It's 1:15 a.m. and I'm wide awake. I just stepped out of the theater after watching something that I've been waiting for since I first picked up a Superman comic. Something I've wanted to see since I first saw Christopher Reeve, then later Michael Keaton in their respective super hero suits. Ever since I read my first World's Finest comic, the dream of having Superman and Batman share the silver screen has been something many a comic book enthusiast have wanted to see. And tonight, it finally happened. So why am I so perplexed?
There was a LOT in this movie. One gigantic setup for a universe that has almost a century worth of stories. It is no secret that Batman Vs Superman is a divisive movie. Hell, Man of Steel, it's predecessor, was divisive as well. Advanced reviews of this film created a mass debate on social media days before the general public had a chance to view it. And I think that is a tad unfair. Spoilers galore flooded facebook streams, Marvel comic devotees began the slam train as fast as BvS's Rotten Tomatoes page turned a certified rotten green and DC Comic fans began to worry.
So is there anything to worry about? Actually, though I still haven't collected my thoughts fully, I don't think there is. This review is going to be largely spoiler free. But I'm going to go into the good, the bad and the ugly. But before I do, I want to point out that I think that, if I'm not mistaken, this movie was made for the DC Comic fanbase that have poured through comic after comic, story after story learning about the heroes. There are several nods to The Dark Knight Returns comic and even a tinge of Injustice: Gods Among Us.. but more on that later.
Let's start with the "Ugly", shall we? The story editing. My god, man... I don't know who did the editing of the final theatrical cut but it was all over the place after about an hour into the 2.5 hour long movie. I feel it had a strong narrative at the onset but quickly dove deep into incoherence. There were some parts that, while I was able to follow, seemed to cut the dialogue or switched scenes so abruptly I literally mouthed "wait...what?" There was even a moment of dialogue from Lois that bled over to the next scene that had zero purpose. I just don't understand how it was allowed. That, I feel is my biggest complaint about the movie (which, I actually really liked). There were so many positive moments that seemed to just pepper in some...well, bad moments.
The Bad: Lois Lane, WTF Reporter. Man of Steel found Lois Lane to be very ambitious. She had a knack for doing whatever it took to get the story. And this carried over to BvS. That is until about the time the editing started getting choppy. It's as if they edited out her common sense. There is a moment (don't worry, I won't spoil it), that Lois does something akin to "Old Rose" at the end of Titanic. Almost my entire row threw their hands up in a "Wait...what? Seriously?" motion. This Lois is supposed to be intelligent, smart, snarky and compelling. She doesn't quite fall into the "Damsel in distress" category, but more of a "Why am I putting this metal fork in a light socket" category. Just... I hope they fix this issue as it goes forward.
Adding to the bad corner, I'm just going to say it. WB/DC: Fire your trailer editors... and your regular editors for that matter. They did not do this movie justice (see what I did there?) Not really having to do with the movie, just set the tone all wrong for theatrical release... but that may just be me. Because there is a LOT of good, and a lot of great tone here.
The Good: Let's get the easy one out of the way. Ben Affleck as Bruce Wayne/Batman. Or should I say, just Batman. From the moment you meet adult Bruce to the very end of the movie, Ben has taken the reigns of the character and not only made it his own, but he kinda did for Batman what Heath Ledger did for Joker. While other people will no doubt play the character in the future and perhaps even better, there will always be that reference to Batman Vs Superman and beyond. With his hair tinged grey and his appearance looming over anyone brave enough to stand in his shadow, the DCEU's Batman is a force. Not to be reckoned with. But to be feared. And that is perfect. This Batman is brutal. He's calculated. He's a more than adequate fighting machine. And he is absolutely relentless. There has never been a live action Batman on screen this fierce. His interactions with Clark, Superman, Diana and Wonder Woman are all in his favor. As it should be. The jokes and meme's make Batman out to be all knowing, all powerful, and above all else, always victorious. You get the idea that this Batman realizes this because no matter who interacts with him, he wins (save for one moment that I won't spoil. His counterpart definitely won that one).
The Good Continued: Diana Prince/Wonder Woman. Just...damn. I was in the column of "WTF did they cast Gal Gadot in the role of Wonder Woman? NOOOOOO". At first glance, she wasn't right. To thin, to frail, and unconvincing as Wonder Woman. Gal Gadot has this sensual, seductive quality as Wonder Woman. She's a mystery. She weaves in and out of her earlier scenes with just a hint of 'there's more to come... but only when I'm ready". And when she shows up ready for action... just get out of the way. Get. Out. Of. The. Way. Because if that blade or lasso is aimed at you, you are good as dead. There is a moment during the final act where she is in the midst of the battle. She is tossed back and any other hero would be either panicked or furious. Gal's playful grin... that thirst for the challenge graces her face and instantly made me excited for the forthcoming Wonder Woman movie.
