Thursday, May 19, 2016

Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice Review

Sorry it's so late, but I promised it my last review, so here is my review for one of the most polarizing films of the year. After the resounding "meh" people gave Man of Steel, no one was really sure what to expect from Zack Snyder's second entry in a franchise that's still struggling to get its footing. And I'm here to give you my spoiler free thoughts on it. Click ahead for the review

To be honest, I'm kind of amazed this film has been so polarizing. I feel like there's kind of an obvious place it falls into, but we'll get to that later. I love DC, guys. I'm in no way, shape or form a DC hater, and I was really anticipating this film. Even with Snyder still at the helm. But the results left a lot to be desired. There is a lot to like, though. So let's start with the positives.

The story, as an idea, is a strong one. The world sees what Superman can do and he, much like this movie, is viewed by millions of people as completely different things. Is he a savior? Or does he bring with him the end of the world? Batman fears the latter, and he'll do whatever it takes to stop him before he can do anymore harm.

The opening scene is great, as we see the destruction of Metropolis through the eyes of Bruce Wayne. It sets the stage perfectly for the rest of the film and helps to solidify our characters' motivations.

First of all, Ben Affleck as Batman. He was really great. As Bruce Wayne, he's charming and
completely believable as a billionaire playboy. As Batman he's brooding and badass. And the fight scenes with him are fantastic. If you're a fan of the Arkham games, then you'll find them familiar. Very well directed, intense and brutal.  The origin is handled well, and you get a clear view of his motivations throughout the film. Not only that, but a few moments really reminded me of why I love Batman and of my childhood memories with the character. The way he talks to Alfred to the way he fights, it's all there. And I greatly enjoyed that. Speaking of Alfred, Jeremy Irons was fantastic in the role. I've always been a fan of that character from the comics, and it seems the truest adaptation yet.

Another thing this movie has going for it is Wonder Woman. She was a ton of fun to watch onscreen, and you could tell Gal Gadot was having a ton of fun in the role. And I'd be lying if I said I wasn't loving watching her.  Could someone else have done just as well in it? Probably. But she was something new and exciting that was handled very well. And despite all the things this movie failed to get me excited for, it did get me excited for her standalone.

Believe it or not, despite my belief that Snyder needs to be ousted, this film benefits pretty greatly from his direction at times. Several scenes are really tense, leaving you right on the edge of your seat. And others are action packed and exhilarating. The Doomsday fight, despite Doomsday looking awful, was great. And I loved seeing the trinity onscreen together. For just a moment, perhaps too short of one, it made me feel like a kid again.  Frankly, I can see why DC wants Snyder heading these films. He can take a shot in a movie and make it look like it's straight out of a comic book. That first shot of Batman... wow.

But that kinda leads into the bad things. Starting with Zack Snyder. The man cannot tell a good story, and that's where the problem is here. He may be able to give a lot of great shots and scenes, but he just can't sustain a coherent narrative. And, admittedly, it's not all his fault. The studio was asking him to do a lot, and I'm not sure anyone could have kept up, but certainly there are better choices out there. The DCU needs to get a better grip on its characters and storytelling, and I just don't think that's going to happen if Snyder's the one doing it.

I'm sorry, but I like this Superman less the more I think about him. Henry Cavill turns in a fine
performance, and I imagine he could be a good Superman, but all he does is mope. Is this who Superman is now? The person who's supposed to be the ultimate role model? Who always stands up for what's right no matter what? It almost angers me the way they've been treating this character. I'm tired of depressing Superman. Can we have a little hope in there? Please? Isn't that what the S stands for? Will I ever stop asking questions? Should we move on?

When that Superman finally does fight Batman it's... kinda cool, I guess. But that's really all it is. Spectacle. These are two of the biggest pop culture icons of all time, and their fight just does not live up to the hype. Is it entertaining? Sure. But I had little reason to care. And it left a pretty mediocre taste in my mouth.

Oh, and Lois Lane? Yeah, she does nothing. Why is she in this movie? I like Amy Adams a lot, but she adds absolutely nothing of value to the story.

I suppose we need to talk about Lex Luthor. Wow. What a weird decision. I mean, Jesse Eisenberg gave a really fantastic performance considering what he was given. But why in the world was he cast? I really don't understand why Luthor is such a hard villain to get right onscreen. And Jesse Eisenberg, despite being a good actor, was never going to do that.

As I mentioned earlier, while Luthor may have failed, Batman was great. But he does, in fact, kill people in the movie. Which contradicts years of Batman lore. To be totally honest, I'm a bit conflicted on this. While I don't mind the idea of a broken and unhinged Batman who's willing to do whatever he feels is necessary, it really bothers me that they don't really deal with this in the film. He just kills people and moves on. And other than one vague scene with Alfred, he's never confronted with this. If that had been addressed in the movie, I'm sure I would have been more open to it. Remember, Batman has killed people in nearly every film adaptation of the character. Including Burton and Nolan's universes. A lot of people are also claiming that this is a more realistic take on the character. Because it's simply a fact that, the way Batman fights, he's GOING to kill people. It's inevitable that there'll be collateral damage. It's only really comic book magic that keeps his enemies alive in the comics, but I mean, in a movie where people fly and fight a giant ninja turtle named Doomsday, is realism really the most important thing here?

Finally, I think this film's biggest problem is that it was only made in an attempt to catch up to Marvel. That's it's sole purpose. Some executive, somewhere, said "Let's just make a film that sets up other films. Then we'll be on track." But that's simply not true. The reason that the MCU is working so well is that we care about these characters. We've had years to build these characters and their stories. So that when the crossover happens we have a reason to be invested. But DC just threw everything at us at once and expected us to care about it. Frankly, we're just not going to. There's so much clutter in this film it's ridiculous. We should have had at LEAST a Batman film beforehand, and they should have just cut out most of the setup for the other heroes. There's too much going on, and the film just can't keep up.

Believe it or not, there's a lot to like in this film. But in the end, it's still a mess. Which is a real shame because you can see the potentially powerful story underneath all the clutter. I really hope DC gets things together after this. Because I'm getting tired of characters I love so much being treated the way they are.

Final Score: 2.5/5

So what do you think? Am I wrong? Is it actually a great film and there's something I'm missing? Or is it actually worse than I think? Let me know in the comments, and I'll see ya next time.

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