Well it’s out. The title fight to end all others. And by “end all others” I mean “launch a cinematic universe.” Last night I begrudgingly took myself to watch all 7 hours of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. I had a funny feeling I wasn’t going to enjoy this movie. I wanted to. But I never talk smack about a movie that I haven’t seen so I did my due diligence. I bought my popcorn and soda and sat down with a notebook and prepared to be underwhelmed.
There have been a metric ton of articles and reviews already published about how BvS is not a very good movie. I really don’t need to add on to the pile. But I cope with issues by writing novels filled with snark so you’ll have to forgive me.
So let’s just get it out now: I didn’t like this movie. But! I also didn’t hate it. Which should be considered a win. I hated The Dark Knight Rises. I hated Man of Steel even more. I have been known to rant about either after having a couple of drinks. So after the first slew of reviews came out this week I truly anticipated hating this as well. But there was promise in this movie you guys. Actual literal moments that made me smile and clap and sit up and want to get invested in the movie. And those moments are what I want to talk about first.
After the good, I’ll roll into the bad, and then into the random thoughts and questions I had. I also am inserting shots of the actual notes I took during the movie so you know I’m not embellishing my reactions for your sake.
(NOTE: this post is spoiler-full. But there are so many plot lines shoved in this movie that I feel like you could read this and not really be too put out. The one moment that is a biggie to spoil I’ll make sure to throw up a signal flair before hand so you can’t trip over it.)
Unsurprisingly, Wonder Woman was an ABSOLUTE DELIGHT AND A BADASS. Holy cats you guys I loved her.
As Diana she slinked around in designer gowns but never actually seemed to be played up too sexy. Does that make sense? She was super sexy when she baited Bruce Wayne the couple times they crossed paths, but I never felt like she was exploited in those moments. It was just an aspect of her character and it worked so well. She didn’t get to do a ton, but the moments that we did share with her were worthwhile and interesting. And when Diana finally gets to fight as Wonder Woman she TEARS it up. People tend to forget that WW can go toe to toe with any Leaguer, including the big blue Boy Scout. Watching her fight Doomsday in close combat is seriously impressive. At one point she gets knocked way the hell out and as she drags herself back up she has this smile on her face that was perfect. It is the smile of a warrior princess who is at her best when she’s in battle. I’m calling it now: Wonder Woman will be the best film in the DCCU by a long shot.
I also am relieved to report that Ben Affleck was great. He’s far and away my favorite actor to play Bats on the big screen. Batman the character is what I took issue with. There was a lot they wrote for him that made me spitting mad (more on that later). But Affleck was so solid in the role I almost forgave it. He spent a lot of the movie brooding and angry (of course), but in the cowl he was the Batman I was hoping he could be. Example: during the Bats/Supes showdown he tricks Superman into walking through one of his traps. And then he gets a moment to just smirk in the cowl like the giant Bat asshole that he is and it was great. His Brucie Wayne, the hyper-charming playboy persona, was a lot of fun to watch as well. I really hope that post BvS, Bruce calms down and gets a Robin and a Batgirl and a coherent script and I can finally get the big screen Bats I deserve. Sorry. I meant “we.” We deserve.
The secondary players were pretty solid as well. I liked Holly Hunter’s character a lot. Then they SPOILER ALERT blew her up and I wrote “RIP Holly Hunter.” Perry White was nothing more than a quip machine, but in a movie so bleak I welcomed it. Alfred, of course, was the sass master supreme, had the best lines, and aside from Wonder Woman was the smartest person in the whole film. I’m pretty sure I wrote “TELL HIM ALFIE” like 3 times (my writing is atrocious it’s hard to tell). He also got my favorite line in the film: “Go upstairs and find a lady from Metropolis to make you an honest man… In your dreams, Alfred.” Apparently 20 years of vigilantism is more than enough for the BatButler.
The title fight was actually pretty fun to watch. For the first 3 minutes. Then it started to drag a bit. And then Batman went back to being hyperviolent and it wasn’t fun anymore. But the first few minutes were good. So… there’s that.
The most unforgivable issue I had with the movie was that I spent most of it bored out of my mind. Unacceptable. It’s a superhero film and one of said superheroes is my favorite fictional character of all time there is no Earthly reason I should have been bored. But there were 82 different plots to follow. There were great swaths of movie that could have just been cut out they were so unnecessary. Everything was just too much. Too busy. Too complicated.
