Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice, is a disappointing mess of a film which had so much potential and yet ultimately failed to deliver on anything.
What can I say about the plot which you won’t have already seen in the trailer?
Well, it’s Batman (Ben Affleck) versus Superman (Henry Cavill), they fight (for about ten minutes) and Warner Bros desperately try and compete with Disney’s wildly successful Marvel franchise. Also contractually obligated to be there are Lois Lane (Amy Adams) and Lex Luthor (Jesse Eisenberg)…
Snark aside, before I get into the review proper I should point out that I really wanted to like this movie, I really did, and I’m just massively disappointed with what a mess it turned out to be because I feel this is a premise that could have worked. So, I apologise in advance if this becomes a mess of bile at any point, I’m trying to show some restraint.
The film’s major problem is its scope. It’s simply too big to be a coherent movie and this is the shitty foundation which causes the whole messy house to fall down on itself.
You see, the film has three competing objectives – it wants to tell the titular story of Batman versus Superman, it needs to set up an expanded DC cinematic universe, and it has to be a coherent sequel to Man of Steel. I’m afraid to say that it doesn’t achieve any of these things adequately.
So let’s roll up our sleeves and begin this alien autopsy of a deeply flawed film.
The film attempts to set up a central conflict of the Dark Knight versus the Man of Steel and yet, despite some initial lip service to giving us motivation for why Bruce Wayne would despise Superman, it never really convinced me that a man who had spent the best part of 20 years fighting bad guys would be so blinded by hatred not to see the good that Supes was doing.
Personally, I think the film could have convinced me of this if it hadn’t been so obsessed with setting up the wider DCU.
You see, in spite of the ‘Sad Affleck’ (personally I prefer Ben Sadffleck) meme that’s doing the rounds right now, Ben Affleck actually smashes it in this film. His portrayal of an older more broken Batman is genuinely interesting and had we spent more time focusing on his character (say by giving him his own movie instead of putting the cart before the horse and jamming him in with another hero), I may have been convinced as to why he seemed so paranoid about everyone’s favourite Kryptonian, especially given the stupid reasoning why Bruce decides in the end that brutally murdering Superman may be a bit of a bad idea.
Instead, we get crowbarred-in references to a wider project which come so thick and fast that it completely shatters the narrative and you’re left grasping at shards of story which don’t even begin to tell a coherent plot, let alone a satisfying action film.
Speaking of action, it’ll come as no surprise to anyone who’s seen Man of Steel that the film goes all out to create an impressive spectacle – most hilariously with various officials constantly pointing out that the area’s been evacuated – but, again, it’s a tensionless jumble of light and sound which is probably the closest you could get visually to a headache.
Did someone mention headaches? Let’s talk about Jesse Eisenberg’s Lex Luthor, or as I’m going to call him, screeching Mark Zuckerberg.
Honestly, from the moment Eisenberg came on screen with his flopping hands and excessively loud voice, I wanted to rip the stuffing out of my seat and jam it in my ears just to get away from the sound of his voice. I’ve heard other reviewers call him the most irritating character of the year so far and I couldn’t put it better – it was just dreadful.
Ultimately, I’ve been told that you’ll love this film if you’re a comic fan or looking for something ‘heavier’ than a glib Marvel film, but I’m here to tell you that is complete and utter horse shit.
These characters couldn’t be further removed from their comic equivalents – Batman’s ‘no kill rule’ has most definitely been dropped for this film, and that’s fine, I understand that a character only grows when we move away from the norm, but why is everything so dry and boring? It doesn’t hurt to be funny.
And, for those saying that it’s just bucking the current trend of Marvel’s one liner spewing, spandex wearing heroes, I have something to say. Shooting a film at night in the rain, not including jokes and having heroes who kill does not make your film grim or gritty, it makes it an adolescent boy’s fan fiction and shows that you completely failed to understand what made those particular superhero films so good.
Christopher Nolan’s Batman films, for instance, managed to be grim and gritty but that isn’t what made them great. They were watchable because they had substance, unlike this abomination. Seriously, why are DC so afraid of making their movies fun? That’s why Marvel’s films work in the first place!
Overall, this is a shallow feature which could have been so much more. The result is just a jumble sale of spare parts which should never have been put together. Avoid if you can.