After years of hype, controversial casting decisions, poor marketing and a terrible trailer, Batman v Superman has finally arrived and OH MY GOD its not good.
Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016) is a DC superhero action film directed by Zack Snyder. It stars Ben Affleck and Henry Cavill as the titular worlds finest duo Batman and Superman respectively, two icons of pop culture who’s conflicting ideologies clash in a world that doesn’t know whether to fear or adore an illegal alien. Manipulated by the insidious Lex Luthor (Jess Eisenberg) into conflict, they must learn to set aside their differences when a new threat to the DC Universe emerges in the form of Kryptonian creation Doomsday.
Bad Writing v Worse Writing
Now lets start with the biggest flaw, the script.While writers David S. Goyer and Chris Terrio have some excellent movies dotting their filmography, the screenplay here showcases absolutely none of their talent. Its messy, bloated, has more extraneous subplots than a bad soap opera and often seems to skip over little things like character motivation and logic. Honestly, logic feels like an afterthought in BvS. If it exists at all. Granted the film has to juggle many many characters, plot details and future movie setup all within a hefty 2.5 hour runtime, but the problem here is that they heap so many more unnecessary details onto that already large pile. Character’s appear for no reason, Lois Lane seems to get shoehorned into everything just for the sake of it, and segments of Act 1 and 2 could be completely cut without hindering the rest of the movie at all. Its a huge shame considering the talent and potential at work here, but this movie needed a lot of rewrites. Hell, almost a completely new script.
The Two Titans
But now to the biggest strength: Batman. While fans were initially outraged at the casting of Ben Affleck, he has steadily bought the public over through the steady stream of marketing and press and for good reason – Affleck is an excellent Batman. While the script does hinder him from reaching anything near the level of Keaton or Bale, he still has just the right gravitas and grittiness for the part. Jeremy Irons is also just a good a casting choice as Affleck. While his screen-time is limited, his grizzled Earth-2 persona is not only an original take on the character, but extremely entertaining and fresh. And the Batmobile (which is also basically its own character)? Awesome. Its design meshes the sleek shell of the Burton-era with Nolan’s Tumbler to create a vehicle of brute force and speed.
But for every positive BvS shows off, another negative has to drag it back down and in this case its the Superman side of the duo. Henry Cavill once again shows as much charisma of a cardboard cut-out of Captain America, constantly struggling over this compulsive need to either look brooding or just show no expression at all. While Amy Adams is a far better actor, Lois Lane feels so ancillary to the ongoing conflict that her screen-time could be cut in half and the movie would be better for it. And the fact that she’s little more than a plot device doesn’t help.
The rest of the cast is equally as conflicting. While her appearances are brief, Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman makes a hefty impression on proceedings. She’s designed straight from the comics and finally seeing the heroine recognised faithfully on the big screen is quite a sight. And as for Gadot herself, she doesn’t have much to do here, but still does enough to allay all those concerned about The Fast and Furious being on her filmography.
But a foil appears for that plus in the form of a very twitchy and slightly deranged Jesse Eisenberg as Lex Luthor. To put it simply, the casting sucks. While Eisenberg is a fine actor, he does not fit the role and his unhinged performance does nothing to convince otherwise.He’s simply too manic to convince the audience he’s an evil genius and worthy of being Superman’s antagonist – more likely the audience is just going to get pissed off at him. And rightfully so. I still laud they should have gone with Bryan Cranston.
Zack ‘SLOW-MO’ Snyder
Another big reason BvS struggles, other than the writers, lies with the director himself. Zack Snyder. The man should have become a painter because while he can make a visually stunning shot, he can’t tell a story to save his career. But even then, he seems to have forgotten the term ‘subtly’ in both plot and visuals. Certainly there’s some incredible cinematography, but for every moment of awe there’s another of grimace. Through almost every set piece the screen is filled with smoke, particle effects, rubble and flashing lights, turning what should be an epic action sequence into an incoherent water painting of sound and furry. That being said, there are some sequences when he manages to restrain himself long enough to let the audience know what is actually going on. But like the rest of the movie, for every one that excites there’s another that confuses. My eyes were horribly strained by the end, feeling like I watched two hours of a movie, and then another half hour of strobe lights.
Dawn of Disappointment
The best way I can describe how I see this film is a cheap cream pie to the face. Not very intelligent, extremely messy and pretty low quality. That being said, if you like cream you’ll find something to like here. Unfortunately, however many people are also metaphorically lactose intolerant.
As the ‘official’ start of the DC Cinematic Universe, this is no Iron Man. A solid disappointment for so many years of hype, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice is more likely to be remembered as a course deviation for DC rather than a charge forward, and for good reason. For every positive, there’s a negative. For every Batman, there’s a Superman. No level of hype can change that. Poorly written, bombastically directed and overly inconsistent, Dawn of Justice is a rough first step for a franchise in its infancy. But hey, at least Batman is good.
General Audiences: Meh
Film Buffs: Not Recommended
True Believers (DC): Meh
Winner of the 2016 Batsie Awards for Lost Soul and Plague.