So, Batman V Superman: Dawn Of Justice is out. I haven't seen it yet. I've got the tickets booked and I am very excited to be seeing it in a couple of days because I thought Man Of Steel was okay and I really like Ben Affleck and Henry Cavill and I want to see them battle it out, regardless of what the reviews say.
Until then, I can occupy myself by looking at the absolute meltdown that's going on around the internet...
Yes, it appears that the film isn't really resonating well with critics, garnering an RT score below The Room and the fans want answers (that aren't 'the film just wasn't very good').
While I disagree with the sensationalist titles these negative reviews employ, the actual content within these reviews sound perfectly reasonable (to me at least). The attempts by fans to explain the dissonance, however, have ranged from interesting theories to full-blown-groan-inducing conspiracies, and I thought I'd try to address some of the more questionable recurring points made so we can attempt to shed some light here...
The critics just went into the film biased.
This complaint just strikes me as odd, mainly because it defies simple deductive reasoning for two reasons.
One; Everyone has an opinion about everything. That's something you just inherently have because you're a brain-possessing being capable of instantaneous conceptual thought. The only factor that separates the Average-Joe from a film-critic is that a film-critic has the ability to articulate their opinion in a compelling and professional manner that provides a substantial point-of-view using terminology and references that will resonate with a wide-audience as opposed to a small niche.
Two; Let's put our World's Greatest Detective hats on and try to determine who out of these two key demographics would be more likely to display larger amounts of bias towards Batman V Superman?
Note: Keep in mind that bias can equal inclination just as much as it can mean prejudice.
a) Fans of Batman and Superman that have been non-stop hyping up this movie as the biggest superhero-film of 2016 (or even ever) since it was announced.
Just saying, it's more than a little hypocritical to try and defend Batman V Superman by saying those that criticise it are biased. But there's more...
The critics couldn't handle the film due to its dark themes/tone or its mature/confronting subject matter.
This one's nothing new in particular. The same thing pretty much happened with Man Of Steel (albeit, nowhere near as much to the detriment of that film). Critics were not as receptive to its attempts at a darker story and as a result it largely divided audiences in general.
In order for that complaint to hold water, there can't be instances where the majority of critics liked a comic-book film that dealt with dark themes and a dark tone.
How about a movie that contained themes of the fallibility of human nature, the corruption of authority and the inevitability of loss by drawing parallels to post-9/11 America and giving a villain that's a dark, sociopathic reflection on the worst tendencies of society?
Okay, how about a movie that provided characters that were inherently flawed people caught in a story full of sex, violence and cold-war-era paranoia that ended in the death of millions?
Well, how about a movie that discussed the benefits of anarchy in a society that has been controlled by a fascist dictatorship through the POV of a merciless terrorist that wants to blow up a densely-populated government building?
Fine. How about a movie that starts by explaining that its protagonists commit infanticide on a regular basis?
Actually, let's get another look at Man Of Steel.
So, why is it that these dark, gritty comic-book films (three of which are superhero flicks) got away with having confronting material whereas Batman V Superman didn't?
Let's see if the critic's consensus can tell us anything...
So, the problem isn't that the film tried to tackle issues that were of a dark, confronting nature. The problem is that it failed to tackle those issues well.
In context, these critics are saying that the movie doesn't handle these points of debate with the same care and attention that the other movies did because it was too busy drowning them out in CGI-fuelled action.
In other words; critics can handle your film if it involves dark ideas and themes, but they won't if said film ends up being completely boring.
This brings me to the next complaint.
The critics hated the film because it wasn't fun.
That's funny because it's actually true. One of the most common points of the negative reviews is that the film is pretty much joy-less and not fun to watch.
Now, if you're the kind of person who regularly takes critics out of context, that probably means to you that critics were hoping for a movie that was more "friendly and jokey".
A film doesn't have to be either of those things to be fun.
Nightcrawler, for example, is a film about Jake Gyllenhaal plotting and scheming his way through a career in which he exploits numerous tragedies and sociopathically manipulates those around him like chess-pieces into dangerous scenarios so he can profit off the terrible ordeals they go though.
It's also a very fun movie.
Why? Because enjoyment comes in many forms. Sometimes, watching an absolute bastard get away with being an absolute bastard in a dark, hopeless situation that doesn't improve can make for entertaining cinema (don't take my word for it, the film has a 7.9 on imdb and a 95% on RT).
My point is that, when critics say the movie wasn't fun, they mean that in the most literal sense of the word. They couldn't extract any enjoyment from it the way they could with movies that share a darker tone like the aforementioned Nightcrawler etc.
The critics are just perpetuating an inherent bias against DC films/Superhero films.
And so we're back to the whole bias argument. This one just irks me, to be honest.
If Batman and Superman are such iconic characters that are so embedded in the cultural zeitgeist, than wouldn't critics be positively inclined towards them in the first place? Critics are people too, y'know. Hell, chances are that they're just as big a bunch of nerds as you are. After all, they watch and review films for a living.
Comics aren't this little underground movement anymore. They've hit the mainstream in ways that we can't even comprehend. Everyone knows who Batman and Superman are because everyone perceives them to be two of the most important superheroes of all time, having ushered in superhero films into the mainstream with Tim Burton's Batman and Richard Donner's Superman.
Besides; if there was a bias towards DC, why is it that the highest rated RT superhero films are The Dark Knight and Iron-Man? They both came out the same year, so wouldn't Iron-Man have a higher score by virtue of being a Marvel film? If DC pails in comparison to Marvel, why is Arrow's 4th season rating 100% on RT as of the writing of this article while nothing Marvel related has reached such an accolade?
