Greetings once again! Apologies for the delay between this review and the last, but I’ve been quite busy with other errands and work. But now I’m back to place upon the table my views on what might be one of the most talked-about movies of 2016 so far, Batman v Superman.
Following on from the events of “Man of Steel”, we get the combination of Gotham City with Metropolis as the Dark Knight (Ben Affleck) enters the world of Superman. (Henry Cavill) The world now questions the morality of the latter, who is dividing opinion on whether he can be trusted or not. Bruce Wayne certainly has his suspicions and issues, and the introduction of Lex Luther (Jesse Eisenberg) only works to force a rift between them for his own personal gains. Both heroes are set on a collision course outside of their control, but their feud may not be the real threat both cities are facing.
For those who have seen the movie, I think you’ll first be surprised that I was able to give a synopsis that managed to sound at least on paper, straight-forward. And I think that is one of the strong points on display here, the design of an ageing Batman and young-but-untrusted Superman clashing on morals is actually very interesting. Kind of reminds me of what is being done with the Winter Soldier over at Marvel right now, the hero is now not so clear-cut in terms of how the world sees them. As a starting point, it was a unique choice that feels like the makings of an interesting narrative.
Then we have the introduction of Ben Affleck putting on the cowl and cape. I’ll say this early on in the review so it can’t be disputed – he REALLY has the right ingrediants for a Batman. His mannerisms and atmosphere are right on the money for an old and cynical Caped Crusader, he just looks the part in a way that when you see him on screen, you instantly buy him. Jeremy Irons was also a very good choice to portray the butler Alfred, he has the only few moments of comedy and light-hearted insults that help to ease the pressure on the system, even if by just a little. When they are both on screen together, they work off of each other excellently.
Laurence Fishburne as the editor of the Daily Planet also has a few moments of cheesy, but fun wit that have a kind of similar effect. They guy is trying hard with the material he has been given, so he can be credited for that. And Gal Gadot as (honestly not a spoiler here) Wonder Woman is very capable in the role. She looks the part in the action sequences, even to the point of being the most bad-ass on the screen at that time. Her parts when meeting Bruce Wayne are okay, she just doesn’t have enough of an arc that transitions between that and her reveal. She deserved more screen time, but I think she added a lot to the story, at least when you consider everything together. You’ll know what I mean by the end of this.
So… why did I start off with my compliments to Batman v Superman? Because from here-on in my friends, it is unfortunately all downhill.
It really is a testament of the slipping grade in quality of the releases by Zach Snyder, who seems to make “improvements” in the same way a 9 year old would – out of spite. For example, he was criticised heavily for the apparent deaths of civilians in Man of Steel, so how does he fix that here? By characters turning to the screen and yelling that “The island is uninhabited!”, or “Thank goodness no one is in the Business District now!”. What, so after 5pm, the entire District just empties in the same way it would in a virus pandemic? And in doing so, the removal of any risk to the immediate vicinity of the city makes what happens in the final battle kind of just procedural.
Issues like that run throughout the movie at a rate that baffled me as to how it got past the writing stage. Like how both Superman AND Batman are written to be detestable, selfish, and idiotic assholes. Or how they even got to being enemies, since it was so badly structured that they just “decide” they have to punch each other to make their point. Or how Lex Luther seems to be able to fool them so unbelievable easy. Hell, he’s the only guy who seems to have a coherent plan.
And staying on that character, Jesse Eisenberg was horribly mis-cast as Lex. At the start I was willing to give him a chance at being the socially awkward, unseeming genius who is using his personal opinions to beat the heroes. But his lines and delivery just get worse and worse, to a point where is was almost embarrassing. I doubt Jesse had any real clue how to play the character, and his improv just made matters worse. It is sad to say that this will go down as one of his career’s lowest points, and probably wasn’t his fault, but the man sitting behind the camera calling the shots.
For parents who are thinking of taking their kids to this, you should really reconsider your choice. Because even though we have seen superheroes kill before, it has never been as blatantly obvious as in here. Especially for Batman to do so goes against one of his steadfast rules that wide audiences know well – that he will not kill. Seems like he forgot that rule for this though, as he sends vehicles with occupants flying through the air into walls, smashes them into the ground with such force as to sever spinal cords, and even stab villains. Especially when it wasn’t set up that this Batman abides by new rules, it is jarring and uncomfortable to see. And no surprise either that Supes hasn’t learned his lessons from the previous outing against Zod. It isn’t really a good idea to fire your laser vision when anyone could be standing within its reach, or slamming Batman through four walls without thinking that it might cause collateral damage. Really, is this the Superman we want to see? Someone who doesn’t take consideration for the world, just because they haven’t grown to trust him yet?
Even with all that aside, the list of dire problems goes on and on. The vehicle chase scenes were shot with the dimmest lights possible, so you can see arse-all in them besides blurry outlines. The religious references are too common and too unnecessary. Henry Cavill is monotone to the point of requiring a health warning to audiences. The score (besides parts from Man of Steel) is a muddy mess of noises you barely take on board. The dream sequences are…. I don’t know what the fuck they are, but they’re not informative or artistic, that’s for sure. Doomsday looks like a final boss from an early PS3 game and is shamefully dull. The editing is all over the place with huge chunks of material seemingly ripped from this theatrical release. And then oh my God, you put that all together and the floor and stomp it together into a grey mush, and that was what I saw on the screen.
Like I hinted at near the start of the review, there were elements of “Batman v Superman” that I found interesting, or were very good choices. It was why in the first three-quarters of an hour or so, that I was doing my best to stay on board with the film. But that all fades into the mist when considered against all the bad decisions and actions made that have seriously inhibited the potential of DC’s cinematic Universe working out. Even if good movies were made, to know that they exist in a Universe where Superman is an asshole, and Batman a murderer, just…. depresses me to no end. Man of Steel dirtied the water, but things now may be beyond repair.
And that is why we have seen so many fans lash out over the past week, because I think they have a right to be after seeing their beloved characters performed so poorly. I won’t have issue with those who do like this since you’re totally free to like what you wish. And I’d love to be on your side. But I just can’t. I cannot. So much even on a basic level is mishandled, and I left the theatre genuinely pissed off. And I fear DC is going to have a hard time selling their theatrical ware in the future after this.
Thanks for reading!