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Batman v Superman Movie Review
-By Caleb Jones
As usual, there is strong internet movie group-think where we’re all either supposed to hate a movie or think it’s great. Batman v Superman falls in-between these two extremes, which most movie critics can’t handle. It always has to be “It sucks!” or “It’s awesome!”
The best way I can summarize this movie is this: Star Wars The Force Awakens was a really good movie with one or two major problems that undermined the entire movie, despite its quality. Batman v Superman is a really good movie with many more problems, but none of which undermine the entire movie.
Thus, despite it’s many problems, I could buy into the movie and I want to see it again. I couldn’t buy into Star Wars TFA and had no desire to see it again in the movie theater. I’ll be more specific as I go along.
What I Liked
1. Ben Affleck’s Batman. Everyone freaked out when Affleck was announced to be the new Batman, and I did too. It seemed like a horrible choice. Then I saw Affleck in the trailers and he looked fantastic. Then I saw the movie, and he was fantastic. This is probably the best portrayal of Bruce Wayne and Batman we’ve ever seen in a movie. Every scene he was in was interesting, far better than Superman, Wonder Woman, or any of the other characters. Well done.
2. The action (though there wasn’t enough). Zach Snyder’s action scenes are always great, and this movie was no exception. The combat scenes were fun. I have one big complaint about the final battle at the end, but I’ll talk about that below. There’s very little action during the first 60% of the movie, but I was engaged enough so it didn’t matter. I still would have liked a little more action, though.
3. The starting sequence was all kinds of cool. It’s where Bruce Wayne navigates all the crashing buildings from the final battle during Man of Steel. It stirred a visceral reaction in me. Great start to a movie.
4. Cinematography and visuals. Again, this is what Zach Snyder does best. This movie looks so damn good. I wish other directors had his eye.
5. The character of Lex Luthor. No, I didn’t like Jesse Eisenberg’s performance of the character; like most other people I thought it was way too twitchy and crazy. Instead I liked that Lex Luthor in this movie was actually menacing at certain points. This is the first time we’ve seen Luthor in a movie do some truly evil, horrible things. Lex Luthor is a very bad guy, and often in other media this gets lost.
In particular, there’s a scene regarding a jar of “tea” and an explosion which legitimately surprised me; I did not see it coming and I actually gasped out loud when it happened. When a movie surprises me that effectively, it’s doing something right.
6. Excalibur. This is a minor thing, but the flashback where Batman watches his parents get murdered is right after they’re walking out of the 1981 movie Excalibur. Batman in this movie looks to be my exact age, and when I was nine years old in 1981, I saw Excalibur in the movie theater with my parents too. I loved it, and it was fun for me to see this parallel.
What I Didn’t Like
1. The movie is way too full and tries to do way too much. This is the movie’s biggest flaw, and the problem most critics are rightly complaining about. It’s so jam-packed full of characters, setups and plotlines that it gets really messy. It should have been two separate movies.
However! In the movie’s defense, 30 minutes were cut from it. They’re going to re-integrate these 30 minutes back in the DVD / Blu-ray release and make a R-rated version. So it’s not quite fair of me to judge the entire movie until I’ve seen that version in a few months, which I will definitely get my hands on.
2. Gal Godot as Wonder Woman. Everyone is saying she did a great job; this is a classic case of fanboy bullshit. Yeah, she wasn’t bad, but she barely had any lines and was barely in the movie. The bottom line is that Gal Godot is a shitty actress. In the Fast and Furious movies she sucks too, and I like those movies. As a distant side-character, she works fine. However, next year she’ll star in her own Wonder Woman movie, and I predict that movie, and her performance in it, is going to bomb badly.
Moreover, as I’ve mentioned before, Gal Godot doesn’t look like Wonder Woman. Wonder Woman is an Amazonian. She's big, broad, muscular, curvy, with huge boobs and hips. Gal Godot is pretty, tall and dark haired, but she’s tiny, super skinny, has no hips, and has A-cups at best. She was a bad choice for this character all around.
3. Lazy screenwriting, particularly when it introduced members of the Justice League. The way these new superheroes are presented is, while not horrible, pretty lame. It’s some of the laziest screenwriting I’ve seen in a big budget, important movie like this. I won’t reveal how they do it, but it’s kinda dumb.
4. The CGI is irritating. I’m in the minority in that I usually like CGI in movies, since I go to movies for one reason: to see things I can’t see in my real life. However, by the end of this movie, I was really fucking tired of the ridiculous CGI. The Doomsday character looks like shit. It’s the same damn big CGI growling monster we’ve seen about 100 times now. The joke is that he looks just like the cave troll in Lord of the Rings, and that’s pretty accurate. Not good.
He also has this silly superpower (that he doesn’t have in the comics) where he creates these massive explosions of CGI electricity that obscure the action and the camera angles. It’s really stupid. It also ruined much of the final battle in the movie, which was something I was looking forward to.
Too many studio execs in Hollywood must think “bigger explosions!!!” are always required. They’re not.
