Well… it’s not… horrific. It’s just lame.
Really there was no reason for me to see this movie because I fucking hated Man of Steel. Not even for anything it did or didn’t do with the character of Superman, mostly I think that criticism is overblown because the overall shittiness of that movie makes all of that irrelevant as far as I’m concerned. I just think it’s an ugly, poorly directed movie that had a terrible script. It’s a weird skeleton of the movie that lacks the muscle of connective tissue that holds a story together; it has no clue about how to get in and out of a scene. It might resemble a real movie if it’s on in the background while you do something else, but as something to watch and focus on it’s a disaster.
Now part of that comes from the fact that the major creatives involved seem to resent the material, and don’t think they approach it honestly, but that comes secondary to the incompetence involved in executing what they did decide to make. Add on top of that the corporate greed of blatant and intrusive product placement, and the exploitative use of 9/11 imagery, and the result is a movie that I fucking hate. One of my most hated movies EVER.
Zack Snyder has made movies I like. I really like his Dawn of the Dead movie, and I think his version of Watchmen is a good movie (It’s not as good as the comic, but that’s fine I think that’s an impossible ask.) Although his other movies have just been clearly things I have no interest in seeing, so I probably should have just passed on this anyway.
But I wanted to know, curiosity got the better of me. I wanted to know how this movie turned out.
So, how is Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice?
Unnnngggg… It’s just lame man, it’s a stupid lame movie. I don’t even hate it, it just sucks.
It mostly has the same structural problems of Man of Steel but much less pronounced. This is just such an overstuffed production, with so much world building eating up time, there’s just less room for Snyder to do his own thing. A lot of the movie just kinda feels like the pilot for a Justice League TV show. (Which is a step up in this case.) The heavy hand of studio producers and the inherent blandness they demand from really does a lot to make this movie more palatable. It gets to the point where if someone genuinely liked Man of Steel I kinda would expect this to disappoint them. I certainly don’t feel like the stakes have been raised over the previous movie. I don’t think the last movie earned it’s city destruction spectacle, but it was big; the action here is pretty small by comparison.
This is also a Superman movie with very little Superman. The impression I get is that Snyder really just wanted to make a Batman movie, and this whole Superman thing was just his way there. This is a problem for the movie because that means we spend a lot of time on Batman, who’s basically just a minor villain in this story.
The idea of Batman fighting Superman always seems to tantalize comic book fans, but I’ve never quite gotten why. Heroes fight all the times in comics and it just kind of always sucks, because if you don’t make one of them an actual villain, it’s usually just some contrived bullshit making them fight. It can be done well, but you kind of need to just pull out at some point. You can’t follow through on the strong finish that you can with a real villain. “The heroes fight and then team up” is a trope almost as old as superheroes, and that’s all the Superman versus Batman stuff is here. It’s not new or exciting, it’s just for the sake fanboy pissing contests: an excuse to argue that whoever you like more would win. And so of course Batman “wins” the fight here; the weird part is just that Batman’s the bad guy during it.
I mean Batman is theoretically the underdog in any fight between him and Superman, (and Batman is cooler and more popular than Superman) so usually he’s put in the position to be the hero of the fight. People are gonna root for Batman. So even here, clearly the movie thinks Batman is cooler than Superman and just wants an excuse for Batman to embarrass Superman. It’s just super awkward because we as the audience know enough to know that Superman is in the right here.
It’s part of a bigger problem with the movie, which is that this version of Batman sucks.
Mostly it’s because this movie either doesn’t value, or is too stupid to execute on, the idea of Batman being “The World’s Greatest Detective.” This Batman is just a macho idiot. He gets easily emotionally manipulated into fighting Superman. Snyder might have a hard on for Batman, but he doesn’t understand the character at all.
The thing is: Superman and Batman aren’t that different. So if you think one of them sucks and want to make him look lame, it’s actually gonna be kinda hard to hold them next to each other and not make the other one look lame too. Which is what this movie does. This is a movie where Batman and Superman are mopey, macho losers. I don’t like or care about them.
This is actually the first story I’ve seen where I thought Wonder Woman completely out shined both of those characters. She has the benefit of barely being in the movie, but when she is she breathes life into it. She’s actually competent and knows what she’s doing. Also, she has fun; and by that I mean she smiles once during the big climatic fight, but oh man does that smile stand out against the dourness of everything else. If nothing else this movie sold me on the idea of a Wonder Woman movie.
I also don’t think the plot of this movie is bad. If it had been executed better, with a better script, you could have gotten a good movie. There’s just too much filler and downtime; the movie marks out all this time for character and story and it doesn’t do anything with that time. It’s just a waste. This movie should just be action, I don’t even get why it isn’t. The fact that Doomsday just kind of appears in the third act (although there was a lot of setup for it) and starts wrecking shit was actually kind of refreshing weirdly enough. Mostly this movie is just people moping. More than anything else it’s boring.
Jesse Eisenberg’s Luthor is both terrible and exactly what this movie needed. He’s just weird enough to breathe watchability into his scenes, and he’s the driving force of, again, what I think is a good plot. But he also drives the characters into such a fucking specific corner; it just feels like a lot is left on the table as he goes full crazy. But at least he’s energetic enough that I feel like there is potential being wasted.
Amy Adams’s Lois continues to basically be a non-entity, just kind of a prop to manipulate Superman. Not a fault of performance just writing. Jeremy Irons makes for an interesting take on Alfred, and the movie doesn’t even ruin him. Yay.
The fight between Batman and Superman relies on Superman always knowing what’s happening to Lois (wherever the two of them are in the world) and also having no idea where his mother is. The contrivance is so weak, I don’t see how this would satisfy people who just really want to see them fight.
This movie should just be pure action. I might still not like it (I’m just not a fan of the aesthetics Snyder is using here.) but it would still be better than this. Any dialogue with any punch feels like it was written directly for the trailer; which it probably was since it all showed up there. This movie is incredibly adolescent, and it’s never more insufferable than when it’s really trying to pass itself off as adult. Specifically with how that manifests through its ideas about politics and violence. This is still a fucking cartoon, it’s just one for teenagers instead of children (and I don’t think that’s an improvement); it just means that it goes out of its way to draw attention to its own childishness.
This is a lame, boring movie. I don’t hate it though, I just find it bemusingly bad.
Thank You For Your Time.