The critics almost uniformly panned it. The audiences are split, and the dollars, thus far, are pretty solidly in the film’s favor. It is interesting, but not unexpected, that there are such varying opinions on the Zack Snyder’s Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. When I sat down after seeing the film and wrote my “like” and “dislike” list, there were almost twice as many things on the “dislike” list as the good side, but I am still willing to say that the movie was OK. I definitely didn’t hate it. I just didn’t love it either. Why? Well, I’m glad you asked. There’s plot holes and some serious dumbness that was unnecessary. Here’s the top 8 reasons that it was just an OK film.
Wait…..what? Gotham City is right across the bay from Metropolis? Really? Which one is San Francisco and which is Oakland? Is this canon now? Over all, who cares, except that the first time they meet, Clark has to say to his guy “Who is that?” If he was a reporter at his city’s largest paper, there is no way that he would not know who the richest guy in the city across the bay is. Particularly because he has, sorry, had, a skyscraper for his huge international company right there in Metropolis. No way. No how. If Bruce was like Matt Murdock, on the street level, maybe Clark Kent wouldn’t know him, but come on. He’s a billionaire. His parents were killed when he was a boy. His mansion is burned. All newsworthy shizzle.
The film starts with a dream sequence of young Bruce Wayne being carried by bats out of a hole in the cemetery. PLEASE can we agree that we never need to see Thomas and Martha Wayne die again? Can we agree that every single human being knows Batman’s origin story? We’ve seen The Joker kill them. We’ve heard that Matches Mallone killed them. We’ve seen various unnamed bad guys kill them. NO MORE. For the love of all that is Batman. NO…..MORE.
And, what the hell was that thing in the middle of the film with the Nazi symbolism and the flying monkeys from the Wizard of Oz? Other than horrible and unnecessary. It sucked the life out of the film for me and there was recovery time to get back in. I got the theory. If Superman is left unchecked…blah, blah, blah. The choice of imagery was terrible. Not every post apocalyptic vision has to look like Mad Max. Superman talking to his dad on the snow covered mountain? Only slightly better, and I loved Kevin Costner in that role.
Video Reveals of The Justice League
I suppose it was necessary to get those other 3 in the film in some fashion, but video clips of them seemed to me like a cheesy way out. As a guy who believes in offering solutions, I don’t have one, because I’ve only seen the film once. Was that a dream that Bruce saw The Flash in, or an actual time breach? I’ve already offered my thoughts on the over use of dream sequences in this film. I think it is a cop-out.
Anything Jesse Eisenberg
Yep. His interpretation sucked. It was a not even transparent attempt to imitate Heath Ledger’s manic performance as the Joker. His voice was squeaky and annoying. I was never able to see the crazy, evil tech genius. I was only able to see Jesse Eisenberg trying to imitate the brilliantly unhinged style that Ledger perfected. If he was going to imitate he should have imitated an actual evil tech billionaire, Mark Zuckenberg. He had experience there, and frankly, that is more of the personality that Lex should be.
I just haven’t been able to warm up to him as the Man of Steel, in either film. He’s one-dimensional and stiff. Even when he is trying to be multi-dimensional he is a brooding character, much like Batman, who is supposed to be that. I’ve always felt Superman is more of an optimistic character. He adopts the human race, who are clearly his inferior, and spends his whole life working to save them, even though they often don’t deserve it. He is truly a good guy with a more sunny disposition that Henry Cavill was ever able to achieve for me. I suppose that blaming Cavill entirely for this is unfair. He had Zack Snyder telling him what to do. After seeing BvS, I caught Man of Steel and I felt exactly the same problems. Cavill looks the part, but his interpretation of Superman falls seriously flat for me.
On the other side of that coin, I expected to hate Ben Affleck as Batman, and thought he was quite good. I’m looking forward to seeing him again.
Hard to do a film about a monster (Doomsday) without piles of CGI, but there was so much that it felt like the Star Wars Prequel films. I didn’t even think that Doomsday was particularly well done. The whole final battle between Doomsday, and the eventual Justice League was just too much mediocre CGI for me. I love well executed CGI, I just didn’t fell like this was it.
The Christopher Nolanization of Superman
This answers a lot of the problems I list above. Superman broods because that is what was so successful in Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy. Eisenberg’s Lex Luthor is manic because Ledger’s performance as The Joker was so critically acclaimed. The film has little to no sense of humor because The Dark Knight films were so successful with little to no sense of humor. I enjoyed Christopher Nolan’s incarnation of Batman, but none of those films were my favorite Batman film. I liked Tim Burton’s first film Batman, and Michael Keaton’s Caped Crusader, much more. I thought it was better visually, and I thought Keaton did a great job of capturing the darkness in Bruce Wayne and maintained a good level of comic book. This film had a brutal Batman that I am not sure I needed. He is dark enough. This Batman, however, is a bad guy, not a good guy. He branded people. No hero brands human beings, and going farther, those brands resulted in the death of the man once he reached prison. That’s no hero. I’ve always been able to reconcile Batman’s behavior, because there was a line. Not so much in this film.
I also thought the visual of Burton’s films far exceeded the visual of Snyder’s. The cities, the Batcave, the toys that Batman has, right down to the Bat suit. The suit in this installment looked like it was sewn together out of used inner tubes. A weird look, to be sure.
That’s My Mom’s Name
At arguably the most important point in the film, man vs. god with man about to win, the plot device Snyder chooses to get over that is “Save Martha”. Um….huh? It was such a let down for such a climactic moment. Previous to this moment, was one of the best parts of the film, in my mind. The final battle between them both was awesome and so well thought out. There was no way that Batman should have beaten Superman, and yet Bruce Wayne, super genius, figures it out, and it was so believable that I loved every nerve racking minute of it. And “Save Martha” is the way that Snyder decides to end that. Here’s the thing. Martha Wayne is already dead. Has been for like 40 years. Bruce Wayne was there when it happened. It’s not like he just heard about it and now might find out that it is not true. The internet mocked it in the best possible way, with a meme from Step Brothers. A terrible choice at a critical moment in the film. This is another moment in the film that requires both Batman and Superman to be stupid. Never mind that there are too many of those moments that require our heroes to be dummies in this film.
I didn’t go into this film hoping it would be dull and wanting it to fail. I wanted to be one of the reviewers that absolutely loved it. Instead I got a film that was just OK. There were some great things about the film. Gal Gadot was spectacular as both Diana Prince and Wonder Woman. I love Lawrence Fishburne as Perry White and Amy Adams does a great job as Lois Lane again. It’s a film that is just full of weird images and not nearly enough excitement.
I’m hoping against hope that Snyder sees these bad reviews for what they are and makes some little adjustments to make Justice League a much better film. I really want to like it, but I stick to my oft stated idea that DC owns the small screen and Marvel owns the big one.
What do you think? Good film? Bad film? A good foundation for the Justice League? Leave me some comments below.