Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice Review - Lazy, Poor Execution Muddled with multiple stories
Zack Snyder Creates a Large, Epic Spectacle Without Any Regard To Story, Logic or Character in this clusterfuck of a film that was probably ruined due to Warner Bros. desperate desire to create a cinematic universe to compete with Marvel. It fails on that feat spectacularly, but if you want to just see the Dark Knight fight the Man of Steel with some mind-blowing special effects, leave your brain at home and enjoy...
Let's get one thing clear, before the release of this film, no one was more pumped to see this than me. Purely based on the comic-con teaser and trailer, I was totally convinced that this could actually be the film that redeems Zack Snyder from Man of Steel. I even posted a write-up on why I thought this could be a really good film. I wanted to avoid any of the reviews published before I went in to watch the film, but I saw that the RottenTomatoes score of this film currently sits at 30%, which is SUPER rotten,(Arguably rather harsh on the film, considering how flawed the RottenTomato system is). Batman v Superman Dawn of Justice should be called Yawn of Justice to describe what the writers must have been doing while developing this film. It destroys what could have been a very great film, pitting two of DC's most iconic superheroes against eachother, and turns out to be a confusing, lazily written film that apparently is more interested in setting up the Justice League film (which is probably the laziest part of the film) rather than taking time to really draw us into the conflict between the Dark Knight and the Man of Steel. I won't spoil anything in this review except in describing a bit of the very first scene of the film which in itself doesn't spoil any of the rest of the film, but if you are insistent on not knowing anything about the specifics of the film, avoid the very next paragraph, and read everything after it.
But before I take down this film, let's talk about the few things (and there are very few things) that this film did right. The first scene takes off where Man of Steel was wrapping up, with the city-scale destruction owing to both General Zod's plan to bring Krypton here and the ensuing fight between Superman and Zod. But it turns out that Gotham's son Bruce Wayne had stepped down there during that fight, trying to save some of his Wayne Enterprises workers from the destruction. This first scene is probably the strongest scene of the film in terms of storytelling and direction. It ends with Bruce barely saving a little girl from the rubble, and on asking where her mommy is, she just points timidly to the now destroyed Wayne Enterprises building, and Bruce hugs the girl in a protective manner as he looks on in anger as Superman's antics continue to ravage Metropolis. It perfectly sets up what could have been a great conflict between Batman and Superman and it tells us that there will indeed be ramifications for the insanity that occurred in the previous film. This is also one of the reasons that I wrote in my previous article about why this film would be good. After this, however, everything goes downhill.
The trailers of this film that you've probably seen do indeed spoil this movie. They did indeed make the same mistake that the Terminator: Genisys marketing team made and gave away the entire main plot points of the film in the trailer. I won't say anything contained in those if you want absolutely zero spoilers for this film, but if you haven't seen the trailers after the comic-con ones, don't see them if you want to go in with no idea about what's going to happen. Anyway, following this pretty strong first scene, I was pretty much on board with the idea that these two heroes would eventually clash due to this, but what follows was really sucky and poorly written. Once again Zack Snyder succumbs to his base mentality that throwing in some LOUD sound will somehow solve the intermittent drama or conflict that occurs, and goes all in when it comes to making this a loud movie. The sound design in this film is probably as bad or worse than Man of Steel's in its insistence on constant loudness. The similarities it shares to Man of Steel, which could very well have been on purpose, make things worse for a film that purported to want to deal with the ramifications of a city-wide destructive battle. Let's get into some details without spoiling anything.
One of the primary antagonists in this film as we know from beforehand is Lex Luthor played by Jesse Eisenberg. Eisenberg doesn't bring anything new in this performance of his, he pretty much rehashes the same cryptic, entitled, fast talking anxious character that was so great in The Social Network, and it doesn't work or make sense too well in the film. But if you like this particular style, I can't fault you for liking his performance in this film. The problems in this film have nothing to do with the performances themselves. Ben Affleck is definitely a solid Batman, and apparently there is a chance for an Affleck directed/starring Batman film, I have no doubt that it would be a really good one, Henry Cavill does slightly better than in Man of Steel, but that isn't saying much. Most of the time you will see his face appear very bland and relatively expressionless and putting out dialogue from his mouth at the same time, but anyway, he's super buffed, as is Affleck. We see little of Gal Gadot as Wonderwoman here, and its too little to say whether she is a good Wonderwoman, given how little time is devoted to her character development (The specific answer is none). The supporting cast, from Amy Adams to Jeremy Irons as the new Alfred, do relatively good jobs to aid this cast in carrying this poorly conceived film.
Now the characters themselves, first, Batman. Now here, I'm talking about the character and not the performance, so keep that in mind. This new incarnation of the Dark Knight is even darker and grittier than Nolan's, to the point that it actually takes what is definitely going to end up being a controversial stand in terms of what his character does, especially in regards to fans of the original comics. Again, no specifics here so as not to spoil anything, but one of those Batman rules you probably remember from Nolan's Dark Knight trilogy, yeah, that's taken to its polar opposite and it will probably alienate some Batman fans from previous iterations. Except for this, his character is pretty decently conceived and we learn his motivations right from that very first strong scene. Superman in this film is conflicted about his actions from the previous film, and this makes so much sense and would have most definitely helped to justify 2013's Man of Steel. If only Zack Snyder focussed on that aspect as the primary point of concern, this could have been a good film, but he doesn't, so we don't see much of that after a certain point in the film. I still don't understand Lex Luthor's motivations behind being against Superman, other him constantly stating the self-asserted fact that power can't be innocent. Wonderwoman is given absolutely zero character development in this film, and that is a damn travesty. She just ends up coming out of nowhere in the third act of the film, so make what you will of that.
In one tiny montage, in what is probably the laziest and crappiest part of the film, they tease the future of the DC cinematic universe. They try to do in 2 minutes what Marvel has been doing, successfully, for several films. And it fails hard. Worst of all, the ultimate result of the conflict between Batman and Superman, the primary aspect that you probably bought your ticket for, is so darn pathetic its just sad. This specific moment, which is just so damn pathetic is so cringeworthy because the film wants us to take it seriously. But this is a SUPER budget film and therefore you obviously will witness action packed fights of epic proportions, especially seeing it in IMAX was respectable in its production value. But ultimately, Batman v Superman should probably not even be titled Batman v Superman, because that isn't even the main center of this film, for there is none.
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