With Zach Snyder’s Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, Warner Brothers delivers on their long held threat of a cinematic universe of their own. Like 2013’s Man of Steel, BvS is brooding and overly serious. It is at disjointed in its pacing and suffers from annoying creative choices. There’s been a lot of talk about this film as of late, and little of it is good. Critics aren’t responding very well but fans are digging it. It’s a flawed film, but it could have been worse and is occasionally fun.
Let me state that I am of two minds. One mind gets an unhealthy joy from recognizing a movie’s flaws and the other mind wants to be Batman. Needless to say I was conflicted coming out of the theater. At 151 minutes long, the film suffers from its attempt to cram in so much exposition and set up for future films. BVS is not afraid to produce subplots out of thin air and quietly sweep other under the rug if its convenient. Some plot points are baffling, including a rather important one which ushers the film into its third act which, for better and worse, is an all-out Snydermania.
BvS does a fine job of handling its cast of big personalities. Ben Affleck’s Batman may be the finest live-action portrayal yet, in terms of performance, action and design. Almost every bat-element is this film is handled is handled just right, with much reverence and respect to the source material. Jeremy Iron’s excellent Alfred Pennyworth is particularly noteworthy. Likewise, Gal Godot’s Wonder Woman was well done and made me interested in a character I never had before. As for Jesse Eisenberg’s divisive Lex Luthor, I found this take on the character interesting. He gives off a magnetic, manic intensity when he’s interacting with others, though he’s much less fun during the large chunks of the film he spends quietly scheming. Superman still suffers from the angst and melodrama that colored his character in Man of Steel. I like Henry Cavill, I think he’s capable of being the Superman we know, he certainly cuts the figure, but for some reason Snyder’s vision doesn’t extend beyond this miserable take on the character. This version Superman ought to be standing on a windy Swedish cliffside, searching for a lost horizon as he contemplates the meaning of life in a world of death. Actually, that’s basically what he does through the film. Of course, his action and look are cool, and if you liked Man of Steel’s Superman, BVS offers more of that. The only character that did not work for me at all was Lois Lane, played perfectly well Amy Adams. The issue is that a large amount of the plot-work is given to her, but for the life of me I couldn’t keep track of what her goal’s were or why she was in the film. Despite Adams’ fine performance, the character never quite transcends her role as object for Superman.
As a fan of both comic book lore and comic book movies, its interesting to see what BVS means for the future of the DC film franchise. After the success of Avengers, DC put their own universe on the fast track, with the first Justice League film planned for only next year. Until now, our only indication of what their films would be like was Man of Steel- not a great omen. BVS had to do a lot. It had to serve as a follow-up for Man of Steel, while also introducing the first Batman to follow Chris Nolan’s fan-beloved take on the character. In addition to all of this, WB and Snyder needed to establish a gaggle of new and important characters going forward. I think in many ways they succeeded in what they set out to do, but they may already be doomed. The film sags under the weight of Snyder’s needlessly morose, sizzle-disguised-as-steak vision, and the high-hopes of the studio for this film’s success. If the studio continues with this trajectory, the problems are likely to compound down the line.
But, the action is mostly great; the visual effects are at times really neat and at other times a barrage of flashing colors. Batman is excellent. Watch this movie if you like super heroes and you smile and clap when they punch things, or if you just like Batman and like it when he punches things. If you’re a cape-fan, you should check it out, but otherwise it is an imperfect, visually appealing fantasy action picture.
-The Justice League cameos were a mixed bag, however one particularly electrifying cameo could be very interesting, if baffling to casual viewers.
-The trailers, particularly the second one, really did give far too much away. They are essentially the film.
-I didn’t mention Doomsday in the review, because he’s really not worth discussing. He’s a big dumb monster that’s just there for a big dumb fight.
– I could be wrong, but I’m fairly sure Man-Bat is in this movie. Cool.
You can see Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice in theaters nationwide.