...so you've probably heard of this little movie that opened this weekend called Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice.
I know, that name's a mouthful.
Chances are you've probably heard how well the critics received it as well.
In case you haven't, there you go:
Yeah, it's a critical darling.
I finally watched the movie today after two whole days of being met with sold out shows, and well, I've got a few things to say.
First off, let me just say it out loud - it isn't as bad as the review scores are making it out to be. It is by no means a good film, there's enough to frustrate you to a point where you might wanna walk out of the theatre, and it's an absolute narrative mess, but I'm not exactly sure if it's as bad as the 30% it's got. It's nowhere near the quality of The Dark Knight, but it is nowhere near the trainwreck that Fant4stic was.
I think the 30% is more of a representation of what an utter disappointment it is, because believe me, it is. Not in an overstuffed and undercooked Age of Ultron or The Amazing Spider-Man 2 kind of way, but more of a crush your soul and rip your heart out kind of way.
We waited 3 years for this? This is what Zack Snyder makes after all his talk of DC being a director driven cinematic universe?
The film's flaws unquestionably outnumber it's strengths, but the bright spots that do exist, oh yes, they are bright.
Let's talk about the positives first.
1. Ben Affleck
Perhaps no one laughed harder when they announced Ben Affleck to be the next Batman and right now, perhaps no one feels more embarrassed than I do.
This guy completely owns the role and he brings a brutality and Goth horror quality to his Batman that is so essential of the character. His Bruce Wayne is very competent too, with a borderline alcoholic James Bond-ish persona that is a nice change from Christian Bale.
Every scene of the movie he was in was elevated to a whole new level, that's how good he was.
And not once does Batman feel like he's being unreasonable, Affleck makes you feel empathetic towards him with his acting chops. I'd say we forgive him for the atrocities he's been in up until this point of his career because this definitely makes up for them.
2. Sight and Sound
We've all known Zack Snyder to be a visual maestro and it shows here. Every scene feels so carefully put together and thoughtfully shot that it looks like a piece of art.
This hyperstylized direction is what makes 300 so endearing, and it's present here too. Zack Snyder and the Director of Photography deserve a big pat on the back.
There is however one issue I had with some scenes, and it's that Zack Snyder's famous grey colour palette overpowered them.
Left: What a Superman costume actually looks like.
Right: What Zack Snyder prefers it to look like.
This was a problem in Man of Steel too, as shown in the colour corrected image.
While I personally don't mind a slightly darker hue, sometimes it was overdone, as if Zack Snyder applied too many Instagram filters where none were needed.
Moving on to the soundtrack, it was PHENOMENAL. It complemented the action on-screen perfectly, and Hans Zimmer and Junkie XL have created a riotous and infectious soundtrack that you wouldn't mind having on your phone either.
3. Wonder Woman, for the most part
I loved Gal Gadot's take on Wonder Woman. A lot of people criticized her for being too skinny and model-like, but to hell with them, seeing her in action, you can't imagine anyone else as Wonder Woman trust me. In fact, it was her entry that drew the most applause in my theatre.
It's true that she didn't need to be here in the movie, her entry is supremely convenient and her appearance throughout supposedly random moments in the film is unnecessary and clunky, but for whatever amount of time she shows up on-screen, she definitely lights up the whole atmosphere and makes the whole thing supremely enjoyable.
...and now on to what didn't work.
1. Unexplored Themes
The opening sequence explored the theme of ground realities in major events such as 9/11 and their fallout.
The film raises some very interesting questions and tries to deal with some very complex themes, but ultimately they never go anywhere.
The whole movie essentially hinges on the fallout from Man of Steel, and the opening scene does deliver by showing how the survivors of these major events are affected, but that was the only impacful event of the entire movie because it had to be.
This scene requiring Superman to answer for his actions should have been more meaty and explored his psyche.
There are other very interesting questions raised such as do we need a Superman? Can all this power be contained? These questions could have a whole movie unto themselves but they're quickly glossed over without a glance and that was a bit unfortunate.
2. Why so serious?
Can't you tell how much fun he's having?
I'm not against serious movies. A certain level of gravitas is needed or you risk becoming Batman and Robin, but you cannot go so far in the opposite direction that your seriousness borders on self-parody.
I think that's one thing Dawn of Justice really struggled with. Much of the seriousness felt forced, and there were a couple of moments where the film lightened up for a second and they were genuinely the most interesting moments of the film.
Not every movie has to ape Marvel and go into quipping overdrive, but a few moments of levity here and there don't hurt either.
3. Extremely Poor Storytelling
I don't know who to blame for this. The script was written by David Goyer, who was involved on the superb The Dark Knight Trilogy and Chris Terrio, who won an Academy Award for Argo. I find it impossible to believe that these two talented men gave it their best shot and ended up with this script, because this script is just plain bad.
Perhaps it was the studio then, with all their forced Justice League world-building points? No, Zack Snyder has said that the studio let him do what he wanted.
