It’s been what, a week since Batman v. Superman Dawn of Justice released in theaters? Apologies for my late written review. I posted a video review on here on youtube, so feel free to check that out! I will also have it embedded at the end of this review! Since the film’s release on March 24th, BvS has been the center of a lot of debate, criticism and downright bashing from critics and fans alike. It is almost universally loathed by critics and many fans also feel jaded by the Snyder-style of directing in particular. So I put off doing a written review because I really just wanted to take it all in. Additionally, I saw it for a second time just yesterday which gave me (1) a fresher perspective and (2) an additional look at a movie that packs a lot in its two and a half our runtime. And, I have to say, I really enjoyed the film more on my second viewing. It may just be the fact that I went in knowing what to expect or it may be the fact that I was able to digest the finer points of the movie more on my second viewing…but in either case– regardless of my rating for the movie, I definitely think that this film warrants repeat viewing.
BvS takes place 18 months after Zod had attempted to terraform earth and Superman was only barely able to beat him, not before destroying a huge chunk of metropolis, however. It becomes known to us that Bruce Wayne (Ben Affleck) was present in Metropolis at the time of this fight and watched one of his Wayne-Corp buildings get utterly destroyed, killing 12 or so workers in the process and crippling one security guard. Since that day, Bruce has held a distrust for the being that he believes has a bit of a god-complex. Superman (Henry Cavill), is doing his best to be the hero that his father(s) envisioned him to be, but after one occurence where he saves Loise from some rebels in a distant land, he is blamed for the death of many in the nearby village. This causes the U.S. Government to create a committee to hold the Kryptonian reponsible for his ‘crimes’. Meanwhile the young Lex Luthor has plans of his own to take down the man in blue.
Just writing that description, and keep in mind that I left out a lot, felt a bit overwhelming and that is one of the biggest flaws for this movie. There if way too much going on, far too much plot introduction and far too little action and/or progress. Add on top of that how poorly this film was edited and you have a catastrophic first half of a film that should have had people cheering on their feet the whole time. Seriously, not only does the first half of this film drag, it is all over the place. It throws out plot point after plot point and scene after scene in basically any order to ensure the fact that you, the audience, never really get a chance to take in one particular event or scene before you are whisked away to the next. Here is a small rundown of what scenes were shown (in order) in the first half of the movie:
- Young Bruce Wayne witnesses the murder of his parents
- Young Bruce Wayne falls down well and is carried up by bats (dream sequence)
- Old Bruce Wayne witnesses disaster in metropolis
- Lois Lane goes to a random country for story and gets into a gun fight where Superman saves her (again)
- We see Batman in Gotham looking for a suspect and branding his victims which gets media attention
- Lex Meets with lady in charge of the Superman committee and discusses counter measures
- Lex Meets with some military dude to get secret access to crashed Kryptonian ship and Zod’s body
- Superman/Kent has a weird bathtub scene with Lois (who he is apparently dating now…)
- Kent argues with Lawrence Fishburn about the ‘bat vigilante’
- Batman goes to underground fighting ring to clone a criminals cell phone and get info
- Wayne and Clark meet at Gala where we are introduced to Wonder Woman
- Superman has to save some chick in a fire in Mexico– weird people touch him
Honestly I am not sure if I am missing things but this is the general gist…. and this isn’t even a complete list. But you get the idea, this movie from scene to scene was all over the place from one idea or one person and then BAM to something entirely unrelated to the previous scene. You will probably get whiplash watching this movie… seriously. But really, for most people all you get out of the first half is plot points and waiting….LOTS of waiting… waiting for action to occur, waiting for the movie ton get started. There was far too many cooks in the kitchen, if you ask me. They could have easily chopped off a solid 30 minutes or more from the first half of the movie and it would have been way better.
