Batman Versus Superman

batman versus supermanI have to start this honestly and say this is a terrible movie and the only reason you’re going to see it is for the fight. And that’s how the movie feels… It’s like some executive in a room somewhere said “we should make Batman and Superman fight, and that’s the movie.” But that was all the idea was really, then they decided to try to catch up with Marvel’s Avengers and attempt to introduce Justice League, and by the way, we should maybe have a story too. That’s how this film feels, like some patchwork afterthought built around a fight.

The writing and directing is what makes this film so bad. Starting with the writing – it’s a disjointed mess. The narrative is all over the place (again) with a lot of things going on to put things in motion that are coming later, so there’s a lot of set up. The trouble is, the set up often doesn’t lead anywhere or by the time it does, it’s been convoluted to the point where you forgot about the previous events anyway. Then, there’s also the reboot aspect. Yes, this is yet another Batman reboot as the film starts with the Batman origin story of a young Bruce Wayne losing his family, falling down the well with the bats, etc. I couldn’t believe this is how the movie started, like a Batman origin story. Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the last couple of decades, I think everyone’s seen this before and knows who Batman is. This was self-indulgent and unnecessary. The ending is trite and disappointing too as it feels very manufactured and formulaic. All this is on top of a ton of plot holes and continuity issues…

Then there’s the interpretation of these characters (which is also a part of the problem wth the writing). Zack Snyder’s redefinition of these beloved icons is just too damn dark. Not everything needs to be so utterly angry and depressing; Snyder needs to get his hands off these guys. His gloomy vision worked well with Watchmen but doesn’t belong in DC’s universe. Case in point – just before the fight, Superman hints at possibly killing Batman which is so not within his wheelhouse. Then, the real kicker is how dark and different Batman is. If you thought Nolan’s Batman was dark, you haven’t met the current psycho that Snyder is unleashing. Batman this time around is – now using guns, kills people, is into scarification as he brands his victims, and doesn’t seem to mind innocent people getting hurt (ironically since this is what pisses him off so much about Superman in the first place). And oh, both he and Alfred are now alcoholics.

Gone is any joy with any of the characters in the DC universe thanks to Snyder and his bleak vision. I’m a fan of Zack Snyder’s other work, but honestly, they need to get him away from these characters and onto other projects.

As for the performances; the one that stole the show for me (and the only character to get a response from the audience) was Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman. She was beautiful on screen, compelling as a character and kicked serious ass during the confrontation with Doomsday. Ben Affleck as Bruce Wayne/Batman was ok but didn’t bring anything to the character we haven’t seen before other than stupidity when he’s running toward a collapsing high rise in an attempt to do what? I have no idea. Other than that, he’s the usually broody, pouty, angry dude that we all know. Cavill as Superman is pretty much the same as we saw last time. I swear they were just trying to find things to do for him in this film without any real story there or character development. And then there’s Jesse Eisenberg as Lex Luthor which was going to turn out to be really good or really bad. Unfortunately his performance falls on the latter in that he basically comes off like an annoying, neurotic child molester and less so super intelligent villain. Amy Adams as Lois Lane is ok too but was muted by a bad script. The lineup includes Laurence Fishburne, Diane Lane, Jeremy Irons, Holly Hunter, Kevin Costner and Lauren Cohan.

In terms of the fight, it’s ok and fun to watch but it’s not the mind-blowing spectacle you might be hoping for. There’s some shaky cam footage that makes things hard to see at times during the fight and the way it gets resolved is sudden, cheap from a writing standpoint, and feels like it just sort of petered out without a very satisfying conclusion. The fight just kind of “stops” over one thing that unites the embattled titans during their not-so-epic clash. And suddenly, they’re great friends who don’t want to let each other down. Shit. One side note about the fight between the “heroes” as well as the confrontation with Doomsday – Metropolis gets somewhat destroyed again and so does Gotham a bit this time. What this means is that once again the film implies that thousands are getting killed in the background during these conflicts and noone seems to give a damn. This time Batman and Wonder Woman are there to inflict damage too instead of taking the fight away from the innocents, hmmm, doesn’t seem very super-heroish to me…

Make up your own mind here, if you decide to chance seeing it the theater, I think that ends up being a 50/50 bet whether you’ll actually like it or not. Me? Knowing what I know now, I would’ve waited for Netflix.

reviewed by Sean McKnight