Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice full movie review - A super-sized mess of a super-hero film. "Batman V Superman" fails to thrill or enthrall despite a fun climax and a few very strong sequences involving Ben Affleck's Batman.
"It's fine to celebrate success but it is more important to heed the lessons of failure." -Bill Gates
...let's just hope Zack Snyder really ponders this quote before his next film.
"Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice" is without doubt a film that has been hoisted up by years of anticipation from fans of film and the comics that have been built out of these iconic characters. A whisper on the lips of audiences the world over. A dream of a motion picture event that everyone has wanted to see since they've heard of these pop-culture legends.
So why'd it have to suck?
Peppered with only a handful of moderately entertaining or engaging sequences while otherwise being overfilled with borderline- nonsensical filler. Gifted with only one or two stand- out performances while others fall flat to their face. Given only a few key visual sequences of competent direction while other scenes fall apart from terrible guidance. And filled to burst with some of the laziest writing I've ever seen in a major release; where convenience, coincidence and pretentious dialog take precedence over honest character and plot development.
It's a heartbreaking failure. Unable to live up to even a modicum of the limitless potential.
Frankly, it's almost impossible to give a plot summary of the film, as it lacks any sort of cohesive narrative. Instead the experience is made up of a seemingly random array of sub-plots that are tied together in only the vaguest of ways. Something about Batman being against the idea of Superman because he's kind-of responsible for the death of some of his friends? And Superman being against the idea of Batman because he views the Dark Knight as nothing more than a crooked vigilante? And Lex Luthor kind-of being against both of them for no reason whatsoever? (Luthor has no motivation whatsoever. Sorry, but he doesn't.) And there's some tenuous connection between Lex and a generic-evil-Russian-guy that involves a bullet Lois Lane finds in the desert, I guess? And there's some senator who can't decide if she's pro-or-anti Superman? And some guy who lost his legs and gets all of three scenes to show he's mopey? And a few Kryptonian ships that pop up here and there but don't matter for 90% of their scenes? And Wonder Woman is around for... some reason the film never explains? And Lex has secret government documents on Meta-Humans that don't really tie into anything? And Batman has recurring anti-Superman dreams that are wholly unnecessary? And Alfred keeps alluding to things involving Batman's character that the film never establishes or pays-off?
...And that's not me being sarcastic. That's me trying to give an honest summary after viewing the film for a second time.
Kinda insulting that the creative team behind the film implied their movie was "too smart" for people to get when the real cause of the audience backlash and confusion was a bizarrely contrived script that felt like a first-pass rough draft cobbled together from three different story treatments and haphazard directorial choices.
Speaking of direction, it's the same old boring "let's shoot everything in close-up shaky cam and desaturate the colors!" that makes up the bulk of modern action films. It's visually indecipherable from 99% of the other sub-par crud that passes for entertainment these days, looking more akin directorially to a bad direct-to-video B-movie than a mainstream release. And it's made all the worse because these are such beloved and iconic characters who deserve something better. It's insulting and it makes the reported $250 million budget look non-existent on-screen when we don't see that money thanks to everything looking so falsely artificial thanks to its textbook attempts at being "gritty." Zack Snyder's claim at being a visionary- something he genuinely earned at the beginning of his career thanks to much-better earlier credits such as "Dawn of the Dead" and "300"- has been completely destroyed by this type of schlocky, condescending trash that has encompassed his more recent work.
And on the subject of the pink-elephants- Gal Gadot's Wonder Woman and Jesse Eisenberg's Lex Luthor are a hit and a miss respectively. While I won't spoil much of Gadot's presence to avoid spoilers, she's a lot of fun. But Eisenberg... well, by now you know. He's a hammy mess. Every second mugging for the camera and chewing the scenery to the point of being grating and hilarious for all the wrong reasons. I'm sure he thought he was being a fun, giddy, nutcase version of the character... but the thing is, he goes so far over-the-top that we're no longer laughing with him... we're laughing AT him. A catastrophic performance.
If there's any saving grace to this film, it's in the small handful of truly decent performances from the likes of Amy Adams and particularly Ben Affleck, and for it's admittedly fun climax.
Adams is a joy as Lois Lane, and is able to give the film it's only real dramatic grounding in her somewhat-limited screen time. And Affleck is a phenomenon as our new Caped Crusader. Affleck injects a lot of organic pathos into the character of Bruce Wayne/Batman, and also gives us a really good vision of Batman's detective-side. He also just kicks some major butt when he's under the cowl! The fact he's not only starring in, but allegedly directing his stand-alone Batman feature makes me excited. He's one of the finest on-screen portrayals of the character thus far, and his incredibly gifted sense of film direction will do the character much better than the disservice that Snyder achieved here.
And without spoiling anything, the climax is wickedly entertaining from a pure and visceral level, and it's the one section of the film I'd say is worth seeing. It's just a shame you have to slog through about two hours of aimless garbage to get to it.
"Batman V Superman" is a 3 out of 10. A heartbreaking failure.