*This is a spoiler-free review, however I will be mentioning some specifics of the film, that are not detrimental to the plot. So if you want to go into the movie knowing nothing then do not read any paragraphs with an asterisk and bold font at the beginning.*
I’m sure by now that you’ve heard someone give their opinion about the biggest superhero film of the year, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. You may have heard anything from, “The greatest superhero movie ever” all the way to “The film is absolute trash” which may leave you with some indecision on whether or not you should spend the money to go see it. Well have no fear, Pressing Coverage is here to provide a stance on the film, from a fan’s point of view.
Let me start this off by asking all of you that have already seen the movie/are going to see the movie this question:
Why did you want to go and see the movie in the first place?
Your answer should be somewhere along the lines of,
“Because I wanted to see a movie with Batman and Superman (and Wonder Woman) in it, so that I could see the two (three) of the greatest superheros of all time duke it out against one another and eventually unite to stop bad guys with all the action to be expected in a superhero movie”
It should not be,
“Because I want to see a movie that matches the Godfather in terms of pacing and narrative story telling because I know that is what Director Zack Snyder is really known for!”
So just keep that in the back of your head, and I’ll come back to this in a moment.
To say that this is the best superhero movie ever is an over exaggeration. To say that the film is absolute trash is also way too over the top. I would say that this is the most ambitious superhero film ever, more so than Marvel’s: The Avengers and upcoming Captain America:Civil War. However, at the same time it could have been executed much better.
I say that it is more ambitious because when it comes to the Avengers, there is only one character that is truly hard to write a script for in my opinion, and that’s Thor. A demi-god who commands lightning and has essentially no weakness other than his own arrogance. But when he is surrounded by characters such as Iron Man, Captain America, Black Widow, and Hulk, they take the spotlight off of him so that he only has to provide the occasional Nordic monologue here and there. All the while the rest of the cast is carrying the movie. I think Marvel has done a very good job with the character, but he isn’t the center of the superhero team film because he doesn’t have to be.
The opposite is for Superman. Who has to be the one of two characters that carries this film. A guy that has no weaknesses and for all intents and purposes is supposed to be perfect. You can see how it can be difficult to make the guy easy to relate to.
This movie is not perfect, there is no denying that, but I think that the reason why people are saying the film is so bad is because of how well we’ve seen a movie with Batman done before with Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight trilogy. Which sorry to break it to all of you who went into this film holding it up to the standards of the Dark Knight, but this movie isn’t as good as the best superhero movie of our time.
In regards to the big picture (pun counter: 1) the movie only really suffers from two things:
- It gets bogged down at points by trying to give too many characters adequate screen time.
- It tries too hard to set up the Justice League and other future DC cinematic universe movies.
Every other problem the film might have is a small one, and one that just comes down to a person’s preference of how certain characters are interpreted. Let’s get the bad out of the way first.
When you have a film as ambitious as this one, it is very easy to get carried away with certain things. And when you have a cast with as many big names in supporting roles as this, it can be easy for certain characters to overstay their welcome.
For me, the character that I was nervous about going into the film was Louis Lane. I knew that she had substantial screen time in Man of Steel, as she deserved, but I was afraid that the movie would try to fit her into the story more than she needed to be…and I turned out to be right. First of all, I enjoy Amy Adams’ performance as Lane, I think that she embodied all of the characteristics of the strong, self reliant, witty Louis Lane in Man of Steel. However, in Batman v Superman she comes off as helpless. Which I mean unless you have super powers and you’re not a villain, then there isn’t much you can do other than be helpless if you are going to be in the middle of the two title characters fighting.
Two of the supporting characters (that are just regular humans) in the movie that I felt were nailed almost perfectly were Alfred and Martha Kent. Alfred, whom Jeremy Irons played excellently, is in the movie almost as much as Lane. When Alfred is on screen, I never felt like he was taking away from the movie. His presence was always for the purpose of developing Affleck’s Bruce Wayne, by having Bats have someone to talk to when in the Batcave and when he’s out doing detective work in a JARVIS like manner.
In regards to Martha Kent, Clark Kent’s mother, she is in a similar position as Alfred. She has ties to one of the title characters, cares deeply about them, and is there for the purpose of supporting Clark whenever he is having some form of internal conflict. She doesn’t hurt the film, and similar to Kevin Costner’s performance in Man of Steel as Clark’s father she doesn’t overstay her welcome and pushes the characters and plot forward.
