“Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice,” one of the most highly-anticipated comic book movies of the past decade, features the legendary clash between two of DC Comics’ most popular heroes.
It starts off with a bang. That sound you hear isn’t from an explosion, though, even if there are plenty in the film.
It’s from the sheer weight of the plot, overstuffed with characters and storylines, dropping like a ton of bricks.
The launching pad into the wider DC universe that Warner Bros. Pictures hopes can compete with Marvel’s domination at the box office reeks of incompetence from top to bottom.
“Batman v. Superman” is a film that tries to do everything at once and therefore fails at most of it. Fortunately, there are a few sparks of brilliance, however scarce they may be, that may leave fans of the budding franchise with a glimmer of hope.
The central issue of this film is that it is the cinematic equivalent of scrambled eggs. It feels like an unfocused film which doesn’t cultivate a particular storyline and rapidly ping-pongs from plot point to plot point.
The film unnecessarily competes with itself by bringing together three or four disparate threads into a cohesive story. Some plot elements are thrown in without ample time to explain, while others are introduced and immediately lost among all of the moving parts.
The result is a similar experience to “Iron Man 2” or “Avengers: Age of Ultron.” It is a film which tries to set up future installments while juggling all of the storylines, ranging from intimate to epic, and ultimately collapses under its own weight. Even the conflict at the core of the film feels like it goes from zero to 60 in no time flat.
“Batman v. Superman” isn’t just a comic book movie in the sense that it borrows characters and plot lines from comic book stories. It is a movie directed at a small section of the audience which actively reads these books and are more accepting of quirky narrative devices.
However, a movie is not a comic book and these moments will leave audiences with a puzzled look since they can’t be explained next month in the following issue. I could certainly discern what they were trying to do, but when a film needs someone to explain large portions then it has already failed.
Despite the structural problems of the film, there are moments worthy of praise, but they are buried under so much stuff that they can be hard to isolate from the larger film.
Ben Affleck is an excellent portrayal of a clearly unhinged Batman. He’s haunted by his futile quest to honor the memory of his parents and the powerlessness of his alter ego in comparison to the raw strength of Superman.
Gal Gadot captures the elegance and confidence that Wonder Woman should exude even though her character appears much too late into the film.
Jeremy Irons is amazing as a crusty Alfred Pennyworth who fires barbs at his employer constantly.
I do wish that Henry Cavill was given more to do as Superman. Supes was besieged throughout the movie by the public at large because of his overwhelming power and his unknown motives. Some saw him as a savior while others feared what could happen if he remained unchecked.
Unfortunately, Superman is never given the opportunity to address these questions or reassure the populace of his intentions. Why the writers didn’t give Superman a chance to defend himself publicly is beyond me, but it is disappointing.
“Disappointing” is a word that perfectly encapsulates Batman vs Superman. This could have been a film dealing with Superman’s impact on the world. The film could have focused on Batman trying to prove a point to the world at large that Superman isn’t all-powerful, that he can be beaten, and humanity shouldn’t fear or worship him.
To my chagrin, what we get is a fanboy trying to summarize 30 years of comic book history in two hours and thirty minutes. Warner Bros. and director Zack Snyder tried to cater to fans, the general audience, and their business interests.
What we ended up with is a bloated film too caught up in its hype.