Quick Review: Batman v Superman (+Extended Talk)

Here we go! (Finally!) This portion of the post is just a small/quick, non-spoiler review of the film. For an extended look, and what I found worked/didn’t work, will be clearly noted below. That portion will also contain spoilers.

So what were my overall thoughts of the film? I thought it was good. Certainly undeserving of the current RT score from critics. One of the biggest complaints of critics was how dark the film was. Apparently they need to take a trip back to film class because one thing a movie is composed of is a tone – and for this film, “dark” was one. Snyder wasn’t kidding around when he said this film would be “grounded” and “realistic” in the sense that if these events truly occurred in our world, these are the reactions, the view points. I thought the introduction of the film was brilliantly done (and a quick way to introduce Bruce’s origin story). As for the rest of the film, I didn’t find the way some scenes were placed didn’t work quite right and wished they hadn’t flipped back and forth (I’ll explain more below). As for casting, I thought everyone was fantastic. Irons and Adams of course were great, and the surprising show-stealers are Eisenberg and Gadot. Affleck did well in the role of Batman and Cavill continues to do great in the role of Superman (despite the script, in my opinion, limiting his full potential). The cinematography of the film was insane – props to Larry Fong once again. As well as the score by Hans Zimmer and Junkie XL (Luthor’s and Wonder Woman’s themes are my favorites). I think one of the biggest cons in the film, however, is the final battle sequence with Doomsday. This is where I kind of have to agree with critics in that at points, it’s hard to tell who is fighting and where and how. I do want to applaud, though, the fight sequences in the film. Particularly of Gadot’s entry as WW in the film and when Batman fights off Anatoli Knyazev’s (Callan Mulvey) men.

Overall, BvS was an enjoyable film. There were things that worked and things that didn’t work. I also feel the title of the film probably wasn’t the best pick after watching the film. But I don’t think it had enough cons for it to deserve the bashing critics are giving it.

Current Ratings:

Mine: 7/10

IMDb: 7.8/10 (users)

Metacritic: 44%

Rotten Tomatoes: 31% (critics) 76% (users)

Critics Consensus: Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice smothers a potentially powerful story — and some of America’s most iconic superheroes — in a grim whirlwind of effects-driven action.

EXTENDED/SPOILER TALK

I wanted to discuss any detail I remembered and get an idea of what everyone else thinks! This’ll probably be long so bear with me. I’m trying to keep this organized and concise but we’ll see…

CASTING/CHARACTERS

Let’s get this out of the way since this is one I really want to chat about. The cast, in my opinion, was great. Not one was I peeved by. Luthor’s interactions with Senator June Finch (Hunter) was arguably more intriguing than Bruce’s and Clark’s themselves…(the problem with those 2 is that their whole VS was a misunderstanding). Anyways, an example of their relationship; the court scene, as soon as Finch started stuttering, my brain clicked the pieces together (Keefe’s wheelchair from Luthor, the lack of Luthor, and the final touch – the jar of tea!) when the bomb went off. If there’s one thing for sure, Snyder was able to show how insane and maniacal Luthor is. Even Mercy Graves (Okamoto) faced her demise (?); his loyal right-hand woman! Although June was a short-lived character, Hunter was brilliant in the role (no surprise). For Scoot McNairy, who played Wallace Keefe, I thought he was great as well. I mean, it sucked he became a piece of Luthor’s game to frame Superman but…Oh and this reminds me. WHY did WB/Snyder hide Mulvey, Okamoto, Hunter, and McNairy’s roles for so long?! I found that unnecessary and, quite frankly, annoying. The actors were fine in their role, of course, but there was no harm in announcing their characters’ names. Speaking of mystery casting, Michael Cassidy was listed as “Sam” for awhile until the week of the BvS premieres and early showings where it was changed to Jimmy Olsen. Later in an interview, Snyder confirmed he was indeed Jimmy Olsen, undercover CIA agent. What peeved me was that Snyder just killed him off, that there was “no room” for him in the “pantheon” of DC characters. It’s called a MoS solo, Snyder.

