***WARNING: SPOILERS IN THIS REVIEW ***
Comic book fans have finally seen the holy comic trinity on the big screen – Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman together fighting Lex Luthor and his demon creation. But as people viewed the film in early showings, there was a strong divide in whether the movie was great or terrible, loved or hated, a success or a failure. I for one will go into just about any movie with no pre-judgement but I will have some expectations. Batman V Superman met my expectations. But by no means was this a bad film in the channels of Fantastic Four, Catwoman, Iron Man 3, or Superman Returns . . . nor was it a fantastic film in the likes of The Dark Knight, Iron Man, Avengers, The Winter Soldier, or Superman. BvS is in the clouded grey area of having the potential to be the best, but lacked the punch for being the best. As usual, I will follow my review by analyzing each of the main characters and the performance of the actors, then follow with a general review of the story, effects, etc.
First up, Ben Affleck, the one who faced the casting criticism similar to Heath Ledger when announced he would be The Joker. Affleck was an exceptional choice. He portrayed the fears, paranoia, brute strength, will, and just a sense of lostness and powerlessness as Alfred spoke of in one line. As both Batman and Bruce Wayne, Affleck did a great job filling the role, but due to the writing and story, we did not get a chance to see Affleck as a Bruce Wayne outside of the “Batman” role. To clear up that statement, let’s use the example from The Dark Knight Trilogy – We saw Bruce Wayne as a part of Wayne Enterprises, we see him in relationships, we see Bruce Wayne being Bruce Wayne while also seeing him have some parts as the “Im not Batman but really am Batman”. In BvS we only ever see Bruce Wayne in a few scenes without being the brute-grunt-detective-Batman-in-hiding. The rest of the time we see Bruce doing detective work, and always acting as Batman.
Next up, Gal Gadot. Though she had very few scenes leading up to the final battle, Gal Gadot proved all the haters wrong. You know, the haters saying “she is too thin, doesn’t have enough in the breast and buttox regions, is a bad actress”, yada yada just useless complaints. We see Gadot give the proper elegance to Diana Prince, the beauty and strong will, the grace and fierceness we have only really seen in comics. We finally see her as Wonder Woman in a “stolen” photo from her past, and then she makes the badass entrance we see in the trailers blocking Doomsday’s attack on Batman. Her war cry, her use of the sword, shield, and lasso of truth, the smirk and laugh she gives when she is knocked down and gets right back up, the comment she makes saying she has killed things from many worlds, Gal Gadot is quite frankly a and the perfect Wonder Woman.
Henry Cavill, the holiest of the trinity, has definitely upped his portrayal as Superman. We again see more moral fight in Superman, with Cavill showing the intensified fears, sadness, strength, brutality, and god-like powers succumbed to the human elements of emotions. But again, similar to Affleck, we did not see Cavill have the chance to portray a “Clark Kent outside of Superman” role. The few times we see Kent at the offices of the Daily Planet, he is arguing for articles to be written against Batman, but we also do not see Kent in the typical clumsy, goofy style that distinguishes “Clark Kent” from “Superman”. Because the glasses are not the only disguise to hide who Superman really is. One scene I absolutely loved however was a moment after Superman saves Lois Lane in the start of the film, Clark Kent returns home with a bag of groceries and says to Lois he wanted to surprise her with dinner. Lois is confused whether they can be together due to Superman’s powers, but Clark assures her they can. It was a simple “love” scene that showed the best of “Clark Kent” without being “Superman”.
Jesse Eisenberg seems to be facing the most criticism after the film, but quite honestly, he was superb. It was speculated that Eisenberg would be a “Lex Jr” in BvS, and after seeing the film, and without direct statements, I do believe that is the case. On few instances Lex mentioned his father build this company, “LexCorp has the name from my father” etc. So, without difficult interoperation, Jesse Eisenberg is “Lex Jr”. I viewed Eisenberg as combining his many roles into this one, showing his psychoticness, his fears, insanity, strengths, weaknesses, manipulation, his freaky-power hungry-insecurities. Lex even mentions during a speech how one can have all the knowledge without power, which is what he is stuck with thus pursuing the “power” of controlling Superman and Batman.
