Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice Review
It’s finally here. The grand spectacle to plant the seeds of the Justice League that DC has been promising for years is in theaters. For better or worse, Batman v Superman is now officially a thing, let’s discuss. Conceptually speaking, BvS is sound. Two diametrically opposed super heroes, playing out the God vs. Man or David and Goliath story, is exactly the kind of shot in the arm that DC needs to start its attempt to catch the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The real problem is the execution.
Man of Steel was a good movie, it was not a great movie. Its somber super-serious tone was a refreshing way deliver a Superman film, but even when it was released it was obvious that the appeal of Nolan-afication was wearing thin. Marvel has been churning out decent-to-great light-hearted hero movies for nearly a decade, which makes the bleek delivery of BvS seem passe. Besides, as talented as Zack Snyder is, he is not Chris Nolan.
From a high-level standpoint, the character arc and story of BvS is solid. The newly introduced characters Batman, Lex Luthor, and Wonder Woman get just enough screen time to explain where the movie is going thematically, although it would have been nice to have seen more of a Lex Luthor origin story. Also, without looking at the details, the end of the film is magnificent. In fact, the end is so good it almost wipes away the sins of the rest of the movie.
I doubt you’ll read this in any other review, but BvS is kinda like Donnie Darko. Both films have a slow and often times boring build up, to about 5 minutes of awesome. Both films have instances sprinkled throughout that are supposed to feel meaningful, but ultimately fall painfully flat. Specifically, in BvS I’m speaking of the Batman dream sequences. There are too many of them, they aren’t interesting, and they don’t add anything to story.
Speaking of things that don’t add to the story, BvS is the longest 2 and a half hour movie I think I’ve ever seen. Snyder needs a new editor, because sadly, there’s a solid 20-30 minutes that could be sliced out of the film and it would be objectively better. I do want to praise the sound design though. Most movie scores don’t grab me, at least not anything made in the past 20 years, but the music was very good, especially the mood music in the Lex scenes.Many of the Batman fight scenes felt both forced and stale, and I’m going to pause before I dwell on the fact that Batman is just a murderer now. Better fight scenes can be seen for about the same price and in greater number on Netflix’s Daredevil. Sadly, like Captain America in the Avengers, Batman’s usefulness evaporated quickly when it came time to actually fight the real bad guy.
Ironically, the main fan-concerns in the casting I.E. Affleck, Eisenberg and Gadot, were not the movie’s downfall. Given the tools they were provided all three did a bang-up job portraying their respective iconic roles. Albeit, Eisenberg’s Luthor was a bit too Jokery for my taste. The real tragady of the movie is that’s its subtitle is Dawn of Justice. A more appropriate title would have been Batman v Superman: Conveniently Contrived Plot Devices -The Movie.
That’s basically what stitches the entire narrative together. Several times during the film I almost felt insulted by leaps the film-makers were expecting me to make. Oddly enough, those silly leaps led to the movie feeling more comic booky than other recent superhero films. Where most comic movies take the spectacle and whimsy of the source material, BvS takes the disjointed, meandering, plot-band-aided route that comics have been steeped in for decades. This rickety suspension of belief is at odds with the film’s hyper-serious attempt at realism. Say what you want about the morose Nolan trilogy, but at least it was all-in when it came to its realism.
As I said before, from a high level, BvS was exactly what the public wanted, an entertaining fight between Batman and Superman, Krytonite (finally), a solid debut for Wonder Woman, the 100% proper use of Doomsday, and the launching pad for the DC Cinematic Universe. However, the scene that shamelessly plugged the Justice League was unnecessary and cheap. Was the movie entertaining? Yes, but that’s not nearly good enough for it to carry the responsibility the film has been given.
This was supposed to be the shot in the arm that the DC universe needed. It was supposed to be DC’s hail mary that allows them to gain ground on Marvel’s 8 year run of solid hero flicks. Quality-wise it doesn’t do that. Walking out of the theater, the DC universe felt like Go-bots to Marvel’s Transformers, like RC Cola to Marvel’s Coke, like Trolli to Marvel’s Haribo (yeah I just pulled out a Gummy Bear reference).
But hey, if the initial box office is any indication, none of that actually matters, it pulled in $170 million domestically and had a worldwide total of $424 million. Unless it tanks in the coming weeks, DC will declare it a hit and unquestionably move forward with their plans using Dawn of Justice as their benchmark. Suicide Squad is next with Wonder Woman and Justice League – Part 1 close behind it, and it may be too late to right the ship.
Verdict: Time would be better spent watching Deadpool again.