I finally watched Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice this weekend. If it seems unusual that I would wait so long to see a superhero movie – especially one about Batman and Superman – well, that’s because it is unusual. I was slightly wary of this film. None of the trailers save the last one excited me at all. Even that one only left me somewhat interested. I wasn’t overly fond of its predecessor, either. Man of Steel had some great moments but overall it was a weak film that didn’t understand its own protagonist. Trips to the movie theater are rough when you have four small children in the house, and this didn’t feel like the film to make the trip for.
I did want to see it, though. I am a big fan of both of the title characters, particularly of Batman. But a $4.99 movie rental after we’ve put the kids to bed is far easier than a $9 a piece trip to the movie theater where we have to coordinate a babysitter. Still, the film came out on video some time ago. So why the delay?
I’ve been busy. Morgon’s been busy – and she wanted to see the film, too. So we had to wait until we were both available to watch it. That turned out to be last night.
I’m glad we didn’t rush. It wasn’t a particularly terrible film, although many have made it out to be that. But it also wasn’t a particularly good film. It had good elements in it, but overall the film is quite weak. The beginning is very slow. The contrived plot will leave you groaning in many spots. In the programming world, we have a term called “happy path coding.” Everything works as long as the user follows exactly the expected series of operations. Any deviation from that and the program crashes. This movie had a “happy path plot.” The story only works if each character follows exactly the path laid out for him. And yet in many cases the viewer is left scratching his head. Why does that character follow that path? There are smarter options available – more in character options available.
And that’s the film’s biggest weakness. Zach Snyder still doesn’t understand Superman. They never should have entrusted the franchise to him. To be fair, this film makes it pretty clear that he wanted to make a Batman film. The studio let him have Batman. They wouldn’t let him have the Joker. So he turned Lex Luthor into the Joker. I didn’t mind them playing with the character. I thought casting Jessie Eisenberg was an interesting choice. The actor is fine. He clearly did what they asked him to do. But it doesn’t work at all.
So what is good about the film? Wonder Woman is hot, and a lot of fun in her short screen time. Zach Snyder has the keenest sense of visual film making this side of George Lucas. There are some amazing shots in the film. Batfleck is actually not bad. I actually want to watch his next outing – particularly since Snyder will not helm this one. The scene where Batman rescues [redacted] is perhaps the best Batman fight I’ve ever seen on film. It was like someone filmed a few minutes of playing the “Arkham Asylum” games, but with a ridiculously high budget. If you’ve played those games then you know that’s a huge compliment. Jeremy Irons as Alfred was great (although not quite Michael Caine great). And did I mention that Wonder Woman is hot?
She’s also barely in the film. And as great as she is, her part could have – and should have – been cut. It added nothing to the story. The fight scenes are too short. The plot struggled (and many will argue failed) to stay coherent. I followed it fine. My wife didn’t. The two main characters spend virtually no time together on screen. Batman’s “It’s ok, I’m a friend of [Clark’s]!” line makes no sense at all given that he was literally trying to kill Clark less than ten minutes earlier – in movie world time, not real time.
This film is three stars out of five, and that might be a tad generous. Don’t rush.