Addressing the Critics Reviews
So the critics have been bashing this movie horribly. Rotten Tomatoes has given it a 29% and others have complained about its pacing or story. Having seen it three times at the time of writing this, I will say unequivocally: this is an amazing movie, and I LOVED it. Does it have flaws? Yes, of course. But those flaws are easily outweighed and masked by the areas of excellence that this movie has.
One thing in particular that people are saying, though, has me especially annoyed. People are claiming that the only people who like it are Superman fanboys. No, actually, that's probably the dumbest thing I've ever heard. Superman fans will be the FIRST ones to make a huge deal if the movie sucked because WE WANT the proper portrayal of Superman. Take Superman Returns for instance: it was a really bad movie, and not one Superman fan out there will tell you otherwise just because we are "fanboys." So let's dispense with that Donald Trump logic right now.
That all being said, GIVE THIS MOVIE A CHANCE! I plan to see it at least three more times, if not more, and each time I've watched it thus far I have found something else to like and appreciate about it. It has its flaws, certainly, but it is not by any means a bad movie. Still don't believe me? Read on...
The story of Batman v. Superman is one that I had my doubts about. When I first heard that they were planning on incorporating elements from Frank Miller's DKR, I'm pretty sure I groaned out loud. This is not the forum in which to discuss how unlikely that storyline is to ever come to pass, nor how Superman could very easily destroy Batman in a one on one fight with no holds barred, so I won't mention those things here. :) Not only that, but when they mentioned that they were bringing in Wonder Woman, Aquaman, the Flash, Lex Luthor, AND Doomsday, I was so worried that it would be too much to put into one movie. Then I wondered why Batman and Superman are fighting? Are they being manipulated? I was worried they would ruin it.
I am happy to report: I was wrong.
For those who haven't seen this yet (really, what are you waiting for!?), the way the characters are introduced, interact, and their stories woven together is masterfully done. It's entirely realistic how these heroes come together in the Dawn of Justice.
I really liked the retelling of Batman's origins. It was very quick but very effective, and dramatically tells the tale of the demise of the Waynes. It also sets the scene for the introduction of adult Bruce Wayne rushing into the middle of the battle between Zod and Superman from Man of Steel, thus tying the two movies together and revealing why Batman has the opinion and the concerns that he does about Superman
The motivation for Superman and Batman to battle one another was surprisingly well developed and realistic. Batman's fear of Superman's absolute power is revealed in the dream sequence that could easily be a trailer in and of itself for a future Justice League movie. The scattered introductions of various other members of the Justice League and the teaser of what could be the Flashpoint Paradox, Infinite Crisis, or the Injustice storyline (or all of them if the multiverse is explored) is just amazing. I was so excited seeing that scene the first time around that I walked out of the theater wanting to see the JL immediately.
Something else people are up at arms about is Batman and the fact that he kills in this incarnation. People are screaming "Batman doesn't kill!" Well, yes he does. When he was first created, Batman both killed and used guns, both of which he has returned to here in this film. He has a brutal brand of justice, literally, and believes it should be meted out swiftly and without mercy. This is the vigilante justice that Batman originally stood for, all the way up until the Christian Bale reboot. If you recall, even the Michael Keaton Batman killed goons here and there. Even in the comics, he has killed before. It was only recently in the last 20 or so years that he has refrained from killing.
Wonder Woman's introduction into the fray was tied in beautifully. The idea that all three of the Trinity individually are looking for Lex Luthor for their own independent motivations was brilliant, and I enjoyed seeing them come together to battle Doomsday at the end, and when Luthor was discovered to have been pulling the strings the entire time.
Finally, the Death of Superman was something I did not predict would be part of this movie. As a Superman fan I was both excited and sad to see it happen, even though I know it's not the end of him (otherwise why have a Justice League movie at all). I can't wait to see how they plan to revive him and how he will return to face Darkseid once he comes.
Story Rating: 9/10
One of the biggest points of contention going into this movie pre-release was the casting: Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman, Ben Affleck as Batman, and Jesse Eisenberg as Lex Luthor. I will confidently say that all three did an amazing job, and anyone who knows these characters will not be disappointed.
I'll start with the obviously good choice: Henry Cavill's Superman is compelling, relatable, and stoic. For me, Superman will always be Christopher Reeve. The way he played both Superman and Clark Kent was absolutely flawless, especially in how different the two characters are portrayed on screen: one a bumbling klutz, and the other the greatest super hero ever. I will say that Henry Cavill comes as close as possible to perfect as Superman. I can't say that I fully endorsed his portrayal of Clark Kent mostly because there did not seem to be significant difference between Superman's personality and Clark Kent's in the movie. That isn't as much a flaw with Cavill as with the writing of the character. It didn't take away from the movie at all, but it was definitely something I noticed.
Ben Affleck's portrayal of both Bruce Wayne and Batman were very well done. The parts are played as though Bruce Wayne is the alter ego and Batman is the real person, and that is more true to the character. Bruce Wayne is the mask that Batman wears, much like Clark Kent is Superman's mask, and that is exactly how it felt. The arrogant, spoiled, and egotistical billionaire is the facade under which the brutal vigilante lives and is tortured by ghosts from the past. Affleck played both very well. The emotions are almost palpable in his scenes and the audience immediately feels a different, more dangerous vibe from him than in the Nolan series.
