Monday, April 4, 2016

Review: Batman Vs. Superman: Dawn Of Justice

I've come to the conclusion in life that it's best to completely skip all trailers, commercials, hype ads, and other media when it comes to things I think I might enjoy.    I'm willing to watch one trailer to simply see what a movie might offer and learn that it might actually be something I want to know more about, but beyond that there's so little value to them beyond "revealing the entire plot."

However, I did say in that previous post that I would see both movies, and I've lived up to exactly half of that promise by going out and seeing the story of a guy with an armored suit battle a guy who's a walking atomic powerhouse.

So what did I think?  Well, look after the cut, and be prepared for spoilers.



Judging a movie like this is hard, because fans of DC comics like me have been waiting years to see Superman and Batman both share the big screen together, fighting evil and living up to the title of World's Finest.  We had movies of both characters, but fans like me had long expected that we would get some kind of crossover movie between the two characters long before we'd get anything like the Avengers having a team movie.

Heck, for a long time we expected we would get a team-up movie between the Man of Steel and Dark Knight before we'd get a single good Marvel movie, period.

Now, I had heard the jokes beforehand.  "Superman vs. Daredevil."  "Lex Luthor, founder of Facebook."  "The title sounds like a court case instead of a fight."  Considering the amount of disappointment I felt for Man of Steel, I really hoped (but didn't expect) this one to try to clean up some of the mess that was left behind by the other movie.

I left the theater feeling pretty disappointed.  I wasn't angry, like I was when I first saw Man of Steel, but I think that might be because it wasn't really a surprise that it would be a dark, moody movie that wanted everybody to think it was "grown-up."  I pretty much knew what I was going in for when I bought the ticket.  It'd be like showing up at the 1916 Cumberland/Georgia Tech football game and expecting Cumberland to pull out a surprise victory.

But the movie wasn't all bad.  There were a few things that, looking back, I think were extremely well done.  First and foremost, let's talk about Ben Affleck.


I don't have a single complaint about Ben Affleck's performance as Batman.  He carries the moodiness, the drama, and the pathos of the character just right.  I think he could have worked a bit more on his "Bruce Wayne" persona.  I still think Michael Keaton did the best job being being completely believable in both roles, but Ben Affleck probably takes second place well ahead of Christian Bale, Val Kilmer, and George Clooney.

I liked Jeremy Irons as Alfred, he had some of the only funny lines in the whole movie.  I really liked Gal Godot as Wonder Woman.  Henry Cavill was...passable...as Superman again, though it'd be nice to see him actually smile while helping people- sorry, almost went into the negatives there.

Let's see, we have Batman, Wonder Woman, Alfred... okay, some of the fights were extremely well choreographed.  Batman's gadgets and cave looked perfectly like something a modern vigilante would use instead of just being a dark cave and a few odds and ends.  I like Amy Adams.  ...oh, and she did fine as Lois Lane, too.

However, that's where the praise stops.  Beyond those things, the movie just doesn't hold up.  Let's talk about the absolute worst thing about the movie: Jesse Eisenberg.

Jesse Eisenberg as Lex Luthor is the worst casting of a major comic book character since Alicia Silverstone donned the Bat-Spandex-Armor.  He didn't have any presence, he wasn't the most confident man in the room by any leap of the imagination, and his tics and twitches, as one person I know pointed out, made him seem more likely to be a Batman villain who ends up in Arkham Asylum after trying a wacky gimmick crime than a major Superman foe.

Every time Jesse Eisenberg was on the screen, I lost interest.  I didn't want to hear his ramblings, I didn't care about whatever his master plan was (not that he had one, but more on that later), and I found myself silently wishing he'd act more like his character from Now You See Me, and when I think your professional stage magician character is the less theatrical and hammy character, you're doing something wrong.

The rest of my problems pretty much can all be traced back to Zack Snyder.  The man is so determined to make his movies dark and "edgy" that they don't feel like real movies any more.  They're art-house "takes" of characters that are almost unrecognizable to the original archetypes that the characters represent.

Here's a short list of things that made my brain go "nope" while I was watching this movie:


  • Batman has guns mounted to his vehicles that he uses to destroy several other vehicles, killing the people driving those vehicles.
  • Batman uses other means to straight-up kill people he goes up against, and those he doesn't kill he simply maims or critically wounds and leaves to die.
  • Batman does little to no detective work when it comes to Superman, he simply decides that he needs to "take Superman out" because of the events of the last movie.
  • Superman doesn't inspire hope in anybody.  He becomes an object of worship by some, but is feared by a majority of people (I think? The movie's vague about whether people like him or not, but we never really SEE him do anything outside of "show up, save someone, leave").  He's not inspirational at all, and flat-out abandons people for a really stupid reason late in the movie.
  • Doomsday is forced into the movie for no real reason beyond "hey, look, it's Doomsday!"
  • Wonder Woman and the rest of the cameos in the movie feel extremely tacked-on, since DC is hoping to use them as a springboard for other movies coming out later.  
  • Lex Luthor's plan makes no sense whatsoever.  His plan is more random than the Joker's plan in The Dark Knight.
  • It's so. blasted. dark.  I get Gotham being a dark city, but why is Metropolis always so wrapped in shadows?
I honestly can't really recommend the movie to anybody unless they're an absolutely die-hard Superman or Batman fan and just want to say they saw the "first cinematic meeting of the two" on a big screen.  The characters act unlike how, at their core, they're meant to act, and nobody comes out of the movie looking like they were really enjoying the role except Ben Affleck and Gal Godot.  Oh, and Jeremy Irons, but he always has fun.

Stay home and watch World's Finest, the animated meeting of Batman and Superman.  It's so much better.

I think I might actually make this week "Superman" week.  Tomorrow I'll talk about what I would have done differently, and later during the week we'll talk about what makes Superman one of my favorite characters, what I think some of his best moments are, and things they could put into a movie to make Superman, you know, "super."

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