I don’t usually like to start a review so negatively, but here are a list of reasons why I thought Batman vs Superman: Dawn of Justice would be absolute trousers:
1) It has only been four years since The Dark Knight Rises and we have a new Batman universe, so it feels like a reboot when it is far too soon for a reboot.
2) Ben Affleck is now Batman.
3) Man of Steel was boring (I commented on how nice Superman’s jumper was in one scene, and I shouldn’t be noticing knitwear in a superhero movie!).
4) Jesse Eisenberg is Lex Luther.
5) The trailer that gave away the beginning, middle and end of the film that also confirmed Affleck and Eisenberg had been miscast.
6) The next trailer which showed even more of the film.
7) The floaty-looking CGI.
8) DC trying to create a multi-film universe in two films over three years when it took Marvel five films over four…
9) …and they are only doing it for the money as they have seen how successful Marvel have been with their films…
10) …which in turn makes them four years too late to compete with their closest competitor.
Crikey, I’ve surprised myself with how long that list actually is! Better balance it out a little with a list of reasons why I was looking forward to the film:
1) Henry Cavill is a fantastic Superman.
2) Director Zack Snyder is painfully close to making a good film and who’s to say this will not be it?
3) Gal Gadot looks perfectly cast as Wonder Woman.
4) This is the first big screen appearance for Wonder Woman.
5) Batman is my favourite superhero…
…and I’m getting virtual splinters from the barrel scraping I’m doing right now. Having watched it though I can confirm that the film is the aforementioned trousers I’m afraid.
It starts with a flashback of Bruce Wayne’s parents being murdered outside a cinema and then moves swiftly to the end of Man Of Steel, but this time we see the destruction of Metropolis from Wayne’s perspective as he darts around the city trying to get to his tower and save his staff. Meanwhile, Lex Luthor is trying to get approval from Senator Finch (Holly Hunter) to weaponize kryptonite so that we can defend ourselves from a certain Kryptonian should he go rogue. With this and the blame that Bruce places at his feet for the deaths within his workforce, it’s not a good start to the film for ol’ Supes. His alter ego Clark Kent is also doing his best to expose Batman as a villain due to his flesh-searing branding of the vile criminals of Gotham, a mark that gets them killed by the other inmates when they are imprisoned due to the nature of their crime.
I watched this film trying to put its perceived set backs out of my mind. I wanted to watch it with an open mind and without the distraction of the negative list above. After all, in five years time we will be watching the film and that list will be redundant…
…and it’s still a mess.
Where to begin… well, the plot is an incohesive mash up of individual plot threads that are too weak to make up a complete story. You don’t see enough Batman or Wonder Woman to accept the actors as the characters they are portraying, even though they do their best with what they have. Batman and Wonder Woman would have been better served if they had their own films first to bring them much needed depth and identify them as the foundations of the Justice League, much like Man of Steel did when introducing Henry Cavill as Superman. This would have greatly enhanced Dawn of Justice, but I just couldn’t accept Ben Affleck as Batman as he is mostly out of the suit and not given enough to work with to convince as Bruce Wayne, and despite Gal Gadot giving a superb performance I found that I couldn’t care less about her character as she makes such fleeting appearances. Also, some of the decisions the main characters make and their rationale is mind-bogglingly incomprehensible. You can’t have such well defined characters doing something out of character to further a plot line without properly explaining why!
My next biggest gripe is the atrocious Jesse Eisenberg as Lex Luthor, who is terrible from the off and gets worse as the film progresses. I could see what the writers and director were trying to do by setting Luthor up as a young, demented-genius type but it doesn’t work and Eisenberg was terribly miscast. He doesn’t suit that role and his performance is so over the top and forced it makes you cringe. Every time he appeared on screen my jaw dropped in shock at how his performance made the final film. Imagine what ended up on the cutting room floor! **shudders**
As well as all this, some of the CGI looks unconvincing, the action scenes are too fast and too dark for the audience to keep up and it is far far too long. You see an awful lot of nothing before getting a smidgin of something in this film. It’s also quite obsessed with its own self-importance. The script keeps referring to false idols and the religious implications of Superman and the slow-mo montage of him in in action makes you think that director Zack Snyder and his team were pushing this to be an art-house film as opposed to a superhero movie when there’s nothing wrong with it just being a superhero movie. It reeks of pretentious smugness. Christopher Nolan pulled off the art-house-superhero-movie with great success with his Dark Knight trilogy, and Snyder has aimed high but fallen flat with his efforts.
It’s no spoiler to say that Dawn of Justice is set up for Justice League films and the characters in said League films are introduced in such an unimaginative way that they feel like an after thought that was shoe-horned into the script in a mad panic before filming began. It feels so lazy and apathetic, and it’s quite a shock when you see how successfully Marvel introduced and integrated their characters into their universe. You would think that DC and Warner Bros would at least attempt to match the might and, at the very least, the competence of their arch rivals despite them being late to the party.
It’s not all doom and gloom though. Amy Adams, Laurence Fishburne and Jeremy Irons do okay with what they are given. There are two stunning scenes in this film that shine from the rest that stay in the memory. In general it’s beautiful to watch. Hans Zimmer’s theme music for Lex Luthor and Wonder Woman is delightful and has so much character…
…and that’s it. I cannot recommend this film to anyone, whether you’re a casual cinema-goer or a hardened DC fan. It’s such a shame as these characters are beloved by so many and the fans deserve a better film than this one.
Now, if you will excuse me, I’m going to wallow in self-pity and watch the Dark Knight trilogy repeatedly until I feel better. I may be some time…