Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. I was so tempted to save myself the time and trouble with this one and just do a two word review: don’t bother. However, I thought that might be a bit harsh. So I’ll make the effort to back up my judgement so you don’t think I’m being lazy. I’ll still try to keep it short though (unlike the film).
If I’m honest, I was apprehensive even before I’d seen this film. No, actually I was apprehensive way back when they announced Batman v Superman. I mean, I’m not a fountain of knowledge on comic book characters but even I could see that pitting a relatively ordinary man (plus lots of money, a fancy suit and growly voice) against an alien with actual superhero powers was never going to work. It does seem a little unfair against poor old batman who really doesn’t stand a chance. Maybe that’s why he’s so miserable for the entirety of the film.
Is this even a storyline?
It’s no surprise then that the primary failing of this film is the story. The entire plot is a total mess. There’s no coherency, no fluidity and not a lot makes sense (I KNOW it’s a fantastical film but at least try to convince me). Batman and Superman spend the majority of the film hating each other for a pretty tenuous reason but it’s a shockingly more tenuous reason that makes them decide to become friends. Spoiler alert (but honestly, it’s really not that exciting), their mums are both called Martha.
Like, really? The whole film has been leading to this moment?
It would have been better if they’d made a joke of the whole thing but instead they take it way too seriously. In fact, the whole film takes itself too seriously. Bringing superheroes together only works if you create interesting relationships between the characters. This is why The Avengers works because the characters all have distinct personalities and the way they interact with each other is highly watchable. You shove a load of big egos into one room and you get a combination of tension and hilarity.
This is where Batman v Superman fails. There is no chemistry between the lead characters – watching them interact is like watching two wooden spoons have a conversation. The plot is too bad for the film to be taken seriously, so they should have capitalised on the ridiculousness of the plot to bring out a little comic relief. It wouldn’t have made it a good movie but it certainly would have helped.
I suppose I must mention the casting of Ben Affleck as the man to take over from Christian Bale. A horrible task and one that was always going to be heavily criticised. So, did Affleck give it a good crack? Well, not really. I am deeply sorry to any Affleck fans but he seems to have the personality of a bathroom tap. I mean, I’m sure that’s not entirely the case but it’s how it comes across when he acts. Have you ever watched Affleck in a film and gone, ‘WOWZAS what an incredible actor!’? I certainly haven’t. His interpretation of batman was, I hate to say it, boring. Affleck’s batman was miserable, cynical and not even a little bit likeable. Maybe that was the point, maybe it was the poor story, maybe it wasn’t Affleck’s fault at all. Whatever the case, it didn’t work.
Henry Cavill as Superman does a pretty good job – he certainly looks the part and makes a convincing superhero. Although as with Batman, I feel he does lack a bit of sparkle, but again this could be more of a script problem than an acting problem. Jesse Eisenberg as a megalomaniac villain worked well, but it’s a shame the poor guy can’t shake off his ‘patronising nerd’ typecast. Despite not getting to see a huge amount of Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman, I liked what I did see. As a result, I am very excited to see her movie when it’s released (finally a superhero movie lead by a female, wahoo!). I just hope that they won’t hash up the story with that one and that they make a bit more of a concerted effort at developing some great character relationships.
At a running time of over two and a half hours I would suggest that you don’t waste your time and money. Obviously if you’re a diehard Batman/Superman fan then don’t listen to me, go ahead and watch it, you may well enjoy it, love it even! Maybe I’ve missed something or I just didn’t appreciate the nuances of this fantastical world. Yet in my opinion, the film is messy, the characters lack sparkle and neither the concept nor plot are substantial or impressive enough for the film to take itself so seriously, yet it really tries to. As the Joker would say:
Why so serious?
If you liked this then check out one of my other film reviews, such as The Revenant. I’d love to hear your thoughts!
If you’ve seen Batman v Superman, what did you think? Did you agree with my harsh opinion or did you think it was the best thing since sliced bread?