Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice: Thoughts v Review

     Just in time we for this Easter weekend, we got an Easter Basket.  What I mean about that is the fact that Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice isn't really a movie with a few Easter Eggs, but rather it's a series of Easter Eggs strung together in an attempt to be 2 and a half hour commercial for DC Comics' future films.  I'm not even kidding, the whole film was predicated on setting other films up when it should've rightfully been it's own damn story.

SPOILER ALERT for past the break
     (This is also a long-winded rant warning.)

[ EDIT: I forgot to post this Friday night before I left for the Holiday weekend. ]


     One of the issues I have with the film is a definitive Snyder issue, the Snyder staple really.  Instead of using certain effects sparingly, he abuses them- how many slow motion Superman lit from behind hovering above the people shots do we really need?  Seriously, lay off of them, they're his Kryptonite- just as J.J. Abrams' is those goddamned lens flares.  Every one of his movies could be 20 minutes shorter by eliminating most of the slow motion scenes.

     I also really need to wonder why after two years passing since the destruction of Wayne tower that the Batman, you know the Dark Knight DETECTIVE, doesn't go detecting on his own at all.  He sees what Superman is capable of on tv and just takes their word for it, despite the fact he is in the EXACT SAME FUCKING SITUATION- where the news outlets tout him as a dark vigilante, but in reality he's doing some good.  The same goes for Clark Kent, who apparently didn't actually do any real journalism looking into the Batman.  In the long run this could be seen as a metaphor for the film- all spectacle and no substance.  A huge complaint I've had with many, many films in the last couple decades.

     Some issues are truly baffling- such as how Lex can work Krytonian tech, why was Bruce having all these crazy visions of a potential future, why show us for the billionth time Bruce's fucking backstory, why have almost obligatory cameos, how did Batman change out of his heavy duty armor so fast when going to save Martha Kent, or why Wonder Woman had such precious little screen time.
     But I think the film hit one particular note in particular really poorly.  It's the same thing I mentioned before the cut.  Where Marvel's Avengers did the right thing, instead of building all of the characters up on their own and organically bringing them together- DC has allowed Snyder to force them together in a way that doesn't quite fit.  This film isn't meant to be a stand alone- it's being used as a springboard to other things and it truly feels like it.  This is so blatantly shoved in our faces with the seemingly out of place dream sequences that Bruce Wayne has.

     Then I would like to quote a couple things here coming from the cast and Director.

     Henry Cavill says:
"The interesting thing is that we get the critics who have their personal opinions. And the thing about personal opinions is that they always come from a place. And there’s a preconceived idea which you have to get past a critic before you start writing your article or your review, and that affects everything. What is really going to matter, I believe, is what the audience says. Because they’re the ones who are buying tickets, they’re the ones who want to see more of this kind of story or not and so the audience’s voice is loudest and after this weekend the audience, at least partly, will have spoken."
     In response to that, I am kind of reviewing the film here (barely), but you know what- I'm coming at it as a FAN first.  A lifelong fan of comics in fact.  This is a situation where I am critical of the things that they do that don't make sense, not because I want them to fail, but because I want them to do better.  I want a film worth the time, one that stands the test of time as a great film with the legendary comic book icons.
     Plus, judging by box office numbers is not always the best measure.  You then have to listen to the myriads of fans complaints afterwards.  As Amy Adams says, "If you’re interested in a film you should see it and form your own opinion."  Yes, I did.  And I believe that all of you can do much better.  Adams did great, but she isn't the problem.
     Then Snyder himself said, "I’m a comic book guy and I made the movie based as much as I could on that aesthetic. And so I don’t know how else to do it 100%, so it is what it is."  Well, you can find better writers and get a co-director.  If he is a comic book guy, he'd understand the fundamentals of the characters and what makes them work, which he clearly is missing some things here.  Even as a director he still hasn't learned from the complaints against his take on Watchmen.  He altered the story's end to a point that  made less sense than the original, and for no reason other than he wanted to.

     For a director that claims to be a comic book guy, and someone that wants to do the fans a service, he seems to disregard what we are all telling him.


