SPOILER REVIEW: A Look at BATMAN v. SUPERMAN: DAWN of JUSTICE

With reviews scathing, Affleck sad, and box office numbers doing very well, opinions on Zack Snyder’s Batman v. Superman is decidedly mixed to very negative. What does BatmanHeisenberg think? Click the jump to read this SPOILER filled review!


For years, Warner Brothers has attempted (and failed, mind you!) to put Wonder Woman on screen, have Batman and Superman in the same film, make a cinematic universe that could rival that of Marvel’s, and introduce a plethora of new DC characters, such as Flash, Cyborg and Aquaman. Funny enough, Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice attempts to do ALL of that in a single movie. Ironically, this movie comes out Easter weekend, and like many kids (and enthusiastic adults?) on Easter, this movie attempts to put all of the eggs they can find into a single basket. Are you a big DC movie fan who loves to hear nothing but praise for the DC films and enjoys a circlejerk of enthusiasm? This review isn’t for you.

I grew up a DC fan, growing up with great Timmverse cartoons such as Justice League, Batman: The Animated Series and Batman Beyond. I also grew up with the likes of The Dark Knight Trilogy. Believe it or not, I also read quite a few DC comics over the years, so I am very well versed in the DC universe, both from an adaptation standpoint and the source material itself. So despite a few failed attempts at good DC adaptations (such as Jonah Hex, Green Lantern and Superman Returns), I grew up in very good company in regards to DC. And despite some narrative flaws and an innate misunderstanding of Superman throughout the film, Man of Steel was a solid start to a DC Film Universe.


So in comes Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice, a cluster[frick] of bad special effects, bad editing and characterization in a disaster that shouldn’t even qualify as a movie. I really looked forward to this film, I really did. I thought the DCEU had lots of potential. If this film is of any indication, the DCEU is gonna be a failure. It’s too bad it is perhaps the greatest disappointment in superhero cinema, with some of the most bizarre choices in the comic book movie genre. This movie absolutely blows, but let's break it down area by area, shall we?

 

STORY:


By god, this story had so many moving pieces it didn’t know what to do with half of them. It starts with Bruce’s past and incredibly odd dream with the bats. I understand it was a dream, but Jesus, it was actually stupid. Then we go through his viewpoint of the Black Zero event. I wasn’t a big fan of much of any of it, but it was a good start to an otherwise awful movie. The rest of the film just got progressively worse and worse. It jumped all around and had no real rhythm. I’ll admit, there were some intriguing ideas brought up in the first act. Sadly, however, any thought provoking idea was completely abandoned in the third act for awful action. Sadly, in a grand final battle, we don’t even SEE the Trinity really interact.


There were a LOT of subplots completely abandoned by the third act, or scenes/characters that had absolutely no place in the film. The sub plot of Lois finding the source of the metal that was used in the desert made absolutely no [frick]ing sense. So Lex wanted her to trace it back to him for reasons? It was truly stupid. I don’t even know why the Finch subplot was there. It could have been an intriguing storyline that discussed Superman’s place in the world and the repercussions of his actions. The Senate hearing could have been one of the most intriguing scene of the film, but Snyder and Terrio decide to destroy the building for mere shock value. The Knightmare sequence, perhaps the coolest sequence of the entire film, is absolutely non consequential to the entire plot. Perhaps the meaning of the scene is to give Bruce more reason to dislike Superman? Whatever subcontext you think it gives, it is not conveyed in the film whatsoever. Perhaps the most perplexing scene is the scene in which Clark has a dream of seeing his dad in the mountains. It had absolutely no bearing on the plot and was actually quite stupid. The Clark Kent subplot of trying to apprehend Batman was actually quite fun to see, but sadly, had ZERO impact on the overall film. Characters like Finch and Mercy Graves are there and just feel there to either give Snyder service (he stated he wanted to work with Holly Hunter, so they added her in the movies for that SOLE reason) or the fans service (Mercy is an important Lex supporting character) but they have no impact on the story and both end up dying in a horrific fashion. Wally was intriguing, but his overall impact on the film is slim. The list goes on. Jesus Christ.

Ughhhh…..

Anyhow, from a comic adaptation standpoint, it is literally a cluster[frick] of different adaptations. It attempts to honor The Dark Knight Returns, Death of Superman, the New 52 origin of the Justice League and more all in a single film. It’s a mess. It also doesn’t make much sense for the first interaction of Batman and Superman be a loose adaptation of both The Dark Knight Returns and The Death of Superman, it really doesn’t. Also, Wonder Woman’s storyline is pretty new, her being an antiques dealer and all, and it was intriguing, I guess? Her place in the story is pretty useless, which sucks, Diana deserves better. Lex was pretty new as well, him being a weird hybrid of Elon Musk and Mark Zuckerberg. He wasn’t like his comic book counterpart, like, at all.  

