Last weekend, the latest large-popcorn, comic book superhero, cinematic-universe-builder blockbuster, dropped into movie theatres everywhere.
And much like the citizens of fictional Metropolis, none of us could escape the heavy-handed and all-encompassing fallout from both advertising and on-line word of mouth. A strange thing happened after you bought your theatre tickets in advance.
Last week the online crowd roared loader than Doomsday. People hated Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. Loathed it, in fact.
But was it all that bad?
Over the course of the day, Biff Bam Pop! writers will give their high level take on the film. Check back regularly, as more contributions are added to this post of reviews that are sure to run the gamut of praise and abhorrence.
Let’s not waste another bat-second. Our heroic thoughts on Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice are but a super-jump away!
High concept ideas, interesting takes on classic comic book superheroes, and riveting character scenes – all buried under bloated point points and overlong action sequences. That’s Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice in a nutshell.
It’s amazing that director Zach Snyder came out nearly two weeks ago stating that the Blu-Ray release of BvS would contain an extra 30 minutes of footage deemed too intense and too long for the theatrical release to maintain a coveted PG-13 rating. Like the movie didn’t have enough combat and destruction already!
It’s great that the film picks up directly after Man of Steel (2013) and the role Superman played in the destruction of Metropolis. The filmmakers are tying a (potential) world of films together here. And people hate, fear or love Superman in BvS, with some even likening him to a deity. Not only is this surely a real-world reaction if earth were to come across a super-man, it’s also a clever editorial on cinemagoers who were polarized after watching Man of Steel.
There are some big ideas present in BvS: who we, as humans, worship and how we do that as well as thoughts on terrorism, both by outside agencies and those that are homegrown. Releasing the film on the Easter weekend made sense for Snyder – some of the more revered comic book writers that have informed his story have always likened Superman as a God figure.
But this film is a prelude to a whole host of other, upcoming films, a veritable DC Expanded Universe of films akin to what Marvel Comics and Disney have been offering over the better part of a decade. And because of that, it proves a confusing, overly bloated movie. Yes, it is still enjoyable for some amazing character impressions and great character moments and big, over the top, visually stunning action. But the important story ideas and their corresponding celluloid moments, much like Metropolis, get buried under the weight of shoehorned Easter eggs for upcoming DC superhero films and storylines.
“Don’t believe everything you hear.”
Despite social media and despite its numerous flaws, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice is still an entertaining movie, best enjoyed for the spectacle…with a big box of popcorn in your lap.
The situation: A group of terrorists somewhere along the southern border of the Sahara Desert are shot and killed. At or near the same time this happens, Superman shows up at the same place to rescue Lois Lane from the literal clutches of the terrorist leader, by using his superpowers to tackle the guy before he can shoot Lois in the head. The question: Do you automatically suspect the super-strong, super-fast, flying, heat-vision wielding, bad-guy tackling Superman of shooting the aforementioned terrorists? Apparently – and against all reason – if you live in the cinematic world created by Zack Snyder, you do. Unfortunately, this is just the first item on a long list of nonsensical plot-points that help to turn Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice into a plodding, disjointed, and at times incoherent mess that cries out for treatment by the new MST3K.
To give him credit, Snyder once again creates some truly stunning visual set-pieces here, particularly when recreating imagery form Frank Miller’s iconic Batman: The Dark Knight Returns (1986) for the screen. However, he and writers David Goyer and Chris Terrio seemingly lack the ability to link these visuals together in any kind of coherent narrative. The result is a film that feels like either an unbroken sequence of trailers for about twelve very different films, or a two-and-a-half hour montage without any kind of supporting framework – Dziga Vertov’s Man with a Movie Camera (1929) without the dawn and dusk sequences, or the successful non-linear cinematic experimentation and invention. Moreover, Snyder has no trust in his audience whatsoever, relying on heavy handed, overwrought dialogue, extra-diegetic music, and unnecessary flashbacks to earlier in the movie to force an awareness of obvious connections and important plot points on the viewer. It is as if he knows he can’t tell a coherent tale, so he has to cheat.
On the plus side, Ben Affleck is a strong Batman, which I wouldn’t mind seeing more of in another director’s hands. The highlight of this a hand-held camera fueled hot mess of a movie however, is Gale Gadot as Diana Prince/Wonder Woman. She isn’t given much to do, or to work with, but she effortlessly commands every scene she’s in. I don’t know if I have ever been as excited about a DC film as I now am about the forthcoming 2017 Wonder Woman picture. Unfortunately, Affleck and Gadot are very small treasures in this midden-heap of a movie which should finally confirm that Zack Snyder is an occasionally brilliant visual stylist, but cannot tell a story to save his life. Audiences deserve better.
