Light Spoilers, but nothing that would impact your movie watching experience. There is a TLDR (Too Long, Didnt Read) section at the end for those who only want to read overall verdict.
MY BACKGROUND FOR THIS MOVIE –
Batman Vs Superman (BvS) was announced to much fanfare at Comic Con a few years ago, with a reading of the much loved passage from the comic “The Dark Knight Returns”, where Batman beats Superman.
(Read the comic, its really good, though Batman defeating Superman if Superman does not want to be defeated is bullshit of the highest order.) I’d been excited for the movie since that day, because who wouldn’t be excited to see the two foremost superheroes duking it out on the big screen?
I dont remember the last time I was so disappointed in a movie I had been actively hyped to see. Talk about a let down.
But first, lets talk about the things I liked.
WHAT I LIKED –
- Wonder Woman – She’s a breath of fresh air. Gal Gadot nails the character. While I was a little worried about how the DC movies would deal with Wonder Woman, her portrayal washed all my doubts away. She’s mysterious, strong, and seems to be enjoy a good fight. She’s also shown to be extremely powerful, which is great in a movie that is filled with female characters whose only role is to play the damsel in distress (Lois Lane, Martha Kent etc.) She is also the only character in the whole damn movie who seems happy to be there. They showed her whole arsenal, and also damaging the big threat at the end, so I’m very happy and excited that they are doing Wonder Woman right so far.
- The music – The music was a high point for me. Superman’s theme playing gently in the background was well done. The Wonder Woman theme is incredible, really pumps you up every time it plays. I immediately looked it up once I got back home. It makes me really excited for Wonder Woman’s solo movie. There are some miscues regarding how the background music is used. For example, Luthor walks into the Kryptonian ship with the most badass music blaring, with the camera slowly following his footsteps from behind, and you get ready for some epic stuff to happen, and then… poof. Nothing happens that is enough to justify the use of that music cue. At least the themes for all superheroes is pretty spot on.
- The cinematography – Zack Snyder has always made extremely good looking movies. 300 was the comic book pasted on the screen, and even Sucker Punch, a train wreck, was at least a beautiful train wreck. Man of Steel had its own issues, but its look was not one of them. His action has boombast but no clarity, but its usually beautifully shot. BvS is no exception. A lot of money was spent on this movie and it can be seen plastered all over the screen. My only niggle is that all the major action beats occur at night, and with Snyder’s quick cuts, the action often lacks coherence. But damn, does it look good. The shots of Ben Affleck at his family’s crypt, especially in the field, have a painting like quality. Good stuff.
- Side Characters – Perry White is great. Martha Kent is great. Alfred is great. Senator Finch is great. Basically, most side characters are done well while the main characters are terrible. Except Wonder Woman, who is awesome. Did I say she is awesome already? Yeah, she’s awesome.
WHAT I DIDNT LIKE –
Where do I even start.
- Superman – What a joyless creature he has been turned into. My biggest pet peeve about this movie (and Man of Steel) is that a generation of kids will grow up with this version of Superman, a soulless, joyless, depressed individual. This is NOT how Superman should be. In Man of Steel, he damn near destroys Metropolis with nary a scene of him showing remorse, or feeling guilty about the collateral damage. They tried to rectify the carnage shown in Man of Steel by pointing out in the most ham-fisted way possible that the areas in this movie where the fights are happening are empty. Also, we all understand that Superman cant save everyone, but the core of his character is that he still tries to. He also will save an innocent person if the choice is between that or letting 10 bad guys go. Of course, since he’s Superman, it usually never reaches that point. In these movies, this core of goodness is missing. Superman questioning whether he should stop saving people was done in the most ham fisted manner possible. Also, it wouldn’t destroy the planet if he could smile once in a while. You’re Superman. Smile for the kids.
- Batman – So he’s a killer now? What the hell? There have been some interpretations of his character where he has killed, sure, but one of the core tenets of his philosophy throughout most of the characters history has been that he does not kill people. Injure them, tie them up, even torture them, but straight up murder? Batman seems like a Serial Killer in this movie. I must say though, that I thoroughly enjoyed Ben Affleck as Batman, and think he’s an inspired choice to play Batman/Bruce Wayne. I just dont think his director and Script writers did him justice. The first 10 minutes of the movie show his motivations quite well too. That look of utter rage and determination at the end of that sequence set up the rest of the movie nicely. Also, a Batman who uses Automatic Machine Guns on thugs is no Batman. I also dont understand his rage at the destruction of property that Superman engaged in at the end of Man of Steel, and yet he in his aircraft shoots up a building, and in his tank destroys half the buildings on his way to shoot up another building or something. Oh, and he suddenly becomes best friends with a man whom he despised for 2 years and plotted to kill, simply because their mothers have the same name. Wow. If only Osama Bin Laden and George Bush had moms with the same name, think of how peaceful the world would be.
