a review by the Crow.
Oh, ho ho ho! I just recently watched the Ultimate Edition of this movie… and do I ever have a lot to talk about.
Prior to jumping in, I must warn you: this is going to be more a roast than a review. (After all, I like to be fair when it suits me.)
Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (BvS) is directed by Zack Snyder, and stars Henry Cavill, Ben Affleck, and Jesse Eisenberg, among others.
It follows Man of Steel as the second installment in the DC Extended Universe, and was by far the most anticipated movie of 2016. After all, this is the Batman versus Superman… how could this not be a blockbuster? I expect a grizzled Batman to pull Superman up by his boyish collars and make sure that the lastcough son of Krypton remembers the “one man who beat” him.
Heralded since as far back as 2007, on a billboard from that year’s I Am Legend (a complete and utter disaster by the sound of it), Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice had a tall order ahead of it.
Now, I usually deal with new movies (movies released over the past four years) in terms of how they were first presented in theatres. With BvS, I’m making an exception, because I was told that the Ultimate Edition would cure cancer.
So, how’d it do?
Let this crow take you under his wing and show you the bare naked truth, then…
ULTIMATE EDITION v THEATRICAL RELEASE
Let’s get this out of the way: the Ultimate Edition is the version which should have been shown in theatres. Or for the best results: a mix of the two.
But… crow! Wouldn’t have that made it too long?! Well, considering the content (see the following sections) and the execution involved: no. The added material could’ve easily been shuffled into the runtime of the theatrical release.
The real question is: does the extended cut make the film any better? The answer to this is: marginally. My personal question is: does it actually manage to do the opposite? We’ll get to that in due time.
The UE makes some of the plot points make a bit more sense, but considering all the other decisions which it reveals were never taken into consideration (for instance: why was Jena Malone’s character left out?! It wouldn’t have really extended the film by all that much, and she explains something actually significant to the plot), it just makes this crow turn a keener eye on the movie.
WARNING: THIS SECTION CONTAINS ALL THE SPOILERS
Cthulu, what a shitshow.
Following yet another retelling of the Batman’s origin (only this time with 300% more slow-motion than ever before!), Bruce Wayne lands in Metropolis, which is about as far from Gotham as my local is from mine. See: I keep trying to walk home every night like a good baby crow, but someone puts a pub in the way, every.single.time… It’s not my faulthic!
This is around the time that Superman’s battling Zod at the end of Man of Steel. Wayne runs into the dust kicked up by their conflict to save an orphaned child. And he does, next to his company’s logo, all set to ominous music.
Dun, dun, dunnn! (If you didn’t guess already, this is the Batman!) He stares up into the sky and zooms in on the battling Kryptonians, setting the stage for his hatred of Superman.
We cut to somewhere in the Indian Ocean, where Kryptonite is uncovered, and from there, we cut to Nairomi, somewhere in Africa, where Lois Lane is to interview a local warlord.
We’re introduced to Jimmy Olsen, and he’s promptly outed as a CIA agent and offed. I mean… just why is this guy Jimmy Olsen?! Oh right. Let’s just have someone named after a character certain members of the audience would be familiar with! Hey, corner-cut fanservice!
So, Superman shows up and saves Lois. All of a sudden: everyone thinks he’s the one who’s shot all the people about. Why Superman would have to shoot anyone, I don’t know. You don’t know. The movie doesn’t know. The public in the movie just think he’s done so.
So, we get around to our new shiny-shiny in the Batman. Make no mistake: while every action scene regarding the Gotham Knight is quite cool, each of them carries with it a glaring billboard that says: this is not the Batman.
What is the Batman’s biggest character angle? His parents were gunned down in the street, and he will never stand for that level of violence. He won’t let violent criminals leave any child orphaned (the rare exceptions here and there and his first few appearances notwithstanding, since the character we all know and love is barely related to that guy these days) again, and that’s from where his motivations come. What does the Batman in this movie do? He murders people.
This “new rules” nonsense is a weak answer. According to the DCEU’s timeline so far, the Batman began this murderous rampage sometime following the death of Robin (at the hands of Harley Quinn, no less, though she might have just been accused of it via involvement with the Joker). So, the Batman starts outright murdering people because he’s disillusioned?
The Batman is disillusioned. It’s his tenacity in the face of said disillusionment that makes him such an epic character. He doesn’t give in to the easy answer. And on top of it all: Alfred’s going along with this?! None of it makes any sense, especially in light of the numerous flashbacks to his dead parents that we see over the course of the movie.
