Its been hard to avoid any spoilers over the last few days for this eagerly awaited smash up between two iconic Superheroes. If I am doing the main review for HCF, then I chose not to read any other reviews until I have wrote my own, but this week its been hard to avoid any comments as news was filtering through that this was a train wreck just waiting to be seen.
This week started off good. Early vibes was that Zack Snyder had nailed it. One comment floating around that this was “the best Superhero film of all time” and I was quite excited by what I was all set to see. But then, during the middle of the week as more critics and fans went to see the movie, things started to go quite dark. Positive become negative…and doing the news for HCF, I was greeted with fleeting comments from reviews of more established websites and yet I still lived in hope.
Everyone is different! It’s what makes movies such a joy to watch and debate about! What did not work for someone may work work for someone else and I went into that cinema in the early hours of this morning with an open mind. I mean, Zack Snyder can’t have got it that wrong, surely? How can he? It’s Batman V Superman! A movie event that die hard fans have been waiting for ever since Frank Miller showed it was possible with the legendary Dark Knight Returns Story.
It was strange though, even on arrival. I listened to those queueing up and it seemed everyone had heard of the bad reviews. Many were wearing Batman or Superman T-Shirts, showing off their alliance for their hero. Even I joined in by choosing a Batman Cup of Coke instead of the Man Of Steel, but there was a muted atmosphere. It was nothing like when Star Wars was in town. But yet I still had hope.
Again, how badly can Snyder get it wrong.
If anything, the opening 10 minutes sums up Batman V Superman. We get a start that brought the first of many groans in which we, once more, are witness to the death of Bruce Wayne’s parents. I actually sat with my mate before the film started and I said if “we see his parents get shot in this then we are leaving” and three minutes in, he turned to me and said “Are we leaving then?”. Believe me I was tempted for a second because out of all the things I did not want in front of me it was that most overused sequence in Superhero movies. Is there anyone out there now who does not know now what happened to Bruce as a child? We have had seven movies over the years, and GOTHAM is doing the rounds on TV, so why show this again? Even falling down the hole in the ground to what would become the eventual Batcave is a sequence already drilled into our head, only this time Snyder typically ends it with a surreal vision of bats lifting young Bruce to safety. (Yes, really).
So far so bad, but then we jump straight at the end of Man Of Steel which showed the perspective of Bruce Wayne who was in Metropolis that day. This signals the arrival of Ben Affleck as the new Bat and, oh boy, he delivers. The material is not there for him throughout the running time thanks to the script but he shows enough promise to suggest that his sole Batman flick could be a worthy contender. More on that later. This sequence shows the damage Superman’s fight against General Zod had for the general public and Snyder’s response to those fans who criticised the collateral damage that the Man Of Steel film would have offered.
It’s a brilliant, mouthwatering beginning that should have carried the film on but sadly it just all goes wrong……badly!
After that, nothing happens for like two hours. Honestly now, I don’t think I’ve ever sat in the cinema and realise that actually nothing was happening to drive the film forward. For nearly 120 minutes we just go around in circles from A to B and back to A again. Bruce Wayne believes Superman is a threat, The American Government want to control him whilst Lex Luthor wants him dead. So all we get is scenes being replayed over and over with Bruce debating what to do, the American Government debating what to do and Lex Luthor wanting him dead! There is a tiny sub-plot of Bruce doing some detective work trying to find out who this secret figure is (which we all know is Lex), but there is no bite to proceedings and clearly lacking in tension.
To fill the rest of the running time, we have endless clips of news stories and illogical dream sequences that baffle you so much that you question what the heck is going on. That image from the trailer which saw Superman take off Batman’s cowl, well trust me, even when fully watched in all its glory, it’s clumsy, idiotic, silly and comes across of Snyder thinking “I know what’s not been done? Batman fighting in broad daylight against an army….that’ll work!”….but when it pays no significance to the story then what is the point?
Honestly, making a film a visual treat is all well and good but it needs to have a bit of meat to its bone. You can’t give the film a near three hour running time and just have nothing to grab the viewer into why these two are fighting. If you actually replace the dream sequences with music and chuck Eye Of The Tiger onto Bruce Wayne during that training montage, then what we actually have is a Rocky IV remake…..yes guys, this film is as void of plot as Sly’s attempt to take on the Cold War.
Which comes to the argument, why have DC and Warner Bros rushed this into production. We were told that it was not Man Of Steel 2, but it is more or less is. You can’t watch this and not have seen that film as the plot intertwines with the events of General Zod arrival on Earth and its aftermath. It’s the same when we glimpse Robin’s suit in the Batcave with what appears to be Joker’s taunts written all over it? Have we missed a Batman film? What happened to the Boy Wonder? Why is Bruce Wayne/Batman saw bitter and twisted? Why is Wayne Manor burnt to the ground?
