Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice
Director: Zack Snyder
Screenwriter: Chris Terrio, David Goyer
Cast: Ben Affleck, Henry Cavill, Amy Adams, Jesse Eisenberg, Diane Lane, Laurence Fishburne, Jeremy Irons, Gal Gadot
Distributor: Warner Bros. Pictures
Rated PG-13 | 151 Minutes
Release Date: March 25, 2016
When there is a film as hyped as Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, you expect a fight between the two heroes that resembles an epic title card match that you paid good money to watch. So you go in, feeling excited about a fight between two of “The World’s Finest.” It will be a match for the ages. Two heroes with different ideologies on what it means to be heroes. As impressive as a movie about a fight between two iconic comic book characters sounds, this one that doesn’t live up to the hype thanks in part to sloppy editing, a poor script, and a director with an absolute disrespect for the characters.
Sure, a movie like its predecessor Man of Steel isn’t perfect, and no film is. But it can be considered the prologue to a film that will set the foundation to the DC Expanded Universe. But what took Marvel years to set up, DC is attempting to do in just two films. It’s an admirable attempt at trying to create a shared universe like their competitors did, but the moment you step foot into this world, you start to get lost in a convoluted mess.
My full review with SPOILERS here below.
Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice is centered on the two title heroes. Superman, a superpowered being who is looked at as a god, and Batman, who sees Superman as a threat, and if left unchecked, will use his god-like powers against the weak. Lex Luthor (Jesse Eisenberg), who is also searching for meta-humans like Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot), wants to be the one man who kills Superman so the would-be god-killer uses his economic pull to manipulate the U.S. government to gain access to the crash site of General Zod’s ship so that he can build the tools to create a deterrent to stop superpowered beings. A plot like that sounds simple enough except the script drags out this plot by adding so many unnecessary elements to draw your attention away from its simplicity. And therein lies the beauty of this absolute disaster. It would rather spend more time finding less-than-ingenious ways to divert your attention with its many subplots rather than just giving a rather simple exposition that doesn’t exert so much energy. Luthor has so many nefarious plans to bring these two into the gauntlet that none of it makes any sense to the overall narrative.
Easter eggs to future DCEU films are shoehorned in and start becoming more of a hokey nuisance every time they are thrown at your face. It does no service to the film’s narrative or world building. While some may see it as expanding the DCEU, it does nothing for the actual story. It almost feels like an ad just randomly placed in the middle of a film that does more harm than good. These oddly placed Easter Eggs just disrupt the entire tone of the film and makes the fluidity that much more choppy. By forcing them in, it makes me that much more worried about Snyder directing Justice League Part One.
In its confusion lies these many subplots that really doesn’t amount to much, and by the time its revealed that it was all a part of a masterplan, you forget that said subplots even happened. Individually, these pieces work, but when they are put together in the overall narrative, it is just one convoluted mess. For in this film, two plus two doesn’t equal four, it’s more like solve for x + y = z without getting any numbers to replace, x or y or z. This happens for a good hour of the film, before anything of substance actually happens.
Throughout BvS, nothing builds your excitement. Here’s an example. The moment everyone waits for in this film is that time where Bruce as Batman meets Clark as Superman for the very first time: there is no stare down, no crescendo. Instead, these two finally meet face to face, with Superman quickly delivering a threat to the Caped Crusader. And after Batman asks if he bleeds, Supes just flies off. You’d think there would be some sort of heavy tension between the two before they spoke to each other. You want to see who blinks first before one of them utters a word. But there is none of that in this film.
It has become clear that Zack Snyder doesn’t care what you think about either Batman (Ben Affleck) or Superman (Henry Cavill) or any of the DC heroes for that matter. He’s perverted the shining image of your favorite heroes. Taken away the spirit of what makes them great. And I don’t mean making Superman kill in Man of Steel. But genuinely destroying the very soul of the character.
Each character’s motivations serves as some sort of subplot. Except, the sloppy editing makes each of their motivations suffer and harder for anyone to empathize with. Characters are forced to do whatever they are doing because the story requires them to do it. Bruce Wayne seems certain that he wants to get rid of Superman, but Luthor’s reason to destroy Superman is never made clear. Although he uses an overcomplicated plan to take advantage of Bruce’s hate towards Superman – which never clearly addresses how he knows Bruce hates Superman – to pit Batman against Superman in a grand spectacle that on the surface sounds cool, but really isn’t.
