SPOILERS…. just to be on the safe side.
Okay, so once again, I’ve ended up watching the next cinematic superhero movie of the year and then procrastinated as the rest of the world spoke out about it’s mixed feelings on DC’s second expanded universe story.
First off I am a bit anxious writing this because I am a big DC fan and I had huge faith for this film at the start. I watched it on the midnight viewing, nervous from the early reviews and wondering if I was going to sleep before the end of the film. After walking out of the cinema at like 2:45 in the morning of Good Friday, I felt an odd sense of something that was between ‘that wasn’t half bad. That was alright in terms of what I was expecting’ to ‘I’m not sure I got all of that story, I have my questions’.
Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice is a surreal, complex, unstable story; more a serious pseudo-realism based fantasy (if that makes sense) with gritty elements representing the seemingly severe consequences of power and its price in an oddly placed and undesired location; a movie in which the quintessential symbol of hope fights the archetype of humanity’s sense of justice and achievement. Yet the problem in criticising this is based on the fact that the characters lack reflection to their ‘ink-based counterparts’. Superman is represented in the film as a self-doubting and unfocused gloomy shadow of his recognisable self, whereas Batman is a destructive, unstable and mind-lacking individual who seems to be excused for his out-of-character representation because someone on the desk thought “because he’s Batman, he can do whatever” was enough description to make lots of money with minimum effort; a mantra which seems to have worked given the success of the film financially compared to critically.
Though this does seem to represent the film in a negative way with its Super-protagonists, I did actually quite enjoy the acting of many of the stars in this film. Ben Affleck’s Batman was a strong character that I do forgive for his actions given the difference in this film’s history compared to the comic history, which has lasted many decades. Henry Cavill’s Superman was also enjoyable to watch but is still in need of been a strong-hearted and inspiring superhero. Both actors were also exceptional in playing their more ‘human’ halves, Bruce Wayne and Clark Kent and I give a lot of credit for both actors’ attempting to isolate the man and the superhero so brilliantly.
As for the other characters, the film builds itself on there being an unusual blur of activity which puts them in and out of the drama and the action. A favourite for me was Gal Gadot’s portrayal of Diana Prince who later becomes, surprise, Wonder Woman. The Diana Prince moments were a little too simple but felt more necessary than just having Wonder Woman ‘crash the party’. Still although somewhat not needed until later films, Wonder Woman was a fun spark of energy in this slow, serious film. As for Lex Luthor, portrayed by Jesse Eisenberg, I found that the times he was charming, Luthor was quite an interesting and appropriate villain. This unfortunately was seldom and what we end up having in huge-pieced scenes is a man who is unsubtly having a mental breakdown because Superman is real. This is manifested in him trying to hold back, from the rest of the world, his capricious tantrum-like need to say that knowledge is power, therefore it’s just not fair that knowledge is not as powerful as been an alien that has superhuman abilities manifested from the multi-decade process of absorbing solar energy. I will also put a small comment about my enjoyment of Jeremy Irons as Alfred. There isn’t that much of him in the movie but he is worth giving a credit to.
As for the film itself, well as I saw it, as a whole, it was an unstable story; poorly directed, with an overload of information and drama sequences. The bizarre feeling the film gives off is there from the start; a somewhat unneeded surrealism. The film’s start plays of with a young Bruce Wayne running from his parents’ funeral whilst having, I guess, flashbacks of the night they are killed, which, to be fair, is so stapled in Batman-based films, television shows, and video games, that someone did make a video showing how many times this has been shown.
This then transfers to Master Wayne falling into a cave of bats who fly around him and magically make him levitate into the sky. This turns out to be a dream Bruce Wayne has. Just the magic bats bit not the dead parents bit. There are a lot of dream sequences and scenes of people having prescience that make you think if it’s a premonition, a warning from a higher power or a weird dream. I personal found these scenes annoying and saw them more as deleted scene-material than much-needed drama. They just make the film itself seem like its on acid.
N.B: Before I move on from this paragraph I would like a add, since I’m speaking of deleted scenes, that the deleted scene that WB released on YouTube, same days after the film, shouldn’t have been a deleted scene and was helpful in giving the film a stronger ending instead of the studio acting all smart because they have all the answers and I just have 10 years of comic-book knowledge that I can only use as is needed. Dear WB. You shouldn’t feel like you’re competing against the fans, work for the fans a bit more. Oh and for anyone whose interested here’s the scene that was taken out so we can see Kevin Costner on a mountain.
As for the directing and the skeleton of the film, its pulp fiction-style genre-jumping playfulness was unnecessary. Some scenes were flavourless, as suggested previous, which is surprising in a film that attempts all flavours just to prove, in my opinion, that it is just as sharp and attention worthy as Marvel. The fact that the film has a lot of stuff in it is I guess could be somewhat okay because the more I think about BvS: DoJ, the more it feels like watching a storage team move stuff into someone’s house. It’s not that interesting to watch, sometimes there a bit of clumsiness, and then there is a tea break where there is no action (if you can imagine moving a sofa as a cinematic feat of action). Nevertheless in the end you get to look at everything put into place and that was what I felt this film felt like it was doing. The film has a number of satisfying moments which make me want to anticipate this extended universe DC is building yet as a film on its own, Batman v Superman is not great but a bit of interest in the comic community right now until this Civil War stuff gets put on the cinema screens. I do also have to say I walked out of Batman v Superman more positive than I did when I watched Age of Ultron to be honest. Nevertheless, at the end of the year I do see this film been in the list of films which look big but that people have forgotten, just a little bit.
Oh one other thing. This film has a lot of references and Easter eggs which is what you expect from a two and a half hour trailer of what DC comics is doing in its future films so I hope that the Flash, Aquaman, Cyborg and the Justice League films do well once they come to the finishing line.