Then that leaves us with one man - Zack Snyder himself. He's always prioritized style over substance and it's most apparent here. Scenes follow one after the other without any sense. Things happen that are not explained. Things happen that shouldn't be happening. There's no explanation, you're just supposed to sit back and take in all the dumb, illogical nonsense you're being served with. After a point, even suspension of disbelief is not a defense.
The unnecessary additions of things and characters (Doomsday, Wonder Woman) can be accepted to a certain extent, but basic logic issues cannot, and trust me, this movie does not stand up to even the most briefest of scrutinies.
Oh, and let's even talk about the completely irrelevant and unnecessary dream sequences. All they do is waste time. Yes, a few of them are admittedly good, that doesn't make them any more useful.
If you thought The Dark Knight Rises had plotholes, oh boy, you're in for a show here.
4. Unnecessary Justice League setup
Look, Warner amd DC, we get you're desperate to launch the Justice League and challenge The Avengers, but is this really the way to do it?
Did you learn nothing from The Amazing Spider-Man 2? Did Iron Man 2 and Age of Ultron's shortcomings didn't reach you?
In all fairness, I knew this was going to happen. Cramming too much never results in anything but a mess, and I kept voicing my opinion in the last 3 years, but of course, I was called a Marvel fanboy.
Well, atleast I can rest easy knowing I was right.
Perhaps the worst offender in this case was the Knightmare dream scenario.
This very scene was a mess containing a different planet, parademons, Superman stormtroopers and God knows what else, and it's so sudden that it makes absolutely no sense. You could take the whole scene out of the film and it wouldn't make a difference, but the only reason it is here is to tease Darkseid. At the end of this dream, Bruce wakes up to something that's also an unnecessary dream that serves no purpose other than to set up future instalments.
Even the cameos from other Justice League members like Flash, Aquaman and Cyborg are extraneous.
And yes, there's a shocking and brave event on DC's part at the end of the film that completely loses its impact because DC has already revealed their upcoming slate of movies, but I'm gonna let you find that out for yourself.
5. Questionable Character Choices
When I talk about questionable character choices, I point solely to Batman and Lois Lane.
This version of Batman is a psychotic killer. Yes, he kills people. Not just in the dream sequence, he actually blows up people in cars and other situations where their death was very intentional. Even during his fight with Superman, he's going for the kill. While that's a deviation from the no-killing Batman and will cause controversy, it would have probably been better if there was say, a line of dialogue to explain why Batman is killing now.
My other issue is with Lois Lane.
AKA Plot ex machina.
In the entire film, Lois Lane is not a character, but a plot device, utilized when something needs to be explained, Superman needs to save someone or there is just a general need for something to happen.
It's sad to see a supposedly strong female character be treated this way in the films in this day and age.
6. Jesse Eisenberg
AKA Probably the Worst On-screen Villain
Jesse Eisenberg is the absolute worst. His performance borders on being a deal breaker, it is so ridiculously over the top and hammy. I thought Christoph Waltz was the King of Cheese after watching SPECTRE, but oh dear God, Eisenberg is an absolute pain in the you know what. I have no idea who played this performance of his.
The world was right when they cried out for a more traditional and intense actor to play Luthor such as Bryan Cranston because Eisenberg's version is like the love child of Mark Hamill's Joker and Johnny Depp's Mad Hatter who had way too many spoons of cough syrup when he didn't need any.
7. Overused CGI
None of it is real. Or particularly well done.
Filmmakers need to understand that CGI is a tool, not a necessity. Did they learn nothing from the Star Wars Prequels? CGI cannot be substituted with practical effects and props, even in a supehero movie, to which The Dark Knight Trilogy, The Force Awakens and The Winter Soldier stand testament.
That's what happens when you skimp on your CGI budget.
And if your CGI is well done, then it's acceptable, but if it's done as poorly as some of the shots in Batman v. Superman, then it's perhaps best if you stay away from it in the future.
...but what's the bottom line?
This is actually a question I can't seem to answer. Most people either love or hate something. I'm more of a middle of the road person. Did I love this movie? Absolutely not. Did I hate this movie? Not quite, but I came close. See, that's just the thing. Where there's good, there's enough of it, but where there's bad, oh dear God.
There's about 5 movies in here - a Man of Steel sequel, a Batman solo movie, a Wonder Woman movie, a Batman and Superman crossover and a Justice League prequel. And that's what doesn't work. The film has 60% of the contents needed to make a good movie, but it just utilizes them in the wrong manner.
Even the big fight is a farce that's because of a misunderstanding and just feels like it's there because someone finally wanted to watch the duo duke it out.
If you're a fan like me, you won't care for the reviews and watch it anyway, and depending on how dampened your expectations are, you might even enjoy it, but you can't help feeling this is a missed opportunity and a terrible waste of potential.
I'm actually even less excited about the DCEU than I was before, and it's all their own fault. I have little doubt Marvel will rule the year with Civil War.
Perhaps the R-rated 3 hours long Director's Cut will improve upon the criticism and cause us to see the film in better light, but as of now, I'm not too hopeful.
In the end, all said and done, Batman v. Superman barely manages a 6 on 10, and is perhaps the most half-hearted and least deserved 6 I've ever given.