The Warner Bros. production of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice is an exercise in futility. The film presents beautifully striking visuals, with no plot whatsoever. Instead of staying true to the essence of world building, it plays out like a surrealist film. Random scenes of CGI action and melodrama are sewn together incoherently to distract you into forgetting that nothing is really happening.
Maybe that is overly harsh. There are good elements in the film, but they just aren’t enough to redeem it. I will highlight the good, bad, and ugly components that make up Batman vs Superman: Dawn of Justice without giving too much away.
Batman v Superman is a visual feast. The literal dark tone of the film really highlights the lush reds, blues, and greens. Zack Snyder excels at making his films look good, even though everything takes place on a green screen stage. DC comic fans that have waited their whole lives for this will be satisfied with what they see with their eyes. The level of high-octane action moves quickly and doesn’t necessarily feel like a two-and-a-half-hour film. Batman v Superman is definitely more exciting than Man of Steel.
After a long hiatus, it is great to see Holly Hunter back in the game. As Senator Finch, Hunter is powerful, assertive, and means business. She may not appear in another DC comics film, but hopes are high that the talented veteran actress will be returning to acting full-time.
Ben Affleck as Batman works! He isn’t the best Batman portrayal (Yes, Keaton remains my favorite), but he is good with what he has been given. Some things don’t ring true to the Batman character in Batman v Superman, but overall he looks good in the Batsuit and makes for a great seasoned crime fighter. I am interested to see where he personally takes the Batman franchise. Thank god, he has agreed to direct the Batman films.
Jeremy Irons is a great actor with a distinct voice that is recognizable the world over. Alfred is Batman/Bruce Wayne’s beloved butler and lifetime friend. The two together do not work. The Alfred character came off as a grumpy drunk more than a mild-mannered confidant. I am sure this isn’t Iron’s fault. Since the tone of the film is joyless, that means even Alfred must be shoved into this mold.
There isn’t much to say about Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman. She is very pretty and statuesque, but in Batman v Superman she isn’t given enough to do to make a significant impact. A solo WW movie will reveal more of her talent, acting, and fighting. While her fight scenes in Batman v Superman are cool, I wasn’t terribly impressed. However, I don’t believe that is Gal’s fault; that’s a direction and script issue.
Tao Okamoto as Mercy Graves is sad to watch. According to DC comics Wikia, Mercy Graves is Lex Luthor’s very experienced, well-trained bodyguard, who is of Amazon heritage. But in Batman v Superman Grave’s character is treated as nothing more than an assistant who looks easy on the eyes and is later sacrificed for no good reason. It’s a mystery why she was there when offering nothing to the story.
Jesse Eisenberg is terrible as Lex Luthor. This revisionist rendition of the character is a goofy, Silicon Valley tech bro who seems to suffer from schizophrenia. This is far from the calm, cool billionaire we know in the comics. His acting is so bad, I wanted to get up and leave the theater to save myself from having to deal with seeing him act.
Amy Adams is decent as Lois Lane in Man of Steel. Lane is portrayed as smart, independent, and anti-damsel in distress. In Batman v Superman, the character has changed 360 degrees. She is the plainest, whiniest, and most boring damsel ever. Her phoned-in performance is shocking as Adams is a great actress, but she didn’t even try here.
Director Zack Snyder is unaware of his own hubris and its ultimately his downfall. He decides to “reinvent the wheel” instead of staying in line with the bare minimum of the comic book canon. The film is devoid of plot, and Snyder seemed to be OK with that. Batman v Superman is clearly a quick fix attempt at playing catch-up to the other comic cinematic universes. The reason for their fighting isn’t well defined and downright silly. How could Snyder stand for this? Instead of being patient and focusing on world building around Superman and Batman, Snyder has created a sloppy, choppy cinematic meltdown, stuffed full of characters who aren’t doing much. I don’t see success for this franchise if he continues to direct. I think the audience needs a fresh eye to take on the task. I am hoping George Miller decides to direct the Justice League film.
With all of that said, I give Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice a 6.5 out of 10, which I believe is higher than most critics. The film will dazzle you with its visuals but disappoints by having absolutely no plot to stand on. Fanboys and DC fanatics will love and appreciate it and I totally get why. Not everyone will share that sentiment. I encourage all to see the film and come to their own conclusion.
[Image via DC/Warner Bros]