Where to begin with Batman vs Superman…. I liked Man of Steel?
Hmmm… Maybe I’ll just start with some impressions the film left me with, and we’ll see how it shakes out.
Notwithstanding my previous post concerning the PG-13 vs R rating issue with this film, let me say that Zack Snyder has left me completely underwhelmed with this “Dawn of Justice.”
He opens the film with a funeral sequence, that of Thomas and Martha Wayne, and that pretty much sets the tone for the entire viewing experience. It’s like watching the death of a franchise.
The opening third of the film was an incoherent mish-mash of storylines with no clear vision behind them, and thus, no impetus for me to care at all. Even when he tried to tie them together, it just didn’t feel right, like there are some scenes left in the editing room that might have helped, but I can’t even be sure of that…
Jesse Eisenberg as Lex Luthor didn’t work for me. At all. His manic persona completely overwhelmed any sense of genius. Instead, I felt like I was watching the world’s luckiest lapsed Catholic, with his pretentious “God is dead”-type babble. All of the Christian imagery that people seemed to hate being shoe-horned into Man of Steel was completely reversed here, but not in such a way as to make me care that Lex’s daddy beat him as a child. I wound up caring 0% about Luthor. And that’s a crime against the Superman mythos that should bar Zack Snyder from the franchise in perpetuity.
Ben Affleck as Bruce Wayne was… okay. He didn’t screw the role up. He didn’t elevate it, either, but whatever you think of this film, Ben Affleck doesn’t deserve the credit or the blame. He did what he was supposed to do.
As did Henry Cavill. Reprising his role as Superman, I found him less likable in this movie, even beyond what Snyder was ostensibly trying to do by making him a less “Christ-like/perfect” character, but still, he embodies Superman.
Amy Adams was good, but mostly window-dressing.
Holly Hunter? Great, but, well, dead now.
Jeremy Irons? I could watch him take his cat to the vet.
Laurence Fishburne? Non-factor.
And, by the way, what was up with all of the dream sequences? Bruce Wayne has nightmares, but he doesn’t dream in symbolic vignettes or emotional snippets like normal people; no, he dreams in huge, coherent, cinematic fills that, frankly, teased at a more kick-ass storyline than the one we got here.
And would someone please tell Zack Snyder that the movie might have run 20 minutes shorter if every shot didn’t need to be a slow-mo “drama walk.” Holy crap. It’s like he shot the thing on a high-speed camera and played it back at 12 frames per second. If he eliminated most of those, he might have had time to make some sense of Lex’s convoluted plot to take down Superman, instead of having him coming across as a sniveling little snot-nosed brat whining about how hard his upbringing was.
Sorry about that. Let’s get back to the cast.
Gal Gadot as Diana Prince/Wonder Woman: I read somewhere something to the effect of “Wonder Woman dominates the screen in every scene she’s in.” I don’t know about that. Wonder Woman here is an introductory character designed to elicit interest in her (overdue) solo film, as well as generate buzz for the Justice League movie. I liked it better when Diana Prince was on the screen. She basically owned Affleck’s Bruce Wayne every time, and was much more dynamic on-screen than her “meta-human” alter-ego.
Let’s not forget the scoring of the film. Christopher Nolan’s films are known for their great scores, and as a producer on Batman vs Superman, I would have thought he might have stopped the musical train-wreck of a score that permeated the entirety of the film, actually, but that I most acutely noticed during the climactic battle with Doomsday, in which styles and tempos changed so frequently that I felt like I was standing next to one of those music sampling stations in Walmart with an ADHD 5-year-old pushing buttons. And even when the changes might have been understandable, some just didn’t fit the scene, notably anytime Wonder Woman became the camera’s focus, with some EM-esque, up-tempo, ill-fitting notes blasting through the theater.
In the end, I agree with some other reviewers that Batman vs Superman is simply a two-and-a-half-hour commercial for Justice League, as the entire point of the movie is basically an excuse for Diana Prince to look at Lex Luthor’s computer files concerning other meta-humans.
And it’s not that there’s not good stuff in here. It’s just not all there, or together.
I suppose the only other way I can sum up the film is that it is similar for me as X-Men: Days of Future Past was: a collection of cool scenes that they tried to stitch together into a movie.
And failing. Batman vs Superman should be better than it is. A lot better. The cast is good to very good (Eisenberg aside). The story is good enough. The effects are pervasive, but in a movie of this scale they should be. The pieces are there.