Zack Snyder returns to the DC director’s chair for a combined sequel to 2013’s Man of Steel and to start the series of origin story films for Justice League. Batman V. Superman: The Dawn of Justice is classic Snyder- dark, gritty and violent. However, critics have been quick to pan this film, with it accruing a mere 29% on Rotten Tomatoes (bad enough but woeful when compared to the 80% that Marvel’s last movie, Ant-Man, currently sits at on the same site) and cite its over reliance on special effects, an undeveloped plot and underwhelming acting as its main problems.
I’ve seen it and, I’m not sure what film everyone else saw, I enjoyed myself. It was dark and gritty, as I’ve come to expect from a DC adaptation, but didn’t cheapen itself with forced humour (unlike what they’ve decided to do with Suicide Squad). A big problem with comic book adaptation is that they often change the tone in order to appeal to a larger audience, or to make it more palatable for the mainstream audience. Batman v. Superman didn’t do that, allowing me to enjoy a hard-hitting action film rather than an action film with stunted comedic elements. To be honest, the funniest moment of the film was a rather banal one. Before our showing, we got an ad for Turkish Airlines, with Ben Affleck as Bruce Wayne telling us about how great the flight was. Towards the end of the film, we get a shot of Gotham airport and a very prominent product placement for, you guessed it, Turkish Airlines. The whole theatre cracks up at this, something we wouldn’t have done if we hadn’t seen that cheesy ad prior to the film.
Furthermore, yes, the film was full of CGI but to be honest, what superhero film isn’t these days? 20th Century Fox’s Deadpool animated the title character’s eyes to be pure white, both Avengers movies was swimming in CGI (you know, with their two set pieces of the destruction of a city) and despite what critics have said, DC’s latest outing wasn’t driven by CGI. It utilised CGI but didn’t deviate from the story to show off its fancy CGI. Plus, this is a Zack Snyder movie; you were only kidding yourself if you didn’t go in expecting slow-motion and plenty o’ visual effects.
In addition, I don’t find anything wrong with the characters or actors portraying them. Sure, Henry Cavill isn’t the greatest Superman we’ve ever had and yes, I agree that Wonder Woman’s inclusion in the film was a little forced but I think Ben Affleck is great for the older, more bitter Batman needed for the film’s story, Jeremy Irons is a fantastic choice for a more snarky Alfred and Jesse Eisenberg’s unhinged Lex Luthor really added something new to the DC Cinematic Universe. While not Oscar worthy, none of the acting is any worse than anything in a Marvel movie.
Finally, what’s wrong with the story exactly? Granted there are dubious moments (Batman spares Superman because their moms have the same name. really?) but overall the story is compelling and engaging. Furthermore, it’s good to see how the events of previous DC films, namely Man of Steel tie into the wider universe, with the destruction of Metropolis driving a good portion of the film. Its 9/11 allegories are present but not preachy and it adeptly explores the themes of ‘what is good’ and how humanity would react to actual meta-humans/superheroes.
Overall, Batman v. Superman isn’t perfect but it is by no means a bad film. The cast have chemistry and the movie doesn’t have you checking your watch or making multiple bathroom trips.
What do you think of Batman v. Superman? Are you excited for the upcoming DC films? What about Marvel’s upcoming ventures? Let me know!