Film Review: Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice

by Chad Liffmann on March 29, 2016

Why so serious?

Face to face. Angry man v angry man. Grumble v grumble.

Face to face. Brooder v brooder. Mano y mano (with guns and gadgets)

“Hey everyone, Batman is fighting Superman!” <<everyone rushes to the schoolyard>> “Aw, is it over?” “Yeah, it didn’t last long and it wasn’t too exciting, but they promised to fight someone else together next time.” There you have it — that’s a pretty good summary of the disappointing DC tent event, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. What ends up functioning as a 2 hr 40 min movie trailer for an pending Justice League movie is enjoyable at times but mostly a mess of style over substance. Anyone familiar, and probably critical, of director Zack Snyder’s work won’t be surprised by this. There was so much (tentative) hype for BvS that it would’ve been nearly impossible for it to live up to the expectations, but hey, The Force Awakens pulled it off so BvS has no excuse. BvS is disappointing on so many levels, save a surprisingly stellar Ben Affleck as Batman, because its favors more over less, background over foreground, and a serious tone over a fun one.

I, for one, didn’t care to see another Batman movie in the universe and mood that Christopher Nolan crafted in his Dark Knight trilogy. Dark and brooding, nightmarish and politically relevant, Nolan’s Batman films had made their mark but I didn’t envision Superman, never mind the collective of heroes that make up the Justice League, ever fitting into the Nolan aesthetic. Unfortunately, Zack Snyder not only embraced most of Nolan’s tone, but added his own wacky sense of overly dramatic, CGI-filled flair to it. (hint: they combine as well as oil in water) Every moment I thought that I was about to start enjoying myself (ya know, having fun?), the movie would bum me out again and get super serious and confusing. And I don’t buy the reasoning, “well it’ll be important in the next movie. You just don’t understand the significance yet.” F that! I spent nearly 3 hours in a theater watching a $250 million price tag movie and it can’t even supply me with a coherent story? I call shenanigans!

I’ll give BvS one thing — Affleck is awesome. He brings a noticeable depth to his brooding, unlike the cardboard cutout opposite him wearing a big S. My first thought after the film was boy, I’d really like to see a standalone Batman film starring Affleck. While I do believe that Henry Cavill is a better actor than he’s displayed in the two Superman films in which he’s served, he is completely outshone here by Affleck, and nearly by a few side characters: Laurence Fishburne is the only actor having any fun as Perry White, the sarcastic Editor-in-Chief of the Daily Planet and boss to the charming but one note Lois Lane (Amy Adams), Jeremy Irons as the wise but over-the-hill butler to the Dark Knight, Alfred, and Jesse Eisenberg as a Looney Tunes version of Lex Luthor. Eisenberg steals a few scenes, but by the end he’s more of a forced caricature than a character, and it’s a disservice to the iconic villain that he ended up being portrayed that way. Oh well.

And everything is so darn epic and serious when it’s not epic and doesn’t need to be serious! Why is Zimmer’s score hitting some bombastic choral notes when Lex Luthor is simply walking into a room? Why is so much time spent rehashing an origin story that we’ve seen a thousand times before? (hint: it’s Batman’s) If you’re gonna overwhelm a story with plot lines, at least cut the redundant uselessness out and instead focus on the shiny new characters that deserve some attention, like Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman, or even Lex Luthor. The filmmakers just seemed to have had their eye on the prize but not on the proper way to get there. As long as we felt like we were watching something significant and monumental, then the film would be a success. The problem is that this movie should’ve been easily monumental and significant without trying hard. It’s not difficult to sell the story of Batman fighting Superman! Batman. Is fighting. Superman. Do you really need to crowd the story with anything else? When the Dodgers play the Giants, do they also invite the Padres onto the field? Heck no!


Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice opens in theaters Friday, March 25th.


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