Josh and Violet share their spoiler-free male vs. female perspective reviews of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, directed by Zack Snyder, and starring Henry Cavill, Ben Affleck, Amy Adams, Jesse Eisenberg, Gal Gadot, Diane Lane, Laurence Fishburne, Holly Hunter, and Jeremy Irons!
Josh’s Movie Review of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice:
Normally I save my scores for my reviews until the end, however due to how I think this review is going to go, I am going to put it up front. Why? Because while I do like Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, there is a lot wrong with it, which has certainly but a dark cloud over the movie as a whole. So when you see my reasoning for my review below, it is going to seem very negative overall, and by the time you get to the end you might think I hated Batman v Superman and might even think I typoed the score I had given it or something. With that said, my review of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice is 7 out of 10. Be prepared to be confused, as despite might moderately good score, there is a lot of negativity below!
Okay, now that that is out of the way let’s get into the review. This will be a spoiler-free review, as I think I will be writing a few spoiler-filled articles later to further elaborate on some points I make later on. But on with the review! So Batman v Superman is a very strange movie. I walked out of the theater both amped having just seen it, but at the same time there was a looming feeling of disappointment with the movie. I think there is one big reason for this: The motivation for the fight between Batman and Superman. I won’t spoil what that is, as it is a big plot point of the film, but suffice it to say, for me it is a big reason that hinges on making this movie enjoyable or dislikable. It is hard to discuss this without spoiling the movie, but it was an odd choice by Zack Snyder, I feel, and I actually am still wrestling with whether I thought that direction was “okay” or not. I say just “okay” because I think it should have been handled better, but since this is the movie we have to watch, I have to see if I can reconcile this plot point as something I am willing to accept or not.
This sort of leads into another problem I think Zack Snyder has, which is his story-telling. I think a lot of critics of Batman v Superman are saying that Zack Snyder has sacrificed story for visuals. I can certainly see why people are saying this. I would offer a different line of thinking, which unfortunately is just as disappointing. I would contend that Zack Snyder expects too much from the audience when they watch his movies. I think this is evident in Man of Steel and is magnified even further in Batman v Superman. There are many times in this movie where I can see what Zack Snyder was meaning to say with the story, but he doesn’t come right out and say it. I think a big example of this is in the trailer, with Bruce Wayne running into the destruction caused during the fight between Zod and Superman. Not everyone that is seeing Batman v Superman has seen Man of Steel. I think this will be proven in the box office, as I am fairly certain Batman v Superman is going to make a lot more money than Man of Steel did opening weekend. [Update: It did.] My point is this: People who haven’t seen Man of Steel will not understand what is going on in Metropolis–at least not right away. I would imagine it is a very confusing part of the movie for people, who haven’t seen the previous movie, and might not understand what is going on with Superman at this point. Don’t get me wrong, the scene is a great one–but I understand why it is a great one because I know what is going on from the events of Man of Steel having played out, and the fact that I think Zack Snyder was trying to play off the negative feedback he received for the fight scenes in Man of Steel which the average movie-goer will have no clue about.
To further my point, I think there are other scenes, revolving particularly around Superman and Lex Luthor that illustrate the same point at an even worse level. I sort of understand what Zack Snyder was trying to say during certain plot points/story development areas, but everything is not made clear, and often dragged out in a weird way that just did not resonate with me and left me wondering–“Why?”
Unfortunately to continue a little more bashing of the movie, there were quite a few character development issues. I think that Lois Lane (played by Amy Adams) was shoe-horned into the movie. I feel that most of her scenes were just a way to give her something to do in the film, and were mostly inconsequential, and could have been done differently so that her character had more meaning, or she could have been taken out of the movie completely. She is supposed to be part of the reason Superman relates to humanity, but for me, she came off as really having nothing to do in this film worthwhile. In fact, her storyline involving the desert (I won’t give any spoiler details) plays out in a confusing, and muddled way that continues through the majority of the movie, that I think will leave many people confused. I also wished that Superman was taken in a different direction in this movie, as he transitioned from Man of Steel to Batman v Superman to make him a little more like the traditional Superman we know. While he does make some turns for the better, I do not think he did it well enough, and even backtracked to some of the reasons fans were disappointed with Man of Steel (particularly the desert scene illustrates this–you’ll know what I mean when you see it).
To put a few bright notes on characters–Batman was done really well. I am not ready to call him the “definitive” Batman as many people already are, but he definitely did a great job. I did find it odd him using conventional guns so often, which sort of took me out of the movie for a few seconds, but I was able to set that aside. Wonder Woman was actually really good in the movie during her action scenes, however I still have concerns about Gal Gadot when she isn’t dressed up in her costume fighting baddies–can she handle the drama parts too? The small tidbits in the movie she had were fine, but we will have to see in her standalone movie. Lex Luthor is still a big question mark, and is calling for a separate article discussion I think. Look for that in the coming days. I didn’t mind his off-kilter personality, but his reasons for the actions he took are still being decided for me as good or bad choices from a story perspective. But a huge letdown (this is in the second trailer so not a spoiler) is Doomsday. His origin is completely botched, and makes no sense at all. This again is another thing that might need an elaborating article, but I just could not understand how this origin story was allowed to be made.
