Spoiler Free Review
Director: Zack Snyder
Writers: Chris Terrio and Davis S. Goyer
Stars: Ben Affleck, Henry Cavil, Amy Adams, Jesse Eisenberg, Jeremy Irons, Holly Hunter, Lawrence Fishburne, Diane Lane, Gal Gadot
UberApe and I had slightly different opinions when we walked out of the theater. He thought BVS was better than he expected it to be. I thought it was a little disappointing, but not a bad movie. Of course BVS was not on UberApe’s highly anticipated list, but it was on mine. He went with me because he was curious as to how Affleck would be as Batman. What I’m trying to say is, keep your expectations very low. If they are already low, maybe lower them more. If you have no real desire to see BVS, then I would not recommend it to you.
I will say it again, it is not a bad movie. But it is a Zack Snyder movie and he is really not that good of a director in terms of telling a cohesive and interesting story. 300 remains his best work because it is a straight action flick. There is no need for character development or a deeper narrative. 300 Spartans fought against tyrant. They all died. It looked really cool. The End. BVS is meant to advance the characters established in Man of Steel and introduce newer elements to the DCEU. There is also a deeper (or as deep as you can get with superheroes) storyline about the nature of power and Snyder does not possess the abilities as a director to weave the narrative threads together and make a comprehensive story.
When the movie starts, it is a jumble of scenes strung together with no cohesive sequence running thru them. Things start off with the death of the Waynes (again), then things jump to the big battle between Superman and Zod from Man of Steel, but we see things from the perspective of Bruce watching the city crumble around him as he is trying to get his employees to safety. More hopping around as some kryptonite is found at a wreckage site, Batman saves a bunch of women from traffickers, and a whole bunch of other stuff I don’t remember going on and no transitional tactic to help the flow. The middle is a confusing mess filled with little exposition and lots of dream sequences.
With comic book movies, there has to be some leniency for conveniences in order to push the plot along and maybe a plot hole or two because of editing. BVS is full of conveniences and gaping plot holes that are glaringly (and annoyingly) obvious.
Maybe Snyder could have done better if the DCEU and Warner Brothers would have given him more time and a better set up. It is pretty obvious BVS was made so DC could beat the MCU to the hero vs hero movie. The thing of it is Marvel has had years and multiple movies to set the stage for the upcoming Civil War. All DC has done was the lackluster Man of Steel and then jumped the shark to put a brand new Batman against barely established Superman. And set up the Justice League.
If BVS is a movie you are wanting to see, then the back third saves it from being completely terrible. The heroes fighting against each other, then for each other is where BVS really starts to shine. Watching the DC holy trinity team up for the first time is as good as I hoped. The action and the great CGI battles will have you on the edge of your seat. It doesn’t completely make up for the rest, but at least you don’t walk out of the theater cursing DC for taking your money.
Performances wise, everyone is pretty solid with the exception of Eisenberg’s Lex Luthor which is disappointing because I thought it was genius casting. It was like Eisenberg mix his Mark Zuckerberg impression, his obnoxious magician from Now Your See Me, and topped it all off with a dose of social awkwardness. It got painful to watch at times, particularly in his scenes with Holy Hunter’s Senator Finch. Hunter thankfully used her confusion at the performance to enhance Finch’s weariness of interacting with Luthor.
The big takeaways from BVS would be the unhinged Bruce Wayne/Batman and Diana Prince/ Wonder Woman. This is a Batman that has been around for some time and has seen a lot of horrible things. As is in the trailer, there is a glimpse of a Robin suit with the words “Hahaha, Jokes on you Batman” and Wayne does make allusions to The Joker. Superman’s fight with Zod clearly sent a hardened Wayne towards the edge and a few other events that take place in the film propel him right over. This is the Batman Christopher Nolan and Christian Bale attempted to do with The Dark Knight Rises, but didn’t quite achieve. This kind of Batman at the helm has me looking forward to the inevitable Batfleck movies.
Diana Prince is mostly left to be sexy and mysterious and Gadot has that persona down pact. When she arrives on the scene as Wonder Woman, she steals the show from her male counterparts. With George Miller at the controls and a great performance from Gadot, Wonder Woman has most definitely rocketed to the top of my anticipated list for 2017.
Could Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice been a better movie? Probably. Is there hope for the DCEU? Absolutely. They may not have a Feige at the wheel steering the ship, but at least they have got the casting down. Now they just need to fix the narrative.
3 ½ out of 5 Stars.