Movie Review: Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice

Comic fans have been clamoring to see Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice ever since it was announced shortly after the release of Man of Steel. Opinions have been fired off like a gun for everything dealing with this movie from the director, Zack Snyder, and his style to the casting of Ben Affleck as Batman. Fans and critics alike have hypothesized and tried to predict how the movie would fare at the box office. And now that the movie has been out for a few weeks, reactions have been all over the place.

The movie picks up directly at the end of Man of Steel, with Superman battling Zod in Metropolis. During the fight, Bruce Wayne arrives and witnesses the destruction first hand. Wayne sees what the damage does to the people of the city and knows that he must be the one to stop Superman from doing this again. Fearing that the alien superhero could possibly demolish a city at will, Wayne suits up as Batman and starts the battle against Superman. But, in between the two heroes is Lux Luthor, a brilliant, but troubled young man, who soon decides to ignite the hatred Batman has for Superman.

There is plenty more to the story obviously, but I do not want to spoil anything for anyone. As for my opinion on the movie, I was completely split. There are a few things I like and a few I didn’t like. At times I was excited for future DC releases. But there were also times I wondered why DC just cannot do a movie right, especially when it involves Superman.

What I did like was the acting. Henry Cavill was still a good Clark Kent/Superman. I liked him in Man of Steel and I still like him here. Ben Affleck was unanimously criticized for being the choice to portray Bruce Wayne/Batman when it was announced, but I thought he did a wonderful job as the Dark Knight. His portrayal as an older and rough around the edges Batman was great. To me, he is easily my third favorite actor behind the cowl in all of the Batman films. And his Batman was far different from the Batman Keaton or Bale portrayed. Gal Gadot, for what screen time she had, was good as Diana Prince/Wonder Woman. And I even really enjoyed Jesse Eisenberg’s portrayal of Lex Luthor despite not thinking I would at all. And then the supporting cast of Amy Adams, Diane Lane, Laurence Fishburne, and Jeremy Irons were all great as well.

A couple of other things I did enjoy also were some of the settings and the general outline of the story. The settings are important for setting the tone in most movies and it did that job in this movie. Metropolis was usually lit up and brighter than Gotham, which seemed to always look dirty and sketchy. I like to think that Metropolis is kind of like what the current day New York City looks like while Gotham is maybe more like NYC in the 70’s and 80’s when it had a lot more of a grittier and scarier look to it. Well, at least in films it did. And the general story was fantastic. It was a believable storyline and great way to bring these two heroes together.

But the movie also had its negatives. And I’ll begin with that story. I think it took way too long to get into the action. Let’s face it, Batman’s backstory has been in the movies enough. I don’t think we needed to see a young Bruce Wayne witnessing his parents’ murder again or see him falling down a well and bats coming at him. We know the story folks! And the way he went back up the well? Really?

Another disappointment was the look of Doomsday. That thing looked terrible from the start. I mean, first we have a near miss of seeing a dead General Zod’s man region. Then we are given a creature that doesn’t look as good as it could have? It now rivals the Abomination from The Incredible Hulk movie as the most incredibly crappy CGI villain in comic movie history. Dare I say that even the Ghost Rider looked better? And I mean the actual Ghost Rider character. Not the movie or even the character when it was in Nic Cage form!

But I think my biggest complaint is Zack Snyder. The director took a lot of criticism for Man of Steel but I didn’t seem to mind that film. But in Batman v Superman, I opened my eyes to how badly I want his style to go away. Sure, I was and still am a huge fan of his remake of Dawn of the Dead. It’s a great film and one of the best horror remakes ever. And Watchmen was pretty good as well. And 300 is a great movie. But that style of slowly moving action and focusing on things to an extreme should have ended with 300. It doesn’t work in this movie and it bothers me the most out of everything. I believe the look of this movie could have benefited greatly with another director behind the scenes. And it pains me to know that he will be returning to do the Justice League films. Hopefully, Suicide Squad comes out and it a surprise hit and does so good that the executives consider making a switch at director. I know I surely have been itching to see Suicide Squad and probably a little more than this movie.

Audiences are not fools. We are fans and we know what we want. We want action and adventure. We want the mysterious and the surprising. We don’t want repeated back stories, slow-moving shots of characters walking, and close-ups of a breaking necklace. While I still enjoyed Batman v Superman overall, I really hope something is done to mix up the next set of films. Snyder does not seem to be the answer. If he cannot do this, DC will never be able to think they are even close to sharing any of the spotlight that Marvel has. They are still far behind them now and could sink even further down if they don’t get this right. And it really is a shame considering that I believe that they have mostly better characters and a much edger tone than Marvel.

Daryl Karpinski, Jr.