There isn't much to say about Gal Gadot's Wonder Woman that is not expressed better by her acting on screen. Just WOW! She steals the show when she's on screen, playing a very regal, elegant, and powerful Diana Prince and then transforming quickly into the fierce warrior goddess.
The scene where she is fighting Doomsday and gets knocked onto her back, her sword clattering to the ground, she turns and faces him with a smile, excited for a good battle where she is finally able to let loose. This scene is played so perfectly by Gadot that she truly becomes the character. Flawlessly done.
Jesse Eisenberg's Lex Luthor is eccentric, condescending, brilliant, and egotistical. Exactly what Lex Luthor is supposed to be. He plays the part extremely well, and makes the audience hate him while simultaneously be in awe at the level of complexity to his actions.
He plays a very complex and shadowy figure, having orchestrated the entire battle between the Bat of Gotham and Son of Krypton. The last scene where he announces that "He is coming" is eerie and unsettling, with Eisenberg appearing unhinged and just towing the line between genius and crazy, maybe crossing into the crazy. It was so well done, and I really enjoyed it. Clearly he's not the typical villain we would expect but this fresh take on the character isn't as horrible as many might have you believe.
My ONLY disagreement in casting choice is Amy Adams as Lois Lane. This is where I think this movie does lose some points. She doesn't feel like a Lois Lane. There are lines here and there that are delivered well, but overall, Lois Lane is supposed to be a charismatic, witty, fearless-to-the-point-of-stupidity reporter who constantly is getting herself into trouble. While I understand that that character has been adapted, I just don't like her as Lois Lane and think they could have done a better job casting her. Someone like a Jessica Chastain, or Rooney Mara would have been a much better choice. That is the only reason I give this category less than a 9.
Characters Rating: 8.5/10
This movie is visually stunning. The CGI is pretty seamlessly integrated into the movie, and the scenes are beautiful, whether CGI or true life. The overall feel of the film is darker than a Superman movie traditionally would feel, but I think that serves to enhance the movie rather than detract from it.
Superman's heat vision is a prime example of excellent use of CGI in the movie. He is so threatening when his eyes glow red, and that's exactly the effect that is needed when it comes to this character. You want the audience to feel: Don't piss this guy off, and that's exactly what you feel.
The most obvious CGI I think is used during the revival of Superman after the nuclear blast where the sun is healing his face on camera. It was still very well done, though.
Visual Effects Rating: 9/10
The score for this movie is amazing. Like all previous Superman movies, music is an integral piece. The original Christopher Reeve movies had an AMAZING score by John Williams that was adapted for the Superman Returns reboot in 2006. This music is done by Hans Zimmer and Junkie XL and is an addition to the Man of Steel soundtrack that is used as a base.
The music feels like another character in the movie, taking the audience on the emotional journey with the characters. From pain, to happiness, to concern, to love, to loss... the music is, as with all Superman movies, excellent.
Music Rating: 10/10
So what are the implications of this film? On a larger, more high level scale (and one that pretty much everyone already knows so risking stating the obvious here), this movie sets up the Justice League and the future of the DC Extended Universe. That was as good as I could get without spoilers so read on for those.
The Flash, Aquaman, and Cyborg are all introduced in a very limited, but still exciting fashion through the course of the movie. The fact that Lex Luthor has been keeping tabs on emerging metahumans was a very smart way to introduce these characters without making the film feel like it was trying too hard. It was seamless and felt very natural. In fact, I personally feel like the way the introduced the future members of the Justice League made me more excited than I could have hoped.
The Knightmare sequence was absolutely amazing and teased SO MANY things, from the Injustice-type tyrant Superman to Darkseid and the parademons and trying to turn Earth into Apokalips. It was SO exciting!
When Flash reaches back from the future to try to communicate with Bruce Wayne, I couldn't have been more excited. It teases even more than just Darkseid, but teases Superman going dark and possibly even the Flashpoint Paradox. His screaming "You were right about him!" is so ominous, but in this situation, Superman could be a scapegoat. Since he's from the future and he kept saying "I'm too soon aren't I?", we don't really know what he's warning against except that Lois is the key. That hints strongly at Superman going dark because he loses Lois, but could just as easily be a warning about Darkseid or Lex Luthor. The fact that there are so many possibilities makes it so exciting to see what direction things will take, which timeline(s) they will explore, and what will happen with Superman when he returns.
I truly enjoyed this movie. Every time I watch it, I find new reasons that I enjoy it. As a Superman fan, I would advise you to give it a chance. DO NOT go into it with any expectations or pre-conceived notions of what you think it should or would be. It is not the Dark Knight series. It is not Christopher Reeve's Superman, Michael Keaton's or Christian Bale's Batman, and certainly not a light-hearted Marvel movie. This movie takes itself seriously and deals with the complexity of emotions that the heroes encounter both internally and interacting with one another. It's not meant to be a campy or colorful superhero movie, but a human story told using characters with superhuman abilities.
Short story: don't listen to the critics. It's OK to not like it because you didn't like it. It's not OK to criticize based on someone else's opinion. Take the chance to decide for yourself, and if possible, see it in IMAX. It's worth it.