There has been so much drama surrounding this movie I was hesitant to even review this movie. There really has not been a lot of middle ground. People seem to either love it or hate. So, let me start off by saying I enjoyed the movie. I can agree that it is too long. However, my issues with the movie are little different than some of the others that have been raised.
Batman v Superman is DC Comics first entry in their extended movie universe. In this role the movie has a lot of weight on its shoulders as it tries to introduce new characters, define a broader world and entice viewers to see the next set of movies. I think this is where the movie stumbles. There is a great deal of time devoted to explaining the tortured history Bruce Wayne/Batman. We see him witness the murder of his parents as a young boy. We see his discovery of bats. We see how he is still driven by these events today. The scenes are lovingly done. I, surprisingly, don’t even have a problem with Ben Affleck in the role of Batman. He’s good.
The problem for me is we have at least 17 years of Batman movies that have described the same events. That’s excluding the source comic book material. I understand that there is a segment of the population who may not know Batman’s history. I understand that this may be a fanboy response. But seriously, if you are coming to see a Batman vs Superman movie is it too much to ask that you have a rudimentary understanding of the characters? I say this because if the movie could flow with the assumption that you already are familiar with these characters it would be free to explore new concepts in their relationship.
Once the movie gets past the introduction of Bruce Wayne and highlighting his differences with Superman, its actually pretty enjoyable. The final act with the much-hyped fight between the title characters is good. It’s a little predictable with the expected clever use of gadgets by Batman but it works. What works even better is the final fight scene where Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman team up to fight a worthy villain. I just feel the movie could have been shorter, more focused and told a new story, if the retelling of a very familiar story was excluded. I think there are much more efficient ways to highlight the differences between Batman and Superman’s approaches to justice.
Gal Gadot however, is wonderful. She is used sparingly and steals every scene she’s in. Her Wonder Woman character exudes a calm practiced maturity that neither of the male characters can match. Once she gets involved in the fighting she is every bit the warrior you’d expect. There is one scene where she takes a pretty heavy blow and gives a sly grin before getting back up to rejoin the fight. I’m very much looking forward to her stand alone movie. I just hope it will be in modern setting.
Henry Cavill’s Superman is a more realistic portrayal of a man-god trying to balance his role and responsibilities. It’s definitely darker than the 80’s version but I think its more accurate. I also think the mixed response from the public to man with the power to do so much good and harm is realistic. In modern world with terrorism fears it would be a disservice to portray a 100% loved Superman. Henry Cavill does a great job of this and even brings some vulnerability to the role.
Lex Luthor is a mixed bag. It’s pretty clear the movie wants to put some reason behind Lex’s evil scheming. Again, it’s a modern spin with Lex being portrayed as an abused child with a skewed worldview. This one is harder to swallow. jesse Eisenberg’s Luthor flips quickly from annoying boy billionaire to calculating criminal mastermind at an almost dizzying speed. Still, he’s entertaining in either mode. I guess I just miss my traditional levelheaded calculating Lex. It almost seems inappropriate for someone so unbalanced to be a match to Superman
The movie has an overall dark tone that a lot of people have lamented. I don’t think the tone is the problem. There just seemed to be some magic lacking from certain scenes. In one chase scene involving Batman and the Batmobile, I found myself thinking, this should be exciting but its not. It’s hard to put a finger on what the missing ingredient was. The scene was well choreographed. The effects worked but it just lacked heart. Honestly, most of the first half of the movie is like this though. It’s all setup for the end fight.
I think the movie redeems itself when Batman and Superman finally have a connecting moment. We see two titans find common ground and work together. I get that you can’t have that moment without a setup but you can setup just a bit more quickly and without loosing your audience.
Overall, I did enjoy it. I just hope in next DC romp we get to the point more quickly. Maybe they just hand out DC comics primer leaflets with info on each of the characters and just dive in.