Review: Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice
Batman v Superman has landed in cinemas. The most awaited movie of 2016 is here and it’s everything a DC fan ever dreamed of. It’s awesome, brutal, dark and full of glorious Batman, plus we get the Holy DC Trinity at the end, something no one thought will happen anytime soon. Ignore anything you see on Rotten Tomatoes or Metacritic, those people know nothing of Batman’s mythology, Batman & Superman battles or Doomsday. Go see it as soon as possible!
If you don’t want to read more and understand why I say it’s good or what its problems are, then here is the final excerpt: “So, is Batman v Superman worth going to the cinema? HELL, YEAH! Does it have flaws? Yes, like all movies (sadly they are all brought to the front by critics). It’s visually stunning, it has the best Batman ever in Ben Affleck and starts creating the foundation for the DC Cinematic Universe in a good way.”
Three years in the making, Batman v Superman lands with sonic booms and earthquakes, bringing God and man into battle. Fearing the actions of a god-like super hero left unchecked, Gotham City’s own formidable, forceful vigilante takes on Metropolis’s most revered, modern-day savior, while the world wrestles with what sort of hero it really needs. And with Batman and Superman at war with one another, a new threat quickly arises, putting mankind in greater danger than it’s ever known before. The synopsis and the trailers promised three big things: an new Batman, a battle between the best known superheroes of all time and the DC Trinity (Wonder Woman first big screen appearance ever) battling the formidable Doomsday. Did it deliver on these points. YES, fucking YES!
The problems with this movie revolve around other aspects and not those three points mentioned before. The script and the storytelling (editing) are Batman v Superman‘s biggest problems, most probably only the latter. After David S. Goyer‘s run on the script, Chris Terrio came in to rewrite it, you know, the guy who won an Oscar for Argo. Throughout the movie you can feel that some parts are missing, especially because it tries to tell so many stories, some of them are hacked. The dialogues are usually good, some very good (that’s when characters have lines, but I’ll get into that later). The biggest problem is editing.
“That’s how it starts. The fever, the rage, the feeling of powerlessness that turns good men… cruel.”
The first part of the movie is NOT a superhero movie, it’s a political, social, philosophical and religious drama/thriller that just happens to revolve around superheroes. And that is fine, I really liked this approach, making a superhero movie so much darker and serious than any previous entries. This is were things start to creak. You jump from scene to scene so fast, that you cannot absorb what happens on the substance layer or a scene is cut too short to reveal that fundamental element it was supposed to reveal. Couple this with some Justice League foreshadowing and if you’re not a DC fanboy or at least familiar with more than Nolan‘s trilogy and Man of Steel, you’re gonna be lost. I think this happened because three very different people had to create a final product. First we have Snyder, who’s absolutely great with visuals, not just using CGI, but the pure imagery and cinematography; every big scene in this movie references biblical or Greek mythology, evoking sculptures or paintings and manyother scenes are taken directly out of The Dark Knight Returns. Snyder‘s problem is that he tends to focus more on what the movie shows you visually, than what it tells you with its story. Then, we have Terrio, an award winning screenwriter, who tries to delve into sociopolitical issues of our times, combined with studies on God-like figures living among us and the consequences of their actions and powers, trying to humanize them in the process. Then comes the third person in the room, the studio guy (or guys), who wants money and nothing more, so he tells the director to hack and slash so that the movie is as long and good as they think audiences want (audience as in money givers, not fans and passionate people).
The second part of the movie is better. Yeah, it’s that part the critics are calling a CGI fest, but it’s exactly why we would pay for Batman v Superman in the first place. The big battles. This part is more coherent, having left all that world building behind and trying to wrap up the story of this movie, leaving some time at the end to set up the DCEU. Again, Snyder‘s visual style is breathtaking, especially here, where he can go all in with the action (and some more references). The film ends up being good, but not what we hoped we would get from a DC story. Going back to those three points I mentioned, let’s talk a bit more about them and the big characters in Batman v Superman.
“Tell me. Do you bleed?
