Action Movie Review: Batman v Superman
IMDB Description: Fearing the actions of Superman are being left unchecked, Batman takes on the man of steel, while the world wrestles with what kind of a hero it really needs. With Batman and Superman fighting each other, a new threat, Doomsday, is created by Lex Luthor. It’s up to Superman and Batman to set aside their differences to stop Lex Luthor and Doomsday from destroying Metropolis.
It is fair to say that I came into this movie with very little in the way of expectations – good or bad. I thought its predecessor ‘Man of Steel’ was fine, if a little heavy handed, and so was curious about what a movie that pits two comic book heroes against each other would look like.
This is in fact my favourite way to head in to a film, as I haven’t set myself up for disappointment by expecting too much, and so can enjoy the movie for what it is. I was also lucky enough to go to see the movie the night after its Australian release so only had the trailers to judge the movie by, as there was no real buzz about the movie at that stage, aside from a bit of critic grumbling which isn’t all that unusual for a movie like this.
Had I checked the Rotten Tomatoes rating before I went I might have had a heads up for what was coming – 29%, which was also the score assigned to Dumb and Dumber To! And as it turns out is a fair reflection of what we were about to see …
Before heading to see Batman v Superman I made sure to do my homework and rewatch Man of Steel. I like to do this so that any storylines they pick up in the sequel make sense.
Well, it’s fair to say, doing my homework didn’t really assist in the case of Batman v Superman. For an action movie based in a comic book world, this is a very confusing movie. Multiple, disconnected storylines, unnecessary dream sequences, and lead characters acting and reacting to serve a specific storyline beat rather than as a natural extension of their character. Don’t get me wrong, I am not one of those people silly enough to expect storyline greatness from certain types of movies, however when you combine a lack of a coherent storyline with action sequences so muddled you aren’t certain who is fighting who, then there is very little to hold on to in Batman v Superman.
The big question we all had – can Ben Affleck step into Batman’s suit? – becomes inconsequential when it dawns on you that Jesse Eisenberg’s Lex Luthor is an accidentally pale imitation of Heath Ledger’s Joker. This is a shame as I like Mr Eisenberg as an actor, but this role has nowhere near the real malice and madness of the previous franchise’s Joker, and without it, it becomes hard to discern why he does well, really anything he does in the movie. And if there is anything I have learnt in my years of passionate action movie watching …
the bad guy maketh the movie
Not one to want to dismiss a movie out of hand, I dig some digging into the dark underbelly of geek culture to see what the hard core comic fans were saying about the movie, and in fact the response there is somewhat more positive. They aren’t doing cartwheels in the aisles, but it seems that all of the ‘dream’ sequences make sense if you have read the comics, and in fact there are brief references that seem to also provide a whole additional level of nuance to the movie.
However let me be clear. I got NONE of that. Zac Snyder seems to have done a great job of producing a movie for the hard core fans, and more power to him, however I wish the marketing had made that clear as I think more people than not will have the reaction I did – not because it is such a bad movie, but because we aren’t the ones it was made for.
The one shining light in the movie? Wonder Woman’s introduction was pretty awesome, and her fights scenes are kick arse! While this movie has put me off this franchise in general, I would absolutely pay to see a movie focusing on Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman. She smoulders, she fights and she loves it.
So, as movies go, how did Batman v Superman rate?
- Cast: Under-utilised. Ben Affleck does in fact hold his own as the caped crusader (both physically and as a screen presence), particularly against a somewhat bland Superman played by Henry Cavill (I mean he is stupendous to look at, but somehow manages to make Superman seem, well, dull). The rest of this award winning cast have very little to do – Jeremy Irons, Holly Hunter, Jesse Eisenberg, Amy Adams, Laurence Fishburne, Diane Lane…. and for the Aussies, keep a look out for Rush actor Callan Mulvey who seems to be developing quite a CV of military guys gone bad in his Hollywood efforts to date.
- Looks: Dramatic, beautiful & possibly for the wrong movie. The director seems to have gone for a similarly dark look and feel as the Man of Steel, and while some of the scenes have a truly cinematic look to them, this isn’t quite matched by the corresponding storyline.
- Pacing: Jumpy. The movie moves around a fair bit, and doesn’t seem to really find its story groove.
- Length: Super long. At 2 hours & 30 minutes this feels long, while also feeling not long enough for many of the key plotlines to be fleshed out. (Strange, but true!)
- Score: Operatic & also possibly for the wrong movie. There are some themes used alongside Batman and Superman’s plotlines that appear to have been played by a large orchestra, however the heft of the music simply doesn’t match the scattered way the story is delivered.
Overall, Batman v Superman feels a little like a V8 engine that got pulled apart & put back together again, with some pieces left on the workshop floor, and some random extra parts thrown in for good measure.
Did the movie perform well as a Zaptitude Action Movie?
It is all well and good tto rate the movie as a whole, but is it worthy of the title ‘Zaptitude Action Movie’?
As a rule, superhero movies are often going to fail on the Zaptitude Action Movie scale as we expect Zaptitude action heroes to demonstrate at least some or all of the following characteristics:
- Thinking big, but acting small
- Contingency plans truly are life savers
- Run the numbers before embarking on a major mission
- A little forethought goes a long way
Unfortunately aliens with superhuman strength aren’t ever going to need to plan ahead, and certainly in this movie Superman is in almost 100% reactive mode. Batman, while certainly doing some contingency planning ahead of time in the weapons department, certainly doesn’t ever seem to have a long term mission in mind, aside from revenge. So it is fair to say that neither Superman nor Batman will be inducted into the Zaptitude Action Hero hall of fame anytime soon!
I would love to hear what you thought of the movie, and if you are one of the comic book fans this was designed for, whether it connected with you.
Yours in Movie Madness,
p.s. If you are interested in hearing what other reviewers had to say about the movie, then check out Rotten Tomatoes.
p.p.s And if you would like to know more of these Finance Action Heroes we speak of, then check out my book here.