Anyway, Clark Kent starts tracking down the Batman as a journalist (as if he couldn’t just take some time out to just hover over the city and keep an eye out) while the Batman starts working on tracking down an import of Kryptonite – both to keep it from others’ hands, and to weaponise it himself. We get to Lex Luthor as well, and…
Oh jeebus Christina on a fucking tricycle. What in Satan’s name is this?!
Eisenberg seems like he’s aping parts of Heath Ledger’s portrayal of the Joker and parts of a crack-addict on happy pills. Just like the Batman, this is not Lex Luthor. Did the people who wrote this forget everything about the characters they were putting on the screen? I know they’ve read the comics, but did they all slip and hit their heads on the pavement prior to putting pen to paper?! Did they even fu-
Okay. Wait. Heart rate’s spiking. Let me chill out for a moment.
Okay, I’m back. Right. Where was I?
Oh gods… I’m still on Batman v Superman. Oh well, let’s get this over with.
Clarky and Brucey are introduced at an event held in honour of Luthor Jr, and not only does Wayne do something incomprehensibly stupid when trying to copy files off’f Luthor’s servers (which are strangely situated across from the kitchen), which results in him getting caught; but, Kent, after overhearing Wayne’s plans with Alfred and following him a bit, exits the kitchen after tugging his tie loose upon noticing an emergency on the telly, and flies off to save people.
Around this time, we get our first glimpse of Diana Prince. And while she is certainly that woman in the room, she is executed excellently. Of all the things this movie has done wrong, Diana Prince makes me be more generous because they got her right.
Anyway, soon after, the Batman intercepts the kryptonite import, only to be stopped by… Superman! Once Superman’s let the guys escorting the one thing that could harm him get away, he warns Batman to stop doing what he does and flies off.
The scene with “Granny’s Peach Tea” which comes up soon after makes no sense in the theatrical release. In the UE, Jena Malone’s character explains why Supes couldn’t see the big explosive that was sitting just metres from him (RIP Mercy). And it begs the question: why was this character left out?!
So, now, one thing leads to another: Luthor nabs Martha Kent and Lois, manages to have Martha stowed away – gagged and all – all the way from Kansas, by the time it takes his people to transport Lois between points in Metropolis.
Luthor wants Superman and the Bat to battle to the death. Why? Well, he wants to. He threatens Superman with threats upon his mother, after bringing him close via Lois Lane. How does he manipulate the Batman? Well… he doesn’t. Yeah, sure: he sends those letters Wayne flips through at the last minute, but the guy shouldn’t really have any idea that the Batman intends to off the Man of Steel so much.
Anyway, we get the big fight, finally. The big high point. And… it’s a total flub.
The Batman punishes the guilty. Superman protects the innocent. That’s one of the fundamental differences between the two of them. Why do we want to see them fight? A difference in ideology, is the answer. We want to see these two titans fight because they hold opposing viewpoints. And what do we get?: the Batman considers Superman a threat because of the fallout from his fight at the beginning of the movie (which is all fair and good), and Superman – while he certainly has a bone to pick with this incarnation of what’s meant to be Batman, as do I – is made to fight him because his mother’ll die if he doesn’t.
The fight is more than a bit bizarre. It’s almost as if Snyder and the rest of the creative team forgot that the Batman is ultimately human. There are multiple points where the simpler interactions between these two characters should leave yhe Batman a wobbling piece of jelly in his silly armour. They’re obviously trying to put the final battle from The Dark Knight Returns on screen, but also trying to show off Superman’s strength. Those two things don’t really add up. Armour or no armour, being tossed around like that would not only kill the Batman, but purée him.
Anyway, after a long and drawn out battle, we get to… MAAARTHAAA!!!1!1!!111!…
I mean, seriously…? Exactly what about Bat-ffleck makes anyone think that he would stop himself from stabbing Superman because he cries for his mother, which just happens to be the Batman’s mum’s name? Also: which devoted son cries out for their mother by her first name?!
Cue numerous flashbacks to remind everyone that Martha is, indeed, also the Batman’s mum’s name, as if we didn’t quite get it the first three hundred times. And it’s Lois Lane who magically appears in the exact roomn which the Batman has Superman cornered, under his foot, and at spearpoint, to clear up who Martha is. Does she have super-hearing as well?! Does she have Superman-tracking powers?!
Once both our mummy’s boys have made up, Superman goes off to face Luthor while the Batman goes off to save M-Maaaarthaaa! The Batman gets his job done, and only after he does, does Superman finally shows up in Metropolis. Luthor is disappointed neither have killed the other. And there’s another problem. While it’s fine and dandy that he wants Superman dead, why does he want the Batman dead, again?! To show that Superman’s not all good?! Big fucking deal.