There is no telling where the film is going because the only absolute certainty is that the next scene will have nothing to do with the one you are currently watching. Other parts of this movie are told through dream sequences, flashbacks, or even a dream within a dream, or maybe it’s premonitions. Which would be perfectly acceptable, if the editing wasn’t already so horrific. Scenes jump around without any reason or explanation. The film is so disjointed and convoluted it is easy to get lost in the narrative. As a result, the entire tone of BvS is thrown off, and you can’t even empathize with the characters. Nothing is connected to anything else. There are just so many subplots in this film, they start to feel like there are poor excuses for deleted scenes that belong on the Blu-ray. And some of these scenes have no bearing on the film at all.
While Batman v Superman spends a majority of its time centered on its titular heroes, there are other performances to consider. Consider that they are really bad. Eisenberg sounds like he has complete contempt of the script, and hides that fact through his over-the-top performance of Lex Luthor. He lacks the terrifying presence of any previous Luthors (whether that was on TV, animation, or films). There is no method to his madness, and the madness comes off as lunacy, and the lunacy comes off as nonsensical. His overall presence in the film amounts to a big fat zero.
Cavill is boring. He spends half the time pontificating whether he should be a hero or not do anything at all but does no actual heroism, unless he’s conveniently at the right place and right time. But the film doesn’t even manage to get that right. He struggles with what he should do, but we never really see him struggle since the film is either busy spending time with humans arguing what Superman’s place is in this world or trying to deliver the many subplots. So, what does the script have Superman do? Well, he does something worse than what Thor does in Avengers: Age of Ultron. He just disappears without any sort of explanation and leaving Lois Lane to cover for him.
Affleck is an okay Batman, given what the actor had to work with. Can’t say I’m surprised that he brought Argo writer Chris Terrio to give some extra help on David Goyer‘s script. Unfortunately, Terrio – and Affleck who is rumored to have rewritten stuff while on set – wasn’t enough to save this weak script. And Holly Hunter is a senator holding a trial hearing on holding Superman accountable for his actions during the attacks on Metropolis, but for what it is worth, that subplot doesn’t really amount to much. As does Scoot McNairy‘s character who believes he is in the situation that he is in because of Superman.
Sadly, the title fight doesn’t live up to the hype for every long. Although Bats does get a leg up on Supes in a very ingenious way. But there is no momentum that will satisfy your anticipation because the film is so busy trying to connect the dots that will poorly explain how the two get into their bout. The entire process of getting these two to fight in the first place is a huge headache. There are so many elements that this film didn’t need, and one has to wonder if the extended supercut (that will be rated R by the way) is necessary at all. By the time the fight does happen, it is such a huge letdown. And don’t even get me started on how they stop.
But there are a few saving graces. One of them being Gal Gadot, who looks like she is having fun breathing life into Wonder Woman, a beloved character who finally makes her big screen debut. She steals the film every time she’s on screen with her charm and her muscle. Sadly, this isn’t her film, and it feels as though her character serves no real purpose except to be a bridge to Justice League and her own solo flick. Affleck, who sadly gets poor dialogue, is a more than decent Batman. It’s almost sad to see Affleck’s Batman be introduced to the DCEU in this way, but it is the hand that has been dealt. Luckily, he has the support of Alfred Pennyworth who is brilliantly played by Jeremy Irons. Irons seems like he is having the most fun in this, despite spending most of his time as the guy supporting Batman on the radio. Still, the times that he does offer Bruce inspiration or advice, it really adds to the scene and cements that the relationship between the two is genuine.
Batman v Superman: Dawn Of Justice has a lot to offer in terms of loud noises. Nothing makes any sense, and any redemption this film could have had is completely wasted on the fact that Snyder chooses to move forward with subplots that do nothing for the story except add to the confusion and relies on the hope that fans will be more excited about the fight between the two characters. There are a few redeeming elements in this movie, and believe me, I went into this with the lowest expectations and an open mind. But Snyder just doesn’t offer enough of that. All he has to give is a boring story and explosions.