TL;DR – An utter mess of a film, disjointed, nonsensical, and a very poor foundation for DC to build their Justice League series on
Score – 2 out of 5 stars
You know I wanted to be surprised by Batman v Superman, it looked rushed, it looked like they had not given enough thought before rushing ahead with their Avengers competition, it looked like they were making all the same mistakes Sony made with Spiderman, but still, I wanted to like it, but alas this is an incoherent mess of a film with only momentary glimpses of being any good. To get us started, Batman v Superman starts with us experiencing the climax of the last film from Bruce Wayne’s (Ben Affleck) perspective, we then jump forward to two years later where a bat vigilante is attacking criminals in Gotham across the bay from Metropolis, Lois Lane (Amy Adams) is in Africa being the damsel in distress (a role she will be stuck in for this film) and everyone else is politely pretending that Clark Kent and Superman (Henry Cavill) are not the same person.
Now before we go on I should state that there was an annoying child sitting right behind me talking very loudly and which his parents were not telling to shush, so maybe that might have affected my engagement with this film, I mean I don’t think so, but it would be remiss of me not to let it be known. So what went wrong, well a lot of things, and I’m going to go through them now, but I will be more than likely ripping this film to shreds, so if you are a fan of DC then I am sorry, but it’s coming and kind of not my fault.
Let’s start with the action, while there are a couple of good action sequences (in fact they save the film from being a complete write off) the action is mostly forgettable. For one, it follows the school of movie making that if you cut a sequence together where the shot changes every half a second, then you will have a fast paced action sequence, no you really don’t, you get an incomprehensible mess. As well as this, the staging of the action feels amateur, you can see the mechanics working, there are no wow moments or moments or any real surprise. Also given the title, I think many people are going to find action severely lacking.
When it comes to the effects, sure some are ok but for a film of this stature, some of the effects look like they deserve to be on TV rather than a big budget film. The Capitol Building looks laughably fake, and you will see things that are meant to be bodies but are clearly dummies. In many respects the film just looks a bit, well, underdeveloped, there are some quite iconic shots, but those that do look good only do so because the director is being influenced or in some cases outright stealing iconic imagery from history and film. For example, in the opening moments of the film, they make a clear reference to some of the footage from September 11. For those of us old enough to remember that day it is quite chilling until you realise what is happening. As well as this, Gal Gadot’s characters big reveal felt blow for blow like Black Widow’s introduction in Iron Man 2
Ok in this next part I am going to talk about the story, and simply there is no way to do that spoiler free, so jump to the next paragraph if you want to avoid spoilers. This film fails in part because it is trying to do too much, and on the other, because it does not do enough. There are some many things crammed into this movie that even if they had a good story (which they don’t) it would be a very disjointed film. Since there is not a good story, I mean they took the worse Superman story from the comics and through it up on screen, it ends up being a bunch of unconnected scenes that somehow all joins together at the end but not really. There is no care to provide adequate motivations for any of the characters in this film, why is Lex Luther (Jesse Eisenberg) doing this, maybe daddy issues but really why? The characters feel forced into situations rather than there being a natural flow to the story, “and now Superman and Batman fight” “why” “because it is that point in the film and we need them to”. Ok now we are going to get into super heavy duty spoilers, so seriously, if you ignored the last warning, this is really now your last warning incoming spoilers. The ending of the film is just plain stupid, firstly, as I said it uses the most stupid plotline from the comics and makes it the climax of the film. Seriously if you want to see how stupid it is Watch This but super spoilers here, also language warning. Secondly, they could not even commit to it, by the end of the film they were already walking back from it, undercutting the little bit of weight the film might of actually had and any kind of intrigue going further. In the end, the big problem is that DC/Warner Bros, wanted so much to be Marvel/Disney, but they forgot the key thing that Marvel did that led to them being so successful time and patience. Between the first Marvel Film and their first big crossover there were four years and six films and given this is the DC version of the upcoming Civil War they are trying to cram eight years and 13 films worth of substance into two. Why should we care that Superman is fighting Batman? We have had no build up to this point, with Civil War, I care about the outcome, here, honestly after this film, I could not care less, well maybe a little, but not much.
Is there any good, well yes, I would not have given it that high a rating if it was all bad. Jesse Eisenberg is quite captivating as Lex, given how little he is given, what he does with it is quite good (though there is no way they would let anyone that clearly unstable within a kilometre of anything classified). Gal Gadot is really quite captivating as Diane Prince, and her upcoming film is the only one that I am interested in given her performance here. Also while Ben Affleck is no Captain America, he is a serviceable Batman.
In the end, can I recommend this film, no, and that is really disappointing for me. I really hope DC takes a step back and really works on making this franchise shine. Will people go and see a film just because it has Batman or Superman in the title? maybe, but not enough to continue a franchise like this in the long run.
Directed by – Zack Snyder
Written by – Chris Terrio & David S. Goyer
Based on – DC Comics
Starring – Ben Affleck, Henry Cavill, Amy Adams, Jesse Eisenberg, Gal Gadot, Jeremy Irons, Diane Lane & Laurence Fishburne
Rating – Australia: M; Canada: PG; Ireland: 12A; NZ: M; UK: 12A, USA: PG