Batman v Superman: Dawn of justice, directed by Zack Snyder is a film that doesn’t learn from its past mistakes. Over-bloated and unnecessarily convoluted, this is a film that starts off strong, and then quickly loses its way. Even with strong characters, Batman v Superman is a film that almost seems to make an effort to ignore the rich characters/actors at its disposal, and instead focuses on things that are very much not necessary.
The plot of Batman v Superman – man that’s a plot that totally makes sense… oh wait, that’s right – the plot of this film is so ridiculously convoluted that it is perhaps the most damaging aspect of the entire film – so here we go. Following on from the events in ‘Man of Steel’, Bruce Wayne dons the cowl again and seeks to end Superman. Confusing scene after confusing scene then occur and it all somehow culminates in Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman fighting a large, grey CGI atrocity (Doomsday) and have a lovely time of once again levelling buildings (don’t worry, the buildings are abandoned, phew).
This is a film that seems desperate to jump around and focus on random plot points but not do it in a competent way. There are entire elements of this film that are completely unnecessary and only detract from what are actually some compelling and well done moments. I don’t think I can stress just how nonsensical this film is. I mean perhaps the most amazing feat that this film pulls off, is that with its 2 hour and 31 minute run time, it somehow fails to adequately set-up and explore the rich characters and what could have been a compelling story. Instead the film cuts from one incoherent scene to the other and never gives anything anytime to develop or matter. It really is frustrating – especially as someone who enjoyed the comics when they were younger and was also someone who was really looking forward to this film – I was so disappointed leaving the cinema.
So what about those characters? Well the big one that everyone is of course curious to see is Batman – played by Ben Affleck. I’m relieved to say that Affleck nails it. He has the demeanour of an older Bruce Wayne and he certainly has the physicality of Batman. I think going forward, if Affleck is able to continue this level of quality with the character, then he might be one of, if not the best on-screen adaptations of the Batman. I like the direction they are taking with the character in this film and I’ll be interested to see what they do with him going forward. Where both the character and the actor are let down is the total lack of time and effort that is afforded him to shine. With such a long film, it’s baffling just how little the characters are given to develop and exist. Instead the film insists on focusing on incoherent plot points which only harm the film rather than serve it.
You run into the same problem with Henry Cavill as Superman. I like Henry Cavill in the role – he looks like Superman and certainly has the on-screen presence. Where I think they’re let down is how they handle the character. Superman should be the ying to Batman’s yang. Batman is in the shadows, he uses fear and intimidation – light disappears and the Bat lives within that darkness. Whereas Superman should instil hope, people should look up and smile because they know they’re safe. The Superman in this film is scary; he’s sloppy and at times is really unlikeable. While Cavill certainly looks the part, he never gets the chance to be the Superman that he could and should be. There are hints of it but more often than not he’s a dour, sulking God who whines because people don’t outright love him – baffling, truly baffling direction for the character.
Gal Gadot makes the first appearance as Wonder Woman in this film and I liked what I saw. It of course wasn’t much to go on but I’m certainly more interested in seeing what she can do in the Wonder Woman stand-alone film that comes out next year. So in that respect I guess the film succeeded in setting up Wonder Woman for the future.
The Last character I have to dive into is the character that will undoubtedly split audiences. Jesse Eisenberg as Lex Luthor is… it’s an interesting portrayal of the character. A lot of people are saying that Eisenberg’s portrayal of the character is closer to Heath Ledger’s Joker rather than Lex Luthor, which I can totally see. This is a Lex Luthor that has never been seen before and because of that I think people are dubious. I’m personally interested to see more of the character and how he develops because once again this film barely makes an effort too.
In-fact the most egregious thing the film does, not only with the character of Lex but is also something that bleeds deep into the framework of the main plot. Lex Luthor has absolutely no motivation for anything he does and on top of that the things that he does are idiotic and backwards. The film has things happen because they need to happen but doesn’t set it up or give rational reasoning for why it’s happening. “Lex is going to make Batman and Superman fight each other.” “Why?” “Because it’s the title of the film – who cares make it happen.” “Uh… okay.” That’s how the story writing process played out in my head it least. There’s no sound reasoning behind any of it and thus it all quickly falls apart.
