Batman v Superman review

2 April 2016 by , No Comments

Batman_v_Superman_-_Dawn_of_Justice_logo

This movie was a real rollercoaster of a flick. For every rise to awesomeness, there was an awkward drop into awfulness. It goes up and down so much that the only thing I can really score it is a middle-of-the-road 5/10.

Our story hook is quite decent enough. The flick takes place 18 months after Man of Steel and sees the world wrestling with the idea of Superman, an all-powerful alien demigod, acting totally independently of anyone, going around doing whatever he thinks is right. Bruce Wayne, having lost people working for him during that fight at the end of the first movie, is of the opinion that he’s gotta go for the good of all humanity. Okay, good start, but what comes next? Kiiiind of a very mixed bag.

First things first, I just want to say that Ben Affleck’s performance as Bruce Wayne is completely on point. This guy plays an older, battle-weary Bruce who’s clearly been doing his costumed vigilante schtick for several years already and is starting to feel seriously burnt out. It’s actually a pretty interesting take on the character that I enjoyed. From the quiet, silent moments where he’s just contemplating his past and the future of his planet to the moments where he has to pretend to be the billionaire playboy everybody knows him as and looks tired and weary doing so (which I really hope was intentional because the thought of Affleck just genuinely half-assing this is one I don’t want to think about), there is a lot to like about Affleck’s Bruce Wayne and he plays reasonably well off of Jeremy Iron’s Alfred, who is a bit tougher than Michael Caine but no less likable. He’s a good man with a strong moral code who isn’t afraid to snark at his boss and is clearly trying to keep him off the straight and narrow. Affleck doesn’t get any particularly interesting scenes with him but, for we got it worked. So, yeah, I kinda liked his Wayne, despite its flaws. His Batman, though? *Sharp intake of breath.* That character is, to put it mildly, a paranoid psychopathic sociopath. And not in the way that Batman usually is. He’s angry all the time, far more brutal than he has any right being (literally everything about the concept of the “Bat brand” just made my soul cringe), and comes across as being little better than the monsters he’s been fighting his whole life. There is nothing heroic or likeable about this man and I can honestly say that I enjoyed watching him get punched through walls because of that very fact.

Not that Supes gets off any better. Henry Cavill has clearly settled a bit more comfortably into his role as the Man of Steel and he probably gives a better performance than he did in the last film. To his credit, I have always liked how Cavill plays the introspective Supes. I do buy that he’s not human and that he’s struggling to reconcile the part of him that wants to be with the part of him that knows he’ll never be. I also like how Clark Kent feels morally-driven to uncover Batman’s awful deeds throughout the movie. It’s like they were apologising for Superman not being as heroic as we might have wanted in the last film and I appreciate that. Unfortunately, Superman as an action hero has not become any more interesting. He’s boring, generic, and, honestly, kind of stupid. There are several moments in the film where Superman could solve literally everything by just opening his mouth and talking but, for some reason, he doesn’t do that. There are also moments in the film where Superman will fly to the other side of the world and save people in a nanosecond, yet somehow he can’t save someone a few blocks away fast enough. Just how quick is this guy? What’s the extent of his powers? I don’t know, movie, you have to tell me! You have to establish this stuff so that I don’t look at the later parts of your story and think, “Well, why didn’t he just do X?”

Lois Lane… exists. That’s pretty much all I can say about her. And it’s weird because she does have a bigger and more interesting role in the first act. I honestly thought they were going to do something more with her character but then she goes back to being pretty ineffectual and useless. Kind of a shame.

Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman, surprisingly, became one of my favourite characters, which is weird considering that she had maybe ten lines of dialogue in the whole movie. I think what I like about her is that she’s the only one who felt like an actual hero. When the boys are having their little pissing contest, Wonder Woman cancels what I can only presume was going to be a trip to someplace nice (honestly, it’s not really clear what was happening or why in that scene) to go out and actually fight the baddie. Again, that’s something I appreciate. Putting the needs of others before your own wants. I also think that Gal Gadot held her own fairly well in the action scenes. While she didn’t really get to flex her acting muscles as much as I might have liked, making it hard to judge how good or bad she actually is in the role, her action bits did make me interested in seeing a solo movie. I think she could pull it off with a better director at the helm.

The last big character is Jesse Eisenberg’s Lex Luthor, who is probably the most entertaining character in the film, for better or worse. It’s clear that Eisenberg is having an absolute blast with the part and, after all the doom and gloom this movie likes to heap on its audience, it’s just nice to see someone look like he’s actually havign some FUN with his part. There’s just ooooonne minor problem: That’s not Lex Luthor. Like. It’s not even close. Forget about the hair, that’s honestly the minorest of minor details. The problem with his Luthor is that he is… how to put it nicely? For the most part, an over-the-top Joker cosplayer wthout the cosplay. Eisenberg is clearly having fun in his part but the way in which he minces about constantly, making awkward jokes, and generally acting like he doesn’t fully understand what he’s doing often tends to make one wonder whether somebody mixed this script up with a different movie. It’s a shame, too, because I actually liked the scenes where we see his cooler, more calculating side. Again, I like that he seems to be enjoying himself but I can’t help but feel that, with some better direction, this could have been so much better than it was.

Actually, let’s talk about direction some more. There are a lot of dull, heavy scenes, so the plot feels like it’s moving slower than it actually is for a lot of the movie and the editing sometimes gets a bit disorientating. It’s not always clear where we are or how much time has passed or whether what we’re seeing is even real. The way in which the movie tries to set up a larger DC narrative is laughably bad, with a big dumb action scene that doesn’t amount to much and ends on a note that makes you wonder whether you just saw a was dream, time travel, something from another reality, or whether someone just laced your popcorn with LSD. Some have taken umbrage with the way the other superhumans were hinted at but, personally, I didn’t mind it so much. There should have been more it but I can’t say I was particularly offended by it. It was just sorta “Eh”.

The real stars of this movie are definitely the techies. Honestly, I still feel the movie looks far grimmer and darker than a Superman movie has any business looking but the action is easier to follow and the action scenes do feel a lot weightier, which I like. The lighting and cinematography are clear and it’s always easy to tell what you’re supposed to be seeing, even if the editing and direction don’t always make it clear what’s supposed to be going on with it.

There’s a good movie trying to get out of Batman v Superman but it feels like it’s buried under the weight of trying to do too much at once – and yet, weirdly enough, it also doesn’t feel like it’s going far enough with the ideas it already has. It’s the kind of film where I can’t decide if it needed to be half an hour longer or shorter. For what it’s worth, I wouldn’t say I was ever particularly bored by the film but I wouldn’t say that anything really stood out at me, either.

At the end of the day, the thing that makes a comic book movie are the characters and I’m sad to say that these two are far from the World’s Finest. I’ve got no problems with the film being as brutal and violent as it is, it’s just that our heroes should be riding out to *stop* such violence, not perpetuate it. To totally steal from Linkara, some of the best moments in superhero stories aren’t about them punching people or lifting heavy stuff but just about them being good people and inspiring others to do what’s right? Sadly, there just isn’t very much of that in this movie.

It really says something when George Clooney looks like the better interpretation, doesn’t it?

Leave a Reply