Do we get these answers? No? and why? The answer is simple? Lack of patience by DC and Warner! While it has taken Marvel three phases to get to where they are now and have proudly established the grand movie world of their Superheroes, to the point where even Netflix’s Daredevil ties in, DC have offered us……ONE FILM!
And boy, this movie suffers from it!
It’s taken since Iron Man in 2008 to get all the superheroes of Marvel in one place and yet DC serves up the Justice League thanks to one click on a laptop. That will come clear when you have watched this film but that scene just sums up the haste of everyone involved and the only people who suffer from it, is us, the fans.
Back to this film and underneath the mess, there could have been a decent plot. You can understand Batman’s concerns of this unstoppable foe but there is no reason for them to fight at all. Instead of wasting the talents of Amy Adams, who either lacks the presence of Lois Lane but is not being served right by the writers, why did they not have her heading off to Gotham, to try and investigate the man behind the bat! It then would have brought conflict between the two heroes. Give her something to do instead of this useless woman who is only there for Superman to save her.
One particular scene sums up Adams portrayal as Lane. She throws something away, for no reason at all, only to then go back for it and ending up drowning? Why? So Superman can rescue her like he does throughout the running time. Seriously writers? Margot Kidder brought edge and streetwise to the role in the 70’s, here in 2016 we have a woman who can’t step outside without screaming “Help me!” to the man from Krypton. Her whimsy performance is an insult to the character and to Adams who truly deserves better!
One person who does not deserve the hate is Jesse Eisenberg who I thought done something quite different to Lex Luthor. I understand he is not the character we all know or love but unless they cast Michael Rosenbaum in the role, I do understand why they played this different. His slant of Lex did actually work for me, I admit his overall evil scheme was dumb and hardly made any sense, but after seeing Kevin Spacey struggle in Superman Returns, watching Jesse carry off this confident swagger with an evil intent was quite refreshing and a welcome change.
If you did not care for Henry Cavill in Man Of Steel then nothing will change your mind here. The failure to add a sequel to his story before embarking on this venture means the character still lacks growth as Superman and he somewhat gets lost in the movie with Affleck’s Batman proving that the one good thing to come from this film is that casting.
Affleck is good! Not great, but good! During one fight scene towards the end, he reminded me of the Batman from the Arkham City video games which thrilled my bone. The script does not do him justice, going from rational to anger and back again, he seems confused in how he should play the dual role. It’s not his fault though and he is the most brutal of The Dark Knight’s we have seen, but if reports are true and that Affleck will be directing his own Batman film in the coming years, then that is something we really should look forward too because he can address those problems and may deliver what us Bat fans yearn.
The show stealer though is Gal Gadot whose arrival as Wonder Woman along with a thumping score, finally bought some cheers to the much depressed audience and, while it was fleeting, it nearly made the torturous experience worth it! I’m more loooking forward to her solo movie now.
The title says Batman V Superman but its the biggest load of bollocks ever in marketing. In all its 153 minutes, they fight for, what?? Ten to fifteen minutes, and then it’s resolved by the most idiotic way that I had my head in my hands groaning in disbelief and it wasn’t just me, the entire row in front were doing the exact same movement. Even now a few hours on from watching, I can’t believe they actually wrote and filmed such a scene. The fight is then upstaged by the arrival of CGI nightmare Doomsday who, like Bane in 1997’s Batman and Robin, is horribly underused for such a comic book creation loved by many fans.
Bloated, overstuffed and a complete mess, Snyder has done the impossible with a story which needed telling as he has delivered it in such a dumbfounded way. So much scope and direction especially if they followed Miller’s masterpiece, but instead we get a film that is a headache from start to finish.
The cinema screening I sat in had walk outs halfway through, something which I have never witnessed before. The film was just too grim and tried desperately to be dark when most people these days want a bit of both, hence why Deadpool was such a success. What Batman V Superman once again shows is that Snyder can deliver spectacle set-pieces but falls apart with his own storytelling. When you the viewer breath a sign of a relief when the film is finally over, then you can only say that what you have just watched was torturous and borderline mediocre- and that pains me to say.
More Transformers-like than Batman Begins, a certain character from Christopher Nolan’s skilfully created universe once asked “Why so serious?” and it’s a motto you hope Snyder takes on-board for the planned Justice League films because already you sense that they could be a disaster just waiting to happen.
He should be thankful that both franchises have the likes of Batman and Robin and Superman IV in their ranks otherwise this would be sitting on the bottom of the pile. Batman V Superman is not quite as bad as “The Bat-Card and Bat Nipples” or “Nuclear Man”, but it comes almighty close….. Justice has been served and it’s a taste of despair……
Side note: Did I mention that when there is a battle and a danger to life, we are told the place is uninhabited? Yes it’s that kind of film!