Review: Batman v Superman - YAWN of Justice
"Nobody cares about Clark Kent taking on the Batman" - Perry White
I laughed at this line during my viewing of Batman v Superman. Of course everyone cares, but I'm not sure the film itself does...
So I didn't see this film on opening weekend. I read a gazillion reviews on why this film is bad. I heard various friends and family say things from "Don't listen to the critics" to "it was alright...but I probably wouldn't go see it again".
That last opinion falls pretty close to where I am with this movie. I knew months before that, at best, this would be a weightless spectacle. Lots of hype, great effects, and (hopefully) an impressive showdown between the two titular heroes.
So mind you, I will have SPOILERS:
I tried to view this movie in 2 ways:
1. as a comic book reader for the past 30-something years
2. a general audience perspective
So the loose plot is this: Bruce Wayne (Batman) witnesses the destruction of Metropolis first-hand (from the ending of Man of Steel) and decides that there is a 1% chance that Superman is a threat to the world, and vows to rid the world of him(!). More on THIS later...
Superman is finding the world is divisive on his role and spends majority of the movie sulking about everyone's opinion of him. It seems almost everyone in the cast is against him. Lois Lane, his now moved-in girlfriend is his only champion it seems, spends her career pursuing a way to make everyone understand how great he really is.
Lex Luthor (played by Jessie Eisenberg) is introduced as an eccentric orphaned CEO of his father's Lexcorp, who has an agenda on keeping all metahumans in check. (This is the start of the films confusion to the general audience, if you ask me)
Part of Luthor's agenda is to gain the government's permission to develop weapons in order to put a leash on Superman (specifically him only). His goal is to obtain Kryptonite from one of Zod's crashed ships (from MOS) and also gain access to all things Kryptonian to, I suppose, better understand his enemy?
So the first almost 2 hours of this film is spent building to inevitable film title. I honestly could ramble on about what happens before that, but its actually really something I wanted to live through once. So I'll tell you in a nutshell what worked and what did not work for me about this film.
WORKED: Ben Afleck was very good as Batman. He is physically THE best representation of him/Bruce Wayne to date. I liked his world. I loved Alfred, and I loved little details on how the suit has a voice modulator to make him sound menacing (the Bale growl was cool in Batman Begins, but after the last 2, I would imagine that Bruce Wayne would end his night of crime fighting with a Ludens and hot tea to sooth his vocal chords). The scene where Batman rescues Clark's mom was one of the highlights of the film...its just too bad we saw a good chunk of that in the final teaser. It's impact would have been greater if unrevealed until screening. So I largely liked Afleck's Batman, EXCEPT...
DID NOT WORK: Batman's driven with the idea that Superman MUST die at his hands. The general audience in me felt like Batman was a fucking dick for most of the movie.
He calls himself a criminal, the very thing he hunts (and occasionally kills!) at night. This Batman has no problem with human collateral as his rampages leaves many people completely fucked. The comic reader in me asks the question: If Batman has zero qualms about letting criminal scum bite it, and Superman in his crosshairs, then why are the Joker and Killer Croc breathing in the upcoming Suicide Squad? Certainly there is more than a "1% chance" that the Joker will kill again....Use your guns and kill him Battfleck!
And to bring it back to his view on Supes: If it's not ok to have Superman be reckless and endanger the lives of many, then why is OK for Bats to do the same with his Batmobile and Batplane????
Now there are those who probably think "I like that Batman kills...he's a vigilante! He needs to strike fear, blah blah..." WRONG. What keeps Batman from being the "criminal", as he claims in the movie (aside from being a vigilante), is that he never takes lives (despite that almost every movie iteration has done so.)
To me, this is one of the biggest character flaws of the film, and keeps Batfleck from being the "definitive" cinematic version.
Worked: I like Cavill as Superman. Hell, I even liked Man of Steel for the most part. Ironically, I didn't feel as conflicted about HIS execution of Zod in that film as others did. Strange I know, since I just ranted about how Batman shouldn't be a killer. But if Batman was made to not take lives, Superman's action to kill Zod would have helped cement his notion that the last son of Krypton was a greater concern. I could completely accept that MOS was Superman's sloppy first outing in saving the world and there were casualties. Cavill's Superman means well, and wants to do right, which is the right track, and I spent the majority of the film feeling bad for his character, as it seemed he only had Lois and Martha on his side.