The last person I will discuss is Amy Adams as Lois Lane. For some reason I did not enjoy Adams whatsoever in Man of Steel. I could never really put my finger on it, but I believe the script and role direction given to Adams made me less of a fan of Lois Lane. But BvS gave Adams an exceptional role. We see more of the love from Lois to Superman/Clark, we see her as the “go-getter” journalist for The Daily Planet, and we see her in the proper moments in between the epic battles of the Son of Krypton and the Bat of Gotham.
Now, let’s take a look at the movie as a whole. The first two acts of the film were somewhat slow. The opening scene was strong, vivid, and one of the best Batman-related sequences we have seen yet. Throughout the film we had constant and somewhat quick jump scenes between characters, seeing Lois in one situation to Batman over here then Superman doing this and all of a sudden Clark and Lois are together but wait we need to see Bruce do this but not before we sneak in Diana Prince here then go back to Lex doing this and that while Superman does this . . . I was mixed, as with other aspects of the story, as it was not hard to follow but there was not enough time for each moment. A few could have been combined to have extended scenes with just Supes, or just Batman. With that for the story, this is a film literally perfect for comic book fans because unless you have read such stories or have been involved with the games and other films, you may miss many references to The Dark Knight Returns, Death of Superman, Doomsday, Injustice, Justice League, and many more.
In regards to the use of CGI and special effects, the fight scenes were very similar to Man of Steel having the strong comic-book styles which I thoroughly enjoyed. But one scene was just terrible . . . the sequence of having Batman in his Batmboile chasing Lex Luthor’s goons transporting the kryptonite, this was just an ugly moment in the computer generated scenery and actions. This looked far from anything comic-book style and really, really looked fake (I know it’s fake but you know what I mean!)
The choreography was superb for all the battles except in one. The nightmare sequence where Batman is expecting the shipment of kryptonite and is then faced with a backstab/secret plot by Superman’s army, Bats engages in mostly hand-to-hand combat with the soldiers. And sheesh was this ugly too! I first assumed because it was a dream that that is how it was intended, but after seeing it twice it is just too ugly to ignore or come up with a reason for. Both parties, Batman and whoever he would be fighting, constantly seemed set-up with poor movements, sudden stops to wait for one party to hit the other, or one to make a move and respond etc it did not sit well with me.
I also heard some complaints that this movie was too jam-packed but in two ways: one with having too many characters such as the Justice League cameos, or just too busy with the stories and references. I disagree with the first and somewhat agree with the latter argument. In terms of too many cameos, they were done very well, smoothly placed into the story and film, and it was a great touch to the film. Was it necessarily needed? I say yes but also because it is followed up at the end when Batman and Wonder Woman discuss finding these meta-humans. In regards to the multitude of stories and references, I will bring in a thought my friend and I discussed after seeing the film: why not make it a trilogy arc? As in, Man of Steel, some other film (some sort of in between story), THEN BvS or having BvS in the middle and then the death of Superman story as the third film in this arc. I believe another film in this area of the DCCU would allow more comprehensive developments for each character while expanding on some backgrounds or previous instances with Batman, Lex, Wonder Woman, and maybe even the other JL members.
Overall, I have seen the film twice and throughly enjoyed it both times, more during my second viewing actually. I initially gave it a soft 8.5/10, but after the second viewing I give BvS a soft 9/10. The flaws do not outweigh the film enough for me to bash trash or hate this film, let alone give it a score low enough to discourage others from seeing it. I see comparisons to Marvel and previous DC/WB films, and it is entirely difficult to compare to any. BvS is a purely comic-book take for a super-hero film, as opposed to The Dark Knight Trilogy which was the realistic approach with comic-book influences. In terms of Marvel films, they have been a hit-or-miss just with DC, and actually have plenty more films to allow these hit-or-misses. Case in point, both Thor and Thor: The Dark World, Captain America: The First Avengers, Iron Man 3, Avengers: Age of Ultron, were some of the biggest disappointments in the MCU. Again, I won’t compare BvS to others just as I won’t compare them to one another unless they are in a consistent story and timeline, but just wanted to throw out that example for everyone.
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