Had a chance to see Batman V Superman yesterday. Didn’t hate it but I think it’s “just ok”. Some thoughts on it follow and there are spoilers so don’t read this if spoilers bother you.
A couple of things about Batman V Superman first and foremost. One, I think it’s fair to say at this point that the films director, Zack Snyder lacks a fundamental understanding of the characters he’s making films about. Second, this film is rated PG-13 and DC/Warner will market the crap outta this to kids but this isn’t really suitable for young kids. More on that in a minute.
I thought Ben Affleck makes an interesting Batman. This is sort of remarkable given the material he had to work with. If you liked Henry Cavill as Superman in Man of Steel then you’ll like him here too. He’s the same sort of moody Superman here that he was in MoS so I don’t really have much to say about him. Jesse Isenberg’s Lex Luthor is a hot mess. I wasn’t sold at all on Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman but she literally saves the day and the entire film from being a giant POS.
So Batman….doesn’t just beat all the bad guys up. He kills them, he kills a lot of them and he works hard to kill them in creative ways. At one point he launches the Batmobile through a guys face because just shooting them or running them off the road isn’t murdery enough I guess.. Oh and the few guys that he actually only beats into submission and leaves for the police to find? He brands them with the bat symbol. Literally brands them with a red hot bat-brand. This is so they can be beaten to death by other inmates when they get to prison. It’s a pretty dark Batman. Zack Snyder got a lot of flak because
Man of Steel was also dark and Superman was directly responsible for a lot of innocent deaths in that film. That theme is reinforced in Batman V Superman in a sort of IN YOUR FACE HATERS manner. Snyder didn’t like the reactions he got from fans and critics and parts of this film feel sort of like a big middle finger to all of those people.
In spite of this Afflecks Batman is pretty interesting. This isn’t a Batman origin story (although we get the obligatory scene of the the elder Waynes being murdered. Everyone knows this is what happened, I think we can stop wasting time with this. At this point the only reason to show this anymore is to see if you can make a crueler version of this than the last guy at the helm of a Batman film. Enough already).
Batman is tired, he’s been at this for 20+ years and him and Alfred are both feeling it. They’re both battered and cynical but with good reason. This is reinforced by showing you a Robin costume that’s covered in bloody writing courtesy of the Joker. These guys have a lot of baggage. But they know it and they also admit and have to come to terms with the fact that they are both criminals just like the people they’ve been hunting (and killing) for two decades. My biggest issue with Batman in this film was the use of prophetic dream sequences to advance the plot. That was lazy and even though I’m not a Batman super nerd, I’m pretty sure it’s completely out of character for Batman.
Lex Luthor – Jesse Isenberg actually starts out OK in this role. He’s like an arrogant tech millennial/trust fund baby and he pulls that off.. He’s got daddy’s money and some success of his own. He’s arrogant and socially awkward and entitled. Perfect. Then suddenly and for no apparent reason he gets kind of twitchy and hysterical. It’s like the director told him “that’s great but I need to you channel some Heath Ledger Joker now” or something and it’s just absurd and not very entertaining to watch.
Wonder Woman – pretty great! As I mentioned above I think that she sort of saves the day figuratively and literally. She’s a minor player at first. In fact, she doesn’t want to be here at all. She reveals her motivation for being around early on but even that isn’t clear until you see what she’s talking about. She doesn’t have to do anything but chooses to help out in spite of her feelings about the world in general. Then when she reveals herself she’s a total badass.
This movie suffers from being too long and using shoddy plot devices to move the story along. Sometimes the characters suddenly change their minds for seemingly random reasons or wonky plot mechanics. This is particularly jarring during the big Bat vs Supes fight (which seemingly could have been avoided entirely by simply talking to each other). This film also has a disappointing ending that’s made worse by the gimmick at the very end that’s a ham fisted setup for the next film. Parents are going to have to do a lot of explaining, particularly if your children are big Superman fans.
The kid thing – Batman V Superman is slow. Like S….L…..O……W at times. Run time is two and half hours. It’s probably about 30 minutes too long. Because of this and how dark and murdery it is I think that young kids might have a tough time with this due to a combination of not being entertained enough and the dark tone of the story being possibly a little scary.