Stars: Ben Affleck, Henry Cavill, Amy Adams, Gal Gadot, Jesse Eisenberg | Written by Chris Terrio and David Goyer | Directed by Zack Snyder
Batman v. Superman, after many years of hype, crashes into theaters this Friday, March 25 and despite the film not delivering a knockout punch to the audience, it does leave the fans staggering and wondering what went wrong with a film that should be a heavyweight.
The film takes place two years after Superman (Henry Cavill) delivered the neck snap heard around the world to Zod (Michael Shannon) in Man of Steel and in the process, destroyed over half the city of Metropolis. Crime-fighting Bruce Wayne (Ben Affleck) realizes no one should have that much power and dons the cowl as Batman and sets off to knock Superman down a peg or two. While the two heroes clash their fists and their egos, criminal mastermind Lex Luthor (Jesse Eisenberg) has a more heinous plan to take down the heroes and claim Metropolis for himself. Luckily Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot) can keep her temper in check long enough to actually try to save the city that Batman and Superman seem to forget about.
• Wonder Woman has arrived. Gadot may only be in the film for approximately 30 minutes but she steals the scenes she is in as Wonder Woman. Despite a decent amount of superheroes, cameo or otherwise, Wonder Woman and maybe one robotic hero are the only future solo films I leave Batman v. Superman wanting to watch.
• The actors. It’s not that the acting by Affleck, Cavill and Gadot is fantastic but the actors do an impressive job with a less than impressive script. Cavill has improved dramatically as both Clark Kent and as Superman in this film and even Affleck won’t disappoint most Batman fans. Gadot…see above.
• The pacing of the film. A film that is 150 minutes is a long time to sit and watch when the film is neither intriguing nor exciting for over half of the film. Even worse? The final battle with Doomsday, Luthor’s secret weapon, is ridiculous looking and not in a good way. The studio, Warner Brothers, has a bigger issue because the film does not make the audience excited for the future Justice League film, which Warner Brothers was hoping Batman v. Superman would accomplish.
• The soundtrack. Soundtracks for films can change a mundane moment into a classic moment but bad soundtracks can pull the audience out of the action and completely change the attitude of the film. Batman v. Superman does not have a good soundtrack and at times, even a bad soundtrack, as evident in the final fight scene with Doomsday. The music during the battle even elicited some laughter from the audience I was watching with and pulls the audience completely out of a serious moment of the film.
• Director Zack Snyder. I know director Zack Snyder loves comic books and is trying to make a superhero film that both fans of the comics and the general audience will love and I applaud him for that but Batman v. Superman is not that film. As stated above, the actors are good but from the pacing to squeezing too many plot points into one film to even the look of the film, leaves this film a mess. Warner Brothers wanted to hire an architect to guide their DC film universe but after Man of Steel and Batman v. Superman, the wheels are coming off pretty fast and it may be too late for Snyder’s next film, Justice League.
• Jesse Eisenberg. Eisenberg does a really good job portraying the Joker in Batman v. Superman but unfortunately he is supposed to be playing Lex Luthor. The character of Luthor is all over the place and while the future films will hopefully allow Eisenberg to fully grasp the role of the villainous mastermind, this is not the Luthor that Superman should be afraid to challenge. Luthor never comes across as the evil mastermind that is always two steps ahead of Superman but at least Eisenberg looks like he is having fun with the role, which should count for something.
• The background. So after the massive amount of civilian deaths in Man of Steel’s fight scenes, Batman v. Superman tones it down in terms of unnecessary deaths…to zero. The cities of Metropolis and Gotham look good but the audience is only shown a few areas of each city. The excuse that the business district is empty due to the fights occurring after 5 p.m. on a workday, yes a real explanation used in the film, is weak at very best. Snyder took a lot of negative critique for the unnecessary civilian deaths in Man of Steel, and to Snyder’s credit, it’s addressed in this film, but by being overly cautious, the cities just look like empty toy play sets.
Final Grade: C-
I had no idea what to expect coming into this film and to say I left with lower expectations for future DC films is not a good sign. I applaud Snyder for going the opposite direction of the Marvel films by taking a darker tone but Batman v. Superman tries to do too much and fails at the majority of it. The film is not for young kids and fans of the comics will pick the film apart and even the general audience will be disappointed in the final product. The film is not as bad as Fantastic Four from 2015 but it’s just a spot above the mess of a film that is Green Lantern.