Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016)

Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016) movie poster

director Zack Snyder
viewed: 03/26/2016 at CineArts @ the Empire Theater, SF, CA

It looked bad.  It got lambasted by critics, which in turn made Ben Affleck sad.  So, why go and see it?

My son conscientiously objects to superhero movies these days, but my daughter was keen to see it.  She’s really into superhero movies.  I guess I wanted to see it also though I don’t know entirely why.  To my mind, Zack Snyder’s previous Man of Steel (2013) was highly mediocre.

DC and Warner Brothers use the film as a quick-fix to world-building, or universe-building, short-cutting the work that Marvel constructed over four years and five films before launching their Avengers (2012) franchise.  That Batman v Superman is subtitled Dawn of Justice is an unsubtle step in showing you where this is going: a Justice League movie, a towering superhero-packed counterpart to the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

That is why, though not in the film’s title, Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot) appears, and we catch glimpses of Aquaman, the Flash, and Cyborg.  And we’ve got both Lex Luthor (Jesse Eisenberg) and Doomsday (a bunch of pixels), a pretty loaded set of characters by any count.

I’ve held that the best superhero movies typically need a really good villain, and ideally aren’t overloaded with additional characters.  Batman v Superman is constructed in opposition to my observation.

But that’s not why it’s not a good movie.  It’s terribly written.  Some of the dialog is just astoundingly crap.  At 2 1/2 hours, it’s bloated and bombastic, world-building as well as trying to tell a story.  In fact, it’s trying to tell Batman’s (Ben Affleck) story, starting with the origin story and tying it to one of the film’s key moments.  Really?  The origin again?

I don’t mind Henry Cavil as Superman.  He lacks Christopher Reeves’ inherent charm, but he’s affable and good-looking.  Gadot shows promise as Wonder Woman.  If they’d thought this out more in advance, she wouldn’t have been such a bit player.

Affleck seems constipated.  And Eisenberg tries his manic best, but since the dialog is so dull, he doesn’t even once sound like a genius or supergenius, just a spoilt brat.

Still, I’d say it’s not as godawful as a lot of critics have reported.  My daughter and I enjoyed it to an extent.

But I will tell you the most glaring example of the badness of the writing.  When Batman is about to kill Superman (who he seems to loathe for no good reason), he is stopped when he comes to realize that both of their moms shared the same first name.  “What?  Your mom is named Martha?  My mom is named Martha!  We’re alike, not different!”  This inexplicably idiotic moment is the dramatic shift in the storytelling, which has all been junk and horseshit up to that point.

So, there.  Take it for what you will.  It is what it is.

One Reply to “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016)”

  1. Zack Snyder must have known that he was screwed from the start. No matter what he did with the story, no matter how convincing the dialog or the special effects, inevitably there’s going to be a big fat plot hole: Superman would destroy Batman in a fight. It’s like pitting a T-Rex with a Terrier. Most people know this. Unfortunately, some Batman fans out there refuse to believe this – even though it’s scientifically proven. And thus we have another Superhero movie – or three. So how does Snyder and Co. resolve this conundrum? Bing! Kryptonite. Who saw that coming?

    Fine enough for Superman movies but this movie is called Batman vs. Superman. And Batman isn’t necessarily a bad guy. So, how are we supposed to take it when he starts kicking the ass of a man who is essentially poisoned and unfit for a fair fight? They should have called it Batman vs. Maimed Superman.

    Beyond that I actually liked how Batman did a kind of James Bond thing and used technology to help take down the son of Jor-El. It kind of felt like a tech-thrillier for a moment. But in addition to being a tech thriller, it was a terrorism movie, a morality debate, and trailer for upcoming movies. That’s a lot to juggle and it felt like the movie didn’t have time to really develop all the subplots. The movie felt scattered. Nevertheless, I found ways to enjoy parts of it and will probably give it a second watch. Just not a third, or fourth…interestingly I will give it a fifth though… ha.

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