I won’t discuss Cavill’s Superman too much since this is his second movie in the DC universe. IF there was one thing I could nag on, it’s his overall character development. We got only one film, Man of Steel, where we learned his origins, we saw him fight a villain, he met Lois Lane, then got a job at Daily Planet. I was hoping BvS would explore more about this version of Clark Kent/Superman post MOS, continue his journey of now being known to the world. But instead we got a bunch of new characters thrown in to introduce that, in my opinion, diminishes his dilemmas a bit. This is where I think that perhaps Snyder chose wrong in going straight to BvS, or perhaps his approach to it. I’d go into a whole story of how he could’ve done it but I won’t. Now for Affleck’s casting as Batman, I wasn’t one of those fans who hated the idea. Nor did I love it. I, somehow, was living under a rock and just really didn’t know much of Affleck. I caught up on some of his films after he was announced to get an idea of him and didn’t really get the hate so I’m probably missing something from the past (biggest one – Daredevil, which wasn’t even his fault…). Anyways, I thought Affleck was great as Bruce Wayne/Batman. He’s looking more like the cartoon shows of Batman I’d watch as a kid so that was great for me. There’s obviously more to his story that we only got hints of in BvS but it sounds like the DVD extended edition will cover that. His fight sequences were great and he finally kicks ass like we’ve seen him do in comics/the cartoons. He’s even got the damn bat grin down.

Now to the ladies, Lois and Diana. I’m glad we see more of a connection and development in the relationship between Clark Kent and Lois Lane (Adams). If there’s one reason I would’ve wanted a MoS sequel before BvS, it’s too see this being developed right. MoS seemed to rush the relationship but BvS seemed to carry it just right. Adams is fantastic as Lane (I may be bias though as Amy is one of my favorite actors). I liked the fact they actually had her try and stop Bruce and Clark from fighting/killing each other, although I wish Superman had taken her to safety once they realized the giant misunderstanding. But you know, have Lois get trapped in water trying to get the kryptonite spear instead of Bats letting Superman or WW know they’ll need it to destroy Doomsday, or even not having Bats throw the damn thing away. (Sorry, that’s one of the cons in the film I didn’t care for…) Anyways, Adams as Lois Lane is great, but there are pros/cons to the way her character was written. Now for Diana/WW played by Gal Gadot. Along with Affleck, Gadot faced a shit load of criticism from fans, particularly of her build (skinny) and boob size (which was absolutely disgusting that people said she couldn’t be her for BOOB SIZE. BECAUSE THATS ALL WONDER WOMAN IS ABOUT. GROW UP.) My main problem with her casting was 1) wasn’t my favorite pick and 2) didn’t know her acting ability. I had seen her in Knight and Day (very small role) and the Fast and Furious franchise (which she held her own in, but it was hard to judge if she’d indeed be a good WW). I was worried for this character as WW is my favorite superhero of all time. I was pleased to see how much mass Gadot was able to gain given the time frame and now after seeing her in the role, I’m glad she was cast. The fans, even critics, weren’t kidding when they say she stole the show. She pulled the role off with ease and looked incredibly powerful (and bad-ass) as Diana Prince and Wonder Woman. Here’s to hoping success for her solo!

Diane Lane, Kevin Costner, Laurence Fishburne, Harry Lennix all continued to do great in their roles (Martha Kent, Jonathan Kent, Perry White, General Secretary Swanwick). I don’t really have any criticisms for them given their small roles. They were fantastic given the amount they had to work with, and in particular, Diane as Martha. (I loved the whole “Martha,” situation between Batman and Superman in their big show down by the way. It was super powerful and helped reconnect Bruce to humanity and open his mind on Superman. ) Now for Jeremy Irons as Alfred. I remember they announced his role the same time they announced Eisenberg’s. I was already a fan of Irons, as an actor, before his casting and I knew he’d do the role justice. Although he isn’t in the film too much as in a Batman solo would have, he was great and, in my opinion, sarcastic and hilarious. He’s got a type of humor I enjoy and easily made him one of my favorites of the film.

