Picture one of the most beautiful people you have ever seen. The most beautiful face, a voice like an angel, the body of a greek god/goddess. But as soon as they open their mouth, you realize that they have nothing original to say and are nearly impossible to be around. This is the best analogy that I can think of to describe the 2016 film Batman V. Superman: Dawn of Justice. Directed by Zack Snyder and starring Ben Affleck and Henry Cavill, the movie is absolutely beautiful, with gorgeous set pieces (which I am a sucker for), well executed fight scenes, and great CGI effects. But digging deeper into the film, you will find a disorganized story, weak character motivation, and an overall lack of direction.
I could not have been more hyped for this movie going in. Being a huge DC comics nerd, the thought of finally being able to see “The Man of Steel” and “The World’s Greatest Detective” go face to cowl made me quake in anticipation. Batman and Superman have fought many times within the comics, including the legendary Batman: The Dark Knight Returns and Batman: Hush, but this was the first time the two would fight on the silver screen. The story takes place several years after the events of Man of Steel and the destruction of Metropolis. The world is becoming weary about Superman (Henry Cavill) and his role as the world’s protector, with the US government trying to determine the legality of what Superman is doing. Batman (Ben Affleck) determines that Superman cannot remain unchecked and decides to take him head on. Meanwhile, the mysterious “Wonder Woman” (Gal Gadot) is lurking in the background and Lex Luthor (Jesse Eisenberg) begins experimenting with Kryptonian technology.
First, the positives. For the most part, the acting was great. Ben Affleck especially did a fantastic job of portraying a darker, more violent, and more brutal Batman from what we are used to seeing in film. At first, Jesse Eisenberg as Lex Luthor was very hard to watch, but by the end I had become used to his erratic movements and personality. In terms of what the viewer was actually looking at, the movie excelled. The fight scenes were expertly choreographed, with just the right amount of brutality to make you feel the punches that were being thrown. Batman’s gadgets were very well designed, and the look of the new Batsuit was extremely cool. This movie gave me plenty of “holy crap!” Moments, including a scene where Batman is shot point blank in the head, but the bullet is deflected by his cowl, leaving a burst of sparks. Wonder Woman was amazing, with her reveal being one of the most satisfying moments of the film
As much as I hate to admit it, this movie did have many flaws, however most of the issues were related to the story and writing. The biggest offence for me was the shoehorning in of the other superheroes of the Justice League. DC was attempting to do with this movie what Marvel did in 2008 with Iron Man: the foreshadowing of future movies and an eventual cross franchise extravaganza. Unfortunately, I found myself screaming internally when the other Justice League members were finally introduced. No effort or care was taken to introduce these legendary superheroes, being used instead only to gain traction for the next series of movies. As a hardcore DC comics fan, this was inexcusable. As for the other characters, many of their character motivations did not make sense. Wonder Woman is in this movie in the first place because… reasons? Batman decides to fight Superman with a train of thought that makes no sense. His reasoning boils down to, “He potentially has the chance of maybe deciding to destroy the entire earth if he wants to.” Quite literally, if the two talked for longer than 20 seconds, they would realize that neither of them are bad guys, and then the movie would literally not happen. The story truly hits its low point at the end, but for the sake of more potential spoilers, let’s just say that the movie does not set the future sequels in a very good position. I feel like Zack Snyder let his ambitions lead his directing, leaving us with very mediocre writing and story.
Leaving the theater on premiere night, I was conflicted. Did I enjoy myself with awesome action, cool set pieces and the fight of a lifetime? Or did I hate the mess of story and writing? In the end, I decided that I did in fact enjoy myself. As a DC fanboy, I was left extremely disappointed, but as a regular moviegoer I found myself quite entertained. I would not recommend this movie to everyone, this including people who did not see Man of Steel and those who are not interested in superhero movies (as this movie does very little that other superhero movies have not done before). But for the rest of you, if you can slog through the bad story and writing, you will more than likely enjoy yourself during Batman V. Superman: Dawn of Justice.
Final rating: C+