Friday, March 25, 2016

Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice Review

Can you believe that it's been three years since the world was poisoned with the atrocity that was Man of Steel? I am 100 percent unapologetic when it comes to my opinion of that film. I hated it. With a fiery passion. I've never been called a DC hater in my life, but if that thought ever arose in your mind because of my rantings against that movie, feel free to put that to rest. Superman is one of my all-time favorite comic book characters. And that's why I hated Man of Steel. They did Superman wrong. In fact, they made the Superman movie for those who normally hate Superman. Sure, it pleased a lot of people. But not this superhero fan. And now we're using that movie as a springboard for DC's cinematic universe. Oh dear. Someone help us all! I'm not sure why it took three years to take the next step, but that step is to bring in Batman, another one of my all-time favorite comic book characters, and pit him against Superman. This should be exciting, right? Batman and Superman on the big screen together for the very first time. That's what we've all been asking for our whole lives. Yet someone gave the keys of the car to Zack freaking Snyder, a director who has yet to make a good film, and is letting him drive our dreams into trash. What a sad waste of amazing potential.

As you can tell, I never really bought into the Batman v. Superman hype like everyone else. Following the trailers, I got as far as neutral with this film. When I did my 2016 movie preview, I officially put this in the maybe category. It looked like it could be a good movie, but yet I also remembered loving the Man of Steel trailers and I knew that the same man who directed that movie was back on board for Batman v. Superman. I wasn't going to let myself get false hope and walk out disappointed once again. Once the reviews started coming in and they were mostly all sour, worse than Man of Steel on Rotten Tomatoes, any neutrality I held all went away and the dread set in. Zack Snyder has done it again. He's ruined my favorite superheroes for a second time. Cringeworthy is the word I would use to describe Man of Steel. Now I was ready to go in and tear apart DC's second attempt in this universe. Sure the DC fanboys were super active as they all gave the movie 10's before even seeing it. That's the only reason I can explain this being at 9.3 on IMDb just two days ago with 10,000 votes. I was ready to agree with the critics on Rotten Tomatoes who currently have the movie at a 31 percent.

Turns out I think the critics are being a little harsh with this movie. But don't get too excited DC fanboys. That 9.3 on IMDb was even way more out of line. I think this movie belongs somewhere in between those two drastic opinions. It's certainly a huge step up from Man of Steel. Right off the bat I can tell you that the premise of this movie is absolutely genius. One of the biggest problems with Man of Steel was the high level of destruction that Superman caused while trying to stop this one villain. In Richard Donner's Superman II, Superman took the fight with Zodd out of the city boundaries so that no one would get hurt. But nope. That's not what Man of Steel's Superman did. They duked it out right in the middle of Metropolis, seemingly killing millions of innocent civilians. Horrible! Yet that's what Batman v. Superman plays off of. Turns out Batman was in Metropolis during that fight and he sees Superman not as a hero, but a monster that needs to be stopped because of all the destruction he caused to the city. Meanwhile, Superman is trying to find his place on this world and win the hearts of the people because they are naturally skeptic of him as well. And thus we have a fantastic setup for the battle of these two titans. Well played, movie. Well played!

Okay almost well played. I was enjoying this setup, but there came a point where I was mentally ready for this huge fight. Let's do this! But they kept setting up and setting up and setting up and setting up. When was this freaking movie going to start? It didn't take me very long to realize what was happening here. This was DC's catch-up movie. Back in 2008, Marvel slowly started to unveil their Cinematic Universe. They were patient. Instead of jumping into The Avengers, they released five solo movies leading up to The Avengers. That was so successful that they are now very deep into their universe and it's been truly fantastic to see. DC got jealous. They've been trying to setup a Justice League movie for a long time, but it's never gotten off the ground. Now that Marvel struck gold, DC quickly jumped on board to throw up their cinematic universe. The problem is Marvel was patient and took their time. DC is not being patient. While Marvel made five solo movies before The Avengers, DC has now shoved five movies into one movie, rushing into their long-awaited Justice League. They called this cram-fest movie Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice. Seriously. This movie has way too much going on.