 

EDITING AND PACING

This film sucked on this front. It was actually laughable at times. The first act alone was just absolutely awful. It goes from a steamy romantic scene between Clark and Lois to a scene that felt out of a horror movie. The editing was abysmal throughout. I absolutely hated it. There were continuous tonal changes that made it a bizarre movie going experience. You also never got to ever sit down with a character. It’s making continuous jumps that make you feel sicker than the large amount of candy you’ll eat on Easter. Superman has a weird journey that places him out of the film for a period of the film, and he just comes back when Lois gets thrown out of the film. The editing in this movie really stank. Yikes.
 

TONE

                                   

I have to say… the tone in this movie sucks so bad. The most hopeful superhero EVER, Superman, is a brooding mess throughout the film. It’s really a shame. The movie is so dark and serious it borders on self-parody more often than not. When Superman in this movie, perhaps the most inspirational hero ever, is as or more brooding than BATMAN, you have a problem. A MASSIVE problem. I just couldn’t do it with this awful tone. You can be darker than Marvel, but this? By god, this was HORRIFYING. The scene where we see a guy hold a flame-thrower against Martha Kent? That ACTUALLY happens. How absolutely awful.
 

MISTREATMENT OF WOMEN
 

This movie treats women horribly. They are either so insignificant in the story, or are given pretty awful treatment.  I’ll grant the movie this: Lois, Senator Finch, and Martha all bring interesting voices to the table. At some point in the film, the three aforementioned women (I’m going to discuss Diana and Mercy in the next paragraph) all at some point have an interesting thing to contribute to the story, either discussing moral dilemmas, bringing hope to a hero, or tracking down a nefarious threat. However, it brings any interesting aspects these women could bring to the story to a crippling halt. Finch is literally killed, and Lois and Martha are used as bait for the hero. Very degrading way of treating women. Martha’s treatment is rather appalling. A voice of reason to Clark, she is kidnapped and tortured to bring man pain to Clark. It was appallingly insulting, to tell you the truth. It’s as if any independance women have in this film, they are punished for it.
 

Wonder Woman was treated well from a story standpoint, but she has zero characterization. She flirts with Bruce, tracks down the image, and when they need her to fight, she does. She feels plastic, which sucks, because she is arguably the best part of the shit movie. I love Wonder Woman, and hate to see her treated in a way where she is mainly used for action. Mercy Graves is an interesting character in the lore, however in this film, she has absolutely no weight in this film. She just kind of stands around with Lex, and horrifyingly, is murdered in the explosion in the capitol building. It really is frightening that all of the women of this film are treated horribly. There could be a whole editorial written on the atrocities this movie does against women.
 

CHARACTERIZATION AND MOTIVATION
 

In perhaps the most horrible aspect of this film, Batman v. Superman somehow ups the ante in stupidity in every way imaginable the more you go into the film. It really is appalling. I don’t think Snyder understands good storytelling with ANY of the characters in this film, or they feel rather 2D in the film. Let’s break down the major players:
 

BATMAN:

This actually pissed me off, what they did with his character. He kills. Straight up. No remorse, no complicated moral dilemma like Batman killing in Final Crisis. No. Batman just kills with no thought whatsoever. As a lifelong Batman fan, this actually pissed me right off. It takes every ounce of levity from his actions or morals. He just doesn’t give a shit, and decides to mercilessly kill any criminal who happens to stand in his way, in a rather brutal fashion, mind you. If your excuse, like Snyder, is that he did it accidently in the Nolan movies, please just stop. He killed with NO REMORSE in this. It was insulting to anyone who likes Batman in any way. In a rather minor note, he drinks, which is constantly made as something he DOESN’T do. Snyder just doesn’t care, does he? Batman’s dislike of Superman is kinda explained, I guess? I understand he didn’t like Superman for the destruction, but it really wasn’t all that well articulated at all. His whole reasoning for going against Superman, or I guess the final straw was that he received some letters that accused him of being the reason people died in the Wayne Building? It wasn’t well explained. But yeah, he decided that was the final straw and decided to kill Superman. And the fight ensues in an uninspired fashion. Whatever. The reason he decides to spare Superman’s life?