Now for Doomsday. Boy oh boy I don’t know how I want to talk about this. I REALLY don’t know how I feel about it. I mean, his origin worked for what they used (Zod’s corpse, Luthor’s blood, using the Kryptonian ship). But he was “dumbed-down” in my opinion, extremely powerful and intimidating for sure, but he was just this raging unstoppable machine. I do wonder if we’ll see him return and evolved. (Given Superman’s apparent revival at the end, unless that Kryptonite spear was enough to totally destroy Doomsday). If there is one thing Doomsday served well it, it was being WW’s punching bag. God-damn, she was ready (and she enjoyed it). I’d also say Doomsday was the cause of bringing the Trinity together, but I think we can step back and say it’s Luthor who really causes it. (So thanks White Rabbit.)

PLOT

One thing I can’t figure out as either frustrating or not is the giant misunderstanding, caused by Luthor, that causes the fight between Superman and Batman. Granted, Bruce was already hating on Supes for the destruction of the MoS events and out of fear of the worldwide damage he could cause, Luthor plays with that to make him even angrier (angry enough to steal Luthor’s kryptonite and battle the man of steel). As for Clark, he’s just pissed because he views Batman as a vigilante. It isn’t enough, in my opinion, for him to go out and battle Batman though. Instead, Clark/Superman continues to find himself in more controversy that causes Batman/Bruce (and the public) to hate him more – with the planned assassination of Naorimians when saving Lois, the explosion in the court room. And finally, Luthor’s capture of not only Lois but his mother as well. What we see is that no matter what, Clark/Superman is good, the light. And it wasn’t until Luthor moved his next piece did he actually fight Batman. So basically, Batman needs to take a chill-pill and chat with Superman about his misinterpretations of him. Although I do have to say, I enjoyed their fight and so did the audience – Batman outsmarted the man of steel. (When is he not so smart? Bringing back Doomsday into the city. Why didn’t he keep them on the fucking island that’s uninhabited?! He was online with Alfred who could’ve figured a way to get someone to bring the kryptonite spear) But back to the true antagonist of the story – Lex Luthor. One of the greatest parts of the film was watching how Luthor played everyone in his game. His goal? To rid the man of steel. Why? It’s a bit unclear and I may have to watch the film again. He appears to be xenophobic, sees Superman as a real, genuine threat to the world. Eisenberg wasn’t kidding of the philosophical viewpoints, (albeit insane at, well, most times), Luthor has (when he chats with Finch in particular). You can’t help but wonder what he was yelling about in the end at Batman, what was going to happen/is coming…DING DING DING

STRUCTURE (and etc)

Again, above I mentioned I wasn’t crazy with the structure of the film. That was mainly in the first third of the film. The problem was that the film was trying to introduce its many characters in this portion. It kept splitting scenes and I wish they’d just continue and finish the scene. I understand it’s for the sake to show it’s occurring at the same time but I think we’d understand that. But I do, again, want to stress my love for the opening scene of the film with young Bruce Wayne, the murder of his parents, and Affleck’s voice over. It was fantastic and I won’t lie, I was tearing up.

Dream sequences. I forgot someone had mentioned Superman/Clark has a sort of dream sequence (hallucination?) and was really confused at first when we see Jonathan Kent. It was all fine though, I liked seeing his father as he always serves as a reminder and source of hope for Clark. Which, again, I’d hope to see explored in a MoS sequel. Now for Batman, I believe Bruce has 3 dream sequences, and one of them is within one. (Fucking inception!) The first pissed me off but for good reason. It’s when Bruce is visiting his parents’ tomb again and finds this weird liquid oozing out of them, which suddenly breaks open and this gargoyle/bat stone creature jumps out. I kid you not people squealed in the audience because no one expected it. Loved and hated that part. The next dream sequence, one that many has seen in photos and trailers, is the Knightmare sequence where Superman has taken over. (PS, cinematography was great here. The parademons also looked awesome, if that’s indeed what they were.) This scene was partly a fuel to Bruce’s hatred of Superman but did it also serve as a warning of the future? Here’s why – possible parademons, the symbol of Darkseid, and the third dream sequence that features the Flash (Ezra Miller) who warns Bruce he was right.

