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Movie Review: Batman vs Superman: Dawn of Justice (No Spoilers)

Updated on April 19, 2016

Spoiler Free

I'm not gonna spoil anything outside of anything you've seen in the trailers. I will likely talk, at length, about the film in another post.

That being said, I will discuss minor things that you may consider a spoiler such as, and stop if you want to avoid anything, Batman using a plethora of guns. It doesn't ruin the plot of the film, but by golly do I have feelings about it.

A poster for the film
A poster for the film | Source

Initial Impressions

Well...I'm debating on how to start....

I guess I went into this film from Man of Steel, a film I wasn't thrilled with but I'm becoming a bit more and more of a superhero film junkie recently. Of course I was going to see this. I recently just finished Daredevil Season 2 when I went to see this. Furthermore, I have heard of the numerous reviews and that they weren't good. That's the state of mind I had going into this.

And in the bottom line, I was bored, annoyed to the point of anger, and am now pessimistic about the future of the DC cinematic universe.

Jesse Eisenberg as Lex Luthor
Jesse Eisenberg as Lex Luthor | Source

The....Plot

Superman (played by Henry Cavill) is viewed as a very polarizing figure. Most people in this film will be shown to hate him or not like him at all, although some actually like or worship him (shown in about 2 maybe 3 scenes). Batman/Bruce Wayne (played by Ben Affleck) hates Superman because he fought in Metropolis, destroying one of his buildings and fearing that he could do worse to the world if he would decide to become humanity's enemy. A goofy Lex Luthor (played by Jesse Eisenberg) is...there, and kinda pushes the plot.

Lois Lane (Amy Adams) is there as your stereotypical damsel, and Perry White (Lawrence Fishburne) gets a couple of scenes as well as Alfred Pennyworth (played by Jeremy Irons), but the film uses them more as background characters than anything.

The plot is bad, a bunch of good to great ideas (how the world views Superman following the devastating battle in Man of Steel for instance or Doomsday itself), but nothing is paid much attention to. There's some political stuff here, some 'war veteran' material here, some nonsense about stuff in Africa, the fact that Gotham and Metropolis are separated only by a small bay, and Affleck's idiotic Batman (not that he didn't act that well, he really didn't, but that the character is written poorly).

There's also a fair share of 'pushing' the cinematic universe. I was annoyed with some of this in Avengers 2: Age of Ultron, but not only are these 'references' confusing, they're also boring, nonsensical, and the worst parts in the film. It's legitimately bad.

Casting and Performance

I don't want to say that the actors and actresses did a bad job in their roles because their roles were badly written, but their performances were uninspiring in bland characters.

I was most excited for Jeremy Irons as Alfred (an actor I like in most of the roles I've seen) but his character is tired with unfunny lines who has as much presence in the trailers as he actually does in the film. Fishburne is just an angry editor in chief at The Daily Bugle with inconsistent attitude towards his employees. Henry Cavill lacks the obvious charisma he's had in other roles (especially in The Man from U.N.C.L.E.) and Ben Affleck is just a character that's propped up and is necessary for the part he's required to play. Gal Gadot doesn't do a terrible job playing Wonder Woman, but she's not given much screen time.

The worst of it all is definitely Jesse Eisenberg. I'm not entirely sure what his character was made for, or the angle they wanted him to portray. He's wacky, at times nonsensical, all while attempting his best mad scientist role that somehow becomes a massive cultural figure that regularly speaks with and dictates things to the government. He just doesn't make any kind of sense to me.

Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman.
Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman. | Source

Zak Snyder's Vision

The characters, the plot, the values, and the story is all second to Snyder's vision. There's so much overt symbolism that is shoved onto the audience. The most recent Batman films (the Nolan trilogy) it expresses Batman's 1 rule of not killing people, and not using guns (although The Dark Knight Rises was pretty off-kilter with that, especially with the guns on his bike and 'bat-plane'). Batman kills lots of people (as does Superman because I'm not sure how one can drive a man throw several walls without killing him) with lots of guns, using guns and bullets far more often than his signature weapon, his Batarangs, or even using his gatling gun.

The visions/dreams are so, so bad. My wife doesn't seem to understand anything going on, and I don't blame her; she's not a comic reader and resorts to just the movie. That entire audience is going to be so confused and not sure what's going on, and that's heavily alienating. The rest of us that know something of what's happening in these 'scenes,' but then we wonder when did Batman become a kind of prophet? A 'mysterious character' appears to Batman to warn him of a seemingly important plot point, but then it's completely disregarded for the rest of the film. Even the character claims, "I'm too soon. I'm too soon!" before vanishing, making you wonder it's relevance at all.

