Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice SPOILER-FREE Review
How could you not be excited for Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice? The trailers we've been watching for the past year have hyped this movie up to be the film of the century! For the first time ever, DC's most iconic superheroes Batman and Superman would be on screen together, and duke it out. How could Batman take on Superman? Why are they fighting? How does Wonder Woman and Doomsday fit into this? How will they set up the Justice League? These are all questions people had going into the movie. I was actually lucky to see the movie a couple days late, because the overtly negative critical ratings allowed me to check my expectations. They went from through-the-roof to normal excitement, which was the best thing I could have done in preparation for this film. Going in with my lowered expectations, I was interested to see what the movie brought to the table. Batman v. Superman has a lot of cool ideas and moments, but suffers from a lacking script and disjointed editing.
Eighteen months after the battle of Metropolis, depicted at the end of Man of Steel, the city is still recovering the damage done, and we see a political battle over Superman (Henry Cavill). On one end of the fight is Bruce Wayne (Ben Affleck), who sees Superman as an alien threat that he needs to take down. Everything goes into a collision when Batman takes on Superman as Lex Luthor (Jesse Eisenberg) watches from the sidelines, prepping his creation of Doomsday.
Let's start with the positives. Holy sh*t, Ben Affleck is awesome as Batman. He absolutely kills it, and steals the whole movie. Not only is he a brutal Batman, but he's great as Bruce Wayne. We don't see a lot of it, but he does bring the playboy billionaire facade to the table. Affleck will become the quintessential Bruce Wayne/Batman, I'm sure of it. His fight choreography is the best we've ever seen. People have been complaining about how he kills people, and it didn't necessarily bother me. He does kill a lot of people, but they're more casualties rather than him directly just killing people. It makes more sense when you see the movie. Jeremy Irons was great as Alfred. He has the sarcasm and snarkiness down perfectly. I think there was a more tangible emotional connection between Michael Caine and Christian Bale in The Dark Knight Trilogy, but Irons and Alfred can explore that dynamic more in later films.
Henry Cavill also does a great job as Superman again. I really enjoyed Man of Steel, and so I was excited to see how they continued the story. And it feels like they picked right where that film left off. Many people complained about the destruction of Metropolis, and they do a good job of addressing it. They set up a really interesting political question over Superman, and they do a really good job of showing what honest, realistic people would think of this alien. Batman's motivation for going after Superman is explicitly stated, and his development as a character is really the strongest part of this film. The filmmakers really wanted you to understand and stand behind Batman, and they do that marvelously. In fact, the first two thirds of the film are really good. It needed a little bit more livliness and momentum to it, but it was really good. It's the third act where it starts to go downhill.
The action, however, is fantastic in this film. Like all of Zack Snyder's films, the action is well shot and visually looks stunning. The best fight sequence is one where Batman takes down dozens of criminals, and it is breathtaking. That scene really cements why this Batman is the best Batman we have ever seen. It's honestly the best scene in the movie. The fight against Doomsday (which is shown in the trailer) was also really good. I did not like Doomsday, but I'll get into that later. I have to say, I was disappointed with the fight between Batman and Superman. It was a good fight, but for the movie spending two hours to get to it, and with the film being Batman v. Superman, I was expecting more than I got. Maybe my mind will change on subsequent viewings, but when from my initial viewing, I was a bit disappointed. Yet Gal Gadot was great as Wonder Woman. She doesn't have a huge part in the film, but she's great whenever she's on screen.
Now time for the negatives. Jesse f*cking Eisenberg. Holy sh*t, he almost sank this film. Every time he came on screen I'd bury my head in my hands. He could have been a good character, as an eccentric stuck up rich kid, but they took him way too far to the point where I couldn't believe what I was watching on screen. If they had toned him down just a bit it would have been fine, but they took so far that it felt like he wasn't even in the same movie. He was a one-dimensional cartoon character. I really liked his dialogue, but he just gave a poor performance. They also didn't establish his motivation well enough. It just wasn't clear why he was doing some of the things he was doing.
I don't agree with the critics that it's as bad as they're saying it is, because it's not at all. But it does have a lot of problems, and most of them stem from the screenplay. We know there's an extended cut, and that may fix all my problems with the film, because they come from missing key scenes that help with transitions. Characters will go from doing one thing to something else, and motivations are so skewed that if some scenes were added throughout the film to help bridge some of these transitions, then it would have been a million times better. This is a spoiler-free review, so I can't get into specifics, but if some scenes were interjected to help with the flow of the movie, not only would there be more life in the pace, but it would help the audience understand why characters do what they do. Like I said, this may be fixed with the extended cut.
I also did not like Doomsday. Like I said, I really liked the fight itself, but I did not like Doomsday and how he came to be. It's no secret anymore: it was shown in the trailer how Lex uses General Zod's DNA to create Doomsday. But Doomsday really serves no purpose except to be the uniting factor between the characters, which is also shown in the trailer. I think instead of Doomsday, they should have resurrected Zod and made him Bizarro, and they could have saved Doomsday for a different film.
Overall, Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice is not everything I had initially hoped it would be, but it was far better than the critics are making it out to be. Ben Affleck steals the show as Batman, and gives us our best version of the character yet. Henry Cavill is really good as Superman, and Gal Gadot kicks ass as Wonder Woman. The fight scenes are really good in this film, especially Batman's fight sequence. While I didn't care for Doomsday, that fight was also good. However, the Batman versus Superman fight was a bit of a letdown. The problems stem from a weak script that was missing scenes to help bridge gaps and explain character moments, and the editing was sloppy. Jesse Eisenberg was too over the top, and almost sank the film. However, while a little bit forced, the references to the other Justice League members was a cool moment. In the end, Batman v. Superman is a pretty good movie, but has a lot of problems that may sink it for some fans and critics.
What do you think? Have you seen Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice? Did you like it? Leave your (spoiler-free) thoughts in the comments section below.
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