Review: Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice
Cinema: Review: Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016)
At time of writing this review Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice has an average rating of 44 on Metacritic and a fairly pathetic 31% on Rotten Tomatoes. I find myself asking a few questions with the first being; are critics out of touch with the general consensus of the public? Is the comic book movie bubble about to burst and are people simply losing interest? Finally I ask myself, can it really be that bad?
Having now seen the movie I feel that I can answer those questions, but before I do let me talk about the film without any spoilers. The movie opens with the finale of Man of Steel but seen from the point of view of Bruce Wayne (Ben Affleck) who is on the ground watching the destruction of Metropolis.
Following on from these events Bruce believes that one man holding so much power poses a danger not only to Metropolis and Gotham but to the world. In fact it’s not just Bruce Wayne who is concerned, as congress and the world at large are debating whether a superbeing is a power for good or evil.
Clarke Kent (Henry Cavill) is now working at the Daily Planet and believes that Batman is nothing more than a vigilante whose methods are becoming too extreme. Add Lex Luthor (Jessie Eisenberg) into the mix who is orchestrating events, which, to use an old wrestling parlance, inevitably leads to the irresistible force meeting the immovable object.
When I came away from the movie my initial thoughts were that I felt a little cold and underwhelmed by what I had seen. Obviously I’ve been aware of the critical reception to the movie so I went in with low expectations. It’s not a bad film, for example like Batman and Robin is, but it’s just not a very good one either. Firstly the movie is over 2 and a half hours long and I feel it could have benefited from being at least 30 minutes shorter.
Ben Affleck is fine as Batman but he doesn’t really have to do much other than act mean and moody. Personally I still really like Michael Keaton’s Batman, but I accept that Christian Bale nailed the role mainly because he had three movies to develop his character. That gave you the chance to empathise and to sound a little corny, go on his journey. I would like to see Affleck get another shot because I think he’s a very good actor and he does add a sense of gravitas to the role.
Henry Cavill is ok but again, he doesn’t really have much to do and gets a little bit lost because there is so much going on. Amy Adams and Jeremy Irons are strong in their respective roles as Lois Lane and Alfred but it feels like it’s too little too late as I didn’t really feel any connection with any of the characters.
Another major issue I had with the film is Jessie Eisenberg. I really like him as an actor and think he has been in some fine movies such as Adventureland, Zombieland and the The Social Network however, he seems miscast in my opinion. There is no threat or malice displayed and at times he acts like a naughty schoolboy rather than a man masterminding the events around him. To be quite honest I found him a little annoying every time he was on screen.
I also had a problem with the final 40 minutes of the movie, as they are so full of CGI that I lost interest and found it hard to care about which computer generated character was smacking the other computer generated character. This isn’t just a criticism of Batman v Superman as the Marvel blockbusters tend to resort to this as well.
Batman v Superman will inevitably get compared to the Marvel movies and please don’t think I’m a Marvel fanboy, but at least Marvel have created a universe which has given their characters time to breath and develop. They are far from perfect movies but at least you have time to get to know the characters. Batman v Superman feels like it is trying to pack too much in and it may have been better for Batman to have his own movie to give Affleck time in the role and for people to get used to him and care about his character.
So, as I started by asking questions let me finish by answering them. Are the critics out of touch with the general public? I think it’s a safe bet that the movie will make its money back and then some. The cinema showing I went to at midnight was pretty full and double bills of Man of Steel and Batman v Superman were sold out. At the end of the day does it matter what critics think? I didn’t really have massive amounts of interest and yet I still went to a midnight screening so that probably tells you something.
Is the comic book bubble about to burst and are people losing interest? The answer to those questions are probably not and I think these movies will have legs for some time. Marvel have their big tent pole franchises such as The Avengers, Captain America and Iron Man but then they also have their smaller or lesser known characters such as Ant-Man and Deadpool to draw on and they have proved, (especially in the case of Deadpool), to be hugely popular.
Then there are the TV shows such as Daredevil, Jessica Jones and Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. which again, help to flesh out that universe and introduce new characters in the process. From the point of view of DC I would say that The Justice League will definitely happen despite the perceived success or failure of Batman v Superman, plus there is Suicide Squad and Wonder Woman which will help to flesh out the universe even more. These movies aren’t going anywhere soon but maybe in the next 10 to 15 years I think their popularity will start to wane.
Finally, is the movie as bad as the critics say? If you’ve got this far into the review then you can probably tell what I think. It’s not a terrible movie by any stretch of the imagination but it could and should be much better than the final product. Saying all of that it is kind of cool seeing these two characters on screen together. I just wish that I cared a little bit more about what happened to them.