If there was a bias against superhero-films, why is it that both of these movies score as high (or even higher) than classics such as The Shawshank Redemption, Pulp Fiction or The Original Star Wars Trilogy? Critics apparently show so much distaste for comic-book films yet heaps of them rank nearly as high as The Godfather Trilogy.
Rotten Tomatoes is not a credible source of information.
Rotten Tomatoes is an aggregator. It compiles reviews from multiple sources (i.e. professional film-critics) then groups them as positive or negative depending on their content (not just the arbitrary number/letter-grade tacked on at the end). At the end of the day, you're trying to argue against statistical evidence with what is essentially your own opinion.
Keep in mind that by attacking RT, you're not saying that the content of these reviews is questionable, you're arguing that the amount of negative reviews displayed on the website is inaccurate, which is dumb given that you yourself probably haven't gone and read through every single review from start-to-end, therefore you have no point of reference. You're essentially attacking RT for something that is completely out of its control. You're not only shooting the messenger; you're confronting him, asking him if he bleeds and then crucifying him in the town-square for everyone to see.
What's particularly interesting is that people are claiming that 'IMDB is more credible'. I can't help but feel like the only reason people are saying that is because the IMDB score makes Batman V Superman look better by comparison. I mean, you can vote for an movie on IMDB before it's even released and there's no distinction between professional critics and just anyone when it comes to an IMDB score, making said scores easily susceptible to troll-voting.
Besides, let's be 100% honest with ourselves; people would not be this anti-RT if the website reflected well on the movie. It was all quiet on the Western-front and then all of a sudden in the span of a single day 'Viva La RevoluciÃÂ³n' and everyone wants to expose the dirty Rotten Tomatoes conspiracy.
For the record, what were you guys hoping to achieve? That's like trying to debug software by staring at it angrily. The score can't be changed unless every single critic goes back and retroactively changes their review to reflect a more positive outlook.
The movie was overall judged unfairly.
Was it? The film was released, people saw it and they then proceeded to judge it accordingly. That's the standard operating procedure for movies last time I checked.
It's not like, say Fantastic Four or the upcoming Ghostbusters, where the films were instantly condemned as worse than sliced-Hitler from the first official announcement an entire year before the trailer's actual release. Regardless of the movie's quality, condemning it en-masse before even seeing a trailer is pretty messed up and can legitimately be touted as unfair (feel free to judge it afterwards though).
Sure, there was some Batfleck hate, but that eventually died down. Hell, it died down to the point where he's now considered one of the best aspects of this poorly received film.
You may disagree with the judgement placed against this film, but there's no real reason to dismiss the complaints as unfair.
So that's about everything. Where do we go from here?
Well, it's really simple.
Did you enjoy the film? You did? Well then good. Keep on enjoying it.
Now, before I start being taken out of context and the comment section fills up with migraine-inducing paragraphs of incomprehensible insults that I'll feel an inherent need to respond to, I'm not saying you're a horrible person for disagreeing with the negative reviews. If you left the theater satisfied, then good for you. If you disagreed with the critics for whatever reason, also good for you. If you then proceeded to try and use the flimsy excuses mentioned in this article to try and deflect criticism completely by hurling conspiracy theories and deliberately misreading their reviews instead of just accepting that critics didn't like the movie, then not so good for you. Bad for you, I dare say.
Just keep in mind that your opinion is... well, it's just that. It's your opinion. You're not right, you're not wrong. If you can justify your opinions, I'm sure anyone will listen to you. If you resort to breaking down and labeling everyone that disagrees with you a 'hater' or a 'Marvel fanboy', then nobody will take you seriously and chances are you'll just be reflecting more poorly on the film itself.
Nitpicking the critics' reviews and taking large sections of them out of context is not going to improve the movie's outlook. All it does is provide reasons for articles like this one to exist. If you need to do that to justify your own love for the movie, then it says more about your appreciation of the film than it does about the critical response itself.
If anything, it should be a lot easier for you to ignore the criticisms considering that Warner Bros. is in too deep to change its plans for the DC Universe. Suicide Squad is in post-production, Wonder Woman is already filming and all of the other DC films are too far into pre-production with too much money spent to just terminate them and reboot all over again. No matter what the critics think, you're still getting your big DC Universe that you've wanted since 2008.
I mean, I liked Fantastic Four and that got savaged (deservedly) way worse than this movie ever will be. I still defend the movie from time-to-time but I don't do so by accusing everyone of "just not getting it". I'm a little disappointed that its critical and box-office failure will mean that I'll never get to see a follow up to it or an X-Men crossover the way that those that liked The Amazing Spider-Man 2 will never get the conclusion to that trilogy. Consider yourselves lucky that reviews against Batman V Superman will ultimately be powerless to stop what's coming in the future.
The reason I bring this up specifically is that I don't let RT reviews affect whether I like a film or not because all RT does is provide statistics. It doesn't state outright whether a film is good or bad, it just tells me what the audience perceived it to be. I determine whether I like a movie or not the good 'ol-fashioned way, by actually watching it and determining it for myself.
As for Batman V Superman: Dawn Of Justice, I'll go see it and then my review will be up next Sunday. I'm hoping that I'll like the movie despite the reviews not exactly painting it in the best light.
And now I just feel like a horrible person. This video is so unbelievably depressing. Cavill and Affleck worked so hard on this movie and they both look absolutely exhausted and yet this kind of thing just happens. I'm seriously hoping that I end up liking it just so I don't have to feel bad about this whole messed up experience.
I know this was a long article, and it'll probably end up a contentious one. I've tried to be fair, but I've also tried to be completely honest. So, thanks for reading. I appreciate it.