He reveals he’s got a backup plan. Just before Batman v Superman, he’d started creating a hybrid (somehow) based on Zod’s and his own DNA, something far more capable of battering Superman than the Batman.
So WHY THE SNYDER DID HE MAKE SUPERMAN FIGHT BATMAN ANYWAY?! If anyone’s answer is: to weaken Superman, it doesn’t work. Superman is certainly not any weaker in this final battle. If anything, he’s stronger.
Whatever, they fight. The Batman becomes involved, as does Wonder Woman. And… Superman dies.
Oh, for fuck’s sake.
We’re only two movies in. Anyway, some dirt rises from Kent’s coffin right at the end, and… cut!
I’m done talking about this stupid plot.
The nost troubling issue with Batman v Superman is director Zack Snyder’s obsession with being “cool”. His insistence on framing every other shot as if it’s the defining moment of the segment it belongs to is one of the biggest drawbacks to his movies. After Man of Steel, it should’ve been apparent that his obsession with these “moments” were detrimental to making this sort of superhero movie. Snyder simply doesn’t have the restraint to pull this combination off (like, for instance, Nicolas Winding Refn’s Drive).
I get that Snyder’s reverence to the original panels is spot on, but that could’ve been handled without so much slow-motion and pandering to CGI-junkies.
The movie is also incredibly CGI heavy. I get it, Zack, sometimes it’s easier to cover up bullshit with CGI, but unlike the Avengers, which had only that one scene where the 3-D model stand-in for Captain America stood out like a sore thumb, this movie is completely riddled with instances of CGI so heavy that you can barely understand what’s going on on-screen. The whole “Doomsday-thing versus heroes” segment is the epitome of how overdoing CGI can be annoying as heck.
Can people please stop making these messy movies?! They really need to know their limits.
THE BATMAN/BRUCE WAYNE 2/10
Look, I quite like Ben Affleck as both an actor and a director, but whatever creature he’s playing… it’s not the Batman. This thing is an abberation. This is the Punisher in Halloween gear.
SUPERMAN/CLARK KENT 4/10
What a dumbshit.
The only reason I’m scoring this character so high is that at least he’s truer to his source material than most of the other characters in this movie.
I wish his powers and reaction to Kryptonite were more consistent, though.
LEX LUTHOR -2/10
So… this wimp is Lex Luthor. Gods, I really want to slap him upside the head.
I don’t get DC and this whole “younger villains” thing. First Luthor, then the Joker. Why the hell is this a thing?!
LOIS LANE 2/10
All Lois Lane is good for is screaming and falling off buildings and otherwise getting into situations from which Superman’ll have to save her. So much for that little jab in the beginning about her being a journalist and not a lady. FFS, she’s useless.
WONDER WOMAN/DIANA PRINCE 7/10
Okay, Wonder Woman is by far the best character on screen in this movie. Shame she’s barely in it, but it’s wonderful to get what little of her we do.
Again, a decent character, here. Shame, how she was used.
DOOMSDAY THINGIE 1/10
I really want to punch someone, here. THIS IS DOOMSDAY?! Did the people making this giant pile of poo have any idea who or what Doomsday is?
Okay, they have that thing where it’s not outright stated that this sack of mud and muscles is Doomsday, but what else could it be?
Also: how can it be an “ancient Kryptonian deformity”, if it’s blood of your blood, Lex?
Jeremy Irons is an absolute boss, and is the worthiest successor to Michael Caine there could ever be. This was the only casting choice I was genuinely excited about, and he knocks it out of the park.
SENATOR JUNE FINCH 7/10
A surprisingly good character in an otherwise abysmal movie.
He’s alright, I guess. Not really much to say about him.
This is not the movie I expected. I think it’s more than a little clear that this review is a little half-arsed, but that’s more to do with the fact that my problems with the movie number far too many for one post.
I’ve obviously not touched upon the dream sequences, the creature revealed to be Steppenwolf, Luthor’s stupid warnings at the very end of the movie, and other things.
There’s quite a lot I have to say about the future of the franchise and what’s been implied to come, but I’m going to dump it all into a separate blog post once I’ve recovered from this review (if I feel like it). That post will also serve as a place for me to further talk about this movie.
It doesn’t look all that promising, however.
Does this mean that all DCEU movies will be crap? I hope not, but things don’t bode well. Honestly, this movie is so damn bad, there’s not much further down to go. Unlike Costner Kent’s line, let’s hope it’s not all “downhill from here”.