Individually all of these elements are actually pretty darn good. Crammed together it is one big mess with horrible flow, bad editing, way too much setup, and a rushed ending that splats everything together into one incoherent mess. However, I do want to talk about some of these individual elements. Let's begin with the most controversial one. That Batfleck. I don't know why, but everyone hated the idea of Ben Affleck as Batman when it was first announced. Not me, though. I was on board for the Batfleck from day one. Yes, he had a bad run as Daredevil a while back, but he's an actor that has proven that when he wants to act, he does a dang good job of it. And recently the man has been on a role. He wrote, directed, and starred in two phenomenal movies in The Town (2010) and Argo (2012), the latter of which freaking won best picture. Then in 2014 he completely owned his performance in Gone Girl. Yet people seemed to ignore all that and complain about Daredevil, which was all the way back in 2003. Give it up people! Learn to give credit where credit is due! The Batfleck was a great idea!

I'm happy to announce that haters all over the world will be eating their words big time. Meanwhile I'll just be sitting here telling you I told you so because the Batfleck is so freaking awesome in this movie! Ben Affleck not only plays one of the best and most entertaining Batmans that we've ever had, he also might be one of the best Bruce Waynes. Keep in mind, though, that this is a messed up version of Bruce Wayne. And when I say messed up, I mean that he's a very broken human being. We get flashbacks into his past and we see the events that have led him to be such a broken human and it's quite tragic. You really feel bad for this guy. Personally I was fascinated with this version of Bruce Wayne and I am so stoked to see him get his own movie that will NOT be directed by Zack Snyder, but by Ben Affleck himself. This is also a very dark Batman. He gives new meaning to the nickname the dark knight. And when he's pissed, he shows absolutely no mercy. And yes, this Batman kills. He has no qualms with completely throwing his moral code out the window when he gets emotional, which is something that will definitely split a lot of viewers. Surprisingly, though, I wasn't too bothered by this. But I know a lot of people will be and already are, so it's worth noting.

On top of an introduction to our new Batman, this movie also serves as a follow-up to Man of Steel. This has several elements to it worth talking about. First off, as part of my hatred towards Man of Steel, I have been very harsh on Henry Cavill as Superman. I've recently had a bit of a revelation, though, that came when I was watching the movie The Man from U.N.C.L.E. This movie was a light-hearted, spy-thriller in the style of James Bond in which Cavil took the lead role and he was phenomenal. He had a ton of fun with this role and actually reminded me a lot of the great Christopher Reeve. Thus I decided that Henry Cavill was an excellent choice for Superman. The problem was how his character was written. They decided to go dark and dreary among other things and it didn't work for me. However, I did my best to ignore Man of Steel while watching this and I found that Superman actually redeemed himself a bit in my eyes. While we do have an on-going political thriller where people are deciding whether or not Superman is needed, Superman is actually doing his best to make a positive impact on the world by helping people where he can and this I liked. This political thriller element lasted WAY too long, but I did like Superman's arc in this movie.

Going along with Superman, the movie introduces his arch-rival Lex Luthor and does it's best to keep his girlfriend Lois Lane relevant. Neither of these worked very well. Let's start with Lex Luthor. If you are a devout follower of my reviews, I'm sure you'll know that I am a huge fan of Jesse Eisenberg. The man is a genius actor that's had a great career thus far and has a very bright future ahead of him. I'm always excited to see a new Jesse Eisenberg movie. But this is a casting choice that never made sense to me. I get that they're going a much different route with Lex Luthor and I'm glad they attempted this, but this was not the right casting choice and to make it worse the direction he was given was not good. Yes, Lex Luthor definitely has his moments in this movie, but for the most part he is just extremely annoying. And as far as Amy Adams as Lois Lane, that was one aspect of Man of Steel that worked for me. I love her character. But in this movie she is completely useless and becomes more of a damsel in distress. Sad. And yes, we get a scene of her in a bathtub that lasted way too long and was one of many scenes in this movie that didn't need to be there.

