Movie Review: Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice

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After Superman’s fight with the Kryptonians wreaked havoc on Metropolis, Batman joins the crowd calling for him to be held accountable, while Lex Luthor fuels their feud.

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Zach Snyder, 2016

Metropolis is still recovering from the city-wide havoc caused by the battle between Superman (Henry Cavill) and the Kryptonians that occurred in Man of Steel. Bruce Wayne (Ben Affleck) flew to Metropolis to try to protect people at Wayne Enterprises, and saw the building-flattening level of destruction first-hand. Resentment of Superman escalates after he saves his girlfriend Lois Lane (Amy Adams) in Africa, setting off some kind of retaliatory murder spree that we never see and only get vague references to. Digging into Superman’s secrets, Bruce discovers a stash of Kryptonite that he can use to take Superman down should he ever want to, and starts training to do exactly that. The Batman is not the only one who wants to kill Clark, though; Lex Luthor (Jesse Eisenberg) is interested in the same stash of Kryptonite, hoping that he’ll prove himself able to “kill a god”. Meanwhile Wonder Woman (Gal Godot) is in town, being all mysterious and shit.

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I’ve been putting off writing this review, because Batman vs. Superman was such a boringly bad movie. “Dark” and “gritty” are words that tend to get thrown around with Zach Snyder’s abysmal DC movies, but “overblown” and “self-important” are equally important qualifiers for this nonsensical follow-up to the equally grey Man of Steel. All the sense of fun has been sucked out of the marrow of Batman and Superman here. It’s also an utterly nonsensical film that goes out of its way to introduce a shared universe without ever really pulling together the threads to make this movie into a cohesive narrative. Whole sections of the film are maddeningly confusing – I managed to miss an entire subplot about how Bruce’s dreams were visions of some alternate future, and there’s a cameo by The Flash (cinematic Flash Ezra Miller, that is, not TV’s human teddy bear Grant Gustin) that is ugly, pointless, and baffling. For the scene to make sense, you have to already know who The Flash is and that he can travel through time – at this point, he hasn’t even been introduced in the film yet. The dialogue is laughably terrible, particularly one pivotal plot point that relies on a hilariously stupid coincidence, yet drives some of the action of the finale.

Batman vs. Superman isn’t even as visually pleasing as some of Zach Snyder’s other bad films. It’s too dark and washed-out to be pretty. Some of the action scenes are shaky and hard to follow, and there’s liberal use of actually terrible CGI. In 2016. In a Batman movie. And make no mistake, this is definitely Batman’s movie; the film seems to actively dislike Clark Kent/Superman. His quest to be a good person and do the right thing is depicted as some kind of Sisyphean chore. Batfleck and Henry Cavill spend nearly the entire film displaying their wide array of grimaces – Batfleck fares slightly better than Cavill, who is saddled with continuing the awful, miserable Clark Kent from the last film (and his terrible relationship with his father, who is brought back for a cameo in this film for some unknown reason). Jesse Eisenberg seems to be the only person who knows what kind of movie he’s in here – he, much like Eddie Redmayne in Jupiter Ascending (a better movie, for those playing at home) is munching on the scenery like it’s candy here. His Luthor is all tics and idiosyncrasies – his motives are a mystery, but at least he’s having fun. The women get the fuzzy end of the lollipop. Wonder Woman is largely reduced to being sexy and mysterious, though she does get to have some fun in the final battle. Both Amy Adams and Diane Lane as Martha Kent get damseled horribly and unnecessarily. Holly Hunter tries to make her senator role work, but she gets screwed over too. And it’s best not to even talk about Tao Okamoto’s Mercy Graves. Batman vs. Superman is a laughable mess of a movie, and it’s honestly astonishing that this film was released to the public in this form and deemed acceptable. Warner Bros. must be desperate.

Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice on IMDb

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