“Batman Vs. Superman” Dawn of Critical Disappointment and Financial Success
By Scott Kurland
Film: Batman Vs. Superman: Dawn Of Justice
Starring: Ben Affleck, Henry Cavill, Amy Adams, Gal Godot, Jesse Eisenberg, Holly Hunter, Scoot McNairy, and Jeremy Irons
Director: Zack Snyder
By now, everyone has seen the tomato rating on rottentomatoes.com. “Batman Vs. Superman” is 30% rotten. Comic book fans and pop culture nerds are outraged at the critics. Some are saying Marvel even paid the critics to give it bad reviews which is ridiculous. This isn’t the 80s anymore. Film critics aren't scarce anymore. There’s simply too many to pay off. Also, if you’ve read said negative reviews, critics ratings are in the 2 1/2 stars to C+/C- range. None of these are truly bad reviews. They are just pointing out that "Batman Vs. Superman" is a flawed film. Now, I’m finally going to review this sucker and give you all my two cents. Let’s find out if “Batman Vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice” is as bad as the tomatometer is saying shall we?
“Batman Vs. Superman” begins with Bruce Wayne aka Batman’s (Ben Affleck) point-of-view of the events that took place in “Man Of Steel”. We see the destruction of Wayne Financial, and it causes Bruce to go off the deep end. Bruce is out for Superman’s blood, wanting him to pay for his reckless use of power. While this is going on, Clark aka Superman (Henry Cavill) is trying to figure out who the “BATMAN” is and why Gotham isn’t doing anything about him. Both don’t realize that they are just pawns in a chess match orchestrated by LexCorp, a company headed by Lex Luthor Jr. (Jesse Eisenberg). Will Batman and Superman fight to the death, or will Luthor Jr.'s plans fall apart?
This film is not garbage….it’s more like residuum; it just occurs. My biggest problem with “Batman Vs. Superman” is not Zack Snyder, even though it should be. My two biggest problems are Jesse Eisenberg and how this film was pieced together. First, lets talk about Eisenberg. I don't know what Snyder was thinking casting Eisenberg, but he’s an awful Lex Luthor. He’s more Sheldon Cooper than Luthor. He’s childish and sloppy as a villain. And the biggest problem? He’s not even Lex Luthor. He’s Lex Luthor’s son…yeah….little Lex Jr. Eisenberg’s performance doesn’t harken back to the better performances of Gene Hackman or even Kevin Spacey. Eisenberg’s Luthor reminded me of John Cryer’s Lenny Luthor from “Superman IV: The Quest for Peace.” That's bad, very, very bad. Eisenberg was poorly cast; that’s a given, but who should have been Lex? Well, Bryan Cranston, Adam Driver, and my personal favorite Jon Hamm. Any of these would have been ideal casting. Hamm played him in a “Funny or Die” sketch and he was great. Eisenberg was too young and he’s the films main downfall. Every time he was on screen, I wanted him to leave, which is unfortunate because I love Eisenberg. I really do, “The Social Network”, “Now You See Me”, and most importantly “Zombieland”.
The pacing and assembly of this film are all over the place. When it drags, it draaaagggggssss. When it’s getting good and finds momentum, it does well. Yet the momentum is in the fight scenes. This is an example of a insecure film. It doesn’t know the right pacing and it takes itself way too seriously. There’s not one joke in this film. Even Netflix’s dark and gritty “Daredevil” has a few laughs. I know Eisenberg is suppose to be the comic relief, but he’s just socially awkward. Looking past bad flow, let’s talk editing. It feels like editor David Brenner had the script in his hands, accidentally dropped it, and shuffled it together using the jumbled script as his guide. Scenes appear out of nowhere and feel forced in a lot of areas. I know the original cut of the film was three-and-a-half, almost four hours long. But I'd rather watch a long cut than a rushed one.
Not everything in “Batman Vs. Superman” is bad. Ben Affleck is amazing. That’s right, Ben Affleck is one of the best Batmen to hit the silver screen. In my opinion, it goes Kevin Conroy (the voice of Batman for twenty something years), Michael Keaton, Ben Affleck tied with Christian Bale, Val Kilmer, Adam West, and George Clooney. Affleck really nails that proper balance of Batman and Bruce Wayne. When Bale played Batman he was Batman. When he was Bruce, he wanted to be Batman. Affleck gets that Bruce is supposed to be more Bruce Wayne than Batman. I’m glad he was given a five picture deal because I want to see him tackle a stand-alone film. What Snyder should have done was “The Dark Knight Returns” after “Man Of Steel,” then go into “Batman Vs. Superman”. The Batman storyline is more compelling and layered. Wonder Woman and Superman seem wedged in like an afterthought.
There’s things to like about this film and there’s things to hate. I really did not like all the graphic novels and comics they shoved into this one film. Not only do we get “World’s Finest" (without the Joker…shame on them), Snyder stuffs this film with “The Dark Knight Returns”, “Flashpoint”, “The New 52”, “Death In The Family” and a Superman graphic novel (which I won’t say because it will spoil the film). That’s six graphic novels in one film. There’s also elements of stand-alone issues here as well. Snyder took on way too much and it shows on screen. This isn’t a train-wreck like people are saying. This is more of Zeppelin crashing into the ground. It’s not as big of a disaster as the Hindenburg, but it’s pretty sizable. Actors are wasted, storylines are rushed and, after seeing the CGI in “Deadpool,” I’m unimpressed by “Batman Vs. Superman”.
With the exception of Jesse Eisenberg, the cast does a decent job with what they’re given. Cavill proves once more that he’s a good Superman. Amy Adams is the best Lois Lane we have ever had as she adds a good balance to the film’s tone. Also, I know people will go crazy if I don’t mention Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman. Gal Gadot is Wonder Woman. I know Snyder was trying to prove something with “Batman Vs. Superman," but he fail which is alright because he can learn from his mistakes. The real question is, will the studio allow him to continue work on “The Justice League"?
There’s definitely an audience for “Batman Vs. Superman: Dawn Of Justice”, but it’s not for me which is fine. I know there’s certain comic book movies I own and like that people hate, i.e. “The Phantom”, “Dick Tracy”, and “Blankman” to name a few disasters. “Batman Vs. Superman: Dawn Of Justice” has some good parts, but there’s just too many flaws to even recommend this movie. What I will do is something I haven’t done in years. I’ll give the film the rating it deserves, and I'll give Ben Affleck a rating for his performance. The film is gorgeous to look at, but that does not prevent us from noticing loopholes, rushed storylines, and dialog that is too on-the-nose. See “Batman Vs. Superman: Dawn Of Justice” of your own volition. But remember, I think you can wait till HBO or Netflix.
ENTIRE FILM: REVIEW RATING: C-
BEN AFFLECK PERFORMANCE: RATING: A-