I'm sure you're getting the vibe here with what I thought about this movie. Already with what I've talked about this movie is just too crowded. We have one story that's introducing the Batfleck to us. We have another story following the Superman drama after the infamous Zodd fight. We have a third story following Lex Luthor, which was actually a much bigger portion of the movie than I thought it would be. And we have a fourth story that's trying to make Lois Lane fit into all of this. Individually it's great, but it's just too much. That's not even all of it. I've already written a ton and so I'm going to try to be brief with the rest, but we haven't even gotten to the title of this movie. Batman v. Superman. The fight. I expected 20-30 minutes of setup, but after that I expected a fight. That's what I came to see. I didn't keep track of how long it actually took to get to the fight, but it must've been at least an hour. Maybe an hour and a half. No joke. And then when we finally got to that point, they didn't have enough time for it. Yes, it was great while it lasted. But that's the thing. It didn't last. It was very short and thus very disappointing. It reminded me of the fight at the end of Iron Man 2.

On top of all of this that is already way too much, we of course have our subtitle. Dawn of Justice. Our group of six Justice League members will consist of Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, Cyborg, Aquaman, and the Flash. And only two of those characters should've been in this movie. Batman and Superman. That's it. How many of them actually show up? I'm not going to answer that. I do feel safe to say that Wonder Woman plays a pretty big role here and even though she shouldn't have been in this movie, I will say that she is the second best character in the movie behind only the Batfleck. I freaking love Wonder Woman in this and Gal Gadot totally kills it. The fight at the end where Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman team up was glorious. Was it forced? Yes. Did it need to happen. No. Was it shoehorned in there to setup the Justice League. Absolutely. They should've saved this for the Justice League movie. There was too much already going on. But I'm not going to lie, when you isolate this scene and ignore its relevance to the plot, it's amazing. It also makes me super stoked for the stand alone Wonder Woman movie, that will also NOT be directed by Zack Snyder.

And speaking of characters that were shoehorned into this movie, how about Doomsday. First of all, wouldn't it have been great if he was a complete surprise? That would've been a fantastic reveal. But no. They decided to spoil that and show us Doomsday. Many people complained at his look in the trailer. Yep. It's as bad as you thought. I'm not going to reveal how or why he is there or how long he lasts, but I will say it's a real waste of a potentially awesome villain. Doomsday is one of Superman's greatest villains because Superman himself stands no chance against Doomsday. Thus it would've actually been great if Doomsday were saved for the Justice League movie. And they should've really worked on that look, because although he was a great villain in terms of strength and dominance, he was such a horrible looking villain. Overall wasted potential there. I would've been totally fine with this movie just being Batman v. Superman. Cut the Dawn of Justice out. Don't introduce any of the other characters, unless it's in an end credits scene. Let this simply be Batman and Superman's movie.

This has been quite a long review and I hope you've enjoyed it. I was very thorough with this review because there was a ton to talk about due to there being a ton of stuff shoved into this movie. When push comes to shove, I actually really enjoyed a lot of elements of this movie. If you isolate the individual scenes, there's a lot to love and respect. But when you look at the movie as a whole, it's a pretty big mess. I really think they should've split this movie into several different movies. Follow up Man of Steel with a solo Batman movie. Then do a solo Wonder Woman movie. After that, they could do a Man of Steel 2 where they try to redeem Superman and even introduce Lex Luthor. Then they could devote a whole movie into the conflict between Batman and Superman. After all of this, then would be the time to bring them all together for a Dawn of Justice movie that you could simply call Justice League. I would've been totally down for this. But instead, they became way too impatient in trying to catch up with Marvel that they did ALL of this in one movie. It was just too much. Yes, this movie was way better than Man of Steel and the individual elements really worked. But as a whole it's just a mess. My grade for Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice is a 6/10.

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