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Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice

Review - Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice

image: Warner Bros

Minor spoilers.  If you saw the trailers, or don’t care and read other critics reviews, you are fine.

For reference:

First, I want to start this review by saying this is not the greatest movie of all time, but that doesn’t make it the worst either.  I have seen other reviews, looked at all of the hate that is going on out there about this movie, and I really have one thing to ask on that: were we watching the same movie?

This movie isn’t without its flaws: the fight scenes are numerous and not the best choreographed; the dream sequences and senate hearings are a little long; there were character deaths I disliked; I would have liked to have seen more of Clark being heroic, more of Lois being a good reporter (we got a lot but she needed more because Amy Adams is awesome), maybe some more Wonder Woman; and there are  parts that lulled, felt disjointed, and didn’t need to be there. I will let you read spoilers or rants elsewhere and allow you to make up your own minds, but what this movie delivers is what was promised:  Batman vs Superman.  I’m not going to complain about getting what I expected.  I would rather promote what I love about this film instead of bashing what I hated.  That seems like a better use of my time.

All in all, I enjoyed this movie.  I don’t know what others were expecting to see but I got exactly what I thought going into it:  Batman and Superman duking it out, Clark and Lois in domestic bliss, some shirtlessness at some points, Alfred being snarky and wondering if Bruce will ever make “grand-babies,” Lex Luthor being manipulative and creepy, Bruce Wayne flirting with Diana Prince, Wonder Woman saving the boys’ collective butts, Batman and Superman becoming friends/allies in the end, and a set-up to the Justice League.  Each character did as he or she was meant to, and each actor was fully immersed and committed in the role.  Not a single actor “phoned it in.”  That was the movie that I was looking for and that was indeed the movie that I got.

All of the actors delivered a solid performance and were completely believable in their roles.  I was hoping for a high caliber of acting from people who have either won, or been nominated for, Oscars, they did not disappoint.  While this is not an Oscar bait movie (by any stretch of the imagination – comic book adaptations rarely are), there is no question as to the actors making these roles their own, and they were all quite captivating in their performances.  I couldn’t take my eyes off of any of them.

I had no doubts as to the validity of newcomers to the roles: Ben Affleck as Batman/Bruce Wayne, Jesse Eisenberg as Lex Luthor, Gal Gadot as Diana Prince/Wonder Woman, and Jeremy Irons as Alfred Penniworth, or of returning actors:  Henry Cavill as Superman/Clark Kent, Amy Adams as Lois Lane, Diane Lane as Martha Kent, Kevin Costner as Jonathan Kent, or with Laurence Fishburne as Perry White.

There are other critics who are calling this movie lazy writing, or that it is riddled with plot holes.  Things that I would love to address.

The reasons why Superman and Batman are fighting in the first place: difference of opinion and methods.  Bruce is hurt and angry that people he cared for died in the fight between Clark and Zod during Man of Steel.  He saw the devastation that Clark’s powers could do unchecked, and he is terrified that Clark isn’t who he says he is.  “… Alfred, count the dead.  Thousands of people.  What’s next millions?  He has the power to wipe out the entire human race, if there is even a 1% chance that he is our enemy, then we have to take it as an absolute certainty.” – Bruce Wayne.  Clark has seen what happens when Bruce is terrified.  Add in manipulation by Lex Luthor and you have explosions.

Lex Luthor’s motivations and character development.  With Batman and Superman fighting each other he is free to do what he wants while they aren’t looking.  Everything else will most likely be revealed in the coming movies, through either exposition or flashbacks.

It is quite apparent, even if it is not stated, that he knows their identities and has been manipulating them from the start.  How Lex knows?   Not a clue.  He more than likely hired people to stalk Lois, Bruce, or Alfred.  Do we need to know?  Nope.  He’s a genius, and a bad guy.   It doesn’t have to be complicated.  By the end of the movie he most definitely knows – and him knowing Clark’s identity by that point is crystal clear, but by his actions through the entire movie I am quite sure he knows going into it.

What we do know is that at the start of this movie Bruce has been Batman for twenty years, and It has been nearly two years since Clark revealed himself as Superman.  Bruce has been investigating how to weaken or kill Superman just as Lex has.  They are also billionaires and run in the same circles, just on opposite sides.  That would probably get Lex to start wondering who has the same amount of money as him looking into doing what he wants to do.

