GUEST POST BY DAVID ROBINSON
Director: Zack Snyder
Writers: David Goyer and Chris Terrio
Starring: Ben Affleck, Henry Cavill, Jesse Eisenberg, Gal Gadot, Jeremy Irons and Amy Adams
Release Date: March 25, 2016
Runtime: 2 hours, 31 minutes
Rating: PG-13 for “intense sequences of violence and action throughout, and some sensuality.”
Plot Summary: “When the actions and motives of Superman are questioned by the world, Gotham City’s Caped Crusader, the Batman, wages a personal assault on the Man of Steel while an even greater threat rises in the city of Metropolis.”
I’m going to be honest here; I was more excited for this movie than I was for “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” and have waited three years to see it. “The greatest gladiator match in the history of the world” and the biggest superhero movie since 2012’s “The Avengers” has finally come to the big screen and now I can answer the big question everyone has on their minds: “is it any good?”
Before I get into that however, I must first off embarrassingly say something. Three years ago, when Ben Affleck was announced as Christian Bale’s successor to dawn the cape and cowl, I was so angry that I wrote a huge rant on Facebook about why he shouldn’t play the Dark Knight. After seeing this movie however, I am being forced to “eat crow” and admit that I was 150% wrong when I said Ben Affleck would never make a good Batman/Bruce Wayne. I did not have a single criticism or complaint on “Batfleck” throughout the entire course of this movie and can honestly say that this was not only Ben Affleck’s best performance ever and the most accurate comic book portrayal of Batman, but it has also taken the place as my new favorite interpretation of Batman. Ben Affleck went above and beyond when it came to mastering Batman’s look, motivations, voice and persona and I cannot wait to see what more is going to come of this character.
Ben Affleck’s awesome performance was, without a doubt, my favorite part of the movie, but there were also many other aspects of the film that I found to be extremely enjoyable. They are as follows:
The conflict between Batman and Superman in this movie is both relatable and interesting and it’s extremely suspenseful to witness how the conflict builds up to the point of an all out brawl. Speaking of the fight between Batman and Superman, I can honestly say that that fight is the single best superhero fight ever put onto a screen and everyone who sees it is going to enjoy it.
Next, Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman/Diana Prince was outstanding. Even though she’s not in the movie very much, when she does appear she completely steals and owns. The best thing about Wonder Woman in this movie is that she’s not there to be a love interest or damsel in distress for Batman or Superman; she is there to flaunt off her strength and power as one of the (if not the) strongest female characters ever created. Anyone who watches Gadot as Wonder Woman in this movie and then says that they don’t have any interest in seeing her in “The Justice League” or her solo movie (both of which are coming out next year) is a robot with no human feelings or emotions.
Finally, the debate on whether the world really needs overpowered superhumans to protect it creates a realistic atmosphere in a universe that’s generally considered impractical and unrealistic. This ends up being so prevalent and readdressed in this film that you could make the assumption that “Batman Versus Superman: Dawn of Justice” is a political thriller in some ways, shapes and forms. I thoroughly enjoyed seeing this on screen because it goes above and beyond just entertaining the audience and actually makes them think.
Now that I have covered all of the positive notes about Zack Snyder’s “Batman Versus Superman”, let’s move on to the aspects of this film that are preventing it from being amazing and ultimately stopped me from “loving it”:
Although Ben Affleck proved me wrong with his performance, there was an actor in this film whose performance I anticipated to be quirky, odd and downright wrong, and unfortunately, I was 150% right this time. Jesse Eisenberg’s performance in this movie ended up disappointing me so much that I refuse to recognize him by his character and will instead call him by the name of the character he actually plays in this movie: Jesse Eisenberg. At no point in the two and a half hour runtime of this film was I even the slightest bit convinced of Eisenberg as the menacing, maniacal, power-hungry and threatening villain that Lex Luthor is supposed to be. He was twitchy, jumpy, way too comedic, annoying and he had no business playing this character whatsoever. I can’t even begin to comprehend how a casting director could watch Eisenberg’s audition, compare it to the other actors they were considering for Lex Luthor (who were Denzel Washington, Bryan Cranston, Joaquin Phoenix and Mark Strong, by the way) and then conclude that he was the best choice. If they had chosen a different actor to play Lex, this movie would have been a billion times more enjoyable for me.
My other criticism with this film is a common problem I have been seeing in superhero movies these days due to the success of Marvel Studios. “Batman Versus Superman: Dawn of Justice” is so concerned with setting up DC’s cinematic universe and future films that it forgets to focus on itself as a whole. This film is stocked to the roof and beyond with easter eggs, cameos and references that have no relevant place in the story and serve no purpose other than to set up “The Justice League” and solo films for other DC characters. For example, if you have read any of the rumors or stories circulating this movie, you’re probably aware that some members of the Justice League make “surprise appearances” in the movie; however, the way that the writers of this movie handled these cameos was extremely lazy and disappointing and to be honest, they all felt shoehorned into the movie with no real purpose or intention. The creative team behind this movie honestly should have just renamed it “Dawn of Justice” because at the end of the day, it’s more concerned with setting up “The Justice League” and future DC movies than it is with focusing on the compelling conflict between Batman and Superman.
“Batman Versus Superman: Dawn of Justice” was a billion times better than I thought it was going to be when I went into it, but it still was not as good as it could have been. Had the filmmakers toned down on the nonstop exposition and chosen a different actor to play Lex Luthor, this movie could have gotten an “A” and I would feel proud calling it the best superhero movie of all time; unfortunately, these negative elements are far too plentiful in the film and I’m forced to settle it with a “B-”. If you enjoy superhero movies, action movies or are a fan of either of these two characters, I highly recommend you see this. I most certainly will be seeing it at least two more times before it leaves theaters to relive the triumph of “The Batfleck” and overall majesty of the film.