Justice League because as of now, their candle isn’t looking like it will burn that much longer.
Overall Rating: 4/10 – Disappointing
Ben Affleck gets by as Batman; but it’s his character as a whole that’s the problem, not the way it’s portrayed. Jesse Eisenberg’s Lex Luthor was as transparent as Doomsday’s purpose in the movie. Gal Gadot is great and because of it I’m more excited now for the Wonder Woman movie than the Justice League movie. Speaking of, the way they incorporated the “Dawn of Justice” part of the title was clever, I’ll give it that. Ezra Miller as The Flash though is as dumb to me as Eisenberg as Luthor. What impresses me most about this movie is it feels far too long and far too rushed both at the same time. Here’s hoping the solo Batman movie is still happening and Affleck directs it and shoots it in Boston. Here’s also hoping, you know, it’s better than this.
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