All right this review is late as hell and for good reason. It has SPOILERS ladies and gentlemen so if you haven’t gone to see DC’s attempt at creating a cinematic universe to rival Marvel’s then thanks for the click but you need to pull the rip cord on this right NOW!
There, if you’re still here then it’s your fault…
OKAY! I recently partook of BVS and did so at matinee price on a Monday. I’m a paramedic, my hours are screwy. I was, originally going to splurge on the IMAX experience but I heard enTIREly too many piss-poor reviews to drop that kinda dough but I still saw the 3D version.
I kinda liked it. No, I thought it was fairly decent. Was BVS the blockbuster it was hyped to be? Nope, not even close. Was it the bomb the critics and bloggers lamented? Nope, not even close.
I’m gonna break this movie down character by character, highlighting the good and exposing the bad. I will preface this with a paraphrased stolen catchphrase “of course this is just my opinion, I could be wrong”. Points if you know who used to use that one.
I, like many others, was worried when they cast Ben Affleck as Batman/Bruce Wayne. Given his body of work and his previous outing in a superhero film, I did not have much faith in Matt Damon’s life partner but I am happy to admit that I was wrong. Affleck did an amazing job as the Dark Knight. He completely captured the dichotomy of Batman/Bruce Wayne portraying the tormented vigilante with convincing passion while giving us a Bruce Wayne who comes off as casual and devil-may-care but we can tell the Bat is just beneath the surface. I truly believed that Bruce Wayne was a mask for Batman to wear when needed to get things done; a comic truth that only Christian Bale had accomplished, and even then in only two out of three outings.
There are a lot of people who did not approve of how brutal Batman was in the film even going so far as to kill but I wasn’t suicidal over it. With 20 years under the cowl it's understandable that Batman could step away from the paragon he may have been when he started leaning more toward the renegade. The look of Batman in this film (you’ve seen the images) is the best I’ve seen. I liked the tech, the Batmobile is awesome. The Batwing is awesome. That armored suit was the shiznit! Also, NO BAT-VOICE! The voice of the Bat is electronically modulated, a strategy which makes perfect sense as Bruce Wayne is a public figure and voice-print analysis can foil even the best vocal thespians. Batman is the best part of this movie and I cannot wait for the planned solo outing.
Now that I done typed that, let’s get with the bad. I was not a fan of how long in the tooth Batman was in this film. When they said they were going for an older Batman I shook my head. I understand wanting an established Caped Crusader, but 20 years? I would’ve liked a Batman say 10 years in. Seasoned enough to support the levels of brutality we saw in the film but still in his prime and able to carry on in what should be an expanding universe. Also the timeline has a negative effect on the continuity and is not supported in other aspects of the film. In the scene where the two Gotham cops find the sex trafficker beaten, chained and branded, the one cop, after taking shots at a retreating Batman, says he’s heard of the Batman but never seen him and believed him to be a myth. In a Gotham where the bat-signal exists and has for multiple years I would think the myth vs reality debate would have been settled and that finding criminals bearing the hallmarks of a bat-attack would be somewhat routine. It wasn’t and that doesn’t jive with the amount of time Batman has been on the job.
Henry Cavill did another bang-up job as the blue boy-scout. Living in a world divided concerning Superman's presence, I feel he conveyed the expected lack of confidence quite well. It’s clear, from his performance that Superman is still learning who he is and just what his place in this world can and will be. When Christopher Reeve put on the tights, his Superman was confident, bold, and sure. His Clark Kent was fumbling, naïve, and reserved. Cavill’s take on the Kryptonian is the opposite with Clark playing the stalwart crusader, wanting to shed light on the Batman going as far as to ignore Perry White’s orders and, as seen in the trailer, confront Gotham’s favorite son over the issue. Cavill's Superman is clearly doing his best but struggles with never seeming to get the job completely right along with the consequences of his shortcomings. It makes sense, as he has been Clark J. Kent the majority of his life while being Superman for less than two years.
Now that I done typed that, let’s get to the bad. There isn’t too much shade to through Superman’s way. His story arc in this movie is done very well with only two notable exceptions. Finding himself blackmailed into fighting Batman with his mother’s life hanging in the balance and an hour time limit in place; given where Martha was, Superman could have easily searched Metropolis and Gotham (they’re neighbor cities separated by a harbor) in less than ten minutes. He would have been able to find her, take out the thugs and then deal out some much-deserved payback. There is also the point during the finale where he decides to take on the suicide mission of killing Doomsday. At that point, he had both Batman and Wonder Woman at his disposal. Either one of them could have easily dealt the killing blow, ESPECIALLY Diana.
Fantastic! That’s it; fantastic. The way she looked, the way she fought, her theme music (though they did beat that into the ground a bit). I loved her and can’t wait for her solo film. Girlfriend took no crap and gave zero f@#!s dealing with the boys. Her story thread, the only clear one, was like her, its own thing, winding through the movie nicely and only enhancing the experience.
