Saturday, March 26, 2016
Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice Film Review
Cast: Ben Affleck, Henry Cavill, Jesse Eisenberg, Amy Adams, Gal Gadot
Series: DC Extended Universe
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Length: 151 Minutes
The CGI Action Figure Slaparound of the Century!
Here it is...
I remember being a child and hearing they were going to make a Batman versus Superman movie. I was excited. What comic fan wouldn't be? The two most legendary of all heroes, testing their prowess against one another. Of course, as a kid, I wasn't worried about what bullshit reason would need to be conceived in order for these titans to get in the ring, I just wanted to see, on a movie screen, a version of what I saw in my head when I took my Batman toy and my Superman toy and bashed them into one another again, and again. Apparently, Zack Snyder felt the same.
If you want a plot synopsis of the film, watch the fucking trailer. It's all there (except for the surreal second act). Seriously, I said it as the trailer below first aired, and I was proven true, the whole movie has been spoiled already. So I'm going to dive into this one headfirst, spoilers and all, with none of the obligatory "This article features spoilers for..." nonsense, because the movie has been out for a few months already in condensed form.
This movie was a utter disappointment, and I was already hating on it before it released. Going in with such low expectations, and leaving being as underwhelmed as I imagined myself being, was a bizarre experience. The movie begins on a promising note as Bruce Wayne/Batman surveys the destruction across Metropolis from the climax of Man of Steel. This scene was a good launching pad for Batman's character in this new universe. I genuinely liked it. Really, I liked almost everything about Batman in this film, except for one major change to the character that left a bad taste in my brain. Batman is now a murderer. It's hard to say how many people he kills in this movie, but it's safe to say that A WHOLE SHITLOAD is a fair estimate.
To say that this murderous Batman doesn't fit within the film just simply isn't true. This new DC Extended Universe is so damned bleak and joyless that having the traditional non-lethal Batman would have felt out of place. Seriously, this and Man of Steel are the mopiest superhero films I've ever seen. Even Spawn, which was about a man dying, going to Hell, and coming back as a tortured demon who has to watch his Earthly wife bang another guy, had more cheer than this mess. Since every character is so fucking depressed they might as well be listening to Radiohead in a darkened room while they cut themselves, the movie only has one gear. It just two and a half hours of misery and conflict, with little actual superhero-ing until the overblown climax. If you've ever wanted to see Superman stare moodily off screen while everyone else around him uses him to progress the plot, this is your film.
That's not to say this movie was 100% awful. There were some good ideas, a few unexpected turns, and story beats that worked, like Bruce Wayne and Alfred's relationship, Superman's trial, and admittedly, seeing the big Trinity onscreen together for the first time. If you do happen to see the movie, I won't spoil the details of Superman's public trial, but the out come was one of the most refreshing and interesting sequences in the entire film. However, seeing Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman on screen together was the biggest rush of excitement I've felt from a film since The Force Awakens (even if it's in the trailer). There were enough moments that surprised me during this film, that I didn't walk out of the theater hating it.
However, there's just too much going on here, with too many new characters, for it to be an enjoyable experience throughout. Half of the people you see in this film, outside of the titular heroes and Lois Lane, appear for only minutes, or even seconds. Yes, Aquaman, The Flash, Cyborg, and Wonder Woman make little appearances, but the only one of significance is Wonder Woman who you see less than Nien Numb in Return of the Jedi. She literally has two or three minute long appearances before she's in full Wonder Woman mode, with the lasso, bracelets, and shield in full swing.
You never get to know who this mysterious Diana Prince person is, until Batman stumbles across a photo of her from like 1812, or something, and is like, "You are hero person?" and she says, "Brief Exposition". I can't even tell you whether or not Gal Gadot is really suited to the role, as the whole of The Internet had feared upon her casting. Detractors of her supermodel-like physical condition as compared to the traditional athletic build of Wonder Woman can finally stuff it though. She honestly looks completely badass in action, much like Batman, and when she's not a little CGI puppet flying at a big CGI puppet, Gal Gadot looks like she can handle the physicality of the character.
Overall, the performances are alright. Affleck is good, Irons is good, Cavill is good, Amy Adams looks like she's constantly re-remembering her own name and where she is all of the time, just like Man of Steel, but there's one truly sour performance that spoils much of the film. Jesse Eisenberg's Lex Luthor is just the worst. Apparently, as I learned after seeing the movie, this is supposed to be Lex Luthor's son, Alexander Luthor, but holy shit, I've never seen such an inept, grating, and obvious criminal mastermind than this douchebassoon. Every word that comes out of his mouth is an overacted, groan inducing, piece of auditory garbage. It doesn't help that the script is the written equivalent of Mustard Gas, but WOW, Jesse Eisenberg just throws his performance in your face. This is one of the most masturbatory performances I've seen in a film since Gustav von Wagenheim in Nosferatu.
Speaking of masturbatory actions...
Some fucking fool of a person in charge of this film thought it would be a good idea to make this a veritable best hits of DC Comics. What I mean by this is, almost every major event from the Superman and Batman canon is referenced, foreshadowed, or outright happens within these two and a half hours.
In this film we see:
- A depressed and increasingly violent, post Robin's death, Batman, who has become more of a Social Fascist, than a hero of the people.
- The formation of the core Justice League members, Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman.
- The creation of Doomsday, and inevitably because of this, The Death of Superman (and a half assed cliffhanger ending, that anyone who was alive in the 90's will know resolves itself).
- Allusions to the Injustice arc for future films, where Superman becomes a totalitarian dictator of Earth after The Joker kills Lois Lane and Superman's unborn son.
- Allusions to one the Justice League's greatest foes, Darkseid, for future films.
- Brief cameos from The Flash and Aquaman, who exhibit their powers in a dramatic way, as well as Cyborg, who is shown in a brief origin sequence.
- The discovery of Kryptonite, and its effects on Superman and other Kryptonians.
And probably some other shit I didn't even notice...
The film is just so packed with these moments, and they're so poorly tied together by Luthor's nebulous endgame, and the diarrhea splatter of script, that it is almost impossible to give a rat's last shat about anything that happens. The movie moves so quickly, and gives you so little time to react, that it just becomes a blur, smeared across your eyes with reckless abandon.
I cannot recommend this film unless you can see it for free. If you're a newcomer to DC, I can't imagine this appealing to you at all. It's just a deluge of fan service, with maybe five minutes dedicated to the titular battle, and endless setups for future films. If you're a fan of DC, you'll probably be bewildered, and slightly irritated, that in the second film in this supposed cinematic universe has already covered so much ground in regards to story arcs that could be used for future films. They killed Superman! In his second film! This is a direct sequel to Man of Steel! Fucking madness!