But I think thats the overarching problem with this movie– it’s a set-up movie for the universe and it therefore isn’t a solid standalone film. You could have chosen any one of the above plots to focus on in the film, the introduction of Lex, the Batman v Superman route, the Committee against Superman, the Doomsday route… ANY of these plots would have made for a really good standalone movie! But what we get is a movie that feels unfocused and washed out by noise. This was a film that promised to be about Batman versus Superman… and while it does FINALLY get there, it takes way too long doing it.
Another issue I had was the fact that I felt Henry Cavill was a bit alienated in this film. Superman may be the other big name attached with the movie– but I get the feeling that Warner Bros. really got into the Batfleck fever and ended up underutilizing Superman. He is barely in the film and this causes some of Cavill’s emtional parts to fall flat because you end up not really feeling for the character. It is like walking in on someone you don’t know and they are crying– you know what crying is, so you assume they are sad about something, but ultimately you just feel awkward towards them rather than empathetic. Had Cavill been in the film more I feel like his throwdown with Batman as well as some of his story line would have felt more involved rather than shoe-horned in. Cavill plays Superman well, but ultimately this movie feels like a Batman movie rather than a Batman AND Superman movie.
However, you would be wrong to think that this movie is all bad, anyone who thinks that probably already made their minds up about the movie long before actually seeing it for themselves. There is a lot of good stuff in this film– it just gets washed out by the bad in some cases. Ben Affleck’s Batman is pretty perfect in my opinion. He is meant to be an older, more bitter, Batman– so he feels far more ruthless than Nolan’s version of the hero. You get the feeling that he has seen a lot of bad shit, so he is no longer a ‘hero’ but a guy who is trying to get shit done in the most effective or efficient way possible. So, as a spoiler, if you do not think Batman should kill, Affleck’s version wont be for you. But Affleck brings a lot of charm and wit to a character that could have been unlikable. Most people who are so absorbed in doing what they think is the right thing get annoying on-screen, but I never felt that way with this Batman. Additionally, his fights scenes were epically choreographed and brutal. It reminds me a lot of the original Taken movie where whenever Liam Neeson hit someone, you practically felt it. It felt the same for me with Batman, I found myself cringing at times.
I wasn’t really excited about Wonder Woman prior to seeing this film. I have nothing against Gal Gadot and was sure she would be a fine WW, but I just wasn’t invested in the character. But I was pleasantly surprised with her performance in the movie as well as how the character was written. Granted, she doesn’t occupy a huge chunk of screen time, but we got to see her act as Diana as well as fight as Wonder Woman and, I have to say, I am actually excited at the prospect of seeing a WW film now. She seems to have bulked up a solid amount for her performance, she plays of Bruce Wayne very well in the film and I see a lot of on-screen chemistry between the two characters. And above all else, I loved seeing her fight in the movie– it felt like she was straight out of the cartoons, even the fact that she looked to be enjoying herself as she fought Doomsday–loved it!
A lot of people are going to hate Eisenberg’s version of Lex Luthor, but I really enjoyed his performance in the film. People fault him for being too zany or jumpy the entire film and, while there are some scenes where he is like this, there really aren’t that many. Additionally, while Lex sounds and looks like he is far from the comic book/cartoon version that we know and love, I feel like there are some key scenes in which Eisenberg’s version really evolves and moves closer to the amazing villain that we know. But I think much of the audience will miss these subtle changed and evolutions so I can only how that Eisenberg gets another crack at it!
Where Zack Snyder usually shines is the visuals as well as in the action sequences. And that is no different in this movie either. He doesn’t seem to be the greatest at storytelling– which is why we get a mess of the first half of the film, but when this movie finally does get movie, it is worth the wait. The fight between Bats and Sups, though brief, is pretty awesome and their battle with Doomsday is also done really well. The movie SHINES in the second half, it just takes the film way too long to get there, so for some people the final pay off may not be worth it– but for me the good outweighs the bad and what I enjoyed about the movie really does make up for a lot of the first half of the film. I personally think that Snyder should take more of a backseat in future projects, however, and let someone else get a crack at some awesome heroes.