MOVIE REVIEW: Batman vs Superman
I like to write movie reviews. Technically, I have a minor degree in film theory and criticism. I know, try to contain your jealousy over the fact that I both majored and minored in unemployment. I used to write reviews for a bunch of places online, but most of them have closed down, so I just write them here.
This past weekend I went and saw the epic Batman vs Superman: Dawn of Justice. The movie itself has been the source of criticism from the very start. No one liked Ben Affleck being chosen to play Bruce Wayne/Batman. People still like to get all up in arms over director Zack Snyder's Man of Steel. From the get-go, each image, trailer and rumor that came out of this film was just adding fuel to the fires that the comic book fanboys (of which I am one) loved to see burn.
Sure enough, as soon as the movie came out, the critics pounced. This movie was the cinematic equivalent of Ebola! Run from it! Flee!
The first weekend numbers show that people did not do that and there will likely be sequels, individual movies featuring The Flash, Aquaman and Wonder Woman. Oh, and a Justice League movie to boot!
Here's the good news: the movie is not as bad as you've heard.
Is it a good movie? Yes. It is a good movie. Zack Snyder knows how to create a whopper action sequence and his mastery over special effects is excellent. The fight between Batman and Supes is suitably epic and then the battle with another, even more powerful villain, is even more of a spectacle. This is the man who brought us 300 and he has never really strayed from that. He creates big, bombastic, noisy films with lots of action and stuff 'splodin'. For my money, though, he does it well enough that you can at least see what's happening and who's fighting whom, unlike, say, a Michael Bay film.
Don't get me wrong, this movie is full of flaws. It does not even come close to matching the truly excellent super-hero genre movies like Spider-Man 2, The Dark Knight, The Avengers or Captain America: Winter Soldier. In fact, I would say I even enjoyed Ant Man more than I did BvS, but that does not mean it is a waste of time.
The story is that Batman has been battling crime over on Gotham for a long time now. We now know that Gotham is just across the harbor from Metropolis where Superman does his thing. The problem is that Batman has gotten angrier and a bit more violent - he now brands the criminals with a bat-symbol after he beats the snot out of them. Clark Kent, intrepid reporter for the Daily Planet, thinks that this is wrong. Bruce Wayne, meanwhile, after witnessing the destruction of Metropolis during the battle between Superman and Zod, feels that Superman is too powerful and poses too much of a risk to humanity if left unchecked.
Soon Lex Luthor gets involved and that really is what ultimately sets up the battle between our two heroes. Then, in the third act a new threat emerges that forces them to join forces along with the mysterious Diana Prince (AKA Wonder Woman) to defeat it.
The movie is long, but I did not find it slow. The movie is loud, but I did not find that annoying. Instead, there are plot holes and inconsistencies. Perhaps Snyder had a much longer cut at some point and had to make changes that left things out. We'll see when the Ultimate Director's Cut comes out.
For example, Batman rails on and on about the destruction that Superman causes, but when he goes out to stop the transport of Kryptonite, he ends up destroying entire city blocks. He also guns down his foes in this movie - something the comic book Batman would never do.
When Batman stands there waiting for Superman - how did he know he would show? Was he just going to stand there all day? Did we miss the scene where Superman texts Bruce: Hey, meet me at the bat-signal ;-).
Finally, I did not like the way Lex Luthor degenerated into a raving psychopath. Lex is brilliant, ruthless and a sociopath, but he is always in control and that's what makes him a great villain. The Joker is the nut job and it should stay that way.
Ultimately, though, the film delivers what it promises. There is a great fight. Affleck is fine as Batman. Irons is excellent as Alfred. Gal Gadot pretty much both saves and steals the movie when Wonder Woman finally shows and makes me excited to see WW's own film. Cavill is OK as Superman, but there's still something about him that doesn't quite work. Amy Adams has a very thankless role as Lois Lane that is barely existent.
The music is by Hans Zimmer and he does a fine job. It is a movie meant to be a spectacle and on that level it delivers. If you are looking for deep meaning, watch the Nolan Batman trilogy again. If you want to see two titans duke it out and then get joined by a third, well, this is the film for you.