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Batman V Superman Review: Dawn of Frustration

by on March 26, 2016
 

Batman V Superman’s final twenty minutes were astounding; full of action and comic-book inspired drama.

It’s too bad the two hours that preceded it were just so dull.

That’s the frustrating part about Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice; the potential. There were moments that exploded off the screen, and got people in the theatre cheering, but in those first two hours they were too few and far between.

This review does NOT contain spoilers.

The premise of the film was monumental; seeing two titans appear on the big screen together in live action for the first time. The execution, however, was lacking on far too many levels.

Casting

trinity

[image via screenrant]

Ben Affleck was solid in his first outing as Batman. In many ways, his performance was more surefooted than previous actors who attempted the role for the first time. He was a physically imposing, brutal Batman, scarred by years of fighting wars in Gotham, and changed because of it. His relationship with Alfred was one of the highlights. The interplay between Affleck and Jeremy Irons was completely believable and effortless.

Henry Cavill as Superman was good, though he was given very little to do in this film in the first few hours.

Gal Gadot proved to be an amazing casting choice as Wonder Woman. Many critics pointed to her figure (which I find distasteful) as a reason she wouldn’t succeed as Wonder Woman. In the theatre nobody noticed how she looked because she was too busy kicking alien butt. Convincingly. One of the takeaways from the BVS is that the world needs to be excited for Wonder Woman.

Not all casting choices were as positive as Gadot and Affleck, however.

Jesse Eisenberg is notably out of place in this film. Too often he seemed like a petulant child, acting out when things didn’t go his way. He was in no way menacing, or charismatic like previous incarnations. He was a nerdy, socially awkward, introvert.

That was a flaw of the writing as much as the casting, but nonetheless that was the character.

He seemed like he was angry that people unliked his instragram photo.

Jesse Eisenberg is a solid actor, who’s in his wheelhouse when playing one particular character, which he again does here; the problem is that character isn’t Lex Luthor.

Direction

Batman-V-Superman-Trailer-Discussion-Statue-Metropolis

[image via screenrant]

Zak Snyder has made some fine films including 300 and Watchmen. He is known for a strong visual style that he once again brings to Batman V. Superman.

The problem is that there were so many strange choices in his direction.

He was incredibly obsessed with close ups. On objects, on scenery, and in particular on faces. It was bizarre. Was he trying to transmit emotion directly to the audience by getting as close as possible? No idea; I do know that I saw more of Ben Affleck’s nosehair than I did of the main villain because of how many close up shots were on his face, though.

The music, supposed to be supplementary to enhance the mood of the film, was overwrought. It was out of place and distracting. The filmmakers wanted the film to be so heavy, awash with its moral implications, and the music was to match. It tried too hard to force that emotion and actually detracted from their film.

There was too much competing for screen time in Batman V Superman. That’s perhaps a flaw of the writing, or of the need to launch the DC Extended Universe in one film instead of slowly building it up, but the balance wasn’t there and the film suffered for it. The editing was jarring and threw you from scene to scene without any semblance of logic.

People who aren’t familiar with the DC Universe in general (or even those who didn’t watch Man of Steel) may find themselves lost and that can only be a flaw of the filmmaker.

Writing

affleck

[img via ibitimes]

The story had highlights, but overall was too uneven. For every positive, there were two negatives.

The problem was that they were so focused on building a world with this one film that they didn’t stop to make the film they were actually building interesting.

At times they tread familiar ground, rehashing a story the audience has seen too much on screen and at others they carved a new path for these familiar characters.

It’s that new path that is the source of my frustration with Batman V Superman: some of it had glimmers of being cool.

Batman, searching out a threat, using his mind as a weapon and a tool for overcoming that threat. He’s the world’s greatest detective, after all. Giving him a mystery was great. But the buildup was plodding.

There were so many dream sequences that you didn’t know what was happening when. In fact, there’s one scene that makes absolutely no sense at all, until you realize it’s a dream. It feels shoehorned into the movie and it’s clearly part of the world they’re trying to build, which is great..if done well, and this was not.

It’s disappointing because there were flashes of cool. But they were just flashes.

Conclusion
Everyone is surprised by the film, even Superman!

Everyone is surprised by the film, even Superman!

[image via cinemablend]

I wish Batman V Superman was a better movie. I really wanted it to be.

I hate articulating a negative opinion of a work of art because I know how much effort and love goes into its creation. However, Batman V Superman is the first film in the DC Extended Universe, and it needed to be better; a lot better.

There were kernels of awesome in the film and some genuinely funny moments, which were a relief from the bleak world created to house DC’s heroes.

It was a conscious choice to make the DCEU darker, and grittier, than that of Marvel. It’s not a choice I would have made, but from the perspective of DC perhaps it was important to differentiate their world from Marvel’s.

It’s just so jarring. Why is everyone angry all the time? Perry White never seems to be happy; he’s more like J. Jonah Jameson, yelling at anyone and everyone. Was he always like that? Didn’t he used to be a kindly old man?

Perhaps that’s just the effect this world has on kind people; it changes them for the worse.

I have many complaints about the actual content of the film that verge into spoiler territory, so I will avoid them here.

It’s rare that a film is so polarizing. It may be Batman V Superman‘s most interesting trait: diehard fans and critics alike are split on the film. Some love it, some hate it, but there are few opinions in between. It’s not just fans disagreeing with critics; it’s fans ardently disagreeing with fans. Critics disagreeing with critics.

In my view that’s why I’m frustrated: there were parts of Batman V Superman I loved. I can overlook the plotholes the size of the Themyscira, but in Batman V Superman there was too much I hated (it’s a strong word, and I use it purposefully) to say that I enjoyed the film.

However, because the film is so divisive, I encourage you to watch it, and form your own opinion.

In sum, if this is the dawn of the DC Extended Universe…solely based on Batman V Superman…I’m not that excited to see what comes next.

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Featured image via hypeable.com

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