Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice
PG-13, 151 Minutes, 2016
I grew up watching Batman and Superman. First it was The Superfriends, the quasi-Justice League show full of cheese. Then reruns of TV’s Batman and its corniness. As a pre-teen and teen I was a huge Justice League comics fan with a variety of super-heroes teaming up to fight world shattering human and alien villains. As an adult, I read fewer comics, but have seen nearly every DC comics animated, live action TV, and cinematic incarnation and have appreciated stories from the lighthearted to the more intense. You might say I’m the perfect candidate for Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, the bridge movie from Man of Steel to The Justice League.
Except I’m not. Reflecting the darker comics of Frank Miller and other writers, the current incarnation of DC Superheroes is very dark. The Dark Knight by Christopher Nolan was absolutely brilliant, but by The Dark Knight Rises, the widespread civilian causalities and lack of any humor made for a bit of a slog.
Now DC is trying to jump start its late-to-the-game movie empire by having Zack Snyder continue this dark trend he presented so mediocrely in Man of Steel. First, let’s be honest. Zack Snyder isn’t such a great director. 300 was an unexpected action fest, but hardly a classic. Watchmen didn’t live up to expectations. He is serviceable. And he loves long and dark films.
If you love the dark tone of Man of Steel with hundreds (but realistically thousands) of innocent lives lost and the ridiculous ending of Superman out-and-out murdering Zod, Batman v Superman may be for you. But if you like your superheroes to be heroes – praiseworthy exemplars of Truth, Justice, and the American Way, than this movie will disappoint.
Most of the movie is spent with Clark Kent and Bruce Wayne investigating each other having decided the other is the bad guy. This is countered with scenes of Superman and Batman acting as un-heroic vigilantes whose actions lead to a trail of dead bodies and massive destruction. By the time they fought, I wasn’t rooting for either of them and hoped Aquaman would drop a blue whale on the both and end this thing.
The movie is extremely violent and should be an R rating with bodies falling everywhere, even if without any blood. The script is incredibly weak. None of the characters have any development or meaningful personality. For example, Ben Affleck had to channel “pissed off” as his only acting choice. The writing has giant holes and stupidity in it including exploding a nuclear missile immediately above Metropolis. Apparently fallout doesn’t exist in the DC world. Further the screenwriters rely on four, yes four dreams as plot exposition – one with a dream within a dream. The Batman origin is unnecessarily rerun simply so Batman can change everything he has done in the movie when he hears a single word. Any comic book fan can identify about a half dozen major comic storylines that are all shoehorned into this bloated movie.
Frankly if it wasn’t for Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman there would be little to say positively about the film. Henry Cavill does exude Superman, but not as a superhero, rather as a self-righteous thug. Ben Affleck is fine as grumpy old Batman. The choice of actor is not the problem. Too much plot, bad screenwriting, and a lack of character development are all stuffed into a plodding special-effects heavy, disappointment.
After Man of Steel, I had little faith Zack Snyder and DC would succeed in this round. They did not. I expect Justice League to continue this some road. See my review of Man of Steel where I said the same thing in 2013. Wonder Woman (directed by Patty Jenkins) and The Flash (Directed by Seth Graheme-Smith) both have a shot at succeeding as a stand alone. As the biggest Aquaman fan that you know, that movie will likely be terrible.
Rating: 2 RaMaKs