It’s taken me around three days to process orgasm of information, plot threads and sheer chaos that is ‘Batman v Superman: Dawn Of Justice.’ I went to see the film on Saturday night and at times my showing was more eventful than the movie itself (more on that later) which was something that I did not expect at all.
As those of you who have been reading us for a while now will know, I wasn’t overly thrilled at the thought of this movie. I felt like one of the few that would have actually prefered a Man Of Steel sequel that gave time to addressing some of the issues that arose from that movie. An opportunity to correct the mistakes (as I saw them) of that film whilst giving the audience to fully appreciate the moral and political dilemmas that Superman faces in a cynical world that will scrutinise his every word and deed. We sort of got that in this film, but it was largely lost in a muddled, “throw everything at the wall and see what sticks” approach that BvS adopts to it’s storytelling.
I certainly didn’t come out of the movie feeling the hatred towards it in the way some viewers have. I just felt disappointed as I saw so much enormous potential being squandered in a rush by the filmmakers to put together a film that would serve the many purposes the studio requires to meet it’s targets for future potential franchises. There certainly were some elements of the film that I enjoyed, so i’ll go into those first.
The character that intrigued me most of all going into this was Wonder Woman. having been a fan of the character for many years, I was extremely worried when Gal Gadot was cast in the role. Having really only seen her in the Fast & Furious franchise, it’s certainly fair to say I was not a fan of her work. Wonder Woman is such a pivotal character for DC comics, as a part of the DC ‘Trinity’ she represents the pinnacle of female power and confidence. A beacon of strength, integrity and intelligence that all mankind can aspire to. We didn’t quite get all of that from her extended cameo in BvS but Gadot does a mostly fine job of giving life to this character on the big screen. Her contribution to one of the movie’s big action set pieces is the stuff that a fanboy like me could only of envisioned in my mind’s eye and wildest dreams. There’s a moment during battle that she gives the most knowing smirk that had the geek in me squealing with delight. Aside from the climax of the film, where I thought her acting became a little unconvincing, Gadot is one of the big pluses of the film for me and I am now far more confident about enjoying her solo outing in 2017.
Another positive for me was Batman and his portrayal by Ben Affleck. Unlike the majority, I felt confident that Affleck would deliver a great interpretation of this well loved icon. I’m pleased to report that he did a fantastic job with the character, though he benefits from a script that spends a great deal of time exploring the psyche of this damaged iteration of The Dark Knight. Affleck gives a real sense of purpose and menace to Batman, in ways we have never seen before from other actors to take on the role. His determination to take on and destroy the Man Of Steel are both chilling and exhilarating to watch. He and Alfred ( played by the always great Jeremy Irons) have a fun relationship as equal partners in Batman’s crusade to clear crime from the streets, and their interactions throughout the film are some of the highlights from a character study perspective. Henry Cavill’s Superman is mostly fine, bar a few ropey scenes.
The action is certainly epic in scale, the like of which is rarely seen on the big screen, even in the most ambitious of summer blockbusters. Director Zack Snyder is clearly in his element when it comes to crafting and filming grand spectacle, and here he doesn’t let up in his quest to find the right amount of ‘shit getting blown up’ (sorry, couldn’t think of a better phrase to use here). It’s all very exciting to look at, but it also comes with problems, which led to my overall disappointment with the film. I found it hard at times to be emotionally invested in the action scenes as there seemed to be a slapdash attitude to the portrayal of some characters and key players in the scenes. Understanding the logic and thought process behind the characters motivations and deeds is at times a real struggle, thanks to the confusing structure of the plot. The story veers wildly from one plot thread to another, meaning potentially interesting themes and ideas are seemingly abandoned. Unlike others, I really felt the introduction of the Justice League in this film is handled in a horrible way. In particular, one key scene featuring The Flash is so downright bizarre, I heard members of the audience loudly exclaim “what the fuck is going on?!”
The problem with the approach that Warner Bros. and DC have taken with the building of their franchise is that they have given little time for the average cinema going audience to become accustomed to the various idiosyncratic characters that make the DC Universe live and breath on comic book pages. A character like The Flash should be a hit with the public, just look at the success of the TV show! But here, he is relegated to a garbled cameo that left most people scratching their collective heads. Aquaman has a cameo in the film that left everyone in my screening laughing their heads of at how pretentious it was. Frankly, it felt embarrassing for the actor Jason Momoa and any of the characters fans to have him presented for the first time in such a way. It felt like watching some kind of hair product advert set under water, complete with vapid facial expressions and flowing locks. Yes, I gt that they filmed it underwater so that present challenges from a creative point of view, but why bother with filming it at all if the end result was to be that? Cyborg is also introduced for the first time in a visually stunning way, I must admit. But again, because this is the first time the character is being introduced, from a storytelling point of view, it just left myself and the audience confused as to the point it served to the overall plot.
There are many side characters in this film and they are by and large there as plot devices, which is very frustrating as characters like Mercy Graves (Tao Okamoto) have so much potential if they are used well. Lois Lane (Amy Adams) is pretty much a damsel in distress type throughout, and she makes so many mind numbingly stupid decisions in the story that I just found her irritating by the end.
Every great story lives and dies by it’s villain as much as it’s hero. Is a tenement of all the great stories you can think of. In the movie, the big bad is Alexander Luthor, played in the most wild eyed, baffling way by Jesse Eisenberg. In some ways, his performance was just so daft, I couldn’t even focus on the dialogue he was given, such is the reliance on weird facial ticks. He seemed to be channelling some kind of sub-Joker performance in his portrayal, which only left you confused as to his motivations and how exactly he came by the information he did throughout the film. Again, this is not entirely his fault, the script serves him poorly, relying on plot devices and convenience to explain away his motivations, but I can’t help but feel that this above many of things will leave fans and audiences deeply divided.
Okay, I better bring this to a close as I actually didn’t want this post to turn into a rant, and I actually have a funny story to share with you all. So, whilst I was at my screening, we had got through most of the film and approaching the climatic finale. Just as the heroes prepare to step into battle, the film suddenly stopped playing! Cue much cursing, gnashing of teeth and threats to physically assault the projectionist. After about 10 minutes of sitting in the theatre with no movie, suddenly the film restarts right at a MASSIVE SPOILER, basically running the whole movie for anyone who was watching. Well, how we managed to avoid a riot it still beyond my understanding. Perhaps it was something to with the British psyche, but anyway, we can’t have been that well behaved as not long after, the cinema manager was dragged (no exaggeration) into the theatre to explain this heinous crime. I actually felt sorry for the poor bloke as he looked utterly crestfallen, struggling to explain how this could have happened. We all received free tickets to any film of our choice in the future, but for some the damage was too deep and I fear a few people went home with their nights ruined. I personally found the whole thing hilarious in a gallows humour sort of way, and it actually added to my overall experience so there was some silver lining to take away from it!
Would I recommend this movie to you dear readers? The fanboy in me is screaming yes, go and see it just for the spectacle, just for the sheer fact that we can experience the greatest heroes of the comic book world on the big screen together for the first time. But, the film fan in me says that you are only going to feel as frustrated and disappointed as I was and still feel. My advice is, watch it for yourselves and make your own decision. You can only draw a conclusion once you have actually witnessed it, free from the influence of others like me. Some of those I saw the movie with enjoyed the experience on some level, so perhaps you will to. Hell, you may even love it!
Till next time folks..