RELEASED: March 25th 2016
DIRECTED BY: Zack Snyder
WRITTEN BY: Chris Terrio & David S. Goyer
PRODUCED BY: Charles Roven & Deborah Snyder
MUSIC BY: Hans Zimmer & Junkie XL
STARRING: Ben Affleck, Henry Cavill, Amy Adams, Jesse Eisenberg, Jeremy Irons, Diane Lane, Gal Gadot, Laurence Fishburne & Holly Hunter
What if Batman was real?
A figure so traumatised by a childhood event that he dresses up as a devilish creature and administers his own brand of ‘justice’ to those he feels deserves it. He would be brutal, unrelenting and focused; he would have a complete disregard for the lives of those he pursues.
This is definitely the case in this milestone superhero movie epic. Batman takes down criminals with a brutality akin to his fighting style in the Arkham games; his fight choreography is both beautiful and harsh. It works well, until the film gets to its titular battle, at which point all that brutality is focused on Superman. At which point you’re once again reminded just what you’re watching: Something unpleasant.
Batman v Superman was a film that held a lot of promise. It was meant to be, as Lex Luthor states “The greatest gladiator match in the history of the world”.
But in DC’s desire to match Marvel’s cinematic universe, it went too far; failing to focus on what the film actually should have been about. On paper, the idea that Superman, a godlike figure who could destroy the world if he wanted, would attract scrutiny from men like Batman and Lex Luthor, makes for a good film. But after gaining our trust with Man of Steel, Zach Snyder promptly squandered it, ham-handedly throwing in Justice League cameos and irrelevant dream sequences (one of which is somehow orchestrated by the Flash?) which add nothing to the plot and are more confusing than helpful.
Not only is it plagued with unnecessary storytelling, but the direction itself is something rather tragic. The film jumps about from Clark in Metropolis, to Bruce in Gotham, to Clark in the Africa, to Lex in Metropolis, to Bruce having another unnecessary dream, to Wonder Woman wandering around, to etc. etc. with no real time spent to trying to justify what’s going on. And if Snyder’s jumpy film-cutting hadn’t already put you off, all the laser-beams and explosions that completely blot out everything that’s going on will.
The writing is also a mess. Whilst characters like Jeremy Iron’s Alfred and Laurence Fishburne’s Perry White offer humorous little breaks from the rather maddening plot-line and begin to bring the film back to reality, other characters like Ben Affleck’s Bruce Wayne and Jesse Eisenberg’s Lex Luthor stop that in its tracks, speaking in unnecessary and unbelievable grandiose styles that really don’t fit the piece.
And then there’s Wonder Woman, who doesn’t really say much. She’s suggested to be a mysterious bad-ass, but then barely features and has all her appearances drummed out by horrific rock theme-music.
The messiness of the film is at its most apparent right at the end, where they orchestrate the ‘Dawn of Justice’. Throughout the film, the Flash, Aquaman and Cyborg are seen ever so briefly, and at its conclusion, Bruce states that they must find the ‘others’ as he knows there is a greater threat coming than Superman or Doomsday.
Why is it Bruce deciding this? Because obviously he’s pretty much the main character. His Batman is efficient, his motivations drive the narrative and his quest is told in full. Meanwhile, poor Henry Cavill’s Clark Kent is naught but a side piece; a ragdoll for Batman to fling around after exposing him to Kryptonite.
I said in my review of Man of Steel that the fact the focus wasn’t entirely on Clark was okay, because Man of Steel is it’s own little thing. Not neccessarily the start of a superhero franchise, but just a good, standalone science-fiction movie. But if you were going to turn it into the start of the franchise, then the next Superman film needed to build off that solid foundation. Unfortunately, if you’re a fan of Superman, I’d warn you to stay away from this film, because it basically should have been advertised (if you’ll excuse my use of expletives) as ‘FUCK SUPERMAN’.
All-in-all, I give it:
I mean seriously, what the fuck.
Spoiler alert, but how can you think killing Superman off in the second film is a good idea?
What a disappointment.