Now that I done typed that; here comes the bad. Though the movie was better when she was there, she did feel a bit shoe-horned in and it’s not the fault of the character or the actress. Gal Gadot shut all the naysayers up with her portrayal of the Amazon. But the movie had so much going on, she was like bacon on a Dagwood sandwich; delicious but just another addition to a massive amount of ingredients.
Amy Adams has done a wonderful job in both, Man of Steel and BVS. The movie makes her subplot relevant to the main story in an imaginative way. She’s less the woman who happens to be there and more a key player this time around.
Now that I done typed that; here comes the bad. I still don’t know what the point of her is other than to be some sort of damsel in distress. It does a disservice to the source material to constantly have her being used as a pawn of others to get to Superman. Above you’ll see me credit the film for making her relevant but they did a Matrix bend a-la-Neo to do it. Her whole arc just did not need to be there. As a supportive character she hits the marks she’s supposed to hit, but her role in the film could’ve been written out and it would not have been any different.
Alexander “Lex” Luthor
Okay, it took me a bit of soul searching but I did find a positive to this character. We did get to see Luthor the Manipulator. (That jar of piss, hello?) The method he employs to do his dirt is very reminiscent of the character but that’s all I got.
Now that I done typed that…here we go. When it was announced that Jesse Eisenberg was cast as LL, I staved off the nerd-rage and mulled it over. He is not the ideal first, second or ninth choice to play Superman’s nemesis but what he could have offered, and what I was hoping for, was that he would serve as the nagging voice of doubt spurring on humanity’s mistrust of Superman. He would not be the Rush Limbaugh railing in the spotlight. No, he would be the quiet voice of “reason” sowing seeds of discord throughout the populace, gradually but steadily turning the consensus on Superman from positive to negative. For my Whovians he would be the Tenth Doctor whispering “Don’t you think she looks tired?” into the ears of mankind.
But that’s not who he was…
Instead we got a smarmy, whiny, bratty, sociopathic version of our beloved villain; a wunderkind rich kid with serious father issues. You can tell by his mannerisms that no one has told him “no” for quite some time.
I’ll submit that Jesse Eisenberg’s Lex Luthor was perfect for the film we got. In short, he was not the Lex we deserved but rather the Lex we needed given the story. Besides, seeing what we got, did any of you honestly want to see your ideal actor delivering those lines? Huh? Really?
Yes the story is a character and, on the plus side it was grand and sweeping; an epic fitting of all our heroes. But that’s also its biggest problem. There’s just too much going on and, as a natural result, not enough time is spent on development. Batman’s beef with Superman is obvious, but the true scope of his plan to deal with the Kryptonian is smeared over and revealed as an afterthought when Alfred confronts Bruce about his obsession with finding the White Portuguese. Superman’s beef with Batman is obvious but it loses the screen time war with his other subplot showing up only as confrontations with Perry and thinly-veiled sparring matches with Bruce both in and out of costume. It’s almost buried under the weight of the issue of Superman’s acceptance by the people of Earth which detracts from his conflict with the Caped Crusader.
Lois’ thread is constantly interrupted by her ending up in some sort of peril requiring rescue and, honestly, doesn’t need to be in the film.
Lex Luthor’s machinations are a muddled mess and leave a viewer with too many questions. We know he figured out that Clark Kent and Superman are one and the same as well as his connection to Lois. We also know that he is fully aware of Barry Allen, Victor Stone, Diana Prince, and Aquaman but does he know that Batman is sometimes Bruce Wayne? Again, things are touched on so briefly and with so little development, too much is left to interpretation.
What in the holy hell is DOOMSDAY doing in this film and why does he look like a cave troll? He doesn’t need to be there. Why he looks like a troll is anyone's guess.
The conclusion is that DC, while trying to separate itself from Marvel, is playing catch-up with this movie when someone in that corporate office should have offered that they don’t have to. BVS is “HERE ARE YOUR FAVORITES ON SCREEN! SEE THEM, LOVE THEM! DID YOU SEE THAT? AWESOME RIGHT? ARE WE COOL? DO YOU LOVE US?” And yeah, we do but slow it down. Marvel built their house brick by brick and there’s no shame in DC doing likewise.
Wow, this review is running as long as the movie. Okay, time to close it out. Batman V. Superman is DC attempting to springboard themselves alongside Marvel and they accomplish that for the most part. I will be buying this movie on DVD later this year and I’ll watch it again and enjoy it about the same because, while I wasn’t blown away by the whole, I am hopeful for what comes next with the sum of its parts.
Seriously though, watching Batman kick the s#!t out of Superman was RIGHTEOUS!
So good people what did I miss? Do you agree? Do you disagree? Are you sold on the DCU, or do you need a bit more? Discuss...