Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice

March 27, 2016

Most people hate looking at what critics say before they see a movie because they want to make up their own minds.  I’ve never had a problem of making up my own mind on a movie and often look at what critics are saying before I go to a screening.  In the case of the much anticipated Batman Vs Superman, I skipped the screening for critics because I was seeing it with some listeners who won a contest two days later.  Between the press screening and when I saw it, an avalanche of negative reviews came out for the movie.  I went from having high expectations to low expectations in a matter of 48 hours but still went in with an open mind.  The reason why I’m bringing this up now is because I do not understand the hatred for this film at all and almost feel like it’s a smear campaign from Disney and Marvel to kill the DC movie Universe before it ever has a chance to get on its feet.


I’ve often said when discussing comic book movies that I love more Marvel characters but I love DC characters more.  X-Men and The Avengers gangs have so many interesting characters but the Superman and Batman catalog is so rich with compelling lore, it’s impossible to resist being seduced.  Outside of Superman and Batman, DC falls apart in my opinion but there’s so much to be found in these two diametric heroes that a movie like this whets my appetite more than any Marvel film slated to come out in the next few years.  Because of this, my hopes were high.  The trailers released for Batman Vs. Superman made them higher.  It’s sad because I have to report that those expectations were never met but they fall very short of the hatred most critics are saying about it.


The film is two-and-a-half hours long and feels every inch of it.  That’s not to say it’s boring but it’s certainly plodding.  Screenwriter David Goyer (who is writing and directing The Suicide Squad as well) and director Zach Snyder (Man of Steel, 300) are constantly chasing Christopher Nolan’s world he created in The Dark Knight trilogy.  It’s frustrating to watch at times because Goyer and Snyder are both capable of making great films but must feel shackled to Nolan’s vision because that’s what they keep aiming for.  Batman Vs. Superman is unnecessarily complicated, bloated, and self-indulgent.  It’s shocking that there is a three-hour-long R-rated version out there because I can’t wrap my brain around it needing to be any longer than it already it.  It could have been a sleek two hours and streamlined to be a simpler plot.


Some things are done very well though.  The approach they took with Batman, played by Ben Affleck, was braver than people even suspected it would be.  In this film, Batman is darker than we’ve ever seen.  He’s been fighting crime for two decades, he’s seen the (assumed) death of Robin, no change in the amount of criminals and he’s tired of it.  When we first meet him, he’s dabbling in torturing evildoers and he’s truly frightening.  He also has good reason for his hatred and fear of Superman, played again by Henry Cavill (Man of Steel, Man from UNCLE).  Cavill and Affleck are great at playing off each other in their alpha male, dick-measuring contest.  The title of the movie isn’t misleading but the epic battle is so short-lived that it’s the worst aspect of the film.


Overall, Batman Vs. Superman is courageous and impressive.  It swings so hard for the fences but only manages to hit a double.  That’s far better than what most critics are saying about it which I think is more of a fun bullying that takes place among our circles.  I’ve seen it several times where a movie that’s brash and hyped is ceremoniously and joyously stoned to death while some of us look on and can’t figure out why.  Batman Vs. Superman is one of those movies; it’s not great but it’s not garbage.  I can’t exactly promise that you’ll have fun at the movies with this but that’s not because it’s poorly made but because it wanted to be so moody you find it joyless.