So, I promised that this would be a spoiler-free review. I’m still going to keep to that, but it presents a pretty big problem:
It means that this review is not going to be as in-depth as I want it to be. The vast majority of the bad and the good are spoilers, some minor and some major. So, basically, all I’m capable of doing is giving general impressions for this particular review in order to avoid major spoilers. And my spoiler-heavy review won’t be coming until the extended edition is out in, I think, August, because I want to see that to see if it alleviates at least some of the problems I had with this movie.
That, happily, is one of the problems I can discuss without spoiling anything, so I’ll start there…
It was announced a while back that there is an extended edition being released that includes at least thirty minutes of extra footage. The biggest problem with Batman v Superman is that it felt like there was at least thirty minutes of footage missing, and not in a good way. To say this film felt rushed would be understating it. It was poorly organized with no transitions between scenes and no coherence within the film. Despite the 2.5-hour theatrical run time, I actually felt like it wasn’t long enough.
See, footage that is cut from a film should be footage that doesn’t affect the plot. Good movies don’t feel like stuff was cut. When you find out there’s extra footage, you should be looking forward to that footage because the film was good enough to make you want to see more. You should not be looking forward to that footage because the theatrical cut felt like a lot was missing. Sadly, that’s exactly why I’m looking forward to the extended cut of Batman v Superman… because I’m hoping it will answer so many questions.
BvS had no room to breathe. We were never given time with any moment or character. Well… there is one exception, but I can’t describe that exception without giving away the ending of the movie, so sadly all I can tell you is that there is one good exception. But aside from that, the movie moved too fast and was too unorganized. It felt less like a coherent, organic story and more like a project moving too quickly from point A to point Z to point K to point 5 to point Λ to point AB to point Ꜩ… honestly, that was how this was “organized”.
And then there were two scenes in the film that felt like end-credits scenes. They would have worked so much better as mid-credits and end-credits scenes, in fact. Instead, they were thrown in the middle of the film as commercials that served no greater purpose to the plot other than advertising the future of the DC Cinematic Universe. Yet again, I’m hoping the extended edition provides the context needed to make these scenes seem more organic, like they are actually part of the film, instead of just commercial breaks.
But there was good here, and the main good was the acting. Seriously… the acting here from almost everyone was top-notch. Almost everyone did the absolute best with what they were given, giving the performances of their lives, acting at what seemed like the top of their abilities. I believed in each character because of the acting alone. So I’m going to pad this review with a short review of Wonder Woman, Batman, Superman, Lois Lane, and Lex Luthor as they were played by their respective actors. Starting with Gal Gadot as Diana Prince/Wonder Woman.
I cannot express in words how ecstatic I am for the Wonder Woman solo film. I do feel as if she was underused and, sadly, didn’t really need to be in BvS. However, Gal Gadot took Wonder Woman and created what I’m going to have to say is my definitive version of the character. She was so good with what she had and stole every scene she was in, both as Diana Prince and as Wonder Woman. She shined brighter than basically everybody else and wasn’t even close to being a main character. The character’s inclusion may have been unnecessary, but Gal Gadot did such a great job that I can honestly say that this movie would be much poorer without her. And I really believe she had great chemistry with Ben Affleck, which makes me happy because, much as I love the classic Batman/Catwoman relationship, I’ve always rather enjoyed the idea of Batman and Wonder Woman getting together (thanks animated Justice League!). So yeah, I’m kinda hoping they do that in these films… or at least do the will they/won’t they thing the animated JL series did.
And speaking of Ben Affleck…
I do not like his acting. I’ve never been a fan of his films. I enjoyed Argo to a point, but that’s basically it. So I’m still shocked that I feel like his acting was incredible. Absolutely incredible. It was as if Ben Affleck was born to play Bruce Wayne and Batman. Now, I do have issues with the characterization of Batman in BvS, but, sadly, that’s one of the many things I can’t discuss in a spoiler-free review. That said, Ben Affleck did so well with it that I am incredibly excited for his Batman’s solo film. And as I said above… he played so well off of Gal Gadot. He also played well off of Henry Cavill.
