An Opinion On Critics And Reviews
There is a lot of division surrounding Zack Snyder's superhero epic Batman V Superman: Dawn Of Justice and I have to say that I'm not totally surprised by that. In fact, it's already caused more division than I expected.
Many reviewers I've seen are criticizing the film for it's grim, dark atmosphere; others cite issues with the film's pacing. Yet there are almost unanimous reports of how good Ben Affleck is at playing Batman and how much of a huge hit Wonder Woman is. Sadly, these few positives aren't enough to save the film from a current 33% on RottenTomatoes.com (these percentages are always likely to change, especially since the film has yet to be officially released), while audiences have it at 78%.
The surprisingly lower percentage is depressing for fans of the film and those anticipating a larger DC Cinematic Universe to erupt onto the big screen. I myself am one of those fans and I have been anticipating this movie for two-and-a-half years; seeing the film so harshly critiqued does bring down my fanboy spirits somewhat.
Now, I will tell you that I saw the movie at the fan screening on Monday night at an IMAX cinema and I walked out of that theater with a lot to chew on and digest. Quite frankly, I loved the film. But when I started looking at how critics were responding to the film 24 hours after I'd seen it, and to see such a dire reception, I began to question my own taste in movies.
I began to truly think about the film and pick apart everything that was in it. I wanted to be careful with my emotions because I know I'm still in that honeymoon phase where something is fresh, new and exciting. But even now, I can't help but love that film and everything in it.
So why does my love for Batman V Superman differ from so many critics' mixed bag of reviews? Well, I have to remind myself that this isn't the first time this has happened, seeing as I loved Man Of Steel when it came out in 2013 and reached its max with a rating of 56% on RottenTomatoes.com. So the more I thought about it, the more I realized that there have been plenty of times where critics have praised a film that I've not enjoyed and where they've torn down a film that I actually found entertaining.
So after much thought, I've come to one simple conclusion: Those critics and reviews, whether positive, negative, or indifferent, are merely one person's opinion. I've decided, starting with Batman V Superman: Dawn Of Justice, that I'm no longer going to write reviews for films. Instead, I'm going to give my opinion on the film. What I liked, what I didn't like. What I thought worked, what I thought fell short. Because, at the end of the day, it doesn't matter what a critic has said or how they reviewed a film. What truly matters is what we, the audience and the fans, think of these movies.
So, with that introduction out of the way, let me give you my honest opinion about:
'Batman V Superman: Dawn Of Justice'
Before I get into my thoughts on the film — although, you all already know that I loved it — I want to give you guys a rundown of what I enjoyed about the film as well as what I thought could have been done better.
Now, I will warn you that I will include spoilers in this article, but they should be blurred out. If you want to read those spoilers, then it is completely up to you to click on that blur to read for yourself. But there's no way to summarize my opinion without first delving into everything head-on.
Straight out of the gate, we have to talk about Ben Affleck's Batman. There have been so many questions revolving around the casting of everyone's favorite DC superhero, especially since only three years ago, fans of Christopher Nolan's The Dark Knight Trilogy saw Christian Bale don the cape and cowl for the last time in The Dark Knight Rises.
So, would Affleck, who has been demonized since 2003's awful Daredevil film, do well in another superhero role? Well, I can say that personally, he was the most comic book-ish Batman we've seen on screen, which is cool. However, I still wouldn't say he's the best Batman we've ever seen, but he's pretty darn good.
There are a lot of people praising Affleck's take on Batman; even those who weren't thrilled with the film haven't denied that he really does good job embodying the Dark Knight.
Quite honestly, though, I felt that we might have seen more division regarding this Batman due to the following spoilers. (I'd recommend not clicking until after you've seen the film.)
This Batman is bad to the bone. He is ruthless, brutal and is not afraid of the number of casualties that pile up in his wake. In what was really a pretty cool Batmobile chase sequence, we saw that those machine guns on the front end of his vehicle are not just for show. Shooting up cars filled with criminals with automatic weapons and a turret to cause a powerful explosion is definitely breaking the standard no-killing rule that many had thought to be synonymous with Batman.
We also see something similar whenever he's in the Batwing, which causes its share of death when multiple combatants are blown to bits.
