Zach Snyder’s Batman V Superman is DC Comics kickoff of their own franchise of The Justice League films which will have Aquaman, Batman, The Flash, Green Lantern, The Martian Manhunter, Superman and Wonder Woman teaming up to defeat the forces of evil. So far Marvel has fared far better with their films most recently with the fast and funny Deadpool. Although Batman V Superman has some brief moments of greatness and does try to be more substantial than other lighter frothy superhero flicks, this film was an utter disappointment in most every other way. It does have its moments but they are fleeting.
I was a huge fan of Snyder’s Watchmen (the director’s cut is my favorite), 300, Dawn of the Dead and to a lesser degree but still a fan of Man of Steel. He films have always been more about style, mood and tone than about substance, yet thus far, there was enough substance in his previous films that I could invest my time and emotion into them. Batman V Superman, for all of its lofty and ambitious intentions, boils down to a revenge picture that sputters along to an almost laughable climax with Doomsday. But it is a long haul to get to that in a film that is unfocused in its story for most of the picture. After an hour of hopping around the globe, I still had not seen a coherent train of thought. Batman is pissed, is all I got out of it.
Batman V Superman picks up where Man of Steel left us. Metropolis has been left in shambles after Superman battled Zod and the casualties are endless. Bruce Wayne’s building was one of the casualties along with countless dead and injured and has left Wayne infuriated with Superman. Why? Other than the obvious damage, was Wayne okay with the alternative having Zod utterly destroy planet Earth, altogether? At any rate, Wayne is determined to take Superman down, while certain politicians try to hold Superman accountable. Enter Lex Luthor (Jesse Eisenberg) who also has plans for both of our heroes and you have an overstuffed and overly long film.
First off, Jesse Eisenberg as Lex Luthor, does what he can do with the role, but after a few scenes, I was of the opinion he was horribly miscast. Granted this is supposed to be an “origins” film of sorts, but Eisenberg’s nervous twitchy shtick has grown old. He just did not instill fear in me the way Gene Hackman was able to in the original Superman films (well, the first two anyway). Secondly, Chris Terrio and David S. Goyer’s script is all over the map as it tries to cover way too much material and takes its time doing so. These are two excellent writers, too. Goyer penned all three of the Christopher Nolan Batman films with Christian Bale and Terrio won the Oscar for his adapted screenplay for Affleck’s film, Argo. So these are not a couple of slouches fresh out of film school. They know their craft. There is a reoccurring theme of Superman being a false God and that tumultuous discussion should have been the focal point of this film. When it does that, Batman V Superman shines. But it does not stick with it.
What we get stuck with is Luthor stuttering and stammering his way through empty scene after empty scene where not much happens. Even though the lovely, Diana Prince (Wonder Woman as played by Gal Gadot) makes several appearances she is little more than a cameo. She is there simply to gear up for her own film that comes out in 2017. Ben Affleck is solid, though as Bruce Wayne and Batman. He is older, grayer and broken inside. Likewise with Jeremy Irons as Alfred. He is Bruce and Batman’s conscience and makes the most sense of anyone in this film. Even he thinks, Batman’s thirst for revenge is misplaced. “He (Superman) is not the enemy!” he tells Batman.
There are endless cameos of real politicians and real commentators as well as Kevin Costner as Clark Kent’s father and Diane Lane as Kent’s mother. Amy Adams is back as Lois Lane and Laurence Fishburne is once again shouting at Clark Kent. I did like Holly Hunter as Senator Finch but her screen time is rather limited, too. The whole cast does well and the acting is more than sufficient, but it is Affleck and Irons who steal the show. The most pleasing element of Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice is Hans Zimmer and Junkie XL’s score which is lushly thick through most of the film and a wonderful diversion from all of the murkiness on screen.
The final straw for me was the climatic battle with Doomsday. The CG for Doomsday looked rushed so Doomsday looked more like a fossilized turd than a character. Some have said the action sequences were this film’s saving grace, but the action was flat when I compared it to the Marvel films and even with Man of Steel. This is a dark, dreary, stale and joyless film that needed a rewrite of the script and some disciplined direction from Zach Snyder. It tries to be noble and ambitious, but it ends up as a big bore. Not something I thought I would ever say about a superhero film. This is not an awful film and has its moments but they are fleeting moments in an otherwise bland and uninvolving film.
Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice- **1/2 out of 5 (theatrical version) **3/4 out of 5 for the Extended Cut.
Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice- Rated PG-13 (although an R-Rated version is rumored to be released on DVD with some added violence. Hopefully, they will add some more story to it as well) Either way this film is more adult oriented fare with violence and adult situations. *Having seen both versions, the extended cut is a fuller and more complete film, but not much better than the theatrical cut. It still has all of the same problems the theatrical cut is plagued with.*
Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice- Run Time is 151 minutes
Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice is now playing in theaters. Check your local listings for times and locations.