Henry Cavill himself was really good. I always disagreed with critics about his acting in Man of Steel, and I disagree with them here, too. Even if Zack Snyder doesn’t get Superman, I absolutely believe that Henry does, and is doing his absolute best with what he’s being given. Every problem I have with this new iteration of Superman is not at all because of Henry. He is not to blame for any of it. People say his acting in Man of Steel and in here was wooden or plastic. I would definitely say that his acting is subtle in a lot of places, but it’s neither wooden nor plastic. I hope he is our Superman for many movies to come, because I do really like what he’s trying do. The only thing that could make Henry Cavill’s Superman better is a director who actually understands the character. Of all the problems this new Superman has, Henry is not one of them. As for his chemistry with Amy Adams… god it’s phenomenal. It’s almost as if Henry and Amy are a madly-in-love couple in real life.
And yes, I do love Amy Adams as Lois Lane. Just like with Henry, my problems with Lois’s character have essentially nothing to do with Amy. Lois Lane has always been the quintessential Damsel in Distress for comic books. Everyone knows that the way to get Superman’s attention is to threaten Lois Lane, no matter where in the world (or, apparently, the multiverse, if some comics are anything to go by) she is. I had hoped, with Man of Steel, that Lois Lane as a character would be changed for the better. Instead, in both films, her character is very much the same, at least in terms of her purpose, as she is in the comics. But Amy Adams has taken that and done a wonderful job with it. I can honestly say that Amy’s Lois Lane is my favorite Lois Lane.
And so we come to Jesse Eisenberg as Lex Luthor. And yet again, I have to say that Jesse’s acting is not my problem, here. I’m very unsure about Lex’s characterization. Sadly, I can’t go into too much detail without spoilers, but I’m not sure I liked what we got, here. But that isn’t necessarily because of Jesse Eisenberg’s acting. I have actually always liked Jesse as an actor. I tend to like his films more than not and really like what he brings to most of the characters he’s played. And I do think he did a decent job with what he was given. My problem, here, is with what he was given; a weird cross between Heath Ledger’s Joker and Jim Carrey’s Riddler.
Really, I think that’s the problem with Batman v Superman. It’s not what each actor did with their characters. It’s what each actor had to work with. Of course, a lot of that could be resolved with the extended edition, but that inandof itself is a whole other problem, as I’ve already discussed. We shouldn’t have to rely on an extended edition to hopefully solve the problems we had with a film. An extended cut of a movie should only add to what’s already there. It shouldn’t have to fill in plot holes. The very fact that I feel like I need to wait for the extended edition to see if it will answer questions I have about the movie and about characterizations and plot elements is a serious problem.
Ultimately, I don’t think Zack Snyder is right for the DC Cinematic Universe. I really glad he’s not directing Suicide Squad and Wonder Woman, and that he’s probably not going to direct the Batman solo film. I sincerely hope he’s kept away from a Man of Steel sequel and the second Justice League film, as well. He’s most likely already locked in to the first Justice League film, and I’m not excited about that at all.
I do have to say that one of my biggest problems with Zack Snyder is that he’s clearly an Objectivist. He wants to adopt Ayn Rand’s The Fountainhead for fuck’s sake! The problem is, DC is not an Objectivist universe, and Superman sure as hell is not an Objectivist superhero. If anything, Superman is more of a Socialist hero. And the DC Universe is more of a Socialist universe. In fact, really, if you think about it, the whole concept of superheroes is Socialist. Even Batman, though perhaps a conservative in his own right, ultimately has a Socialist message. Superheroes are definitively anti-selfishness. Their whole existence was always about the Greater Good, and using their powers to help the world. Supervillains are usually the selfish, Objectivist ones. So having an Objectivist try to wrangle superheroes (especially a superhero like Superman) into an Objectivist worldview basically makes those superheroes seem like villains.
And yes, that is a big part of why I think Zack Snyder is not the person to control the DC Cinematic Universe. Now, to be fair, having an Objectivist worldview itself is not exactly the problem (I mean, it is a problem in general, but in this specific case it’s not). It’s that Zack Snyder thinks he can wrangle an inherently Socialist idea into an Objectivist one. If Zack could keep his worldview out of the DC Cinematic Universe, then I might be a little more forgiving of him. But he clearly wants to make an Objectivist Superman at the very least, and that is simply not going to work… at all.
WB and DC could keep everything else in this universe. They could keep all of the actors, all of the various story lines, all of the visuals, and even the darker, more serious tone. All of that is, in my opinion, at least, wonderful, and they do need things to differentiate them from Marvel’s Cinematic Universe. I think all they really have to get rid of is Zack Snyder, and things will vastly improve for them.
