Zack Snyder has kinda lost it. I mean, listen, I’ve felt like he’s the M. Night Shymalan of superhero movies; each successive film he makes gets worse than the last. And that trend has culminated in the heroic mess that is Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.
After the events of Man of Steel, some people think Superman is their hero. But some people happen to think Superman is one man with too much power going unchecked. He could potentially destroy the world if he wanted to and no one could stop him. One of the people that believes this is Bruce Wayne, aka Batman. He is so sure of it that he vows to kill Superman. While all this is brewing, Lex Luthor has a plan of his own. He manages to create an uber powerful creature called Doomsday that could destroy, well, you know…blah blah blah. I mean, the thing is called DOOMSDAY, right? So Batman and Superman must put aside their differences and together, along with Wonder Woman, must stop Lex Luthor and Doomsday from destroying Metropolis.
So, there is a LOT of stuff happening here. The problems are many. For starters, much of what this is based on is the Frank Miller four-part comic series The Dark Knight Returns. Now, in this story arc, for those that don’t know, Batman/Bruce Wayne is now 55 years old and comes out of retirement when crime is becoming rampant. Ok, so in this film, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, Bruce Wayne/Batman is older too- he’s been fighting crime for 20 years. And yet, THIS is the first time he’s meeting Superman? That already sets up a LOT of problems regarding the plans to make a Justice League movie. You’re already starting with a middle-aged Batman. What?
The acting is generally fine, with the exception of the fact that the script is so bad everyone is saying stupid stuff. Ben Affleck is passable as Wayne/Batman, but he is fairly flat – pretty one note. He’s humorless, and even when he meets Diana Prince at a party thrown by Lex Luthor, he doesn’t switch on any of the Wayne charisma or charm. Oh, and Lex Luthor, played by Jesse Eisenberg, comes across more like a twitchy guy with daddy issues who occasionally loses control and veers into unhinged behavior. Luthor should be cold, calculating and always seem in control. This Luthor is not.
THEN they had to add Doomsday into the mix. Somehow they managed to make Doomsday from the dead body of General Zod. That doesn’t really make any sense, but then, there’s a lot of that sort of thing going on in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.
In fact, that is one of the biggest problems here. I understand writing stories that are slightly different from the original comics or canon, but when you take stories from numerous sources and story lines and shoehorn them together, you can get a new story that just doesn’t have the narrative and emotional weight of the original source material. And WOW, is that what happened here. There is a lot of big, fun, action in this. Cool superhero type battles and occasionally some cool scenes, but it’s all just flash and no substance. All the emotional weight is gone from the fight between Batman and Superman. All the emotional weight is gone from the Doomsday battle because you KNOW how it’s going to turn out – there’s a Justice League movie coming, remember?
And on top of that, there are just some really silly, inexplicable things that happen. Two dream sequences that are just nonsense and unnecessary – even detrimental to the narrative. And I’d love to say that having Wonder Woman in this saves it, but it doesn’t. Gal Gadot looks the part, but doesn’t show us that she has the acting chops to pull it off. And I won’t even go into the set up for the other League characters. Oy.
Look, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice is indeed a mess, especially to anyone that really loves the comic source material this is derived from. On the small positive side, people that don’t know anything about these characters or their stories, might find all the big fights and explosions fun. I saw this in a full theater and the guy next to me said he loved it – got exactly what he was expecting, which I think was just a big slugfest. Hey, if that’s what you wanted, then you got it. But scratch the surface and there’s not a lot underneath.
I can’t imagine Warner Bros. is happy with this film, despite the fact that a ton of people – me included – bought tickets weeks in advance for this shit. This is obviously going to make a bunch a money this weekend anyway. But I can’t recommend this. Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice gets a generous 2 kittenhands. DC Entertaiment is really blowing it in the film department by letting their writers/directors have more freedom to control the material. And how did David S. Goyer and Chris Terrio screw this one up? Goyer co-wrote Batman Begins and The Dark Knight, and then he does this? How vexing.
~ Neil T Weakley, your average movie-goer, now REALLY worried that David Goyer is set to write the upcoming Sandman film. *que wringing of hands here*