Review: Another mixed-bag superhero flick in ‘Batman v Superman’



Going head-to-head with an opponent is typically an event that tends to bring a crowd. Whether it’s a childish schoolyard fight or the ultimate battle between good and evil, showdowns like these will stir up an audience.

The same desire to see one opponent pitted against another was the main focus of “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice,” the newest superhero movie to enter theaters this year. 

Directed by Zack Snyder, who was the unique mastermind behind other comic book movies like “300” and “Watchmen,” “Batman v Superman” was supposed to be a crowning achievement, the captivating sequel to “Man of Steel” as well as the thrilling segue into the “Justice League” movies.

Instead, Snyder tried to have it all and put several different movies within one, turning one of the most epic battles between DC comic book characters into a hodge podge of good acting, bad story-telling and ugly hinting for future “Justice League” movies.

Though he tried hard to make the movie’s main plot seem effortless, the storyline of “Batman v Superman” was much more complicated and muddled with plot holes and questions. Without giving too much away about the movie, “Batman v Superman” goes back and forth between Batman/Bruce Wayne’s (Ben Affleck) journey to find out what Lex Luthor’s (Jesse Eisenberg) evil plan is and Superman/Clark Kent’s (Henry Cavill) struggle to overcome the negative backlash of the destruction of Metropolis during the battle with Zod, and the episode in Africa in which he tries to save Lois Lane (Amy Adams).

Eventually, and sometimes confusingly, Batman and Superman end up at each other’s throats because of Luthor’s psychotic plan and are meant to kill one another, or at least Batman is meant to kill Superman. Luthor also has bigger plans to create a biological weapon to use against any other alien intruders like Superman or Zod, which turns into the creation of Doomsday. Toward the end it comes down to whether or not these superheroes will fight to the death or put their issues aside to stop both Metropolis and Gotham from being demolished.

So many things go both very right and very wrong throughout this movie; it might be better to start off with what goes right. The film starts out by introducing Bruce Wayne’s story, showing the murder of his parents while simultaneously cutting between Bruce running down the path, both literally and figuratively, that leads him to Batman. These opening shots, which in typical Snyder-fashion are slow motion and dramatic, are very beautiful and show a traumatic shift in Bruce’s character. They also show how the cruel criminals of Gotham change him into the masked vigilante he becomes for over two decades.

What makes this opening better is how well Batman and his storyline is represented on film. Affleck as Batman, or “Batfleck,” was a fantastic casting choice. Not only does he do a great job at showing this gritty, older, had-enough-of-this-crap version of the superhero, but he also brings light to the issue of who Superman is and whether or not we can trust someone who is pretty much like a god on Earth.

In addition, the problems Superman faces are very thought-provoking and set up a tense situation for Superman to find himself in.

Personally, I have no problem with Cavill as Superman, but the character of Superman has never been too interesting to me except when he’s put in such turmoil like being surrounded by people who are beginning to see him as a threat.

Other acting is good as well, such as Eisenberg’s portrayal of Lex Luthor. Though Luthor isn’t traditionally neurotic and psychotic, these characteristics also add to Eisenberg’s performance and make him an even more unpredictable villain.

Jeremy Irons’ performance as Alfred is also very well played; he brings a lot of grumpy humor and heart into this representation and it gives even more depth to Wayne’s character.

My favorite character besides “Batfleck,” however, is most definitely Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot), who is beautiful, clever, cunning and an overall badass on screen. During the big fight scene you get to see her use all of her weapons and skills; she basically keeps the enemy at bay single-handedly, at least for a good portion of the fight.

There a few other good things seen through this movie, like the well-done cinematography and overall look of the film, not to mention that the CGI on certain elements of Luthor’s experiment weren’t too terribly done. What remains, however, is the rest of the movie, which is either subpar or very bad. This includes the narration, direction and additions made to give hints at future movies to come.

Surprisingly, the marketing for this film was very sporadic, from one trailer that gave a vague, but intense first look at these superheroes to the second that basically gave the entire plot of the movie in a few minutes.

The studio tried to make up for it with their final trailer that made everything that was going to be in the movie seem action-packed and awesome, but unfortunately for those who saw that second trailer, it was all over.

At least 80 percent of the movie’s storylines, on both ends, were spoiled and the main, major team-up between Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman was given away. The result of the fight and how the movie ends I won’t give away because it is somewhat gutsy, but even at the very last second, the studio ruins an interesting turn of events.

However, the direction the movie took to tell the story of this epic battle between Batman and Superman was not merely ruined because of a too-revealing trailer.

It was ruined because of the way the story was told.

It is not a strange element in film to see two different storylines or perspectives spliced together in order to see what is going on with two or more different characters.

However, the way this technique is seen in “Batman v Superman” is not anything to commend.

Watching Wayne use his detective skills as his billionaire self and then his more ruthless tactics as Batman to get the information he needed is like watching a cop thriller.

Then you turn to Superman’s storyline that feels like a loss of innocence narrative mixed with a political drama. Add in weird Snyder-isms like strange, out of place dream sequences that are more confusing than the plot and you’ve got one jumbled bag of stuff put onto a film reel and shown on-screen.

Aside from these issues that made this movie less than good are the lazy attempts by the filmmaker to include other superheroes that will most likely become the other future members of the Justice League.

Do these superheroes get brought up in some intense conversation between Wonder Woman and Batman? No.

Are they seen throughout the film as their secret identities? No.

Spoiler Alert: Batman brings up these heroes with Wonder Woman all right, but in an email with attached clips of them doing incredible things. Those who haven’t seen the movie might be a little miffed that this is a spoiler, but really, how much did I actually spoil?

With any movie there are bound to be flaws, but once again DC does not put out a movie that is as well-rounded as competing Marvel movies.

The action may be good and the acting is pretty well done for most, but other points, like the overall narrative and some of the blatant attempts to make a joke or hint at a Justice League sequel, make parts of this movie unbearable.

I would recommend seeing it, since the reviews are pretty mixed.

Who knows? You might not care about the negatives and just enjoy the film as a superhero movie.

No matter what, the choice is yours. Enter a “Batman v Superman” viewing, but at your own risk.

Grade: C+

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