Just back from the critically reviled Batman v Superman, and in a nutshell, it’s either terrible or just so-so, depending on what side of the fence you’re on, where the characters are concerned. I think a percentage of moviegoers who are satisfied by spectacle are likely to feel conflicted too, because while the action is decent, it does take a long time to get there.
Personally speaking, I’m honestly not much of a fan of the DC characters. I’ve been Marvel through and through since I was young enough to remember. I didn’t actually start reading DC Comics until I bought a friend‘s collection back in 1981, and even then I found them to be more of a pale reflection of Marvel’s. I was just never into Batman, and Superman comics bored me. Both Superman and Clark Kent never appealed to me. Neither of them had much depth as characters, and that notion followed me through the various Superman movies over the years. I never understood then or now the appeal of the Reeve movies. Where this cultish devotion to them came from, I find unfathomable. The movies do a pretty awful job of depicting the characters, and I feel that if they never existed and were made the exact same way now, they’d be mocked and hated with a passion (faithful adaptations, they are NOT). Pretty much as mercilessly as Batman V Superman is right now.
So, on a scale of 1 – 10 with 1 being truly abysmal and 10 being just terrible, how is it?
I’ll be honest, I didn’t hate it! Unfortunately, that’s the best I can do. It’s hard to mess up portraying Batman in the post-Schumacher reality. Warners realizes all you have to do is make him very violent and talk with a growl, and you have bums on seats. Affleck doesn’t disappoint as Batman because it’s almost impossible, in other words. I think you could literally stick most of today’s actors in the mask and it wouldn’t play badly. It’s worth mentioning, though, that Batman’s last fight scene in the movie is a LOT like watching someone play any of the recent Activision Batman games. Affleck’s Bruce Wayne however, is mostly just a po-faced bore here. There’s little plot that deals with the charming facade that Bale was able to do here and there, and the interactions he has with the Boris-Karloff like Jeremy Irons are almost pointless.
But who is going to see this for Bruce Wayne or Clark Kent? Nobody, really. They want to see what these characters are going to be like on screen together, and if anyone’s familiar with the old “heroes battle it out before realizing they have a common foe” comic book trope, that’s predictably what you will get in this movie (and likely what you’ll get in Captain America: Civil War, out soon). It’s not much of a spoiler to tell you that the confrontation doesn’t really happen until the second half of Act 2, and when it comes, it’s actually not too bad. Snyder is a pretty good action director, I think. He’s got a good eye for visuals, and in this respect, the movie as a whole doesn’t disappoint. No, all the major problems with this movie are summed up by two distinct elements: the script is absolutely dreadful, and Jesse Eisenberg (an actor I can mostly take or leave) is spectacularly miscast here – even worse, given that his portrayal of Lex Luthor is so badly written. The script, ironically enough, typifies my biggest problem with the Marvel movies, which is their propensity to feature the hero going up against essentially a bigger, stronger version of himself. I’m really tired of this laziness in the writing. Batman V Superman does the exact same thing, but worse, they make the rest of the movie leading up to it just flat out boring. At two and a half hours, a half hour could easily have been cut here, and if, as rumoured, Warners are going to be releasing an even longer “R rated” version (reportedly featuring the glorious Jena Malone as a form of Batgirl), I can’t imagine the result being any less boring.
The appearances of other DC characters are really not all that great, and they feel really clumsy, (especially one in particular). Even Wonder Woman just didn’t seem all that good either, to be perfectly honest. I will say that probably everyone will agree that the “desert scene” early in act 2 is actually really good, and is an obvious setup for the Justice League movie. It’s too bad that the rest of the movie is so badly written.
My last point here is Henry Cavill’s Superman, and how this character has come under a lot of fire both here, and in 2013’s Man Of Steel. I already mentioned I’m no fan of the character, but I don’t actually mind THIS version of Superman. I would prefer to see him given some good character moments, but it’s beyond the likes of a writer like David Goyer. In terms of how dark this version is, I’m not too concerned about that because I was never tethered to the character growing up. In context, this dark, angry Superman fits into the milieu, but I would at some point really like to see a Superman that has a personality, not the charmless bugger that Cavill has been saddled with by mediocre writing talent.
© Andrew Hope, 2016