Review: Batman v Superman Is Uneven, Thrilling, and the Best DC Movie Since The Dark Knight

Tuesday, 22 March 2016 - 6:00PM
DC Comics
Batman v Superman
Tuesday, 22 March 2016 - 6:00PM
Review: Batman v Superman Is Uneven, Thrilling, and the Best DC Movie Since The Dark Knight
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Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice is a movie that most of us have been waiting an awful long time to see. Some of us have been waiting since childhood, when we watched the Batman/Superman animated movie and understood for the first time that the two greatest superheroes of all time can share the screen together. Others have been waiting since the movie was first announced back at SDCC 2013. And some have out-waited us all, having spent decades reading the comics and dreaming of what it would be like to see their favorite panels come to life on the big screen.  

For many of us, that day has come. Batman v Superman has been shown in early screenings around the country, and hundreds of fans finally got to see what they've been waiting so very long for. So is the film worthy of the hype? Is it everything that DC fans have been dreaming for?  

In my opinion, Batman v Superman delivered on so many levels, but also had some major flaws that brought what could have been a totally outstanding film down a notch. So what did the film get right, and where did it go astray?

A Ton of Surprises and One Big Plot Twist

Without a doubt, there was a ton of things that happened in the movie that I was not expecting. Many fans thought that the second trailer gave away too much, but in reality, it didn't even break the surface. There's also one particularly big twist thrown in, and without a doubt, that twist was part of what made Batman v Superman a memorable movie. This twist was also a very gutsy move on the writers'/director's part, and they deserve a ton of credit for it.

Absurd Leaps in Logic

I'm one of the guys who actually really liked Man of Steel, but even I admit that there were some pretty big problems with it. For instance, Jonathan Kent choosing to die in a tornado so that his son wouldn't expose himself was totally irrational and illogical. Unfortunately, there are a few similar moments in Batman v Superman, ones that'll make you think "that's a pretty stupid reason to make such a big decision," and these moments were undoubtedly one of the most glaring problems with the film.  

Dawn of the Justice League

Batman v Superman really does a great job of world-building without delving off too deep into subplots. The cameos by the other members of the Justice League were small, but they were definitely exciting. Likewise, numerous hints are dropped as to the big bad for Justice League, and the reason for that big bad's arrival makes complete sense by the end of the movie. Granted, those not versed in DC lore may have problems identifying the monumental significance of some of these world-building moments, but they are, nonetheless, beautiful.

Zack Snyder Proves That He Doesn't Get Batman

I've been a Zack Snyder apologist on many occasions, defending his knowledge of the source material and even his choice to have Superman kill Zod at the end of Man of Steel. However, there are some things that happen in the film which prove that he doesn't really care about making a faithful adaptation of Batman. It's amazing how he gets so many small details about the character right, but when it comes to one of the biggest core components of what makes Batman, well, Batman, he proves he couldn't care less. This may not have been as big of an issue to some of the more casual DC fans in the audience, but it was probably my biggest personal qualm with the movie.  

The Acting Is Superb

I'm half-tempted to say that Batman v Superman is the best superhero flick of all time in terms of acting. Ben Affleck is great as Batman. Jeremy Irons makes a perfect Alfred. Gal Gadot is wonderfully exciting as Wonder Woman. Jesse Eisenberg? He was hands-down the best part of the film! Jesse's Lex is phenomenal, and though it's clear that he brought a lot of original ideas to the character, his portrayal is, without a doubt, the most comic-accurate adaptation of the character to date; there hasn't been a supervillain on the big screen this good since Heath Ledger's Joker.  

Lots of Contrivances

Without giving anything away, Batman v Superman has some very big issues with moving from one plot point to another. The point at which the two heroes actually decide that they're best buds isn't very clear (this is very much associated with the leaps in logic I mentioned earlier), and there are similar instances throughout the whole movie. The movie didn't spend nearly enough time explaining certain plot developments and certain changes in the characters' thinking, probably because the filmmakers were trying to fit so many ideas into a two and a half-hour span. In light of this, I'd say that many fans' worries about the film feeling rushed were somewhat realized. 

Big Emotion and a Lot of Humor

Without doubt, this was an emotional film. I felt completely engaged and in the moment in many of the scenes, and when a movie about superheroes is able to manipulate feelings so easily, it's definitely doing something right. One part of the film was particularly powerful, and there was more than one person in the theater sniffling (but not me, I swear its just allergies and you can't prove otherwise). There was also a lot of humor in the movie, and it never felt out of place despite the darker tone.  

Eye-Roll Moments

About 95% of the dialogue in the film was actually quite good, but there were definitely some parts that literally caused me to roll my eyes. There were also some things that happened in the movie that resulted in similar ocular responses, like one scene in which a criminal puts a digital clock down so that he'll know when to commit a certain crime after an hour has passed. Was that really necessary? Does he not have a smartphone?

Some of the Most Beautifully Crafted Scenes of Any Superhero Film to Date

There were so many scenes in Batman v Superman that really showcased Zack Snyder's talent. He's a divisive guy, sure, but there's no arguing that he doesn't do action well. And more than that, he was able to make emotional moments land as well. The Waynes' death scene in Batman v Superman is better than any of the previous versions to take the big screen, and though it could have felt stale from seeing it so many times, he found ways to make it feel genuinely fresh and emotional. That's just one example out of a handful, but Snyder really does deserve credit for pouring his heart and soul into some of these scenes.

In the end, was Batman v Superman everything we were hoping it would be? Well, it's not perfect, and frankly, there were some aspects that were downright disappointing. However, there was also a lot that the film really delivered on, and it was undoubtedly an entertaining and emotional ride. In my book, it gets a solid B rating.

Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice isn't the best DC film to date, but I do think that it potentially comes in second, behind Christopher Nolan's The Dark Knight. And that's definitely saying a lot; TDK was always going to be a tough one to beat! Batman Begins and Donner's Superman are certainly strong competitors for that number two spot in my book, but the fact that Batman v Superman is even ranked among them ought to be telling. It's definitely worth the watch, and I'm certainly looking forward to watching it again opening night.
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