5. Superman in this movie is depressing. Henry Cavil (a 32 year-old man with a 19 year-old girlfriend by the way) does a good job portraying Superman and he fits the role just fine. The problem is that in this movie he’s sad, depressed, and unsure about everything for pretty much the entire film.
Batman is supposed to be the depressed, brooding one. Superman is supposed to be positive, upbeat, and full of light. It’s the difference between these two characters that creates such an interesting dynamic. The comics and the animated Justice League series from the 2000s that I used to watch with my daughter captured this difference perfectly. The movies have yet to figure this out.
6. Lois Lane sucks. Again. Just like in Man of Steel, the movie has a hard time trying to keep Lois Lane relevant to the story. It needlessly has things for her to do, and it's blatantly obvious. There's a scene where she spends all this time getting rid of a kryptonite spear, only to have to run back and get again a few minutes later. Again, lazy screenwriting.
In the end, I liked the movie quite a bit. It had its problems, but unlike with the last Star Wars film, these problems didn’t screw up the entire movie for me. I actually saw it twice in the theater, something I haven't done in a long while with a movie (and something I didn't bother to do with Star Wars TFA).
Next up for DC superheroes is Suicide Squad in August. I’m really looking forward to that. Next month we have Captain America: Civil War which looks awesome as hell.
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David 2016-04-07 06:08:47
Solid review Caleb. I agree with you on many of those points. Likes: - Affleck is the best Batman/Bruce Wayne yet, the movie LOOKED amazing, the opening sequence from Bruce's POV was great, and the portrayal of Luthor was unique (not how I normally envision Luthor, but like you said, the character was very scary/evil at times) Dislikes: - Obviously, the lazy, disjointed writing and editing. Too many times where they were working for an emotional punch and jumped scene too soon or didn't give any validation to the emotion. **SPOILER ALERTS TO FOLLOW** The biggest writing error being the whole reason Batman doesn't kill Superman. "What? Your mom has the same first name as my mom?? Oh cool, I guess we can be buddies then." Yeah, it was a unique starting block for Batman to realize Supes had a human side to him, but there's no way it would be the sole reason he wouldn't have kept going. It should've led into a conversation where Batman asks Superman "Ok, WHY are you here and WHAT do you truly stand for?" A conversation diving into their respective ideals would've been perfect at that moment. - Like you said, Superman was way too depressed/melancholy in this movie. The one line that irked me was when Superman tells Lois "I guess no one stays good in this world". Superman would NEVER say anything like that. He's always the guy you know is going to do the right and good thing. He's going to make the tough call for the greater good, even if it costs him personally, like in the original 80's Superman movie. - Oh yeah, the bat mobile "crash scene"... Batman: "Hey Superman, did ya NOT see the guys with guns and rocket launchers just a few seconds ahead of me? Wanna go stop them before they hurt some innocent civilians?? Maybe see what they have in that safe they're moving? I'll give you a hint...it's a pretty green rock that YOU won't like." Yeah, there are quite a few more things to dislike, especially the ending in which I felt DC blew their wad WAY too early in the game, but that's to be decided in later movies. But, like you said Caleb, it's not a bad movie....it's just too many movies wrapped into one. Maybe the director's cut will offer a better product. Oh, and while I enjoyed Wonder Woman's entrance, I agree Gal Gadot does not appear to be the actress to portray her. Is she pretty? Sure. But, that's about it. Gina Carano would've nailed the look, has the combat background, and she's at least the same caliber actress, if not a shade better.
CrabRangoon 2016-04-07 08:23:12
Hey Caleb great review! I just saw the movie and had a similar reaction. I enjoyed it overall-it was a great action flick and I loved the intro piece where we see the destruction of Metropolis through Bruce's eyes. I liked that they addressed the mayhem caused by the brawl which you see in many comic movies. If 2 aliens destroyed your city, you'd want some answers too. Doomsday was a disappointment for sure. I think they should've used Braniac instead-had him living in the software of the Krypton ship and then start to interact with Lex to plot the end of Superman. I hated Eisenberg as Lex-way too Mark Zuckerberg-ish, which I guess is what they wanted. I expect a more Donald Trump type for Lex. A brash, over confident ego-maniacal businessman, very dark triad. At least his motivation wasn't real estate in this one I guess.
Caleb Jones 2016-04-07 09:59:22
What? Your mom has the same first name as my mom?? Oh cool, I guess we can be buddies then.”The moment he realized that and paused, that was really good. But the suddenly wanting to be buddies thing was forced, yeah.
Superman tells Lois “I guess no one stays good in this world”. Superman would NEVER say anything like that.Correct!
Gina Carano would’ve nailed the look, has the combat backgroundShe would have been pretty good, yeah. Since Hollywood hates women with big hips or tits, very few actresses could have fit the part accurately. They should have picked a nobody. (But Hollywood doesn't do that either.)
I think they should’ve used Braniac insteadHell yeah, that would have been badass. Though I think they could have done Doomsday well. Tone down the look and let him actually talk for Christ sake.