I’m going to end this review with my score. There was enough to like about this film that I feel comfortable giving it a 6 out 10. That, however, could change with the extended edition. My more in-depth, spoiler-heavy review will come out then. I should note that for that review, I’ll basically be taking this review and expanding it to include spoilers. So you can think of my spoiler-heavy review as the extended edition of this review, coming soon.
Which… I hope… works.
I will leave you all with this warning:
If you felt that Man of Steel was too dark, bleak, and dreary, you should know that Batman v Superman makes Man of Steel look like a G-rated animated Disney rom-com made for children. I, personally, am okay with that. I do love the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and so don’t necessarily have a problem with the lighter, more fantastical tone, but I also love the darker, more grounded approach. After all, Batman Begins and The Dark Knight are both in my personal Top 10 Films of All Time list.
But if you do have a problem with a darker and grittier approach, and that is one of your biggest criticisms of Man of Steel, you’re not going to like Batman v Superman at all.
Okay I lied… I need to include some commenting rules, as well:
It’s fine to prefer Marvel over DC or DC over Marvel. All I’m going to ask is that any discussion in the comics avoid bashing one to prop up the other. When it comes to heroes, comics, and so on, I happen to be a fan of both. I’m enjoying the Marvel Cinematic Universe and really want to enjoy the DC Cinematic Universe. So please don’t use your preference for one to bash the other. I don’t want that fight in my comments because I don’t believe in it. I think both are good in their ways.
Also, if you want to get into a political debate, that’s fine. It’s certainly not off topic considering what I said above about Zack’s Objectivism and why I don’t think it fits a superhero word at all. I also understand that such a discussion will get heated. All I ask is that you keep it in the context of the film, Zack Snyder, and the comics universe, and that you be respectful of other people. No ad hominems, no misogyny, no racism, no homophobia, no ableism, and no classism. Those will get your comment disemvoweled and you put into moderation.
(And yes, I realize my title for this post is the hashtag. I shamelessly did that to get more eyes on this. Bite me… :P)
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I totally forgot! Something else I found rather annoying was how close Gotham and Metropolis were to each other. They were quite literally “across the harbor”. So close, in fact, that you could see Gotham from Metropolis and vice versa. I didn’t like that. I don’t mind them being with driving distance from each other; that’s fine… although I do prefer it the way it was done in the animated series’, where Bruce always had to take a plane into Metropolis.
I don’t think they should have been so close, and that was certainly another mis-step of this film…
I forgot something else, too! Remember the Superman-Is-Jesus stuff from Man of Steel?
If you loved how on the nose that was, you are going to be a kid in a candy store here. If you hated how on the nose that was, I have some bad news: all Batman v Superman was missing was someone outright calling him Jesus. They did have a whole lot of people call him “God”.
And worse, Batman clearly was the personification of the Old Testament, while Superman was the personification of the New Testament.
At this point, I’m waiting for the Zack Snyder interview where he reveals that he’s an Evangelical Christian who believes that the universe is 6000 years old, the earth was made in 6 days, and all science is a lie from Satan. At least Lex Luthor wasn’t the stereotypical personification of an atheist, but a dystheist. I guarantee that the evil atheist will be in the first Justice League film, though.
Tony! The Queer Shoop says
I wanted a spoiler-laden review. I guess I’ll have to message you in private.
Sorry, Tony. It’s too soon for the spoilers… 🙁
Haven’t watched this yet and don’t think I will until after the extended version after reading this, if I watch it at all. I’ve run into Objectivism shoehorned into a work of fiction before and the results generally don’t seem to work all that well. In a superhero especially, having personal, selfish needs tends to be a flaw. It’s a very believable flaw and we generally love them for it because it humanizes them. And it gives us a path to seeing ourselves as being like superheroes.
But celebrating this flaw just feels awkwardly bizarre. You start to question what they would do to fulfill their selfish needs and whether they’d do the same for things they simply desire to have. Essentially you begin to wonder whether they’re really heroes at all.
Brian Pansky says
Isn’t that exactly what the stereotypical personification of an atheist is though? 😛
Usually, yeah, but Lex didn’t make any pretenses to not believing in God, which the stereotype atheist usually does, at least at first. Lex was pretty clear about believing in and hating God.