[long meandering spoilers incoming]
Ben Affleck stated in interviews while on the publicity trail for this movie that it was too smart for him. Well I’m not sure what movie he was in or watching but there was nothing smart about this movie at all.
In point of fact one of its main problems is that it takes itself far too seriously and thinks it’s making profound and significant statements about power, god, responsibility and such, but it just doesn’t. In reality this movie is less like a wisened prophet espousing truths and far more like a first year philosophy/politics student that thinks they’re smarter than everyone else because they’ve read Atlas Shrugged.
The dialogue was all faux intellectualism that was delivered with, and meant to be taken with, 100% seriousness. The Dark Knight had its share of wankery when it comes to groan inducing dialogue that no person would ever say outside of a teenage girls diary (“You either die a hero or live long enough to become a villain” is still eye rollingly bad) but this movie was laden with far too much clunky and forced dialogue that it just dragged the movie down.
The problems begin with the very first scene when we get the obligatory “The Wayne’s get murdered and that’s why Bruce becomes Batman” spiel. I groaned audibly when I realised that that’s what we were getting. Again.
To be fair it was kept relatively short; though why we need this information in EVERY MOVIE WITH BATMAN IN IT is beyond me. The movie-going public know how and why Bruce Wayne became Batman, and if you’re not going to make any significant changes to the backstory there is really no need for it to continually be in these films.
Ben Affleck’s Batman was the sole shining light in the film. But they even managed to fuck that up. I appreciated that he actually did some light detective work, and I understand how 20 years of fighting crime may cause a vigilante to become more violent. That’s cool. It’s just a shame that this badass Batman is in this decidedly non-badass movie.
Throughout the entire movie I couldn’t help but think “If you’re going to do the cinematic version of the Batman from the seminal comic The Dark Knight Returns DO THAT! Not this half assed effort that tries to have it both ways.”
Angry-Murder-Batman is fine, but Angry-Murder-Batman that wants to be in a club for superfriends and work as a team because friendship is just, ugh.
Henry Cavill is dull. His Superman is dull and dour. There’s a scene in the movie, a montage sequence, which shows him being mopey while rescuing people, clearly illustrating that he wants to be anywhere else. In another scene Lois finds him moping on her balcony, he sullenly bemoans his existence briefly before flying off, again, all sullenly.
Now I kinda understand why Batman is a mopey dick. His parents were killed when he was young. Even though he was raised by a doting and caring paternal figure in his luxurious mansion, sure, whatever, he is still butthurt about his parents murder. Fine.
Superman on the other hand, I don’t get. In this DC cinematic universe his father died saving people (or was it a dog? I can remember, Man of Steel was completely forgettable) from a tornado. A natural disaster. Now if Superman had have spent his teenage years angrily studying weather patterns and how to physically combat them while knowing deep down that no matter what he does he will never be able to defeat them, then his grimness may have made sense.
Instead, after losing his father, he still had a mother to look after him, he wasn’t orphaned, and one has to imagine that she supported him and did his washing every few weeks when he came to visit Smallville over the holiday break from whichever University he attended while he studying journalism.
Yeah, at some point Superman undertook an unpaid internship, went to University for 4 years, prepared a resume and went to a job interview before getting his job at the Daily Planet.
It’s just doesn’t make sense that this version of Superman is so goddamn mopey.
This is a big problem. Having Batman be dark and moody is fine. Having Superman be dark and moody is fine. (I mean, it really isn’t but bear with me.)
Having both main characters be mopey and emo is a completely wasted opportunity and subsequently is partially responsible for creating this boring movie.
To remedy this, if you had Batman maintain his traditional role as the emo kid who grew up and became a ninja to avenge his parents deaths and play that against Superman’s naive optimism, desire to be accepted and his “do the right thing” attitude you have very disparate leads which could create a dynamic and interesting interplay between the movies two main protagonists. Both of which have valid points about their way being the best way to deal with villainous chicanery.
Instead we get Rage V Depression: The Movie. A completely missed opportunity.
The only contrast in this film, which must be purely unintentional, is the all encompassing drive to be taken as SPR SRS BZNSS and the absolute schlock that is the ending.
