By now I’m pretty sure most if not all of you have read and heard about the terrible reviews and even Warner Brothers lukewarm response to Batman v. Superman Dawn Of Justice. It’s a tricky film to review or critique. It has flashes of brilliance throughout but those get weighed down, quite heavily at times, by lazy writing, and incredibly questionable or under developed character motivation. Not to mention a cringe worthy performance of the central villain. It can be an extremely frustrating viewing experience. That being said we all have our own baggage coming into any movie. Myself, I’ve always been a more a Marvel fan over DC. I’ve always felt DC took themselves and their characters a little too seriously. So how much of that plays into my feelings here I don’t know but I felt that it should be mentioned to be fair. With that caveat out of the way let’s dig in!
The main issue with the film, in my opinion, is it’s unclear in its motivations. It’s two years since the events of Man of Steel and while there are shrines and statues honoring Superman and his heroics the government is having hearings on how much he can be trusted and the public is split on their view on him. Depending on the needs of the story it seems the view on Superman goes from positive to negative. It makes for some uneven and underdeveloped story telling. Why Lex’s plan to have Superman and Batman fight is a good idea is never really explained and the “Hey let’s be friends” moment between Supes and Bats is weak. Though it’s not all bad. Doomsday works surprisingly well even if I find myself asking if he was really needed in already full story. The filmmakers do make some ballsy and inspired choices along the way and the reasoning for the formation of The Justice League at the end is rather genius!
What the movie gets right it really gets right! Most notably Affleck’s Bruce Wayne/Batman. A veteran warrior whose seen and experienced too much and while clearly has entered a screw it all stage in his life he still cares enough to stay in the game. Affleck simply IS Batman. Dark, brooding, scary. A force of nature that truly strikes fear into everyone. Highlighted in what is arguably the movies best sequence where Batman singlehandedly takes on a warehouse full of bad guys. It’s like they used the Batman Arkham video games for fight choreography! The perfect mix of gadgets, brains, and bone snapping.
Also quite good is Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman. With very little screen time, most of which you’ve seen in previews, she really owns the role and comes across very convincing. Which is saying a lot coming from me, as I was one of the more vocal naysayers to her being cast. I’ll take my humble pie alamode thanks. Her part in the Doomsday battle definitely has me pretty pumped for her movie.
Sadly Lois is just as annoying here as she was in Man Of Steel. Her character seems to simply exist so she can be conveniently in the right place at the right time. She serves no real purpose and has zero on screen chemistry with Superman.
Cavill is better this time around as Superman. He seems more comfortable in the role and I’ve come to quite like him as Supes. I just wish the character were written differently. He’s still the brooding, self-doubting Superman who seems to look at saving people as a job. There’s no joy in the character as he swoops in to save a flooded out family or exploding rocket. Superman is a character we should be aspiring to. To do right for the sake of doing right. I don’t need it to be the “Blue Boy Scout” Superman of Christopher Reeve I’d just like him to smile at someone other than Lois Lane and not seem annoyed or grumpy that he’s needed to rescue someone. If we want to explore the idea of a Superman that questions himself and his role in the world maybe do that through his alter ego of Clark. Let Clark be the darker side to his personality and leave Superman to be the beacon of light.
I think how you feel about the source material and characters will greatly determine how you feel about the movie. If you’re looking to see some great superhero moments and one of comics biggest rivalries finally put to screen you’ll most likely enjoy it quite a bit. And the titular fight is EPIC! No complaints here at all. But if you’re looking for something a little deeper or a well thought out story you’ll most likely be disappointed. There’s more to like than dislike and while it’s 2.5 hour run time definitely feels like 2.5 hours it’s entertaining and does hold your interest. Though younger audience members get bored and restless at times. While it’s not a home run for me it’s a solid double and I look forward to seeing what they do next time up to the plate.