Louis Lane could have been done better and I think it would have been better had she been on the screen less. She does some detective work throughout the movie, that leads to a certain revelation, but throughout the film Batman is working a similar angle and they both come to essentially the same conclusion. If they had put Lane in a role like they did Martha Kent, where she is a character that cares for Superman, showing that he is more human than the world would like everyone to think, who is there to console him when he is unsure of himself, and if he needs a character to save then have him save her only once. In my opinion they should’ve made Lane closer to what Marvel did with Pepper Pots in the first Avengers. Acknowledge her existence, make it clear that our hero cares about her, make her likable, and if she needs to be saved, make it so that it makes the villain all the more evil.
While the Justice League is clearly referenced in the subtitle of this movie, there were a couple of scenes in this film that took that reference way too far. These scenes felt forced, and when you see the film you’ll know exactly which scenes I’m talking about. One scene is an absolute WTF moment, that feels incredibly forced, and I immediately wished that they either hadn’t had that scene in there at all, or had just put it in as an after credits scene. DC I know you don’t want to be called out for copying Marvel for having an after credits scene, but your first priority should be making a movie that is a great standalone film, not a stepping stone for future ones.
*This is the part where I get specific so if you don’t want to know, then go to the next paragraph* The other scene that comes to mind is tolerable, but again it derails the movie by taking us away from the confrontation that we should care about. The showdown between Batman and Superman. In the scene it makes clear reference to the existence of the other superheros in the world, and it does so by displaying the insignia of each character. This got cheers from the crowd and in my opinion would’ve sufficed as a tease for what is to come. For the few people that aren’t able to understand who the symbols are referencing, the movie then spends about a minute on each character showing brief displays of their abilities.
The comic book fan in me was obviously pleased with both of these scenes, but it hinders the pace of the movie. They already have to introduce us to the new versions of Batman, Lex Luthor, and Wonder Woman to a degree, and then develop all of them throughout the movie. Get us to care about both Superman and Batman. Make us understand what is happening and why Batman and Superman are fighting. All in the span of about 2 and a half hours. There is just no room for that heavy of an emphasis on the Justice League and the future of the DC cinematic universe. The subtitle I feel was reference enough, and if that wasn’t then the team up at the end was. Like you really didn’t know they would end up teaming up when the title has DAWN OF JUSTICE in it. Speaking of the team up…
Look at that gif. Now look at it again. Everything in this image is what the film does RIGHT. Batman. Superman. Wonder Woman.
Let’s start out with my favorite of the three, the Dark Knight. Ben Affleck gives one of the best performances of his career. Which is a shame considering that a lot of critics are bashing the movie and not highlighting how good Affleck really is here. This is a Batman that is similar to Frank Miller’s, The Dark Knight Returns interpretation. Where we see a much more aged and experienced Batman that has become more ruthless due to all the people that he has lost and caused pain from wearing the cape and cowl. He has become tired of seeing the “filth” of Gotham continue to grow and he has begun taking more extreme measures to fight crime. This interpretation of the caped crusader happens to go almost hand in hand with Director Zack Snyder’s darker style.
Affleck is able to portray the darker and brooding side of Batman and Wayne, but at the same time is able to go back and forth with other characters throughout the film and is almost always the one that steals the scene. He gets the audience to understand what is going through the character’s head, easily gets us to root for him during all of the fight scenes, but most importantly he for the most part gets us to understand why this character is the way that he is. It helps us better understand why he has become more brutal than the previous interpretations that we are used to, despite the film feeding the audience these moments only a few times.
This film had two of the strongest scenes that I have ever seen. They may not have the same effect on everyone, but they for sure left an impact on me. The first scene is when Bruce Wayne is staring at the Batman suit, then when he turns around he sees the costume of his deceased sidekick Robin, desecrated by the message, “HAHAH Jokes on you Batman” which is clear that Robin met his demise at the hands of the Joker, whom we will see Jared Leto portray in Suicide Squad coming out in August. Every time that Bruce Wayne puts on the Bat suit, he has to walk by this mural. This shows a brief insight into Bruce’s psyche, that at one time he was compassionate enough to take on a sidekick, and that he clearly cared a lot about that character. This is later referenced when Bruce talks to Alfred and says, “20 years in Gotham and how many good guys are left? How many stayed that way?”.
The second scene is during the fight between Batman and Superman, which by the way is fantastically shot. It’s not a long scene but it is where Batman is dragging the body of Superman across the floor. Superman who is in all intents and purposes God like, clad in his red and yellow “S” and cape that symbolizes hope throughout the movie, appears so vulnerable in this scene.