In a general sense it was just not a good movie. The fights were dizzying and were hard to follow. The car chase scene was so poorly shot that you barely got to see the super cool looking Batmobile in action. The music was forgettable and often did nothing to elevate the scene it played over. There was little that was pretty to look at. I’m not even throwing shade at Zack Snyder’s Instagram filter of choice, I just mean there was nothing especially pleasing to the eye. The only shot I really enjoyed was during the fight with Doomsday. Batman rappels over the monster and has a split second stopped on a wall that looked super cool. It was very Batman. That’s about it.
The editing was obnoxiously jarring. The transitions were either a slam to black for no reason or just a brand new shot that did nothing to establish where we were. I paid attention, I swear I did, and there were so many times where I had to wait 15 seconds before I knew where the hell we were in the story.
Oh yeah. The story. It made no SENSE. I mean if I really tried hard? Sure I could walk you through the plot. But it would take a long time. And a lot of it would be “ok so what I think happens is…” That’s not a good sign. I shouldn’t be guessing about why or how something happened.
Example: I have no idea how Lex came up with Doomsday plan. At all. I didn’t leave to pee. I didn’t fall asleep. I legit don’t know how we got from Lex on Zod’s ship to Doomsday.
A more verbose example: Batman has a Kryptonite spear that he initially has to kill Superman but ultimately does not use. Lois chucks it into a staircase filled with water. When Bats realizes that Doomsday is Kryptonian, he leads him back to Gotham so that they’re closer to the spear. Superman shows up and immediately asks Bats “Did you get the spear?” So I have to assume that they either had a telephone conversation that I missed or Superman just happened to come to the same conclusion. OK whatever. But somehow, simultaneously, completely outside of hearing range and also having NO IDEA that Doomsday is even happening, Lois all on her own goes to get the spear. How did she… I mean did someone run in and tell her to find it? Did Alfie shoot her a text?
Let’s go back to Lex himself. Poor Jesse Eisenberg acted really really hard and really really well. He just was acting in a completely different movie. Or he thought he was a completely different character. There was nothing Lex Luthor-ish about his portrayal at all. His plots were unnervingly convoluted. He spoke in metaphors and prose that were impossible to follow. Maybe someone was like “Hey Jesse go read a comic or watch a cartoon to get a read on Lex” and poor Jesse Eisenberg just messed up and read the wrong stuff.
What was up with Lois? Every time she got to do something cool she had to be saved right after. I know the cliche is that Lois is constantly saved by Superman, but she needed rescuing on four different occasions in this movie. And it annoyed me because when Lois was smart, she was SO SMART. And then she’d be drowning and needed her boyfriend again and oh well.
Why did Snyder beat us over the head with the “Martha” connection? Yes. Both Bats and Supes have moms named Martha. We get it. Oh… ok I guess we’re going to watch the Waynes die for a second time in this movie? In slower-motion? Oh and we’ll focus on the grave marker that we’ve already seen? Oh and we’ll have Bruce repeat “Martha” 18 more times as pearls fall in slo-mo and GOD why is everything torture in this movie?
Why is Batman so violent? Why is he blowing up bad guys? Why is he branding people?! Why is he leaving evidence of himself everywhere?
World’s greatest detective my ass, at one point he tried shooting Supes. Batman CMON you know he’s bulletproof can we NOT?!
What was up with all the dream sequences? We were forced to go through the Waynes’ murder again and their funeral and Bruce falling into a well and then being lifted up by magic bats. (Yes it was a dream but I snorted so hard in the theater I was embarrassed. Minute 2 of the movie, folks.) Later Superman dreams of Pa Kent talking some sort of boring nonsense that I did not care about and which I wouldn’t have had to listen to if Clark had just saved his dad in the last movie. Before that, Bruce has the dream about being in the desert and Superman unmasking him for doing something to someone (presumably killing and Lois). And then Bruce wakes up only for Barry Allen to show up and be all cryptic about the future and then Bruce wakes up again. But wait… why treat the Flash like a dream when it so clearly wasn’t a dream but instead was time travel? Why was Barry in a mech suit? Did this movie take place in a snowglobe?