Ben Affleck is the spear point of this movie. Against his character’s love of darkness, Affleck shines like the brightest stars. I’d say he deserves an Oscar for this role. He is the definitive Batman, the one we wanted since seeing BTAS or reading Dark Knight Returns. His take on Bruce Wayne and Batman is THE BEST performance of an actor in a superhero role. He captures every trait of his character, from the dark and brooding side, to the smirky billionaire, to the cruel deliverer of justice (not really a killer, but brutal and merciless) and any other aspect you expect from Batman. The script really favors him. He’s given many strong lines and powerful and emotional scenes. He shows us Batman’s detective skills, his strong, brutal and tactical fighting style. I don’t have enough words to describe my appreciation for what he did and brought to my most beloved superhero. Affleck gets the character, he shows us Bruce’s pain and loss, his determination and will when it comes to doing what he thinks is right, but also his hero spirit and compassion. So yeah, this is THE BATMAN and for all other flaws, Batman v Superman makes me even more excited for a new movie with the Dark Knight.
“Ignorance is not the same as innocence”
When it comes to Superman… well, the movie does a good job of talking about him, but not allowing him to talk. Henry Cavill gave a good performance in Man of Steel, but here, he talks less than secondary characters. With him, it’s more about the symbolism and the imagery. Every posture we see him in tells us something and his lines usually sum up (too much) what he could have said in longer conversations. Also, he is not happy at all. Almost every scene with him, he is frowning, being sad or angry, all other emotions are non-existent. That’s not to say he’s a bad Superman in this movie, just that the directing and the script don’t allow him to connect too much with us, so his actions aren’t as emotionally powerful as they should be. Batman v Superman gives the Man of Steel pretty much the same screen time as Bruce, but it makes it feel like it’s more Batman’s story than both.
“Devils don’t come from hell beneath us. They come from the sky.”
The new Lex Luthor is very different from what we knew. Jesse Eisenberg did a terrific job of showing us this version of the infamous villain. Crazy, intelligent and arrogant, this new Lex is sort of a Zuckerberg on crack. And since he played Zucker, it’s easy for Jesse to put the crazy layer over. The other secondary characters are pretty ok. Amy Adams gets some more time being and investigative journalist, but ends up being a damsel in distress. Perry White is the comic relief of Batman v Superman, next to Jeremy Irons‘s Alfred, whose commentaries regarding Bruce’s life are smart and hilarious.
And now we arrive to the long awaited appearance of Wonder Woman, played by Gal Gadot. Is she good? Most probably, yes, though she doesn’t have that much to do, except fighting in the final act. She’s beautiful and looks amazing both as Diana Prince and as the warrior amazon, I’ll give her that and she sure made everyone curious about her solo adventure in 2017. The rest of the Justice League cameos are pretty well done as scenes come, but, again, the editing and positioning of those scenes is not always the best choice. But HOLY ZEUS, that moment when she comes in to help battle Doomsday. It’s one of those moments when this movie shines.
So yeah, in terms of characters, more could have been done to explain their motivations, but when they do what they do, it’s fucking AWESOME. The action is very well done. Batman beating a dozen of bad guys gives you chill along the spine and when the titular characters go fist to fist, it’s incredible. the fight is shorter than one would have thought,but it delivers. And then comes the final act, the battle against Doomsday and the first appearance of the DC Trinity in the big screen. It’s BATSUPERWONDERTASTIC. It’s like a dream come true. The CGI in the movie is usually good, except for one scene, where Bats help me, I don’t understand why it looks terrible, but it’s short and not important to the big story. Music wise, we have Hans Zimmer and Junkie XL composing the score for this epic film and it’s epic as well. Every scene is perfectly accompanied and lifted sometimes by the music, which is as dark as the movie itself.
So, is Batman v Superman worth going to the cinema? HELL, YEAH! Does it have flaws? Yes, like all movies (sadly they are all brought to the front by critics). It’s visually stunning, it has the best Batman ever in Ben Affleck and starts creating the foundation for the DC Cinematic Universe in a good way.