*Again I get specific so if you want to know nothing then skip to the next paragraph* Now there is one thing that I’m sure you’ve heard people complain about this version of Batman, and that’s that he kills bad guys. As a fan of Batman of course I have a problem with this. The fact that he doesn’t kill is what sets him apart from the villains. This internal moral conflict of taking that final step has always added another layer to the character. In this movie he blows guys up during a car chase when he’s in the Batmobile and he does it one more time by the end of the movie. It’s not a huge plot spoiler because the movie doesn’t make it seem like such a big deal. Which is a shame, because it could have made for a very deep scene for the character if say Alfred had called him out on it. I’m guessing the first scene that I mentioned above is supposed to be that scene we were looking for in terms of an explanation, but still it would’ve been better for the audience to hear it discussed.
All of this gets me excited for the solo Affleck Batman film(s). We may get three depending on rumors of executives being so enthused about his performance as the Bat. However, I do really hope that if they do give him three of his own movies, I hope they take a page out of Star Wars’ playbook and let a different director direct each of the movies. Christopher Nolan already gave us the best Batman trilogy by a single director that we are almost certainly ever going to see, so a new director for each film would be very fresh for the character and for fans. I for sure would love to see an Affleck Batman that takes place before BvS, that shows how he became so dark and brooding. Toss in Leto’s Joker and I’d be even more excited.
Henry Cavill once again does a good job of portraying the big blue boy scout. He shows the inner doubt that is going on within the Man of Steel, whether or not he should continue to help people since it is causing the rest of the world a lot of paranoia due to the fact that he could wipe out the world if he were in a particularly bad mood. When he is dressed in his street clothes and glasses a la Clark Kent, Cavill really displays that deep down the character is just a good guy who is trying to do the right thing. He is the opposite of Wayne in the way that he sees the world in a much more hopeful light and Snyder was able to capture the characters’ contrasting philosophies as best he could.
In terms of aesthetics, this is the best representation of Superman that we’ve seen. Every time he takes off you can feel it. The cape is gorgeous, and you are able to feel every punch that he throws. You see how his powers just annihilate anything around him, which makes the fact that Batman is able to go toe to toe with him all the more impressive.
In regards to arch nemesis Lex Luthor, I don’t have too much to say. Jesse Eisenberg does a good enough job as Lex Luthor, but it’s not the Luthor that we’ve seen in the past. His role makes a lot more sense when you see the film, so don’t let the trailers discourage you too much. If he was asked to play a crazier version of Luthor then Eisenberg knocked it out of the park. This iteration of Lex replaces an older more calculating version of the character, with a younger mad scientist-like Lex. It’s not a bad performance, and people have to realize that just because this isn’t the version of the villain that we are used to seeing, doesn’t make it bad. However, I will say that I preferred Kevin Spacey’s performance as Lex in Superman Returns over this one.
Gal Gadot does an excellent job in her limited role as Diana Prince, AKA Wonder Woman, and if you see this in theaters, the amazonian will without a doubt have the crowd cheering when she makes her first costumed appearance. There isn’t much for me to say here other than she does the character justice. We don’t see too much of her in this film, but when we do she is a lot of fun on screen. I was fine with the Wonder Woman outfit, all of the colors are there without looking to campy. I am intrigued to say the least about the upcoming stand alone Wonder Woman movie after seeing Gadot’s performance.
If I could describe this movie review in one sentence it would be this: Every problem you might find with the movie should evaporate the moment that Wonder Woman appears on screen. This is why you came to see the film. You wanted to see these characters team up, fight some big opponent and have your eyes mesmerized by the action. This is where Batman v Superman delivers in spades. Superman swoops down with a thunderous boom, throwing a villain that shall be unnamed, into a tanker causing a huge and glorious explosion, then lands next to Batman and Wonder Woman. The music picks up and you realize that this was why you paid to see this movie.
Batman v Superman is a visually pleasing work of art. The battle between Batman and Superman is superbly shot from start to finish, along with the other action scenes. For the most part, the characters are well represented, and Affleck steals the show, along with Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman receiving a warm welcome. However, it takes us a while to get to the big fight, and with the studio trying to fit so much into this movie, along with emphasis on certain unnecessary characters and future movies undermining the pace of the film, it keeps Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice from reaching its full potential. If you are a comic book fan then this is a must see, but if you are #TeamMarvel then this won’t make you want to switch sides just yet.
I give it an: 80/100