Batman v Superman- Dawn of Justice (BvS) is being panned by the critics for being overly dark, slow, and craving, but also for having a hectic third act which made them recall 911 (again!). I would have taken these criticisms to heart, if these weren't the same critics that tell us that "Superman Returns" was great (check that movie's Rotten Tomato Scores) and that "The Force Awakens" broke new grounds in cinema making. After watching this movie, it became clear to me - there are critics with agendas against certain creators - and Zach Snyder is clearly in their cross-hairs, and non-Marvel made super-hero movies are also their pet target. In that context, it is not surprising that this subset of critics have levelled their shotguns at BvS.
Any seasoned comic fan would know that the epics of the genre tend to slow burn. they all tend to have multiple plot threads which converge in the climax. They all tend to subvert every monthly issue's fight o' the month to just another part of bigger structure which will eventually lead to the coup-de-grace at the end of the epic. These stories we read over and over, stunned by how writers would drop hints throughout the narrative that had you looking one way, before pulling to rug out under you. That's the secret of the great stories - from Galactus' first arrival, through the Avengers' Korvac saga; from JLA's Rock of Ages through World War III; from Watchmen through Dark Knight Returns. Slow burns and byzantine plotting in the narrative structures are what super-hero stories do!!
The accepted position is that theatrical hits can't emulate such a structure because there in not enough space to let it all hang out. well, BvS pulls it off in one hundred and fifty minutes of movie magic.
BvS did what Nolan's Dark Knight trilogy couldn't do, and what the Marvel formula of movies are not even trying to do. They not only took the aesthetic and the themes from the great stories and transposed them to the screen - they took the narrative structure of the great classics and found a way to put it in one movie.
Sure, the first sixty to ninety minutes of the movie are "slow"...but that's because the plot had to be developed, story beats had to play out, characters had to be positioned, and the stage had to be properly set. Everything about the movie is tightly knitted together into a coherent, cohesive whole. But then you actually have to watch the movie presented, as it is, to realise that, and not presume what the movie should be and critique the movie based on this imaginary benchmark. Examples of this abound:
1) Most alarming thing to me, is that quite a few of the negative critics cite the "fact" that the movie delved into the impact of the battle and destruction at the end of "Man of Steel" on the public discourse as to whether a Superman was needed. But that's not in this movie. The congressional hearings were NOT about the attack by Zod's crew. The hearings were related to incidents that occurred in the beginning of BvS! It's actually said so, right there, in the expositary dialogue of quite a few characters - but the critics missed it; maybe because they want to see a movie other than what is on offer, and thus seem to ignore what was actually presented.
2) Further, there are critics who say that Lois was shoehorned into the story and there was no reason for her to be there. However, on watching the movie it is clear that a couple of plot points REVOLVE on Lois SPECIFICALLY. The Superman incident revolves around Superman's relationship with Lois. She even says in the tub scene that she wonders if she's a liability to him as Superman. It's all right there!! Again, it seems that the negative critics are motivated by a lack of appreciation, wilful or not, of what was actually presented on the screen.
3) This was hammered home all the more when one critic still compared Cavill's Superman to Christopher Reeve's. Here I thought it was established three years ago in "Man of Steel" that they were nowhere near the same interpretation of the character and such similarity should not be expected.
Or maybe the critics really have some other agenda.
As I suggested earlier, there are critics who seem to want to attack Snyder's work specifically, and BvS is just another pawn in that ongoing struggle. Other than that being entirely unprofessional, there is the consequence that the feud cheats THIS movie, and all the other people who worked on it, from a fair shake.
- They say Snyder can't tell a narrative? Well there is a fully fleshed out narrative here in this movie.
- They say Snyder sacrifices plot integrity for his love of beautiful fight scenes - but can't cite an actual plot hole.
- They say Snyder's characters lack motivation. Well there is plenty of motivations provided in the movie, which is further amplified when its revealed that they were all being manipulated.
- They say that the transitions are jarring, citing Perry asking rhetorically if Clark "clicks his heels and disappears to Kansas," and being upset that the next scene did not have Clark in Kansas. What? These critics never heard of the Wizard of Oz?
Or is it, that these critics' agenda is to force feed the public the Disney line only? I mean, remember the vitriol that Fox's Marvel movies received from some of these critics - quickly followed by the rhetoric that "...only Marvel can make these movies right". Well, that's what's happening here as well - the argument seems to be that if it's not done the Marvel way (that is, if it isn't lighthearted with the same jokes, with the same childish banter) then its WRONG. Well the Marvel way gave us a lacklustre Avengers 2 - which I think everyone in now honest enough to admit, broke no new ground and was a far inferior carbon copy of the original Avengers movie. The Marvel way is NOT the only way. The Marvel way failed for Marvel for thirty years! The best Marvel movie in the last five years, the Winter Soldier, was the first to seek to break out of that old!
Innovation is essential for development, so let's see it another way and give it a chance to breathe! But anybody who tries to convince the viewing public that "The Force Awakens" brought anything new or positive to the Star Wars canon can't be serious!
My recommendation is that we should forget the critics, especially with these super-hero movies. Go see them yourself. And in this case, go in expecting a pretty sophisticated treatment to these "cartoony" characters. Leave preconceived notions at the door, and enjoy what I think is one of the most honest-to-source material super-hero epics brought to life.