Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice Movie Review
Call it, “superhero fatigue.” Call it, “low expectations.” Call it, “Zack Snyder-itis.” I was not the least bit interested in seeing two of my favorite childhood superheroes go at it in BATMAN V SUPERMAN: DAWN OF JUSTICE. So with that said, what you may have already heard is partly true, DC’s rushed attempt to keep up with Marvel in their latest film is bad, but not THAT bad.
The floodgates have opened up for snarky reviews bashing the newest superhero movie. While I am in no way discrediting those reviews, as for the most part they are both fun and accurate assessments, the fact is BATMAN V SUPERMAN: DAWN OF JUSTICE is no worse than a slew of other films that people and critics tend to mildly enjoy. Last year’s successful FURIOUS 7 kicked off the summer extra early about this same time and I found it equally as bad/good. A mindless action film involving everyone’s beloved comic book heroes is about the simplest and strongest endorsement I can give to those yearning to see the two icons go at it for the first time on the big screen. However, turning one’s brain off for an entire 151 minutes is dangerously long and I cannot in good conscience recommend it for safety reasons.
BATMAN V SUPERMAN: DAWN OF JUSTICE opens with Bruce Wayne’s (Ben Affleck) perspective during the final battle between Superman (Henry Cavill) and General Zod (Michael Shannon) in MAN OF STEEL. Rescuing those that he can, Wayne has placed himself at ground zero during the epic fight that destroys half the buildings in the city and presumably kills countless innocent bystanders. This sets the stage for a heroic introduction to the man behind the caped crusader and sets up the major issue of the harm and danger that Superman could perceivably have on the world. This also deals with what many thought was a careless treatment of human life in the previous film. Unfortunately, BATMAN V SUPERMAN: DAWN OF JUSTICE ignores that redeemable good favor with another elongated final battle sequence full of forgettable CGI action that crushes another section of the city (albeit a less populated one).
The film wisely avoids another lengthy Batman origin story that audiences have already seen. Unfortunately, it still gives a shortened version filmed in a way that feels as if it never ends. Everyone knows that Bruce Wayne saw his parents murdered as a young child. Director Zack Snyder delivers this well known back story through super slow-motion imagery then repeats it throughout the already bloated movie. From what I can gather, a necklace of pearls breaking after inexplicably being wrapped around a firing hand gun, is the most important shot in the entire film (pun intended).
Despite public groans at Ben Affleck being cast as Batman, the actor turned director turned actor is fairly decent. I’m not declaring him the best Batman ever, but he delivers a strong interpretation of the aging caped crusader with a jaded chip on his shoulder. While the films may not give him a lot to work with, Henry Cavill once again embodies Superman in what is one of the most perfect casting choices within the superhero universe. Jessie Eisenberg appears to be trying too hard as a more psychotic version of Lex Luthor, but he is also the only one who appears to be having any fun. So do the two main characters earn the title of the film with an exciting square off? Somewhat. Their fight has more memorable moments than any of the others, but that’s not really saying much. Batman’s training montage a la ROCKY IV is a highlight, but probably not in the way it’s intended to be. While I think fans will enjoy the showdown, don’t think too hard about it or like most of the plot, it won’t make much sense.
Much like MAN OF STEEL, I feel like BATMAN V SUPERMAN: DAWN OF JUSTICE has so much potential. There are plenty of truly great elements. For me, the most interesting aspect of the film is how the public struggles to view Superman. The spiritual parallels of the world searching for a savior in the wrong place is far more compelling than another forgettable CGI battle.
Christopher Nolan’s grounded Dark Knight films are in another league. Marvel has built a longevity with structured storytelling and likable, humorous characters. DC is currently missing both of those aspects, which makes the dramatic storytelling much less forgivable. The perplexing slow-motion framed direction from Zack Snyder definitely doesn’t help the over-stuffed screenplay full of odd dream sequences and random unexplained segments (Superman dragging a ship?). But like an abstract music video due to the awkward transitionless way it is filmed, BATMAN V SUPERMAN: DAWN OF JUSTICE moves along pretty quickly… for 151 minutes.
To be honest, I was happily involved with the film as a lesser quality adaptation of the mildly enjoyable genre but after 90 minutes and an absurd trigger point for a key shift in plot development, I checked out. All the film’s problems came flooding toward me in a rush of humorous disgust. The one saving grace? Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot) and her very own applause-inducing musical score. The three superheroes standing side by side by side isn’t quite the money shot as the wrap around camera swing of The Avengers but it is still pretty terrific. While there may not be an after credit scene for fans to stick around for, there are plenty of surprises and plot details within the film to set up THE JUSTICE LEAGUE for next year. The real question will be how many people will still care?