Good continued yet again: The battles. From Batman Vs Superman, to Batman Vs the thugs, to Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman vs [REDACTED], once again Zach Snyder proves he's one of the only directors in Hollywood that understand how to film fight scenes. There was a complaint from a critic that deemed the CGI too unfinished or unrealistic. I will say there is ONE moment where I'd have to agree (for those that have seen it already, we're talking about a scene shot in space). Again, not a bad part.
The Good just one more time: Story elements pulled from different comics old and new. There is one MAJOR spoilery storyline I will not put here but those that have seen it know what I'm talking about. But there are other story elements that have been thrown in that, I feel are the closest we'll ever get to seeing it on the big screen. One is the current title Injustice: God's Among Us, which also has a game associated with it. The Knightmare sequences are pretty much that. And I was surprised to see how much death was doled out during these sequences. Superman's use of power and his Regime are frightening. The motivation that it gives Batman is understandable. Side note, kids under 13 proooobably should stay home on this one. Some of Batman's Moral compass issues may confuse them. Speaking of which, that's another plus.
This is the first story involving Batman that actually sheds light on the fact that Batman is, for all intents and purposes, psychotic, himself. He's fought 20 years as Batman. He's seen so much loss from the moments his parents died (which, though it was yet another retelling, the 5-8 minutes spent showing Batman's ultimate origin were shot quite well). This is a man who has lost his parents, his home, a Robin, and now employees of his company. He has passed his breaking point. He is out of damn's to give. He his brutal and troubled. He is confused.
Which leads me to my last point. The confusing aspects of BvS. First up is Lex. I like Jesse Eisenberg's portrayal. This isn't Gene Hackman nor Kevin Spacey's Lex. Hell, this isn't Michael Rosenbaum's Lex. This isn't even Clancy Brown's Lex. No, this is a Lex all unto his own. Some are comparing him to the Riddler. This Lex is a savant. A spoiled, rich savant with too much time and money in hand. He is also a tad insane. But he falls under the brilliant side of insane. There is a moment where he sets up the final act. He is in full control. And his plan is so... it's just smart. He is ruthless, dangerous, and willing to do whatever he can to see his plan through. He's cold. And incredibly eccentric. There is a line that is mildly spoilery and may play into the future... it may not. But this is Lex Jr. Lex Sr. is not in the picture and very well may be dead based on some things Lex said. The only reason why he is in the confusing column is because I'm still trying to process his performance.
Also confusing to this movie is how blatant the repetitive "this area is all clear and evacuated" narrative was added. We get it. people were mad the destruction in Man of Steel... deal with it. But not by driving it down our throats.
Honestly, there was more to this movie that can fit into this review. But I'll hit the hot points/questions that have been asked:
Cameos: Well worth it. There is one character that gets two cameos and I couldn't have been happier with the first. It was a surprise, and well well WELL worth it not being spoiled. Makes me excited for the upcoming Justice League for sure.
Supporting Cast (Alfred, Perry, Martha, Thomas and Martha Wayne, etc): All were good. None stood out as being off their game. There was a surprise cameo that I was not expecting, but worked well.
Batman getting to be Batman: This is yet another example of Batman getting to actually be a detective. Cloak and Dagger operations with Alfred at the helm acting as Q. He's smart. And he is damn fast in battle. His suit is FINALLY functional. And his strength is other worldly. Really really good.
Superman: Overwhelmed: Superman is overwhelmed in this movie. He is nothing but reactionary. He has no other way to be. He is getting it from all angles. The Press, Politically, Emotionally and Batman's Fists'ically. He doesn't have a moment to focus. He can't calculate anything because there is zero time.
Doomsday: Shouldn't have been spoiled by the trailers, but is formidable and makes sense in the guise of the storytelling. Not sure what the critics were saying about the CGI, looked fine to me.
All in all, I have to say I liked it. Didn't LOVE it. Wait, let me change that a bit. I love aspects of it but as a whole, I'm edged on a slight disappointment. Is it rewatchable? Absolutely. But I may wait for the R rated directors cut to give my ultimate final judgement. Until Next Time...