Thursday, March 31, 2016

As Bad As One Might Suspect: Batman V Superman: Dawn Of Justice Belabors Set-Up And Spectacle Over Substance!

The Good: Moments of Henry Cavill's performance, Moments of plot concept for the conspiracy
The Bad: Dull, Preposterous, Overlong, Ridiculous characterization, Terrible writing
The Basics: Batman V Superman: Dawn Of Justice sucks.

When it comes to blockbuster movies, there are few movies I can think of that disappointed me more when I went back to them than Man Of Steel (reviewed here!). Seeing Man Of Steel on the big screen, early, it was a real thrill . . . but time, distance, and rewatching the movie truly lessened the film for me. So, when I first sat down to Batman V Superman: Dawn Of Justice, I was very concerned that history would either repeat itself (and I would be too lenient on the film) or I would over-compensate and be overly hard on the movie. The latter was a real concern for me from the moment Gal Godot was cast as Wonder Woman, as I have long advocated for Anne Hathaway for the role (check out that article here!).

After watching Batman V Superman: Dawn Of Justice, I am finally ready to write a review the way my wife has often ask that I do. My wife hates it when I waste my time writing long, well-conceived, complicated analyses of products and events that are very simply bad. Batman V Superman: Dawn Of Justice is simple and bad . . . but most of it is not the fault of the performers or even director Zack Snyder. The problems with Batman V Superman: Dawn Of Justice all start with the writing.

Conceptually, Batman V Superman: Dawn Of Justice tries to do too much, so it does none of it particularly well. The film is a belabored set-up to the forthcoming Justice League film and the scene that features Diana Prince (Wonder Woman) effectively introducing the other three members of the League (Green Lantern is not included!) stops the movie dead. It would have been better as a post-credits scene than a component of Batman V Superman: Dawn Of Justice.

Batman V Superman: Dawn Of Justice starts as a potential reflection on the nature of Superman and his role in the world. After Metropolis was virtually destroyed in Man Of Steel, Superman has become a divisive concept; a messianic figure and a potential threat to humanity for his autonomous, unaccountable, nature. That concept is blended poorly with Bruce Wayne's desire to reign in Superman, as he witnessed the carnage in Metropolis 18 months prior and experiences yet another loss in his life as a result. Rather than staying focused on either concept, Batman V Superman: Dawn Of Justice becomes mired in a painfully simplistic conspiracy put together by Lex Luthor.

Lex Luthor in Batman V Superman: Dawn Of Justice is, arguably, the worst interpretation of the character ever and while actor Jesse Eisenberg is taking a lot of flack for it, he deserves remarkably little blame. Lex Luthor in Batman V Superman: Dawn Of Justice is written as The Joker. Eisenberg plays him as appropriately twitchy and unsettled and I just kept waiting for the movie to take a clever turn what would have made it explicit that Lex Luthor was the Joker (elements like the Polaroid photos of Martha Kent seemed like foreshadowing in that regard). That moment never comes and instead of Lex Luthor being a genius who is actually motivated by the desire to save the world from its dependence on Superman, he is just a non-committed, rich version of The Joker.

Lois Lane and Clark Kent's relationship is portrayed as simplistic and bland. When Doomsday finally pops up, it looks like leftover footage of Cave Trolls from The Lord Of The Rings. And it is hard not to imagine Joss Whedon cringing as Wonder Woman finally makes her big screen debut as a half-rate sidekick who ultimately appears as muscle (virtually nothing of her cerebral nature is present)(Whedon having famously written a pitch or spec. script for Wonder Woman more than a decade ago, only to have it go nowhere).

Despite the spectacle (though most of it is surprisingly dark), simplistic and bland is an apropos description of Batman V Superman: Dawn Of Justice. When the biggest geek-out factor is recognizing actors (on screen and voices) from Watchmen (reviewed here!) in the film, the movie has serious problems. More could be said, but it would be pointless: bad is bad and Batman V Superman: Dawn Of Justice is bad.

For other live-action DC superhero works, please check out my reviews of:
Suicide Squad
The Dark Knight Trilogy
Green Lantern
Jonah Hex
Superman Returns
Batman: The Motion Picture Anthology 1989 - 1997
Wonder Woman


For other movie reviews, please check out my Film Review Index Page for an organized listing!

© 2016 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
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