I had previously only watched one comic book movie in Switzerland. It was Spider-Man 3. Yeah, the one with Venom just chucked in as fan service and of course, this stone cold atrocity:
Well, after seeing Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (this will never stop being an awful title) I’m seriously worried about sticking around in Lausanne to watch the next big ones, Civil War and X-Men Apocalypse. Maybe I should hop over to London or Paris to escape the curse.
I waited nearly three years for this movie. I wrote a post about it on the day it was announced (geek out here). But I should’ve known I would be disappointed, even before critics started shitting all over it. I never got chills from any of the trailers. Batman and Superman on screen for the first time, yet somehow, it didn’t seem to have that epic feel.
I had my doubts from early on but they had more to do with whether or not Ben Affleck, of Daredevil fame, would be a terrible Batman and whether Jesse Eisenberg’s Lex was the most miscast character since Topher Grace as a puny Eddie Brock/Venom. Myself and thousands of others obviously had nothing to worry about with Affleck and the backlash over his casting was, with hindsight, unwarranted. The internets are saying he’s the best one yet, though I find that a bit over the top. The best batman will forever be Kevin Conroy from the animated series and Arkham games, no voice modulator necessary. Lex was weird but I didn’t hate the interpretation. That’s about as much as I can say.
So what was wrong with it? Oh, spoilers are coming.
It’s Kinda Boring.
The opening scene, featuring Bruce Wayne’s point of view of the Superman/Zod brawl, kicks things off perfectly but then it’s a bit of a snooze fest. I understand you need exposition and you can’t have two and half hours of punching (and thank god we didn’t get that, more on the fights coming up) but it’s mostly humourless dialogue due in large part to Lex Luthor’s incoherent ramblings. I’m not saying it has to be like Deadpool, or even the Avengers, but there’s no witty back and forth between the title characters, which for me should be the hallmark of any movie with the two of them. I suppose the film doesn’t really lend itself to that since Batman and Superman are at odds but even the Batman/Alfred exchanges fell a bit flat. The best interaction arguably came between Bruce and Diana in the museum. I hope we get more ‘Marvel style banter’ in the Justice League movie so I don’t have to rely on Perry fucking White to be able to crack a smile.
Let’s talk about the Caped Crusader for a sec.
Detective? Check…well almost…falling asleep at his computer? The hell is this, amateur hour?
Expert ass kicker? See below. Highlight of the entire film
Murderer? Check. Wait, that’s not right.
During the “decidedly weaker than The Dark Knight’s” batmobile chase, he flattens one car with another and later, he uses the batplane’s guns to blow up another group of thugs. I’m willing to overlook this based on the explanation that he’s been dealing with criminals for twenty years and he just doesn’t give a fuck anymore. Why Joker isn’t dead then is anybody’s guess. But now he’s going to take out the good guys as well? Being the great detective that he is, surely he can deduce that Superman is one of the good ones right? Be suspicious of his power, yes. Have a plan in place to take him down if necessary if he goes rogue but removing the threat before it’s risen? Captain America shames you! All this to say that Batman’s motivation for choosing to fight with Superman is illogical except that it conveniently creates a weapon to stop Doomsday later.
And one last thing, Batman with a gun in hand is never cool, even if it’s just a dream sequence. And not just because he’s supposed to hate guns but because he’s that awesome he doesn’t need them. Superman using heat vision to saw people in half however…kinda enjoyed that.
The Title Fight
Despite the shaky foundation on which the fight is built, it goes ahead. From day one, I’ve disliked the bat-armour (don’t much care for the regular suit either). I understand that it’s the only realistic way Batman survives even a flick from Superman but I was hoping they would’ve come up with something sleeker, perhaps made from Kryptonian armour, that would allow Batman to fight normally. As it is, when he’s throwing punches and when he does that side kick it just looks so slow and clumsy and the obvious CGI doesn’t help. Otherwise the fight is alright. Mind you, it’s no Captain America vs the Winter Soldier, or Hulk vs Thor, or Batman vs twenty thugs in a warehouse to save Martha or…ok I’ll stop.
The Trinity vs Doomsday.
The Dark Knight and Captain America: Winter Soldier are my two favourite comic book movies. And that’s partially because they’re ‘smaller’ and didn’t require a lot of CGI. Now, of course any fight with Superman and Doomsday has to be computer generated, there’s no getting away from it but at least make it comprehensible. Zach Snyder obviously enrolled in the ‘Michael Bay School of What the Fuck is Happening in this Third Act’ instead of listening to some of the criticisms people had with the last thirty minutes of Man of Steel.
I have to deal with Doomsday first. He was so unnecessarily huge. He can still be ridiculously strong without being 30 feet tall y’know, just ask the Hulk. He also appeared to suffer from ‘Apocalypse Syndrome’. This is the term I have come up with for any character whose appearance is altered drastically for no apparent reason instead of just being ripped straight from the comics. Just give him exaggerated bone protrusions and a bone beard, then maybe he wouldn’t look like he belonged in the Lord of the Rings.
Ok, back to the fight. What a mess. You’d be forgiven for thinking that Flash was involved in that final battle with all the lightning Doomsday was emitting constantly scorching my retinas. Add in the ever present heat vision blasts and it was like I was staring into the sun for twenty minutes. I’m sure it would’ve been much more entertaining if I could actually make out Wonder Woman’s supposedly awesome fighting skills.
The score matters a great deal in superhero movies. You’re not too bothered about having to sit through Bruce’s parents death for the 400th time because this is playing:
I’m glad Hans Zimmer basically re-used his Man of Steel score. It’s a shame he couldn’t re-use his Dark Knight Trilogy one because Junkie-XL’s Batman theme does not even come close. But it’s Wonder Woman who really got the short end of the stick. What the hell is this noise…
Flash appearing to break the time barrier to give Bruce a message was one of my favourite scenes in the movie and gave me hope that Ezra Miller might not be an awful Barry Allen.
Aquaman floating around for what seemed like half an hour was extremely awkward.
Cyborg…just shockingly bad CGI.
Superman. I feel like all he did was fly off with a sonic boom, land aggressively , use his heat vision, get blown up (The Capitol Building scene was actually pretty great), get nuked and die. All admittedly very cool looking but the guy had about five lines. But I guess if this was really his movie it would be called Superman v Batman.
Lois. I wish her role had been reduced to a cameo. How has she managed to be at ground zero during both super-powered showdowns and not get a scratch? Seems like she might play a big part in Justice League though based on what Flash said.
I was disappointed by this movie.Going in with a negative mindset after seeing it had been almost universally panned by critics probably didn’t help. But all hope may not be lost. The second viewing is when I really decide how I rate a film. The second time around, I go into it knowing all the flaws and already accepting them which allows me to enjoy the film more. Case in point, Iron Man 3 which I gave a 5/10 after seeing it in cinemas. I re-watched it last weekend and bumped it to a 7/10 as it’s really quite entertaining, aside from the Pepper Potts hero ending which is still absolute rubbish.
At press time, Batman v Superman has already made over $200 million worldwide and I hope it continues even if it’s just so the Justice League movie doesn’t get cancelled. All can be forgiven if that movie is done right. Not sure Zach Snyder is the man to make that happen though.
Preliminary rating – 5/10