April 1, 2016
Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.
Review #788: Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.
Ben Affleck (Bruce Wayne / Batman), Henry Cavill (Superman / Clark Kent), Amy Adams (Lois Lane), Jesse Eisenberg (Lex Luthor), Diane Lane (Martha Kent), Laurence Fishburne (Perry White), Jeremy Irons (Alfred Pennyworth), Holly Hunter (Senator Finch), Gal Gadot (Diana Prince / Wonder Woman), Scoot McNairy (Wallace Keefe), Tao Okamoto (Mercy Graves), Ray Fisher (Victor Stone / Cyborg), Jason Momoa (Arthur Curry / Aquaman), and Ezra Miller (Barry Allen / The Flash) Directed by Zack Snyder.
The idea of a movie with Batman and Superman facing off against each other is not a new concept (in fact, a script had been written back in 2002, though naturally that idea did not come to fruition), but in theory the concept shouldn't work, considering that Superman is....well, Superman. But of course this is not a movie about a face-off, it's a movie that attempts to establish other DC superheroes (such as Wonder Woman, Cyborg, Aquaman, the Flash) which I do applaud in the sense that the DC movie universe has had very little success with franchises not named Batman or Superman, with their biggest problem being that it took them this long to even put these characters to screen. But does it make sense to include numerous heroes in the same movie?
The answer to all the questions (including the unasked one of if it is actually any good) is a no. And yet, it works for April Fools Day because of the fact that I was laughing at it. It was the only way that I kept myself sane for a movie that has the nerve to be 151 minutes long and manage to feel even longer (apparently there is even a 3 hour edition, because I guess home media releases will really need it). When I said "establish" other superheroes, I did not mean a conventional way of say, having the heroes we know (like Batman and Superman) encounter them (save for Wonder Woman, who is in the movie for about 20-25 minutes)...but instead have them introduced to us via video files. The fact that the movie really doesn't do a great job in actually giving us a glimpse into heroes not named Superman and Batman is troubling, but not exactly the biggest sin in this movie.
The movie starts out with (spoiler alert for anyone who's never heard of Batman's origins - which would be no one) the death of Bruce Wayne's parents (with some inspiration taken from The Dark Knight Returns, which I had read earlier in the week), but honestly there's no point to the scene because that (plus the scene with the bats) is completely unnecessary. The acting in the movie ranges from passable to deserving of mocking. Affleck is pretty decent, and it is nice to see an older Batman for once (unnecessary opening scene non-withstanding), but not even he can save a movie that can't keep focus. The plot feels very ham-fisted together, with events happening and going without any real definition. The dream sequences are especially jarring, mainly because they don't really gel well, only seeming to make the movie feel even longer. Saying the words "Jesse Eisenberg playing Lex Luthor" does seem a bit ridiculous, and his performance actually makes me wish I was watching Robert Vaughn in Superman III. He never seems evil, coming off more as a Willy Wonka reject, and he just gets on your nerves after a while.
Batman and Superman do indeed fight...for maybe 10-15 minutes. Naturally, it's a one sided fight (that is predictable if one saw the trailers beforehand), and while I will admit that it is a decent fight...it ends in the most idiotic of ways. It isn't a spoiler to mention that both of the heroes' mothers have the same first name of Martha. Yes, that is actually the word that essentially stops their conflict. Not an epiphany, not a third party hero, a coincidence that someone probably figured out when reading Wikipedia articles on Batman and Superman. It's weird how one can make a movie that feels so detached from reality (compared to other, better comic book movies); even scenes where cities are being totaled don't really evoke any feelings. The final fight in the movie (with Doomsday, who also was spoiled in the trailer, and manages to look really ridiculous) is a jumbled mess, but at least Wonder Woman is finally given something to do, like fight, for one thing.
The movie feels so bloated and so untrained that it made me laugh (albeit in a sad way); the fact that I saw it in a half empty theater is also a bit sad, but the fact that Marvel not only had a head start on making a movie universe, they also seemed to be the only one who can properly set a timetable on what to do. Even though the movie is bound to be a moneymaker, not even money can hide the sad fact that this movie just does not work. I understand if people like the movie (grim-dark is admittedly entertaining, and I did like reading The Dark Knight Returns), but for me the movie was only really enjoyable when I laughed to myself about it.
Overall, I give it 4 out of 10 stars.