For crying out loud, Batman's sole motivation is to destroy Superman, and the word "destroy" is not a fancy way of saying "defeat." Rather, it clearly indicates that Batman ultimately intends to take the Man Of Steel's life.
So yes, despite some uncomfortable decisions, I still enjoyed this very different take on Batman and Affleck deserves endless recognition for donning the tights and making his mark. He's gritty and brutal and unforgiving, and we love him for it.
Before I move on, though, we also need to talk about Bruce Wayne, since Batman and Bruce are almost two completely different characters and over the past several decades, we've looked at all the on-screen Batmans and have said things like: "He's a good Bruce Wayne but a better Batman," or, "His Bruce Wayne was much better than his Batman," and so on and so forth.
But Affleck not only does an amazing job with bringing Batman to life in a really comic book-ish way, but also pulls off a pretty great, believable Bruce Wayne. It's been said by some that the best parts of the movie are the standalone sequences of Bruce Wayne/Batman.
What makes his Bruce so good is that he seems completely jaded by 20 years of vigilantism, and now his whole world is turned upside down at the drop of a hat (or some Kryptonians).
It's important, in a film with Batman, to not focus too much on being so BA in the Batsuit, but to really focus on the personality of Bruce Wayne and making the man behind the mask just as interesting as the Dark Knight himself.
Now, I know a lot of people were going into Batman V Superman: Dawn Of Justice with only one portion of that title standing out to them: Batman. But for me, as a fan of Man Of Steel, I wanted to see how Henry Cavill evolved the character of not only Superman but also Clark Kent.
Fortunately for me, I think Cavill did a great job of bringing a bit more personality to the character. We got to see a Superman who, although still fresh to the superhero lifestyle, felt more confident in his abilities. We get to see a great montage of Superman being super and saving many from horrific disasters in his supersuit, which is something many critics of Man Of Steel said they wanted to see more of.
But more than the superheroics of Superman's actions, I really enjoyed the journalistic side of Clark Kent as a reporter. That's something that is pivotal to the character of Kal-El. Superman's journalistic escapades are what he engages in to keep aware of his surroundings and serves as an equivalent to Batman doing detective work when not running the streets of Gotham, dressed as a bat.
The journalistic stuff wasn't one dimensional, either. I really enjoyed the struggle that he faces as a reporter who just really wants to report on the right thing; to stand for truth and justice while facing resistance and backlash from the Daily Planet's editor in chief Perry White. That relationship was so well done in my opinion.
Speaking of relationships, we do get to see the progression of Clark's relationship with Lois, and it felt organic and unforced (though it didn't need to take place in a bathtub where we almost see more of Lois than needed). But the conversation the two characters had with each other was good; they encouraged one another during the other's time of doubt and uncertainty. They were each other's strength, and that was cool.
The relationship with Clark and his mom is also highlighted in this movie. If you thought his reaction to General Zod threatening Martha Kent in Man Of Steel was intense, just wait 'til you see what he almost does for his mother in Dawn Of Justice. Their relationship really plays out in a rather unexpected and emotional way.
Another great source of controversy was the announcement of Jesse Eisenberg as Lex Luthor, but I have to say that I thoroughly bought into this depiction of the character. It was different, yes, and Eisenberg's Lex seemed to prove just as divisive as the film itself. But for me, Lex was menacing, manipulative, and although quirky and humorous in a dark, twisted way, proved to be very disturbed. Even my wife, who was uncertain of how she was going to feel about this version of the character, ended up loving him half-way through the film.
I also appreciated that this Lex was putting his destructive little fingers into every pot to stir up chaos. He is a man with vision and motive which, although unclear at certain times, really makes you feel that he is truly unpredictable. Plus, I really appreciated that Zack Snyder and Chris Terrio didn't write this character to be someone who spends the entire film buying real estate.
This film has been controversial since its inception, and between Ben Affleck's casting as Bruce Wayne/Batman and Jesse Eisenberg as Lex Luthor, people found even more room to criticize Gal Gadot's Wonder Woman. Many complained that she didn't have the acting chops, while others were more worried about the look of the character, saying that she didn't physically resemble Wonder Woman. Some even went so far as to body shame her because of her breast size. Ridiculous.