Again we aren’t going to know any of his full motives until future movies, if at all, but even if it isn’t revealed it doesn’t really matter as Lex knowing isn’t exactly essential to the plot, just that he knows.

Speaking of coming movies…

The introduction/set-up for the Justice League.  Having it presented as it was has made a lot of people upset.  Either because it was there at all or there was not enough of it.  As a narrative standpoint, I think realistically, it was executed and handled very well.  It didn’t detract from the rest of the movie and it was a short nod to get us thinking about the next few movies:  Wonder Woman’s stand-alone movie, The Suicide Squad, the two Justice League movies, Aquaman, the Flash, Batman’s reboot, and hopefully another Superman movie or two.  It did the job it was supposed to do.  From a fan standpoint I can see why both camps are upset.  We either want to see a lot more of those characters or they shouldn’t be there at all.

Now let’s be real: this is a bridging movie, a piece of a larger narrative.  I say, let DC finish before we say that they have gaping plot holes. Reveals are coming – be patient.  Just like anything that is part of a larger story not everything needs to happen right away.  Are A New Hope, Empire Strikes Back, or The Force Awakens any less entertaining?  How about Game of Thrones?  Any of the first few books/movies in a series always set up the plot for the rest of the narrative, why would this be any different?  With how many movies are planned, this is still just the first act.

While some would argue that you don’t use later reveals to fix the plot in the movie that one is currently seeing, I agree and disagree.  There was nothing in this film that really needed to be explained further, except the part that was a setup for the next movies, and those explanations are coming.  This movie as a whole was meant to get you thinking about what was next to come, while giving some context to the current circumstances.  I feel that it did that.  Other than what might be coming in The Justice League, there really weren’t any lingering questions.  Except: Yes, and? What’s next?

The dream sequences.  Yeah, alright some of these I wasn’t a huge fan of myself.  They were lengthy and parts of them could have been shaved even more for time.  Clark’s didn’t need to be there at all.  That scene could have been cut and it wouldn’t have changed the overall movie.

Bruce’s dream sequences. His origin story built into a dream, and the post-apocalyptic wasteland, served purposes and without them Bruce’s character development and set up for The Justice League isn’t complete.  Fans who are arguing about that at least get to see these points into his character.  Until Batman has his own reboot movie (again) this is as good as it gets in a character with a twenty-year history.  Do you need more?  Not for this movie.  It’s Batman.  He’s going to get more in The Suicide Squad, The Justice League Parts One and Two, and his own movie.

The Senate hearings.  They were long and boring, just like real Senate hearings, but they served a purpose for the grittier world and trying to bring accountability to Superman.  Yes, please tie up the man saving the world in tape as long and as red as his cape.  Holly Hunter was amazing though!

Character deaths.  This one, I agree with on some level.  I’m not spoiling, they are documented elsewhere, in movie, yeah there are a couple I am not a fan of…  But I will address one not in the movie…

The internet is calling out for blood because a character was killed early and it was revealed that in a deleted scene this was a beloved character in the Superman mythos, I’m not spoiling. If you want to know who it is, others have talked about it already.  To address this: if it didn’t make it to the finished product, it didn’t happen.  My logic behind this is that while things get brandied around in the development stage for the narrative to go on it wasn’t important to the plot for it to be that person, perhaps they realized that making it that person isn’t the greatest idea and they want to leave it open for a recast later on, or it was cut for time. For whatever the reasoning behind why it was left out or shot in the first place, it didn’t make it to the finished product – which means it shouldn’t be included in debates as to why people believe this movie is horrible.

There is also another deleted scene making the rounds that speaks to Lex’s motivations – and is also a setup for The Justice League.  I will restate my position for the last part, if it didn’t make it into the finished product we, as the audience, didn’t need to see it happen for the story.  Until WB puts it into the extended cut on the DVD, it doesn’t matter as to what it is or isn’t.

What truly matters in all of this is whether or not this movie is enjoyable.  I found it extremely so, but then I wasn’t looking for a reason to tear it down


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