Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice Movie Review - Spoilers
I didn't see this movie for more than a week after its' release, but was unable to resist the wave of audience and critic reaction that followed, so I immediately checked out some reviews, with spoilers, because I expected few surprises out of the movie after its' trailer. I heard many arguments, both for and against, but restrained myself from forming my own opinion until I had seen the film.
Today I got around to watching it...
Maybe my low expectations were the reason, but if i could put it bluntly, this movie is not as bad as many people make it out to be, and it definitely does not deserve a 29% on RT. I'll go over some aspects of the film, saying what I liked and what I didn't:
1. Acting - People seem to mostly agree that the acting in the movie is good across the board. Ben Affleck shines as a battered and beaten down Batman, especially in the opening, and while the presentation of his character is debatable, he, for the most part, makes his material work. Henry Cavill is the guy that no one praises, but no one hates, and the reason is logical. Superman is hard to get right because he can come off as wooden and uninteresting. The movie tries to make up for some of that by making Superman more conflicted and angry, but in my opinion, it leaves Kal-El in a very morally ambiguous place. However, Cavill is not at fault here, he may be somewhat plain but he isn't bad in any way and is by far not holding this movie back. Jesse gives a performance that has been questioned by many critics, and I am certainly in the minority when I say I kind of liked his performance and I'll tell you why: I don't read comics so what I know about Lex comes from research online. I am aware he is very different that Jesse's version. The reason I liked his version is a matter of context. While everything in this movie is dark and somewhat depressing, Lex is a character that, while evil, is excited, almost euphorical, which for me and for the friends that came with me, was quite refreshing. The rest of the supporting cast is all around good. Standouts are Irons, Adams and Gadot who really make their characters their own.
2. Visuals - This one is quite a tricky subject for me and may very well be my biggest problem with the movie. I know it's weird, in a movie that as far as everyone is concerned fails in narrative but is good in visuals, especially with Zack Snyder directing, how can one not like the visuals?
And it comes down to this: I'm not a fan of Zack Snyder's visuals HERE. They are great in movies where style can go over substance, like 300, but while BvS is trying very hard to take itself seriously, and one would think a darker ambience would be fitting, Snyder goes to the extreme, as he did in Man of Steel, by removing all colour from the film, which in my opinion contributes a lot to everyone saying this movie is joyless. Well, it's because everything is either brown, black or grey! The fights themselves I think have another problem but they are better here than in MoS. The problem is that Zack looooves to go through buildings and throughout this movies he goes out of his way to make excuses so that our characters fight in places where the destruction can be massive, while reminding us constantly that no one was there to get hurt, so we don't get mad. But that's not the problem, the problem is that when Superman and Doomsday go at each other, there is so much rubble in the way, and the movie is already so dark, that I can't tell what the f*ck is going on. I say it's better here because when we get to the actual BvS, the fight is relatively contained, since Batman can't fly or jump high, it allows us to enjoy the brutality but also the beauty in their fighting abilities and their strategic maneuvers, rather than two guys charging at each other through concrete walls. The Batman fight in the warehouse ends up being the masterpiece of action in the film, because it is contained, mostly steadily shot, so you know where you are and what is happening and it is badass. Finaly, i didn't like the shaky cam and close-ups in the first movie, I don't like them here when they come up. Like i said, it just makes everything harder to see.
3. Story and Characters: This will be the biggest topic to cover, I am sure. I'll try to keep my arguments short and line up the movie's biggest failures and successes as far as story and characters are concerned.
The biggest problem narratively is the way they try so hard to cram in the set up for future DC properties. I won't describe the email scene because everyone knows it, but the point is: if you're introducing Batman, Lex Luthor, Wonder Woman and Doomsday in one movie, you can't do anymore and still have a reasonably structured narrative that flows naturally. So that should have immediately been cut off and left for either an after credit scene or the JL movie. The second problem are the dream sequences, you already have the initial sequence to explain why Bats hates Sups, along with further conversations with Alfred in the movie. You don't need an apocalyptic future dream, nor a Bruce walking to his parents' grave dream, and the Flash dream is the only one that could have been left, ONLY if it was for the after credit scene. I'm pointing out these unnecessary things that could have been easily cut, because with this much material fighting for space, our characters get lost in the mix. Most notably, Superman, who disappears after the bombing, making himself seem more guilty, and returns as soon as Lois is thrown off a building. Thank god he goes to save people in the day of the dead scene otherwise the movie would not have the right to call him Superman. Also he hates Batman on grounds that would only be logical if Superman fought in the light of day, yet he doesn't, no one knows who he is, he acts as he pleases, and he is sactioned by no one. Why does Clark not realise that they are doing the same thing?
A lot of people point out the Batman killing people thing. I do have some problem with it, not because it changes Batman as a character, but because it serves no point in the story, it is never adressed, and it could have been used as grounds to fuel his fight with Superman. It just comes off as unnecessary. Another notable thing: Lex's plan relies on a lot of coincidences, but so many villain plots do, so I bought into it. I honestly think that if Doomsday had been revealed in the movie (with better effects), audiences would have been less disappointed.
And the movie could have thought of another way to reconcile them other than "Martha...", having Doomsday charge into the room to tackle Superman would have made more sense.
In the end, the 3rd act was saved by Wonder Woman, whose rock n' roll entrance and theme was the only awesome/cool thing on screen for over one hour. It was like someone was applied a defibrillator to the whole movie. The trinity fight was too short but somewhat sweet.
Killing Superman is the movie's final mistake. I don't know what villain the JL is going to fight in their movie, but it's going to demand the Man of Steel. Since he has no standalone movie in between, and, as far as I know, he's already alive by the movie's, to kill him really makes no sense, and to reveal his resurrection makes less sense still.
Conclusion: I came off the movie feeling I had liked what everyone hated, and hated what everyone liked, so even though I took the alternate route, I kind of reached the same conclusion: there are good things in this movie. The discussion on the Internet is proof. However, it is bogged down by all the things it's trying to do, thereby leaving it's characters by the wayside. Combined with the dark visuals, results in a movie that is so devoid of emotion that it almost reaches the clinical definition of depressing, when it was trying to be serious.
Let us hope future movies in the DCU try to have more heart in their story and characters, I don't mean more jokes, just more emotion.