But most of the people who have seen the film agree that Wonder Woman is a highlight. I've only seen one reviewer who actually liked the movie but didn't like Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman, but we can agree to disagree.
Her character doesn't feel shoe-horned into the story, but rather, is natural to the development of the "Dawn Of Justice" portion of the film's title. I liked her motivation and I really, really liked her introduction in full costume. Do we see the same footage in the trailers? Yes. But the effect is still completely different when watching the entirety of it all within the proper context.
She kicks butt and is brutal and really has me hyped for the Wonder Woman movie coming out next year. If the action and character is anything like she was in this film, then I'm on board for whatever they send our way.
Batman V Superman: The Super Feud
Now, this movie delivered on its characters, but there's one aspect that it really had to deliver on: A great Batman vs Superman fight. And boy, can I say that it's a doozy. The battle was intense and, despite the assumption that Superman could crush Batman, there were some pretty smart workarounds explored in this movie. Not only is it a battle of equals, but we actually see Batman do some brutal things to Superman — and yes, Batman is definitely trying to kill Superman. This fight is no nerf battle; it's a legit fight to the death. It's no surprise that an extended edition gets an R-rating.
Despite how critics feel about this film, this battle will go down as one of the best superhero movie battles in the history of superhero movies.
The fight doesn't end quite the way you'd expect it to, though; it's actually very emotional, powerful and extremely clever.
Dawn Of Justice: The Third Act
A lot was revealed in the trailers for Batman V Superman: Dawn Of Justice and by all accounts, it probably would have been best to save the surprise appearance of Doomsday for the film itself. However, the scale of this battle is massive. Does it get a little overboard with the CGI at times? Yes. I will say that a few times, the CGI indeed got a little dodgy.
I will add that Doomsday was not so impressive to me as much as our heroes' response to him was. As good as the fight between Batman and Superman was, it does bring your mood down somewhat, but it is supposed to. That's what makes this epic third-act battle so amazing. Seeing an alliance between Batman and Superman being formed uplifts one's spirits and seeing Wonder Woman enter the fray adds an element of fun.
The spectacle is grand, but people who had problems with the destruction caused in Man Of Steel will not enjoy the amount of destruction here. Though, I have to criticize the critics when they talk about how this turns into nothing but a clunky mess of destruction porn. The massacre is caused by Doomsday who is an unstoppable Kryptonian abomination. The amount of destruction here, I feel, is more warranted and understandable than the ruination caused by Superman and Zod, and even then I felt it was understandable.
This battle ends with an unexpected turn of events that is equally as emotionally charged as the ending fight between Batman and Superman. It's gut-wrenching and the visuals really help the story stand. The last shot of this battle is really very powerful.
My Issues With The Film (SPOILERS)
The pacing of the film has been criticized and I'd agree with that, to an extent. The worst pacing issues occur in the beginning and the end of the film.
Although I've accepted that this Snyderverse Batman does kill, whether it's by proxy or not, when I think about it, it's still hard to stomach. I still enjoy this version, but only if I process that this is a completely different Batman.
Overall, I still feel that the positives outweigh the negatives.
BONUS: Cameos, Easter Eggs And Surprises
There are cameos, Easter Eggs and surprises sprinkled throughout the film. DC fanboys will be pleased to see the amount of respect and acknowledgment the greater DCU mythos received. I won't go into details to spoil any of these amazing references, but just know that this film, out of all comic book movies, boasts the best cameos and Easter Eggs. I honestly feel that a second watch will reveal stuff that I never even caught the first time around.
I loved this movie and although I feel the honeymoon phase is passing and I'm realizing more flaws than I initially did, this film is still great and doesn't deserve its current rating on RottenTomatoes.com. But if audiences love the film, that's all that matters. I still feel like this movie sets up the DCU in a great way and has many fans excited for the coming films, such as Wonder Woman and The Justice League Part One.
Don't listen to what reviewers and critics are saying about this film. Go see it for yourself, solidify your own opinion and then you can choose to agree or disagree.
While the pacing was a little off, I honestly feel that people have blown it way out of proportion and I that the three-hour, R-rated cut of the film could help fill in the apparent gaps and confusion.
Once again, this all my opinion. Hope you enjoyed it.