Review – Batman V Superman: Dawn Of Justice
Directed by: Zack Snyder
Produced by: Charles Roven & Deborah Snyder
Written by: David S. Goyer & Chris Terrio
Release Date: March 25th 2016
A lot has happened since this movie first released half a decade ago. We have lived through the explosive fan backlash to the original cut, had an ultimate cut blu-ray release that fixed some of the theatrical cut’s problems, suffered through a watered down, colour-graded sequel from Joss “Brunch,” Whedon, finally surviving a worldwide pandemic and witnessing a monumental online campaign to get to see Zack Snyder’s untainted vision of an epic superhero team-up blockbuster that is mostly free from studio meddling.
So really what is left to say? Well in the wake of the Snydercut being released, I revisited the theatrical cut of Batman V Superman: Dawn Of Justice for review and realised that I do still have a lot to say about the film.
First off, let me give you some context regarding the complex relationship that I have with this movie. For the last eight years I have been reading and collecting comics to an obsessive level and it is actually predominately because of this movie.
I have always been a superhero fan (especially Batman,) and I had read some comics in my youth, but when this movie was announced at San Diego Comic-Con in 2013, (8 years ago!!) I was so hyped that I decided that I had to read the comic that this film was taking inspiration from. So I went to my local A1 Comics and bought The Dark Knight Returns, which underwhelmed me but that’s another story.
Since then I have become a huge comic book fan due to this movie. So clearly I have a personal attachment to the film. Which means I went in seriously wanting to love it and what was not to love here? It would have been so difficult to get this wrong. It is Batman fighting Superman on the big screen, how amazing is it that this actually happened?
And yet somehow they still managed to royally screw it up…
Do you read? You will. And then realise how superior the comic that this film is based on is to the actual movie itself, (and I’m not even a massive fan of the source material.)
I revisited 10 Cloverfield Lane this week for review and while that movie isn’t perfect, what makes that film great is exactly what makes BvS subpar. 10CL had a small team of people working on a restrictive budget, so every aspect of the movie was scrutinised and perfected to make up the end product and that attention to detail really paid off. BvS had a huge budget and a massive team of people working on it and I think that is what gives the movie it’s unfocused and sloppy feel.
The script is a mess, there are clearly scenes cut, the editing is jarring, not all of the performances were up to scratch and while the imagery and visuals are incredible, the best way to describe this movie is all style and no substance. I like Zack Snyder, I love his Watchmen movie, I like 300 and I enjoyed Man of Steel, but I can’t help but feel that this was his fault. His decision to make years of comic book stories into one two and a half hour movie honestly baffles me. The events of this movie should have taken place over at least three movies. This movie really is all over the place and the pace and tone are random at best.
Let’s talk about the best part of the movie, which is quite easily Ben Affleck’s Batman and Jeremy Irons’ Alfred. Seeing the two characters and their chemistry are worth the ticket price of the film alone. This is probably the most faithful to the source material Batman that we have had on the big screen to date, except for one pretty major change. Batman in DoJ is pretty much Punisher in a cowl.
During the Batmobile chase he questionably kills some goons. I mean, some of them could have survived… If they had Wolverine’s healing powers I guess? But then there is that badass warehouse scene that we all remember fondly during which, he near enough shoots some guys himself.
If you can get over this and see this as an alternate version of Batman you should be able to appreciate Affleck’s performance though, which by the way is amazing, he knocks it out of the park. I would have liked some kind of reference to it, even a scene where he discusses breaking his code with Alfred, just a few lines would have made me get on board with this version of the character a lot quicker.
Critics have been calling Henry Cavill’s Superman performance wooden for years now, but I have always felt that is too harsh. He was perfectly serviceable in this movie but he was never going to be praised for his memorable performance either. Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman is a standout, my only complaint is that she isn’t in the movie enough as Wonder Woman.
Jesse Eisenberg is the stand out worst performance in the movie. It isn’t necessarily a bad performance, it just does not fit that character at all. He was truly miscast here, if they had cast him as Riddler in the Batman solo movie and he put in this performance I would be praising him like mad. Lex Luthor shouldn’t be crazy on a surface level, he should be a respectable businessman and an intellectual force to be reckoned with and he will go out of his way to ensure that this is what everyone sees him as. It should only ever be the people closest to him that that he allows to see him crack. He certainly shouldn’t be making strange noises and gestures like someone with Tourette’s or extreme OCD. Also Doomsday still looks and feels silly and was clearly just shoehorned in at the end for the sake of giving the trinity an enemy to battle against.
Do you pee? You will. After sitting though near three hours of this garbage.
Overall, I enjoy the Ultimate Cut of this movie more than Man of Steel, but only slightly and I dislike it for a lot of the same reasons. Just like Man of Steel there are parts of this movie that I adored and parts that I hated. As for the theatrical cut, I’d rather sit through MoS ten times over than watch that again. In my mind any movie above a 7 is a great movie and unfortunately I can’t call this a great movie. I fully believe that everyone should form their own opinion of this movie given its storied context within pop culture, but I still feel that it simply didn’t live up to the hype that it set for itself and in hindsight, Zack Snyder was clearly doing more harm than good in terms of setting up the DCEU.
Do you see? You will. Or at least you better have seen it by now because it has been out for five years at this point and the spoiler-free section is over.
Like I said earlier, the events of the movie really should have been split across several movies and explored more rather than rushed through at a breakneck speed. We should have had a whole movie on Batman V Superman, the conflicting ideologies between them and the discussion of whether or not this world needs a Superman. Then we should have had a movie just based on the dawn of the Justice League, with Batman and Superman eventually understanding each other and becoming friends and with way more scenes with Wonder Woman and a proper introduction to the other characters rather than the literal plot device USB stick we got in BvS.
Then we should have had a few Justice League movies and once Superman was an established character within the universe, they should have killed him off then and did the Death and Return of Superman story, not in this film where Batman and Wonder Woman hardly know him and the public still don’t know whether he is good or bad.
Also, something that still doesn’t make sense is if Batman a killer at this point, what reason is there for the Joker to still be alive? The whole point of their relationship is that Batman won’t kill Joker because of his code and Joker won’t kill Batman because he loves fighting him, but if Batman has no code and he has been Batman for years then he really should have killed Joker a long time ago.
All that said, I am glad that I got to revisit Batman V Superman: Dawn Of Justice for review. It is still an important touchstone in terms of modern superhero pop culture and there are some great moments that were a joy to witness again. It is just a shame that it ended up so crammed and bloated when all was said and done. The film serves as a textbook example of a studio trying to force a franchise to run before it has learned to walk.