I’m shocked that people didn’t like this movie. I went in figuring I was absolutely going to hate it, based on my love of Marvel movies and the incredible reaction from critics who seem to hate Zack Snyder’s work. But honestly, for me, this was epic film-making, operatic in scope and tone. Ben Affleck’s Batman is superb, while Henry Cavill has grown beautifully into the role of Superman. I liked Jesse Eisenberg’s unique take on Lex Luthor, though I could see how it would be a bit much for audiences. However, I absolutely walked out of this film loving what was up on screen (apart from the dark visual tone of the film, which I did think was a bit much.) We could have used more of Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman, of course, but we’ll see that soon enough.
While I’m not a huge DC fan, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice left me excited to see this world expand into something new and unique. In the meantime, while I wait for the film’s release on Blu-ray July 16th, let’s check out this deleted scene featuring Lex Luthor and what appears to be some Mother Box’s.
I didn’t find BvS disappointing, but only because I didn’t go in with very high expectations. I will admit that Gadot’s Wonder Woman was an excellent addition to the story, and I liked Battfleck, and Eisenberg’s giddy Luthor was practically the only character in the film who smiled. But Snyder’s impression of Superman as this dour “Should I Superman?” figure continues to be a poor reflection of the character. That question should be answered halfway through the first film and then he should begin Supermanning. Superman, my Kryptonian Son!
Snyder made good use of imagery from Dark Knight Returns and The Death of Superman, while producing a narrative that was less satisfying than both those stories. The Death of Superman was the storyline that got me to stop reading comics for most of the ‘90s.
BvS and MoS seem like HR & Safety orientations before the real movies begin, which is a bit of a shame. Even the cameos were just fragments from other movies (although I like that, via the transitive properties of Joe Morton, Cyborg’s sister is Olivia Pope and his brother is Skynet).
Much like Fantastic Four, I was not anticipating this film, and like that film would probably have stayed away due to low expectations and toxic word of mouth except I was taking a friend to see it as her birthday gift (Happy birthday, Colleen!) Overall, BvS was a dreary drudge. Bring on Suicide Squad and Wonder Woman. For BvS I’m looking forward to seeing the same story told in Civil War.
I did not like this movie. Although, that said, I liked it better than Man of Steel, which I thought was a travesty. Let’s get it out of the way. Superman doesn’t kill. My Superman doesn’t kill. And if he sees that might be the only way to solve a problem, he finds a way not to. That’s what makes him Superman! I feel similarly about Batman. Batman doesn’t kill either, and if he did, we would have been rid of the Joker and all the other psychotics of that ilk decades ago.
The killing point is just the tip of the iceberg. Superman is aware of his surroundings. He wouldn’t have been unaware of the bomb in the Capitol. Superman, just in case you missed one of the greatest superhero movies of all time – Superman II, has a particular weakness. He cares. He saves people. He would not let anyone be harmed. He is not just about Lois.
Similarly I had trouble with Batman and his use of guns and his branding criminals so they would be killed in prison. Batman is not a sadist, and furthermore would not send men to their deaths anymore than he would kill them himself. Batman does not use guns. He hates guns. A gun took the lives of his parents (as we are reminded by not one, but two flashbacks to his origin in this movie) and he swore never to use them. He would not even accept them as a gift from his idol and inspiration, the Shadow. And yes, I even object to the grappling gun design from Tim Burton’s films for this reason. Batman would not even approximate a design on a gun in my opinion.
There’s so much more I disliked, from Henry Cavill never cracking a smile throughout the entire two and half hour film to the idea that Lex Luthor could deceive Batman even on the caped crusader’s worst day, but I will go on to what I did like. I liked Batman’s costume, not the armor, but the costume. I loved that the Batmobile was a car and not a tank. Ben Affleck is amazing as Batman/Bruce Wayne, and even better when matched with Jeremy Irons’ Alfred. Jesse Eisenberg is nowhere near as bad in the movie as he is in the previews.
And then there’s Wonder Woman, the shining moment of the movie. We get about ten to fifteen minutes of her, and even though she’s in brown and maroon instead of red, white and blue, she is indeed Wonder Woman, with her lasso, and her ageless beauty, and her heroics – so lacking in her co-stars. She was worth sitting through Batman v Superman for, and I can’t wait for her movie next year.