DID NOT WORK:
Well, somewhat. The Death of Superman is pretty much played out in the final act of this film. Well-executed (it's probably one of the movie's best scenes), but I feel like this more than anything would prevent me from taking kids to see this (despite the fact that kids are probably way more excited at this idea than say a title like Captain America: Civil War) and honestly this really has NO place as an afterthought of a movie called Batman v Superman. It sucks because if any kids (maybe like 3 of them) are rooting for Superman, they will NOT be happy at the end of this film. Why am I stuck on what kid's think? Because I was one once (and still am to some extent mentally) and this movie has been marketed with toys, cereal and all kinds of kiddie tie-ins. Parents will automatically be averse to this. During my screening, 2 families got up with their kids and left BEFORE the grand fight! But Zack Snyder probably thinks "Fuck the kids! This movie is for the Fans, man!" In fact:
Batman v Superman (the actual fight)
Worked: The visuals...that's really it.
DID NOT WORK: The build up to a 5 minute fight was like almost 2 hours (!), and to boot, if you watched all the commercials for this movie, you can pretty much piece the whole fight together. In fact, people who still have not seen this film, have probably already seen the fight. Disappointing is the best way I can describe it. It feels like it was rushed, so the movie could move on to the Doomsday fight. Superman is in character for one second when he tries to reason with Bats. But once Bats makes it clear he isn't trying to hear his reasoning, the "most optimistic" Superman goes on kill-mode and tries to rock Wayne. But the fight is kind of like "ok now it's Batman's turn...ok now it's Superman's turn...Ok, back to Batman..." ZERO display of what Clark is capable of. He throws punches, uses his heat vision like once and gets punked constantly by Batman. Not once did he take Batman into the sky and throw his armored ass down, blow him away with super breath or any of his herculean abilities used in this "ultimate show-down".
Imagine if Moby Dick told Ahab that their Moms had the same name, and he threw down his harpoon?
THEN the fight ends because the 2 guys find out their Mom's share the same name. It was almost like the writer discovered this fact while writing the script while researching the comics and was like "heh! How about that? I need to point this out!"
I understand what they were trying to convey, but it was poorly executed. Especially after Batman was so hard-on about killing Superman. I honestly expected a better resolution...but what can you do?
Worked: Gal Gadot was the subject of ridicule because of her waif stature during filming. She proved us all wrong, and she makes a perfectly acceptable WW. Her scenes in the final battle were cool...but very brief. I look forward to her solo movie because:
DID NOT WORK:
Her placement in the film feels as awkward as the Avengers references in Iron Man 2.
And while that movie gets berated for feeling like an ad for the Avengers, B vs S does the same exact thing with inserting segments that will leave the general audience scratching their heads. Wonder Woman's role in the film is mainly to cement to the viewer that the world is "full of metahumans". Her investigation on Luthor's files gives us a look at 3: The Flash, Cyborg and Aquaman. As I watched this scene as well as Bruce's nonsensical nightmare (that foreshadowed Darkseid - a.k.a "we've got our Thanos too!") and the future "Flash" cameo, I noticed a grumble of confusion in the audience. After the movie ended, i went into the restroom and overheard a boy ask his dad that he only saw Aquaman, but didn't see the Flash. How very sad! These all felt forced and I will always say that Warner Brothers attempt to capitalize on what Marvel has achieved would be sloppy in presentation, because they don't let their characters breath on their own first. I just wish they would have mapped things about better....
DID NOT WORK.
Maybe its because my mindset was already hostile towards his casting. But Jessie Eisenberg's Luthor was obnoxious and Shumacher-y. His little voacl whimpers in between lines grated my nerves and all I wanted was for Superman to break out of character and punch a hole through him. There's villains that you love to hate. Terence Stamp's Zod was so arrogant and detached, that you loved the scenes he was in, because you couldn't wait to see him get his...
Eisneberg's Lex was just irritating. I feel like Luthor's menace is in his stoic dislike for Superman. He's a tinge unhinged because of his megalomania, but he's not kooky-Jim-Carrie-Riddler. Pitting the 2 heroes against each other makes no sense when he could have just unleashed Doomsday from the get-go.
I know this was a wordy review, but I needed to vomit my thoughts about what bugged me about this movie. All the standard production values where great. Zack Snyder is capable at setting up gorgeous eye candy, and speaking of which, Amy Adams was hot, Cavill, Affleck, Irons, and Fishburne are all excellent in their roles. The pacing was a bit long for a fight that was as short as it was. The Justice League set-up could have been edited out and put into it's own film. Doomsday, while entertaining, should have been reserved for a feature film of the "Death of..." in itself.
I liken this movie to my experience with 2014's Godzilla movie. visual effects were great. Final battle was great. But it had the wrong title as it featured very little of the subject and an extensive build-up of almost 2 hours before we got anything good.
Would I see it again?