There is a definite theme with all these characters and that is that the film doesn’t give any of them suitable time to grow, develop or evolve. The question I will continue to ask myself until an answer that makes sense comes along will be, “How with such a long run time could you spend such a short amount of time on your characters?” Batman v Superman absolutely has some good characters in it somewhere. I really believe that all of these characters and their actors have the potential to deliver some great portrayals of the iconic characters but for some reason the people behind these films are completely unwilling to do so. It ultimately means both you and the characters are left underserved and wanting for so much more.
Something that at times serves as a welcome distraction from the nonsense is the action sequences. As I’ve already said, Ben Affleck is great as Batman and one of the reasons for that is the powerful physicality of his Bats; the way he moves the tactics he employs and the unrelenting ferocity in which he doles out to henchman, makes him really exciting to watch. I could have happily watched so much more of him and Alfred deal with bad guys (holding out for that solo Batman film I guess.)
Even the fight between Batman and Superman (one of the main reasons people want to see this film) is enjoyable. Batman’s ingenuity against Superman’s God like strength is different and more than watchable. Where things do fall apart, is the final big action sequence, where Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman (and Lois Lane?) all team-up to take on the terrible looking CGI mess, Doomsday. Things go from up close and powerful back and forths, to a large-scale visual assault. I quickly lost interest in this segment as it induced some horrible flashbacks of watching the ‘Man of Steel’ ending all over again – some wonky looking CGI characters punching the snot out of each other, while buildings go from standing to rubble.
Those big action sequences then lead into an element of the film that I certainly enjoyed and it was an element that is immune from the nonsensical nature of the film – Batman v Superman is a good-looking film. It’s not great – there’s a lot of grey where there doesn’t need to be grey but there are undoubtedly some moments of visual delight. Snyder has always been a director with an interesting visual theme throughout his films, and Batman v Superman is no different. As always he lifts iconic scenes from the comic books/graphic novels and then puts them front and centre in his film – I like these little touches. However the film is let down with some bad-looking CGI character models – I suppose all the money went to the city destroying scenes, yay for mindless destruction (not).
So when I look back over everything that I’ve written and try to coherently sum up my thoughts on Batman v Superman – one thing keeps coming to mind and that’s Zack Snyder. Snyder certainly creates some great moments in this film, but the problem is the lack of thread. What I mean by that, is that – yes those moments that immediately jump to mind after seeing the film (Batman in the warehouse fight, the opening with Bruce watching Metropolis be wiped out around him by Superman) are memorable and exciting, but connecting those moments (and some others) is a thread of a story that cannot support itself. Zack Snyder creates great moments and captures frames from the comic books/graphic novels really well, but you can’t have a film that exists only on exciting moments and then have the in-between segments not. Because what you get is… well you get Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice – a film with no coherent vision – a lack of thread holding it all together.
This is a film that gets some things right but a lot of things wrong, and sadly I think the wrongs massively outweigh the rights. Yes, there were a few moments where I got chills and 10-year-old me resurfaced and got all giddy – I can’t lie when I say that on more than one occasion I was smiling from ear to ear. This film certainly has little appetiser moments that will make any comic book fan happy. However those little moments aren’t enough to hold this mess of a film together.
I never thought I’d be saying this but I don’t recommend Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. There is a part of me that wants to – mainly the fanboy part of me, but the rational and honest part of me doesn’t think it right to recommend such a long film that ultimately fails in the end and is so poor in its overall execution.
I’d be really interested to know what you thought of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice so please leave a comment down below. If you’d like to keep up to date with my other ramblings, you could either follow this blog directly or shoot me a wee follow over on Twitter – @GavinsTurtle (that link will take you directly to my page). Last but never least have a kick ass week.