The final battle that involved Doomsday was utterly without heart. Not only did Doomsday look like a generic CGI Lord of the Rings Cave Troll but there were no stakes. Several times the audience was told, deliberately and completely without context, that there were no civilians in the area where the final battle was taking place. If there are no civilians, and we know our leads will be triumphant, who cares about all the explosions and fighting?
It’s all just so meh.
The script was a mess and completely incongruent. The characters had no motivation to do the things they were doing and this was simply because the writers didn’t show their work.
To illustrate the laziness of the script I give you this: In one scene Lois Lane throws a kryptonite spear into the water. A short time later, in a completely different scene/area, far away from where Lois threw away the spear, Batman and Alfred discuss how they need the spear. Now even though Lois doesn’t know this, because she’s not anywhere near the heroes when they decide they need it, she decides to go back and retrieve the spear that she threw away moments earlier.
Why did you do that Lois? Oh, yeah, because it was in the script. Sigh.
A further problem with the writing was that for 85% of the movie the main protagonist, Batman, and movie’s villain, Lex Luthor, share exactly the same goal – killing the movies second protagonist, Superman. We’re asked to understand and empathise with Batman’s quest to destroy Superman while we’re supposed to want Lex Luthor defeated for wanting the exact same thing. It makes no sense and is sloppy, sloppy writing.
Speaking of which, there’s a scene in which Batman was going to kill Superman until his ongoing blood feud was stopped by a COINCIDENCE! Not character development, not a new understanding, not another superpowered individual intervening, but by a goddamn coincidence. Just, ugh. I don’t even.
Jesse Eisenberg was at his Jesse Einsenberg-iest as Lex Luthor. Essentially playing Lex Luthor as Mark Zuckerberg turned up to 11. You’re mileage may vary. I did somewhat agree that the world should have a contingency plan for this alien that has already levelled Metropolis causing extreme levels of property damage and killing thousands of civilians. But, as the main culprit of the awkward, clunky, overly serious dialogue, I ended up just rolling my eyes more often than not.
The secondary characters barely mattered. Amy Adams was fine as Lois Lane. But as Lois Lane was more a plot convenience than an actual character it didn’t really matter. Lois was always turning up when the script demanded it solely to move the story forward. She had no real depth as an actual character.
Jeremy Irons was wasted as Alfred. He bought nothing new to the character, a pivotal role that Michael Caine made his own.
Laurence Fishburne as Perry White? I don’t know. I don’t understand why in the blue hell Perry White was so insistent that Clark cover the local football match instead of THE BAT LIKE VIGILANTE KILLING CRIMINALS IN GOTHAM? Fuck.
Gia Gadot looked good as Wonder Woman and while it’s great to see a female superhero that can hold her own with the strongest of the group (and not be relegated to babysitting Hawkeye) Gia Gadot CAN NOT ACT. I have zero desire to watch her in a 2 hour plus Wonder Woman stand alone film.
Which brings me to DC’s ongoing efforts to mirror the success Marvel has had with their shared universe. With this film DC has blown their load far too early. Half of the Justice League play together and the end result is so overwhelmingly meh that it kills any interest in further shared universe films.
If you can’t do Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman, the big three of DC’s superheroes, in an entertaining and coherent way there’s no way in hell I trust you enough to figure out how to make Cyborg, Aquaman and Martian Manhunter compelling.
Also, just randomly:
– The numerous and unnecessary dream sequences add nothing to the narrative and only serve to confuse and add to the long runtime. And there are huge periods of time where nothing of note happens at all.
– The extremely lazy foreshadowing was just awful. The number of times someone said “Clark Kent meets Bruce Wayne! Remarkable!” or “No one wants to see Clark Kent fight Batman” or something similar was tedious beyond belief. It’s called Batman V Superman. Enough. We get it.
– The editing was terrible too. There was very little in the way of establishing shots making the movie feel like it was three separate puzzles tipped onto the floor that the film makers just slapped together to form one disjointed narrative.
– The movie also suffers from at least 6 endings. With a duration of two and a half hours I well and truly wanted it to end after ending number three. The ending after ending did not help me feel any better about choosing to spend my time and money of this movie.
In the end this movie tries to espouse lofty ideas about god, power, and responsibility but ultimately it’s as deep and meaningful as a Saturday morning 80’s cartoon. The only message it kinda shows the audience is that friendship is good. I think.
There was a somewhat entertaining Batman movie in there; it’s just a shame that it was diluted by almost everything else.