“That’s how it starts. The fever… the rage… the feeling of powerlessness that turns good men cruel.” – Alfred
I watched all 151 minutes of BATMAN V SUPERMAN: DAWN OF JUSTICE last night. I’ve thought about the movie. I’ve processed it. It’s entered my system and now I will attempt to flush it out of me like a poorly cooked meal in an attempt to keep it from turning me violently ill.
We will start this off spoiler-free and then I’ll throw up a big, old spoiler warning when we head into that neck of the woods.
Here we go.
BATMAN V SUPERMAN: DAWN OF JUSTICE is Warner Bros./DC Comic’s massive $400 million attempt to enter the shared universe superhero game that Marvel Studios has so far been the reigning king of. It also goes about as wrong as humanly possible.
The film completely fails on almost every level. While some of the action is capably done and the casting of Ben Affleck turned out to be completely inspired, the movie itself is an incomprehensible mess that constantly disappoints and frustrates every single second of it’s seemingly endless running time.
Zack Snyder has finally quieted any of his remaining apologists by delivering the single worst movie of his career. This is a career that contains such cinematic defecations as SUCKER PUNCH and LEGENDS OF THE GUARDIANS: THE OWLS OF GA’HOOLE. His direction, teamed with the dreary screenwriting of David Goyer and Chris Terrio, has bestowed this world with the least fun superhero movie of all time.
If you’ve seen the trailers, you have pretty much seen the entire movie in broad strokes. The story is simple. Batman hates Superman because he saw MAN OF STEEL and wants to make sure that he doesn’t go bad. Superman doesn’t have any goals or feelings in this movie. He’s just there. Lex Luthor wants to kill Batman and Superman. He encourages Batman’s anger towards Superman and tries to get Superman to kill Batman by holding his mom and girlfriend hostage. Eventually, after a few minutes of fighting, they realize that they have some things in common and team up to fight Lex Luthor’s lackey: The reanimated corpse of General Zod AKA Doomsday.
It is a bleak, concussive film that has no interest in being entertaining, fun, comprehensible, or meaningful in anyway shape or form. It is merely meant to exist… and it certainly does. The first half of the film is jumbled mess of frustratingly disconnected scenes that eventually gives way to your standard GREEN LANTERN or THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN 2 by the time the second half rolls around. You know what? At least those two atrocities had some interest in being fun. They had jokes. BATMAN V SUPERMAN: DAWN OF JUSTICE has no time for that. It’s only goal is to remind you of your looming mortality and how you’ve just spent 151 minutes of your dwindling lifespan watching characters created for children to enjoy wallow in self-imposed pits of misery.
That is my spoiler-free review.
Let’s really tear into this thing.
****************SPOILERS FROM HERE ON OUT*********************
I’m going to ruin everything.
*******IT DOESN’T REALLY MATTER, BUT SERIOUSLY… SPOILERS!!!*******
Batman is a murderer. Superman dies. Lois Lane can teleport. Wonder Woman is a glorified cameo. Lex Luthor belongs in a Schumacher film. Jimmy Olsen is shot in the head and only identified as Jimmy in the credits. There are seemingly 15 different dream sequences. The movie fails the bechdel test so furiously that it almost seems like an exercise in antifeminism.
I honestly don’t know how I could have disliked this film more.
The movie opens with the origin of Batman/Bruce Wayne. At least you think it does. We get to the point where Bruce falls down the well exactly like he did in BATMAN BEGINS… Except once the bats swarm around him they cause him to levitate out of the cave. So it’s a dream sequence. The first of many. It’s in these opening moments that they set the tone for the entire film. Overwhelming darkness and self-importance. This is supposed to be the antidote to the bubblegum fun of the Marvel movies. Except that it’s really only the antidote for happiness.
Zack Snyder apparently wanted this movie to be fun. His idea of fun is to have a random scene in an African village where Jimmy Olsen (you would only know it’s Jimmy if you stayed for the credits) is revealed to be a CIA agent and is shot in the head. That is Zack Snyder’s idea of fun. The Avengers throw parties and try to pick up Thor’s hammer. A Batman/Superman movie shoots Jimmy Olsen in the head and only identifies him at that end giving the moment a confusing lack of meaning or weight.
The dream sequences that I mentioned before come in numbers so large that you could be forgiven for recognizing them as an army. We have a Darkseid/Superman future dream sequence, we have a future Flash dream sequence, we have a Man-Bat dream sequence, and we have a Pa Kent on top of a mountain talking about dead horses dream sequence. I’m actually quite certain there are more. I’m not convinced that this entire movie was my dream sequence and I will hopefully wake up to a world that hasn’t sullied characters that stand for hope and justice by turning them into moody, murderous teenagers.
The movie does have saving graces. Ben Affleck as Batman is pretty good. He’s given almost nothing to do, but he’s not offensive when he shows up. The movie pretty much belongs to him, so the fact that he doesn’t do anything is very indicative of the quality of this new DC Cinematic Universe. If you’ve seen any of the trailers, you have seen the entirety of Wonder Woman’s role in the film. That is it. That is all she does. She hardly speaks and is used more as a prop than as a character. I’m sure Gal Gadot is going to kill it in next year’s WONDER WOMAN, but we got no indication from this movie that she is able to do anything more than turn into a leaping CGI creation when the script calls for it. Jesse Eisenberg is a complete wash as Lex Luthor whose entire motivation for wanting these characters dead is because this shitstorm script and years of comic book lore require him to. Jeremy Irons is great as Alfred and because of that you only get three scenes with him in them. It seems like the filmmakers are attempting to punish the audience for enjoying even a moment of their film. You like Alfred? Fuck you, he’s gone for the rest of the movie.
And then we get to Superman. I’m sure Henry Cavill means well. I know that Zack Snyder doesn’t, but to save my fading optimism I’m just going to pretend that Henry was given the short straw on this film. Superman has no character. No hopes, no dreams (well, except the one where Dead Pa Kent tells him that he killed a whole bunch of horses), and no goals. He is devoid of anything that would actually make him a person. He is just a red cape and a permanent grimace. The only reason that he and Batman stop fighting is because they both realize they have Mom’s with the first name Martha. That is it. They don’t have a heart-to-heart or any sort of discussion about their world views. That would make too much sense. Superman doesn’t get this because the filmmaker’s don’t believe he deserves it. His only purpose in this movie is to die. He is killed twice in the movie. Once in space and is resuscitated by the sun and then again when he sacrifices himself needlessly to plunge a kryptonite spear (which should prevent him from even standing up, let alone flying) into Doomsday/2001 Weta Cave Troll. The final image of the film is the dirt on top of his casket shaking. I don’t know what that means, but hopefully when he pops out of the grave in JUSTICE LEAGUE (which sounds like the scariest fucking movie of all time) he comes out with something resembling a personality.
If it sounds like I’m being harsh in this review it’s because that was my absolute fucking intention. This is a blockbuster superhero popcorn action film. THE REVENANT and SPOTLIGHT were cheerier and more entertaining. The people who made this movie clearly have no love for superheroes, movies, or audience members. They are a sadistic bunch. Their only goal with this movie was to have the final say on comic book movies. They wanted to end them. They wanted to bury them alive and listen to their screams from atop the newly shoveled mound of dirt separating the soon-to-be corpse of superhero cinema with the sunlight and oxygen it so desperately craves.
I know I’ll change my tune when CAPTAIN AMERICA: CIVIL WAR comes around, but I feel completely exhausted by superheroes and comic book movies. I’m done for the moment. I’d rather just watch PHILOMENA 18 times in a room alone.
The DC Cinematic Universe has begun.
God help us all.