Director: Zach Snyder
Cast: Ben Affleck, Henry Cavill, Gal Gadot, Amy Adams, Jeremy Irons
Release: March 25, 2016
Review Author: Tony
Rating: 2/5 cans of Guinness
Well I’m pretty late to the party as I only saw Batman Vs Superman: Dawn of Justice last night, yes it’s a real eye opener for me and how I need to get my priorities straight as Batman comes first before anything. Seeing the film this late has actually benefitted me though as most the feedback and backlash has dampened and allowed me to see both arguments in favour and against this film.
Batman Vs Superman was going to divide viewers no matter how it was adapted especially considering how loyal and hard-core the fan bases of both these characters are. The Marvel Cinematic universe has for the most part been a huge success and generally well received by its fan base (I have torn chunks out of Age of Ultron yet I know deep down I love a lot about that movie), so of course DC want to capitalize and bring their own cinematic universe out. DC have been trying for years to make a Justice League film and even at one point had a cast and Director attached, Mad Max’s creator George Miller. While it’s certainly exciting to see DC go into Direct competition with Marvel I feel that Warner Brothers are handling the situation too sporadically. This is none more evident than in Batman Vs Superman: Dawn of Justice.
Messy is the easiest way to describe BvS, it’s a pure mess; whoever the main editor of this film is should have been fired. The plot should have been fairly simple, Both Batman and Superman are at odds with each other, tension gradually builds between both these characters till some act breaks the straw on the camel’s back and then we get the showdown every comic fan (not just DC, be honest) has been waiting for. Zack Snyder attempts to use this format yet attaches so many additional plot lines and shoe horns various cameos that we never actually get to focus on the actual movie this is supposed to be. There are some interesting ideas such as how the world reacts to Superman’s brawl with Zod which caused massive carnage and casualties; it’s this act that fuels the grudge Batman has against Superman. However this plot is soon dropped to instead focus on Alex Luthor scheming to have the two pitted against each other, while also Batman has enough visions to wear out even Noah to further catalyse the grudge between them. The repercussions of Man of Steel are enough of a catalyst for the plot to run with but instead we have four different story arcs all crammed into a two and a half hour film.
Snyder employs a fairly dark tone for the film which for the most part is devoid of any humour, this tone could definitely suit a standalone Batman film but it’s an odd choice here when Superman spends most the film having an identity crisis. I have enjoyed most of Snyder’s films and I thought Man of Steel was an entertaining adaptation of the character with some truly stand out sequences so I don’t want to put all the blame on his shoulders, in fact I think most of that belongs to David. S Goyer who I think is a terrible script writer and seems to really not understand either of these characters. Warner Brothers share a lot of the blame as well as its painfully obvious that they had all the Justice league members cameos shoe horned in to try build their universe no matter how awful their introductions are.
Snyder’s visuals and high-octane action is also the saviour of BvS as it’s probably one of the most visceral superhero films to date. The costumes and sets look great and some subtle Easter eggs are dropped to give Batman his back story and some fan service, I just wish the rest of the film could have been as subtle as these moments. Ben Affleck is for the most part great as both Bruce Wayne and Batman although at times his actions are certainly out of character (Batman has one rule which he gives no fucks about here). Jeremy Irons is great as Alfred and puts his own stamp on the character that has some great chemistry with Affleck as both trade barbs with each other like two world-weary old farts. Jesse Eisenberg plays Alex Luthor (Lex Luthors son) so ham-fisted you have to wonder who green lit it, personally I think it was awful casting although I’m not against trying something different, it just didn’t work here.
I feel that under all these excessive layers of fat there was at one point a concise grounded superhero film, you could probably cut out almost an entire hour of the film and instead focus on our central characters. There’s a plot line with Lois Lane that ultimately serves little significance to the story yet takes up nearly thirty minutes of the film, it’s meandering and not even interesting and to be honest should have been left on the cutting floor. Shortly after the film was released Warner Brothers released a deleted scene called Communion which sheds some light on a rather bewildering scene, this was clearly damage control on the studios part in response to fan backlash and shows how incoherent the film is.
In a few months’ time the extended R-rated cut of the film is being released which is over three hours long, I’m actually intrigued to see how this version turns out, could it shed further light on the overall story or provide some much-needed answers. I feel I should save some of my final judgement for this edition as extended cuts and directors cuts have shown dramatic improvements in films such a Ridley Scott’s Kingdom of Heaven and Blade Runner.