Their moms have the same name

Not even joking, This was perhaps the most laughable thing in the entire film. The most hyped up fight of the year (outside of Civil War) ends because of a coincidence. How absolutely awful. I couldn’t believe it when I saw it. Of all reasons to end the fight (I.E. putting aside their differences, another threat immediately emerging, really, ANYTHING else would have sufficed!!!) they end it because their mothers have the same name. This was laughable, to tell you the truth. I don’t think I’ve ever been more dumbfounded at a comic book adaption. Alas, let’s keep moving forward…
 

SUPERMAN:

Superman was anything but super in this movie. Super brooding, never inspirational and just no fun. He, like Batman, kills at the beginning of the film. He throws a Freedom Fighter through two concrete walls. Yeah, no way that guy is surviving. Then he has a brooding time throughout the film. When there is a literal explosion is his face at the capitol building, costing hundreds of lives, he just stands there. Just looks a little sad. He then gets super guilty when talking with Lois and goes on self-exile… until Lois gets thrown off a building. Jesus, it sounds worse when I type this. Superman is just super brooding throughout and his character is given little time to develop. As Clark Kent, he was intriguing, but was barely there at all, and any intriguing storyline was dropped early on with both identities of Superman. I found it funny how when Superman is trying to convince Batman to help save Martha, he pushes him around, punches him, throws him through a building. Talk about misplaced priorities.
 

LEX LUTHOR:

Yikes. Lex was just weird this entire film. The performance was rather… off-putting. It really was. In this super grimdark world, Lex sticks out like a sharp needle. He is cartoony, overwrought, and surprisingly, unfun. It’s sad that they think an actor suitable for playing Jimmy Olsen is somehow suitable for Lex Luthor. Ugh. Anyhow, his whole performance is just laughable. I couldn’t ever find myself ever finding him intriguing at all, partly due to the HORRIBLE performance. I could never keep a straight face, it was really just bad. It was also due to the fact that he had such a muddled, unclear characterization the entire film. Why does he want to kill Superman and/or Batman? He says he doesn’t like gods, and his dad was mean, but there was no DEFINITIVE reason he was the way he was. Just notions and vague implications. Also, how did he find out about both Superman and Batman’s identities? He just kind of knows. It really makes no sense, at all. It also ruins any future tension he would have with either Superman or Batman, as he already knows their secret identities.
 

LOIS LANE:

Lois was alright. Her characterization was pretty much on par as Man of Steel. Her arc throughout the film is either bait for Superman or unneeded in the film. Lois deserves better than this. Yeesh.
 

WONDER WOMAN:

I really liked Wonder Woman in this movie. Gal Gadot SHINES as Wonder Woman in an otherwise awful movie.  But the characterization itself, or lack thereof, was a major problem in the film. She is just there to fight, and set up the Justice League. It really felt pretty flat. Her entrance however? Quite awesome. But that doesn’t forgive the massive misunderstanding of how to treat her character. Hopefully Patty Jenkins improves on this. Because otherwise, color me unimpressed.
 

NEGATIVES I HAVEN’T DISCUSSED

There were a number of negatives I haven’t discussed yet.

  • The action was actually really bad. I hated it. No stakes for a lot of it, and if there were, it was pretty much ignored.

  • The filter. Oh god, the filter. It looks just AWFUL.

  • The lighting in general in this movie is actually laughable. So grimdark.

  • WHY did they kill of Jimmy Olsen? Seriously, that is straight up pathetic. Ugh.

  • The slow motion was actually terrible. I actually hate the way Snyder does it.

  • Snyder’s visuals in general were pretty bad. I understand people like them, but oh my god, it takes me out of the film.

  • Did Lex piss in that “Granny’s Peach Tea”? That shit is nasty.

  • Pretty stupid ending.

  • Soundtrack was awful at times

  • The sound mixing was pretty poor as well. Too damn loud for a lot of it.

  • That weird email scene. Setting up important future movies over email? That was weird.

POSITIVES??!!

Despite being a trainwreck of a film, there were some positives.

  • Despite being overall not so great, the soundtrack had redeemable moments.

  • The performances were overall great, especially Batfleck, Gadot and Irons.

  • Seriously, anything Wonder Woman action oriented in this was actually awesome.

  • I liked the Justice League footage. Pretty fun stuff.

  • Bruce’s speech at the end was pretty cool.

  • The dialogue was actually quite good overall.

OVERALL THOUGHTS
 

Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice is an overwrought, stupid, comic inaccurate take on the icons of DC Comics. Zack Snyder's direction is misguided and the whole movie suffers. At a basic writing level, there is a fundamental misunderstanding of the characters, and the whole movie suffers. Any interesting or intriguing storylines are dropped in the third act in favor of poorly directed action. Warner Brother’s attempt at catching up with Marvel is just a poor man’s attempt at a great franchise. The DC characters deserve better. The DC fans deserve better. Basic film goers deserve much better. If this is the way they plan to continue with the DC franchise, I want no part in it.
 

I give this film a half-eaten, moldy sandwich.

What do you think? Am I right, or am I a Marvel shill? Sound off in the usual place!

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