Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice Review
Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice is a blunt weapon. Director Zack Snyder and writers Chris Terrio and David S. Goyer use that weapon to pound your brain into submission for two and a half hours. They are using that weapon to pound enjoyment, disgust, happiness and anger into your brain for as long as this movie lingers there.
In critical terms BvS is a lot of things: it’s good, bad, thrilling, boring, but above all it is frustrating. I went into this film with relatively low expectations. The marketing campaign killed a lot of hopes and the early reviews killed the rest. Yet, I tried to maintain a sliver of hope for some of my favorite superheroes. At the least, I can say that this movie doesn’t quite deserve the critical savagery that it has received over the past week. Many critics have called BvS a trainwreck, a disaster, one of the worst films of the year. It is none of these things. However, it is a very frustrating film. Even going in with low expectations, I left disappointed. Not because the film was so, so terrible, but because it floundered so much potential. Somewhere in this bloated two and half hour epic is a great film.
It stands above Man of Steel purely based on what it has added to the universe. Ben Affleck as Batman/ Bruce Wayne is the true highlight of the film. Gal Gadot’s brief appearance as Wonder Woman is appealing and gives hope for her upcoming solo film. Jesse Eisenberg gives us a very different, albeit successful version of Lex Luthor. Yet, many of the foibles of Man of Steel are present here, and more are piled on. Batman is excellent, but a deep misunderstanding of the character is present. The same can be said for Superman, but critics of his previous outing already know that. The otherwise successful treatment of Wonder Woman is cheaply used to set up the extended universe of these films. And much of the conflict of this film (mostly brought about by Lex Luthor) is lazily written. It is initiated lazily and is wrapped up just as poorly. That’s not to mention the pacing that zips along at frantic speed for a third of the film, but then falls apart in the final moments.
Most of the failings of this film cannot be placed on any single cast or crew member. Sure, we can criticize Henry Cavill as fairly wooden, but his character seems to be written that way. Zack Snyder is taking the brunt of the blame, but when there are fundamental misunderstandings of the two central characters from the get go, even Martin Scorsese couldn’t direct his way into a great movie. There is so much here that could have been done better, but just wasn’t. It’s easy to play the blame game, but maybe all involved perhaps need to step back and assess the missteps that have been made, as well as the successes. As I said, there are parts of the film that beckon towards a great movie. Let’s hope they find more of those for the future installments of the DCEU.
+ Ben Affleck
-Mishandling of both Batman and Superman
-Poor pacing, lazy writing
-Too much focus on setting up future films