     Oddly enough all my favorite moments were from the supporting cast.  Laurence Fishburne ramps up the amazingly up-to-date take on Perry White and Jeremy Irons nails an Alfred Pennyworth that's become wonderfully sarcastic due to how acclimated to Bruce Wayne's continual escapades- he's a jaded caretaker for a wayward child that never listens.

     Gal Gadot.  She did far better than I expected, and she barely had any real screen time.  Despite my numerous qualms about her being still too damn thin, she does a tremendous job with the little room she's been given.
     Plus the barely cameo-moments of the other meta humans are decently well handled.  Momoa's is quite cool, although I feel it looks like he is holding his breath which sort of makes it look wrong for the character.  Otherwise I am looking forward to seeing how he does with a longer chunk of time.

     Ben Affleck's Batman.  The scenes with him as Batman doing Bat-things were damn great.  The house with the slave kids was handled with pure grace.  Then later his assault on Martha Kent's captors was equally great.  It's those moments that Snyder got right.  The simple fights and clever use of shots.  In the slaver house the neat out of focus shot with Batman on the wall and his great swings to get out were brilliant.  Tactful and elegant, they give you an indication of what Affleck could be, and I think in the right way he could be the Batman we all want.  DC Comics, make this happen.  Those small moments made tense.  He is the night, and we want more of it.


     Lex should've only acted like the twitchy millenial tech-genius until the end of the film, and then cut the act and show himself to be the truly straight-faced evil mastermind he was supposed to be, revealing that this was a trial for something much, much bigger.  Show us that maybe he wanted to be where he was in the end.  That he not only knew that this was going to happened but he proactively orchestrated it.  We wanted a genius that knew what he was doing, not a half-assed genius with lots of money luckily stumbling through a scheme.  I was worried that Eisenberg would be placed in his typical typecast role, and he most definitely was- which is a huge let down here after they touted this amazing new Lex Luthor.
     The Batman versus Superman battle itself should've been the big fight and only turning towards Luthor in the end, but have Luthor set in motion Doomsday as a delayed release for another film while he's behind bars, and save the Darkseid hints for a much later film.  Which he then could've teased Batman with, "You've had the dreams.  I can tell.  You've seen what's coming."  Things like that.  Luthor should be smart enough to outsmart them both, and make plays far in advance.  As he stands now, he's just another second rate cliche of a villain.

     Back to the end battle.  They totally blew their load with Doomsday and the "death of Superman" moment.  This could've been a chance to have an Empire Strikes Back level of quality with the follow up Justice League film, with the bad guys crushing the good guys and leaving the symbol of hope itself dead.  But no, Snyder goes the lazy route as always (as I thought he would herehere & here) and puts spectacle over substance in the now in a failed effort to try and speed up DC's cinematic universe in an attempt to catch up to the Marvel dominated superhero film industry.  All the proper character depth is sacrificed and what could've been a damned perfect set up is tossed out in favor of something flashy.

     I suppose they are lucky that the Wonder Woman film looks to be smaller and tighter in scope, and DC Comics' CCO Geoff Johns is working with Affleck on, presumably, the next Batman film.  If they are handled well it could right this path DC is on.  Both Wonder Woman and Batman could turn out to be a great new take, focusing on the criminal underworld and detective skills that often get shoved aside for punching things, and I hope it's as good as Affleck's recent Gone Baby Gone, Argo, and The Town.  (I'll actually do a full post on this later.)  As much crap as Affleck gets, I really think he can do great with the character.

     If Snyder is kept on for the Justice League film, he really needs to broaden the gap between the characters.  Batman and Superman are too close to each other, Superman needs to be softened up and Batman should double down on the grit.  Show us, not tell us, that these two are distinctly different mindsets with the same goal in mind.  Show us why they butt heads, but also show us that they want ultimately the same thing- truth and justice.  Then have a lot more of Wonder Woman, at least she was a welcome difference from the other two.

     As this wasn't really a true review, heres a couple I went and found for you that are much better than my rant's thoughts.  [ The Daily Beast ]  [ Comicbook Resources ]

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