- Lex Luthor – What a ridiculously over the top misinterpretation of the character. I dont know why all actors who play Lex Luthor portray him as a raving maniac with flamboyant twitches and a maniacal quality to him. Kevin Spacey was guilty of it in Superman Returns, and Jesse Eisenberg takes it to a whole different level of camp in this movie. I’m still waiting for a good Lex Luthor on the big screen. Michael Rosenbaum did a wonderful job in Smallville, and after watching BvS, I wish they had just cast him as Luthor. While I understand they want a big name for their villain, at least study the excellent work he put in as Luthor in Smallville! Here, Luthor is portrayed as a raving lunatic, instead of the self confident, quietly assured and seething with animus figure he actually is. Also, his plan sucks. So lets say his plan does work and Doomsday kills Superman. What then? He kills the whole planet? Luthor has no power over him, so what happens next? I refuse to believe in a Lex Luthor who has already not planned a dozen moves ahead. He tries to frame Superman as the perpetrator of a crime where a lot of people were shot up. Really? Superman killed a bunch of people with a gun? How plausible is that? Yeah, this Luthor doesn’t cut it.
- Story – The story is full of convenient mistakes made by characters who would never do that, solely because the story is crap and needs these things to happen so that it can move forward. When Superman finally confront Batman, instead of saying “Dude, my mom is in danger, I need your help”, he starts with “You dont understand.” If my mom is in danger, my first sentence would be “My mom is in danger, I need your help”, instead of spending the first 10 sentences asking Batman to chill out and listen to you. He’s listening to you asking him to listen to you, so why not just state the facts as quickly as possible? Of course, that wouldn’t lead to a fight between Superman and Batman, so Superman conveniently doesn’t say anything until half the time allotted to him to save his mom is gone. Lois Lane finds the weapon that can kill superman, so instead of running away with it and hiding it somewhere no one can find it, she sees a pool right next to where Batman and Superman fought, and thinks “Hey, water, that would be a GREAT hiding place for a weapon that is GLOWING green.” Its not like the first place people would search for a weapon is its last known location. Or that water would hide the glow of the weapon. But of course, since Lois Lane needs to constantly be under threat of death, she throws it into the pool just so that she can get trapped in that same pool under rubble and Superman can come save her. Lex Luthor makes a plan that makes no sense. It just goes on and on, and this is just the last half an hour, which is suffused with action and hence has less story. Imagine the plodding, dreary first two hours of the movie. Shoehorning the Justice League mentions seem out of place. I understand Warner Bros. want the team to get together asap so that they can mint money with Justice League movie, but at least give them a chance to get introduced well! But since this movie leads directly to Justice League, the characters each get a minute to be introduced in the most pedestrian way possible. Also, Aquaman looks like a cowering hobo instead of the king of all seas. And whats with the dream sequences? They set up things without any context, and without any payoffs. The Flash shows up (no name given, I know he’s the Flash because i’m a nerd) and then… what? Nothing. The payoffs are teased to be in a later movie, I assume, but when one is past the point of caring for the current one, how much shit is anyone gonna give for plot points for future movies? The story telling chops to make people care about certain things are not on display, so my hopes aren’t too high. Also, how many times do we have to see Batman’s parents die? They should have removed a LOT of extraneous stuff and reduced the runtime of the movie, which is bloated with multiple threads that dont need to be focused on.
I can go on and on, but I’ll stop.
TLDR (Too Long, Didnt Read)
Batman Vs Superman: Dawn of Justice is a misfire of the highest order. The actors gamely try to elevate the movie but fail due to a dull script and writers/director who misinterpret the characters constantly. You should go see it, sure, its Batman vs Superman after all, but dont be surprised if you come out of the theatre, shaking your head, wondering what could have been. At least they set up Wonder Woman very well, and her solo movie is now at the top of my list of movies to watch next year, but when it comes to this movie, this beautiful tragedy of a movie, the missed potential breaks my heart.
I’m scared of how bad the Justice League movie is going to be.