Batman Vs Superman
Spoiler Free Review
If you don’t mind spoilers, scroll down a bit for the full review.
So… Batman Vs Superman is finally here. It feels like it’s been a long time hearing how bad a casting decision Ben Afffleck is for the role of Batman. So many angry words written online, before anyone had even seen the film. Now it’s finally released, how did he do?
He was the best bit of the movie.
He is convincing as an older, cynical and world-weary Bruce Wayne. And a darker, more aggressive Batman. That’s not to say Henry Cavill and Gal Gadot weren’t superb in their roles. Far from it. But Bats / Wayne get a significant chunk of screen-time, and Affleck uses it well, and sets about creating his own unique take on the roles. It would be unfair to say he’s easily my 3rd best Batman, behind a joint first with Bale and Keaton – as the lower end of the Batman spectrum is pretty poor indeed. But he’s easily up there with the better portrayals.
The one weak character was Lex Luthor, played by Jesse Eisenberg. He mixes his Social Network character up with a cheap Joker rip-off; resulting in one of the most famous super villains coming off as a millennial with severe psychological problems.
The action scenes are suitably well performed, although some of the later CGI characters felt a little weak; suffering from the “is that clay-mation” symptoms of older computer animation. Think more “Rock in Scorpion King” and less “Gollum in Lord of the Rings”.
As for the story – it flies along at a break-neck pace. In fact, this is its undoing. I will admit, I’m no comic-book expert. My love of these characters comes about from the movies, first and foremost. But as I understand it, Batman Vs Superman combines multiple comics into a single movie. And it feels like it, too. There is just too much happening, in a 2 hour 33 minute movie, to really feel things develop. Massive characters, that we’ve known for years in the existing movies, take minutes to completely throw away “what we know of them”, and change their formally defining principles. And just as quickly, turn a complete 180 degrees and march back from whence they came. The reasons for their fighting, and what comes afterwards, are so laughable as to be cringe-worthy.
After watching the movie, I spoke to a long-time DC fan who has also seen the movie, to ask questions about some of the concerns I had after viewing. Sadly, they shrugged and conceded “Yeah, it was kind of odd. Oh well. Roll on Justice League”, so I’m relieved it’s not merely the non-comic-book fan in me getting confused through a lack of background knowledge. The plot is pretty weak. A lot of things are set into place for the future movies; a lot of characters are hinted at, and given very brief cameos.
But I come away feeling that this movie would be one of the few occasions splitting it into two parts would have been a sensible choice, and not just a cash-cow. The characters were simply not given enough time to sell their decisions to the audience. It was really hard to understand their motives for the decisions they made.
A disappointing start to the new DC line of movies (unless you count Man Of Steel as the start, which it effectively is); an enjoyable action flick, but not a top dollar superhero movie, sadly.
Spoilers From Here – You’ve Been Warned!
Batman doesn’t trust Superman. Superman’s been told to kill Batman. Lex Luther has Superman over a barrel.
So it’s on.
The fight of the millennium. Or as Lex Luthor puts it “And now, you will fly to him, and you will battle him to the death. Black and blue. Fight night. The greatest gladiator match in the history of the world. God versus man. Day versus night! Son of Krypton versus Bat of Gotham!”.
That’s quite a build up.
And yet, 30 minutes later, they are best of friends again.
What causes this incredible change in their feelings towards one-another? Bats and Super’s mothers share the same first name!
Yes indeed, ladies and gentlemen. They were prepared to fight to the death, until this extraordinary detail comes to light. When Batman discovers this, he’s willing to move hell and earth in an attempt to keep Martha Kent safe. It is a moving and beautiful sight; only moments earlier, he was going to kill your son, lady!
And this is the break-neck pace I allude to above. It moves too quickly to feel in any way convincing. That Batman is now willing to kill, we are shown in his earlier battles with criminals. He is now willing to shoot people, stab people, and brand people. This Batman is very different to the one we have known before in the movies. But it is still a massive leap from being world-weary enough to kill criminals, to deciding “Hey, that dream I had where Superman was Hitler? That might come to be; let’s kill him and make sure it never happens!”. And Superman is able to hear Lois Lane drowning from across the city; how he can’t pinpoint Martha Kent I don’t know.
And as for Doomsday? That was a pretty underwhelming introduction to the series. I will admit I’ve not heard others criticise this, but to me, the CGI felt pretty weak. Maybe this is being picky. Maybe this is a spoilt “post Gollum” world. But for a Hollywood blockbuster, he felt pretty low budget. After complaining to a comic book friend about the introduction, I was given the “this is a canon Doomsday introduction; just not the one you probably know as a child of the 80’s” explanation. And in my humble opinion, Doomsday being a human / Krypton hybrid is nowhere near as cool as him being a crazy-ass rampaging Kryptonian creature. But that is just a personal quibble; there is more than enough clear issues with this movie to fixate on small issues like this.
As for the finale – it was a brave move, to finish the movie with Superman dying. Although it would have been braver still to do so without the “dirt floating off coffin / he is clearly not gone for good” conclusion, which ultimately robs the cliff-hanger ending of much of its suspense.
- Casting – especially Bathman / Affleck
- Action sequences
- Luthor / Eisenberg felt like a poor fit.
- Doomsday CGI was pretty weak.
- So much content that there’s never enough time to properly develop the story.
Some say that a superhero movie lives and dies by the strength of the villain. If that is the case, this movie is dead on arrival. The Luthor that is on display here is Joker Lite.
Superman and Batman distrust one another. They fight. They make up. Cliff-hanger ending. If it sounds a little by the numbers, that’s because it is. The one important thing a superhero needs to do, with its alien disconnection from real life, is to make us ‘care’ about what goes on. Do I care about what happened in the movie? Not in the slightest. A series of events occurred. Action scene to action scene, with basic filler.
I’ve heard talk that the movie was nearer 4 hours pre-editing, and I’ll keep my fingers crossed that it makes it to home release, as the pace is so break-neck that there is never enough time to explore why any character changes their feelings, on a six-pence, in a 5 minute period.