So much of the plot is forced. Batman is an idiot. He is literally a brute who just wants to punch and brand things. There's no intellectual depth to him and in the couple of scenes that Alfred has is devoted to working his mechanical bits and technology.

I was also confused a bit by the scant and nonsensical sexual bits. I have no issue if sexual tension is used in a film appropriately (meaning it's used for characterization, framing a relationship, or even as an excuse for some fun or humor), but the film treats it weirdly. Lois Lane sits in a bathtub and gives plenty of around-the-nipple breast shots while speaking to Clark Kent, all without charisma. There's another shot of Wonder Woman in her fight scene when she hits the ground and the camera takes a crotch shot of her while she gives her opponent a coy smile. I'm simply sitting in my seat wondering, "This really doesn't seem to fit."

This is also a very different kind of Batman than we've seen in films as of yet. That being said, there should have been a standalone film of Batman simply to establish these new rules that he has. As it is, he's smushed up against so many other things Snyder wanted included that you simply don't like this Batman because you don't know him. Then again, a standalone Batman film of the titular character running and gunning down criminals while branding the survivors seems like a hard pill to swallow.

There's more, but it's more plot-specific.

Well...what's good about it?

Not much, I give you that. I am now more excited for the Wonder Woman film. Cyborg and Aquaman look decent as well (so long as Jason Momoa doesn't look like he's always holding his breath with puffed out cheeks while underwater). The music was good in a lot of parts, most notably the soundtrack when Wonder Woman actually shows up and begins fighting (video below). Visuals are often either standard or really good, as one would hope from Snyder, but that's more finicky than the rest. Still, you're better off waiting for the film to actually be released and looking up the good bits online on Youtube or its soundtrack.

Wonder Woman's 'Intro' Music

Rated PG-13

Lots of people get beaten up, and lots of other people get shot (by Batman). There's a little bit of impaling too, and the aforementioned Lois Lane in the bathtub scene. There's one profanity and it falls short of an F-Bomb.

Someone please tell me why the Director's Cut is supposed to be Rated R? At this point, it's either because Snyder wants a lot more grotesque violence (of which there's very little) or they really did want to ride Deadpool's coattails in the Rated R superhero category. It's annoying, either way.

Closing Thoughts

A lot of other reviews you'll hear online are pretty spot-on. It's boring, it's disappointing. It's not all bad, nor is it going to be universally hated. I've already talked to people who've liked it, but I'm not entirely sure how. I don't want Snyder directing anymore of the DC movies, and I want there to be some kind of fun-attached to it. I understand they don't want to copy Marvel's strategy, but they're undeniably losing this cinematic race.

Ben Affleck playing a depressed Batman
Ben Affleck playing a depressed Batman | Source

Tl;dr

  • boring, lack of fun
  • nonsensical plot with one-dimensional characters
  • causes me to worry for the future of the DC cinematic universe
  • Makes me glad they're not incorporating the Flash/Arrow shows into this

Do you still plan on seeing this film?

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Comments

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    • rjbatty profile image

      rjbatty 

      2 years ago from Irvine

      I haven't seen the film but your synopsis confirms my worst suspicions. My plan is to hold off until the "R" rated version comes out on Blu-Ray. I want to see the 30 minutes that were cut -- for better or worse.

      I never liked the idea of DC making a film based largely on the Frank Miller pictorial novel. I think Miller did an outstanding job on the "300." I also liked his work on "Sin City." I haven't read any reviews about how Miller liked/disliked Batman vs. Superman, but I would expect that he'd be disappointed. This is saying a lot because the novel is only used as loose material for the motion picture release. Maybe the check in the mail rendered him mute -- who knows.

      In any case I thought the entire premise was flimsy from the onset. When I first heard that WB gave a green light for this production, I thought of Godzilla vs. Mothra. The whole concept is horrible, and I expected failure -- maybe not spectacular failure but failure nonetheless.

      When you start with a bad idea, it's hard to rise above it. I'll eventually watch the film (as previously stated), but my expectations will be close to zero. It could end up (in my estimation) below zero, and that would be sad for everyone connected with this production.

      Hopefully, DC/WB has learned a valuable lesson here and its future releases will be more digestible.

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