Verdict: 3.5 / 5
The wait is finally over. Batman v Superman has arrived.
While the title plays at an exclusive battle between two of the most loved comic book characters of all time, there’s a whole lot more going on than just that. But, truth be told, it’s what the majority of us are paying to see. There were a lot of pre-release complaints and issues that hit production from the start, most of which stemmed as a result of public outcry. In this day and age, it’s to be expected. Despite popular opinion that production companies seek profits over quality, it is in the interest of all for this film to be something worth seeing, for comic book fans and general movie goers alike.
Batman v Superman is a direct follow on from the destruction that befell Metropolis in Man of Steel as Superman fought off General Zod and his fellow Kryptonian outcasts. Be that as it may, this is not a Superman film, as I felt it spent a lot more time than I expected telling the already well-known origin story of Bruce Wayne as Batman. I wouldn’t necessarily think this to be a necessity in a film such as this, but it does enough to wet your taste buds for the standalone Batman film scheduled for 2019. In fact, I left wanting more of the Batman story, given his age and battle-weary demeanour. Despite the storytelling of the first stanza, Batman v Superman is not much of a character-based story as was seen with previous Batman and Superman titles.
Yes, we all wanted to see the fight, and yes it happened, with obvious outcomes, but building up to that moment left me rather bemused. The background and events leading to the showdown have a good enough premise but ultimately falls short as a good enough reason to go down that path. In fact, many of the characters that play a vital role in this buildup seem all too willing to cause a stir rather than give the viewers a sense of injustice and motivation required. Plot-wise, it isn’t the deepest. But I do find myself weighing this up against time constraints and a number of subplots and forecasting that supposedly needed to be told to set up the franchise going forward.
Skip forward past the drivel and you’re basically left with two fights. And to be brutally honest, if this were the only two scenes of the movie, it would’ve been worth it. Bear in mind though, that it would’ve been extended quite substantially in that case. If you have any comic book background or even watched some of the animated movies and series, there’s not much of a surprise at the outcomes of either. The blows were heavy and explosions aplenty. One or two moments could’ve added more value, but ultimately, it’s a battle worth watching. There’s not much more to be said on the fights, they’re good brawlers away from the actual story.
Subplots, Character Portrayals and Criticisms
Although these aren’t out and out spoilers, if you tend to border on the pedantic side on such matters, I’d suggest skipping to the Final Thoughts section…
As stated previously, a lot of this film touches on more than just Batman and Superman. The other key characters in the film include Lex Luthor, Lois Lane, Alfred Pennyworth, and, of course, Wonder Woman, otherwise known as Diana Prince. These characters delivered a mixed bag in terms of their portrayals and motives. The pick of the lot, in my opinion, was Jeremy Irons as Alfred. His dynamic with Bruce is entertaining and believable, something I could see myself enjoying in the 2019 film. Jesse Eisenberg, while questions marks were raised over his casting, delivers a chaotic Lex, oftentimes battling his own inner demons he’s left unable to complete full sentences. There were one or two moments I thought he may have been over his head, but he reeled it beautifully in the end. I still had one or two questions on reasoning and motives, and outright disregard for situations that could easily swing the other way, but this is Lex after all.
My biggest disappointments by far were the two supporting women. As much as I try, I can’t hold back my utter annoyance at Lois’ character. Playing the obvious damsel in distress is one thing, but running around into every battle plays out as sheer stupidity. I foresee some backlash in the coming weeks in this regard, I’d fully support most of these. A journalist on the forefront, yes. Getting yourself into near-death situations at least 3 times in a single movie seems far-fetched. Yes, it gives motivation to Superman’s actions, something exploited by Lex, which leads one to believe that all of the chaos is her fault at the end of the day – but maybe I’m just being cynical.
Once you’re over the, still annoying, casting of Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman, you’ll be relieved to know there’s more nit-picking to be done in the movie itself. Diana wonders Metropolis with her own agenda, which never really comes to the fore, and is, ultimately, just there conveniently. Gadot may get away with her portrayal. The action sequences involving Wonder Woman didn’t warrant enough to criticise her fighting skills. We’ll have to wait for the Wonder Woman standalone for that.
Henry Cavill and Ben Affleck deliver standout performances as their respective characters, with the story doing enough to show their emotional state leading to their actions. That said, the story doesn’t do the film justice, and, apart from Jeromy Irons and Jesse Eisenberg, the characters don’t deliver much depth.
The actual shooting of the film delivers mixed results, just as the story and characters did. On one hand, a few shots show great visuals, those that stood out more involving Superman. The scenery was great too. This is in stark contrast to many of the action scenes, which were delivered as shaky as a novice running around with his handy cam. Editing didn’t help much either. On a few occasions, characters appear in subsequent scenes in different locations and times with no real transition between the two. Despite the approximate 2 hours 30 minute runtime, this made it feel rushed at times.
Is it worth watching? Yes. In fact, I’m going again this weekend. Is it a great film? No. But there are moments that stand out and will be remembered for some time. Batman v Superman plays an important part in the overall scheme of things, setting up the tone for a series of DC films to hit theatres in the next 3 to 4 years. In fact, it does that really well in the end, providing great excitement for Aquaman, Justice League, Wonder Woman, and Suicide Squad films.
It was revealed last week that a Director’s Cut with a higher age restriction is on the cards for the Blu-ray release later this year, which hints that Zack Snyder thinks his hands were tied by Warner Bros., creating a movie more along the lines of what they wanted instead. Added to that an increased runtime of this film makes me wish this version was available for screening at selected theatres. Perhaps we can only fairly provide our judgement after seeing the Director’s Cut.
And one final thought: as is always my modus operandi, I avoid trailers to big budget movies such as this like the plague. Although a few still images and memes filtered through the cracks, and a few casting choices revealed, I saw very little of the film beforehand. In fact, I was surprised to see Jeromy Irons as Alfred, which turned out to be a good surprise. The reveal, as most people expressed annoyance at, of Doomsday in the trailers pre-programmed many into several outcomes of the film. And while the hints were there in the film from an early stage, such big reveals in trailers are a great let-down.
Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice is directed by Zack Snyder starring Ben Affleck as Batman, Henry Cavill as Superman, Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman, Amy Adams as Lois Lane, Laurence Fishburne as Perry White, Diane Lane as Martha Kent, Jeremy Irons as Alfred, Jesse Eisenberg as Lex Luthor, Ray Fisher as Cyborg with Callan Mulvey, Holly Hunter as Senator Finch and Tao Okamoto as Mercy Graves.
It’s been nearly two years since Superman’s (Henry Cavill) colossal battle with Zod (Michael Shannon) devastated the city of Metropolis. The loss of life and collateral damage left many feeling angry and helpless, including crime-fighting billionaire Bruce Wayne (Ben Affleck). Convinced that Superman is now a threat to humanity, Batman embarks on a personal vendetta to end his reign on Earth, while the conniving Lex Luthor (Jesse Eisenberg) launches his own crusade against the Man of Steel. Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice only has 28% on Rotten Tomatoes despite raking in $850 million dollars at the box office worldwide.