Why is Superman always in such a bad mood? Why does he look inconvenienced when he saves people? Why does he only look mildly amused when staring at Lois? Why did he walk into a senate hearing in which he has to win back the public opinion and neglect to be charming? (I actually wrote “smile asshole” at that point.) Why did he look like he couldn’t stand to be next to his mother when they talked? What’d Martha do to deserve you, you dad-abandoning, never-smile man?
Hang on a second – why was NOBODY in the movie supportive of Superman? Is that why he’s all mopey and mad and depressed? No wonder he hates saving people, his loved ones are like “Nah dude. Screw em. You don’t owe the world anything.” OK that’s not an exact quote. But both Lois and Martha both tell Supes, at different points, that he doesn’t have to be a hero. It was… jarring. Superman doesn’t need a reason to be a superhero other than the fact that he *can* be. He’s a hero because he likes helping people. Because he was raised to be kind and loving and hopeful. Because he can flipping fly and shoot laser beams and Clark Kent would never let an innocent person die if his laser beams could stop it. None of that comes through in this movie. Ever. Why not?
OK HERE’S THE BIG SPOILER WARNING FOR THE END OF THE FILM:
Why did they bother pretending to kill Superman? Why go through two funerals and all that sadness just to retcon it? Why even do it in the first place? He’s a tentpole of the Justice League and they have yet to get him right in these films; why bother pretending he was gone? And why did he have to sacrifice himself? OK wait I want to walk through how he dies real quick because it’s SO STUPID. So the Kryptonite spear that everyone knows about: Lois goes to get it from the water. But while she’s submerged the ceiling caves in above her and she’s trapped. She nearly drowns but Superman hears her pounding on the concrete and saves her. She’s fine and they waste time staring at each other with no chemistry whatsoever. Then Superman jumps in the water to get the spear. You know. The Kryptonite one that is killing him. Lois sits on the edge of the water and watches the struggle and then she has rescue her drowned idiot. Why couldn’t Lois go back in for the spear? Or like ask Batman if she can borrow one of his toys? I’m sure he’s got like a long gripper thing in that utility belt. So Supes has the death spear. And looks at Lois sort of lovingly and is like “I love you and I have to do this” and blah blah sadness etc he’s going to fly with the spear and take out both Doomsday and himself. Except… like… he nearly drowned after being in its presence for like 15 seconds. How’d he have the energy to fly with it? And like… instead of him taking out Doomsday why not just swap places with Wonder Woman and have her retrieve the spear? Or have Lois bring it to Batman or something. There were just so many options other than S A C R I F I C E. So yeah Supes dies. And they bury him. And then the last shot of the film is a closeup of his casket and the dirt starts levitating off it because, I don’t know, magic, so that means he’s alive I guess.
This movie made no sense and I was so bored thank god for Wonder Woman and Alfred you guys. I would suggest seeing it only if you can truly truly turn your brain off and don’t mind spending $15 to take a nap before watching a 1.5 hour movie. Really just sleep through the first hour; the movie makes the same amount of sense without it.
I’m kind of hoping that DC sits up and takes notice now. Because they’re about to start shooting the Justice League and I need that to not be… this. I feel like they can’t get much worse than this dumpster fire of a film, though, so I’m hopeful. No really. I truly believe that it’s possible to rescue this:
Step 1: Hire a writer who is not an ADHD yet literate chimp at a typewriter.
Step 2: No more Zack Snyder.
Step 3: Can Superman be nice?
Step 4: Cut the budget in half – no more BS throwing $80 million effects into a movie for no reason.
Step 5: Hire a script editor to cut the movie in half before filming.
Step 6: No really. I’m all sorts of done with these 2.5 hour slogs. I’m not even OK with Civil War doing it and I’m pretty sure I’m gonna like that one.
Step 7: Get Batman a partner. Bats needs a partner. It’s a well known fact. And Alfie’s too old for the scaly green underpants.
Step 8: No. More. Zack. Snyder. I feel bad about that because I truly believe he’s a nerd and loves making movies but it’s just not translating. Like I love chocolate but I’m not going to dunk my head in a vat of hot fudge and go screaming around the streets of New York just to prove that I CARE about CHOCOLATE. So I don’t want the film equivalent anymore. It’s not fun.
Step 9: I so much as sense Goyer anywhere near a future script I will lose it.
Step 10: Step 9 was a warning not so much a step. I stand by it.