“Bruce! Listen to me now. It’s Lois. It’s Lois Lane! She’s the key. ?find you? soon. Too soon. You were right about him. You were always right about him. Fear him. Find us Bruce. You have to find us!”

This right here will probably continue to be a big debate until Justice League (maybe) as to whether this is just a nightmare or is indeed a warning. But given the ending where Bruce talks to Diana about finding these other metahumans, because he’s got a feeling…

CAMEOS

So we have Aquaman, The Flash (twice), and Cyborg. We’re introduced to Flash, again, first by that vision Bruce sees in his nightmare (this part is probably quite unclear to non comicbook viewers). When Diana receives the email from Bruce about the picture Luthor has of her (which was her mission/involvement of the film – the photo was from 1918), she also sees 3 other files in the same folder as hers (the covers of these files alone would’ve served as great easter eggs). Those 3 files were of Aquaman, Flash, and Cyborg. We see Flash stop a robbery so fast that it doesn’t even seem he left his spot in the dairy aisle. For Cyborg, we see half of his body hanging, and his father, Silas Stone, talking about some failed experiment, and as the video progresses, it (mother box?) begins working and we see the beginning of the transformation of Vic Stone into Cyborg. Now for Aquaman, drones are filming under water of a sunken ship and all we see are bright glowing eyes at first, then we see Aquaman swim out with trident pointed (destroying a drone). He looks pretty awesome, and zooms off pretty fast, hopefully a sign he’ll be bad-ass and not the butt of all jokes. But no sign of Green Lantern anywhere, despite heavy speculations. But Charles Roven, I believe, did say we probably won’t see him until JL Part 2 at the latest…

SCORE

The score was great, in my opinion, but overused in a couple scenes. I love the “Is She With You,” track, it’s one of my favorites from the entire score. But when Bruce was investigating the file/photos Diana was looking for and they played the soundtrack, it didn’t fit for me at all. It’s the same when Diana looks at the files herself of not just her’s but also the other metahumans Luthor has on file. It really could’ve been just a heavy, slow drum for both scenes. And for Diana’s particularly, it could’ve built up slowly as she went through each file, getting louder and faster. I wanted her theme, really, to only play when she showed up for the battle with Doomsday. What happened, (now mind you I don’t know exactly what goes on BTS between composers and directors), but possibly Snyder wanted to build up this huge revelation(s) and it just came out overused. Other than those two scenes, though, I thought the score worked. My other particular favorite is Luthor’s theme. It has a bit of a Sherlock Holmes vibe but the twanginess (?) and sinister feel of the score was fitting to the character and I don’t think was misused.

In the end, I think Batman v Superman was a good film. Not great, not bad, just good. In my honest opinion, the BvS portion of the film falls short in its reasoning. But the Dawn of Justice I thought was greatly intertwined in the film, with the small cameos and the Trinity fighting. But that subtitle could have caused the fallout of the main title, where things fall a bit short. Here’s my main issue and where I think some fans will fight back on me – Justice League needs a new director. Snyder, for some reason, keeps getting flack from critics. I can see why in some parts but this bias keeps coming and I think Snyder needs to step back simply as a producer. I’m worried with the hate BvS is getting, JL will see the same results. Chris Terrio cleaned the script up brilliantly, but I think the story itself that Snyder provides to the movie and its characters is also lacking. He attempts to bring so much but what he really needs to do is scale back and really look at what each of these characters bring, enhance that, bring it out. It’s heavily based on CG effects (the third act especially) and making things “bad-ass,” trying to make the audience go “wow,” but at times almost feels forced. He had something going with the realistic, driven, grounded, tone he was going for but didn’t quite reach it. I really hope that Justice League has a better sense of direction and that it turns out better than BvS did. Again, BvS doesn’t deserve the pounding the critics are giving it, but I don’t think it’s the greatest comic book film ever.

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