Film Review: Batman v Superman: The Dawn of Justice

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batman v superman

Some spoilers, though if you read this it would save you from having to actually endure the film.

I was more excited about this film than I should have been. This film is just an utter mess. There is no clear plot, there was more build up then there needed to be for the conclusion and I found myself in a position I hadn’t been expecting: I was bored watching the entire film.

This film was not meant to be boring: it was meant to be the ultimate clash between Batman and Superman, but by the time the film finally got to that clash, I’d switched off and had stopped caring. The only reason I stayed until the end of the was because cinema tickets are not cheap; I’d paid for a seat so I was going to use it for as long as it was mine to sit in.

What I hated so much about this film was the plot, which was just all over the place and it had so much potential to be brilliant as well. The script writing was just lazy; it relied on Batman going to sleep and having nightmares in order to explain key character motivations, and then Superman walking up to the top of a mountain and hallucinating his late adoptive father.

And then to top it all off the reason why Batman stopped hitting Superman is because their mothers have the same name. Honestly, I groaned at that point, and I groaned even louder when I got home and checked. Apparently it’s canon from the comic books and quite frankly it’s a bit pathetic.

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I enjoyed Jesse Eisenberg’s performance as Lex Luthor, and I can’t fault the acting from anyone in truth, they did the best they could with the crap they had to work with. The writing behind Luthor’s character was so preachy and obtuse, that it was difficult to determine his motivations, which were driving the entire plot. From what I can gather from thinking about it, like both the protagonists he also has daddy issues and there was also some motivation derived from his desire to prove that man can overcome the power of god.

I think; bat-shit crazy is my other theory, and that theory does explain the plot better (though not the dream sequences, nothing can explain those), as it means that a crazy person has pushed all the buttons and did so in a random order, resulting the mess of a film that was the result.

And this mess has seriously undermined DC Comics ability to compete with the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and if the plot had been clearer and better, then DC can compete. DC has better villains and more complex heroes. From the perspective of a writer, DC ticks more boxes for me than Marvel does in terms of the potential they have to make great films, but watching this latest release from them I severely doubt that they can actually do it.

superman

They should be able to as well, because the quality and the potential of the characters is there. Henry Cavill is brilliant as Superman, which he proved in Man of Steel. He was sadly underutilised in this film; his ability as an actor wasn’t tested and the conflict of his character was seemingly swept under the carpet and based on how Lois was reduced as a character, which I will do into more detail below, because that is a complaint about the film all of its own.

batman-v-superman

Ben Affleck as Batman works as well, and as much as I love the Christopher Nolan trilogy, I’m not a fan of Christian Bale in the role. Ben Affleck was so much more convincing as the Dark Knight of Gotham. When portraying Bruce Wayne I was more convinced that he was a complex character with feelings that run deep. The opening scene of Bruce Wayne running through Metropolis was all I needed to be convinced that Affleck is a better Batman than Bale, and it was all ruined by the subsequent need to tread over very well worn ground when it came to the character.

The origin story of Batman didn’t need to be re-shoot, and the use of that origin story as a key motivator for why Batman doesn’t like Superman just made the story boring. Batman is more complex than his origin story; in the context of this film he has two decades of fighting crime in Gotham behind him. Plenty of potential material that would have changed his character from the boy who witnessed his folks dying. Actual real experience of injustice in reality that could have been drawn on to create his mistrust in Superman, but no apparently dreams are better (read lazier).

And then there are the women of the film. Amy Adams and Diane Lane were established in Man of Steel as strong, complex characters, and in this film their characters have been reduced to little more than damsel’s in distress. Even when Lois Lane is trying to backtrack on a decision she made to get rid of a weapon that Batman made to kill Superman, she isn’t allowed to good through with it without being threatened by a plot device resulting in Superman having to save her.

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In fact the entire film happens because he has to save her from a dangerous situation, and while Lex was the mastermind behind that happening, as a one off event it could be excusable. It wasn’t a one off event though, she also gets thrown from a building and nearly drowned. She also then gets reduced to being a grieving girlfriend who has lost out on the potential of being a well-loved wife. The strong and determined character of Man of Steel was reducing to being little more than a prop used to manipulate Superman.

And then there’s an entire scene that happens while she’s naked in a bathtub. UGH!!!!!! Why did that have to happen without the dignity of her being allowed to have clothes; Henry Cavill stayed fully dressed, even when he got into the tub with her, so why was it just her that needed to be sexualised?

The only thing I actually liked about the film was the meta-humans subplot, which probably only resulted in about two or three minutes of screen time. As a subplot, which was helpful to introduce Wonder Woman and the future of the League of Justice films it was great, until you viewed it in the wider context of the film. The sub-plot as a self-contained unit is great, but it got awkwardly wedged into the main plot. I’m sure there could have been a better way to introduce the meta-humans than an instant messaging conversation between her and Bruce (no I’m not kidding this was how it was dealt with).

wonder woman

The only character motivation that makes any sense in the entire film is Wonder Woman turning around from her hasty departure prompted by the main threat created by Lex and helping rather than fleeing. And good lord was she good. She might not have saved the day in the end, but she definitely made the defeat of ‘Zod’ a lot more fun to watch and made it possible for the ‘rescue’ of Lois to happen mid-fight as Batman sure as hell couldn’t have coped on his own.

Needless to say, in conclusion I was not impressed by this film. It had a great deal of potential but the script was just too confused and lazy to make it great. The ability of the actors and the characters in the film are there and could be used well, but they weren’t in this film. Fingers crossed for the future of these films, because based on this outing, DC needs all the luck they can get.

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About kabrown4

A quaint life full of teacups searched for inspiration to fuel a writer dreaming of fantasy worlds that are full of friends found only in words. I have been writing for as long as I can remember and over the years I have developed many stories and many characters. This is my blog about the journeys I've been on over the years, and the road I'm still travelling as a writer.

4 responses »

  1. Pingback: Why Zootopia is the most important film of 2016 – a plea from a film lover. | A Young Writer's Notebook

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