As I thought I would, I have bashed the movie pretty good so far, which seems strange given my score of 7, but the good parts of this movie are really good. When I “squint” just right at this movie (figuratively of course) I see a masterpiece. If I drank enough flavor-aid with Zack Snyder telling me how good this movie was, I could believe him after seeing it. The visuals of this movie are stunning–from the opening scene, to the destruction of Metropolis from Batman’s perspective, to the fight scenes between Batman and Superman, then their fight turning to Doomsday. Zack Snyder has mastered visual representation of comic books on the big screen. You can identify shot-for-shot images in the movie from The Dark Knight Returns graphic novel, and it just looks stunning when you see it on the big screen, especially in IMAX.
Despite my bashing of the story, like I said before–I can see what Zack Snyder was going for, and if that vision was fleshed out a little better, with some character and story changes, this movie could be amazing. I just wished he had provided some more development story-wise and character-wise so that some motivations of characters made more sense to me. I also thought the ending of the movie was done really well. It is a bit of a controversial ending, but I did appreciate what they did. So all in all, I don’t think the story was horrible, and I am still settling on what I think about it. With rose-colored glasses, I can convince myself this is a stellar movie. It is just too bad I have to dig so deep to find the diamond in the rough. For this to be a good movie, I shouldn’t have to think about it so much.
A quick note on acting as I think little needs to be said here– I think everyone did an excellent job with their acting. From Henry Cavill, to Ben Affleck, to Amy Adams, to Jesse Eisenberg, all the way down to the brief time we saw Gal Gadot, Diane Lane and Lawrence Fishburne, I had no problems with the acting at all. I just wish they had better material to work with to make the movie a lot better.
The introduction of the other Justice League characters was done in a tasteful way I thought, too. It wasn’t over-exciting to me really as what they did was a little bland, but I am glad they didn’t take over the movie. I wanted this to be Batman and Superman with a sprinkle of Wonder Woman, and that is what we got. And speaking of what we got–I am willing to accept this Batman v Superman as the next chapter of the DC Universe. Not because I particularly love the movie, but it is not a complete train wreck, and it is the Batman versus Superman movie we now have. This is something I have been looking forward to for years, and while it is not my ideal movie, I will appreciate it for what it is. I do think it will lead into the Justice League really well, and I really hope that given Zack Snyder is still on board for the next movie, he learns a little from mistakes made in Batman v Superman and makes some significant improvements for the next story he tells. Now despite my feelings and what other critics are saying about the movie, I think that Batman v Superman is a movie everyone should see. To me, it seems like a movie that was supposed to be made since the graphic novel The Dark Knight Returns came out. Who doesn’t want to see these two epic heroes square off? I guess there are probably people that don’t really care, but if you have any desire at all to see that battle, I think this movie is worth a viewing.
Violet’s Movie Review
of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice:
As a follow up to director Zack Snyder’s Man of Steel from 2013, Snyder’s Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice has been a highly anticipated film since it was first announced at San Diego Comic-Con 2013. Although back then, it didn’t have an actual title yet, we just knew that Man of Steel was getting a sequel, and that Batman was somehow involved. Of course, then once Ben Affleck was cast as Batman, there was a lot of controversy over that, but it seemed that people got over it after awhile. I wasn’t sure what to think about that casting, myself. But then when we saw the first trailer for Batman v Superman at San Diego Comic-Con 2015, I really liked what I saw, and was hopeful that Batman v Superman could address and redeem what happened in Man of Steel. Then came the second trailer, which I did not like. After that, I decided to avoid any further trailers, because I did not want to be spoiled on anything. Unfortunately, although I didn’t get spoiled with any plot points, I did get spoiled by hearing about all the negative reviews from critics, which led to me going into the movie with low expectations.
Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice is directed by Zack Snyder (as mentioned before), written by Chris Terrio and David S. Goyer, and includes a star studded cast of Henry Cavill reprising his role as Clark Kent/Superman, Ben Affleck as Bruce Wayne/Batman, Amy Adams once again portraying Lois Lane, Jesse Eisenberg as Lex Luthor, Diane Lane returning as Martha Kent, Laurence Fishburne as Perry White, Jeremy Irons as Alfred, Holly Hunter as Senator Finch, and Gal Gadot as Diana Prince/Wonder Woman.
The beginning of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice focuses on Bruce Wayne, giving us his well-known origin story as the opening credits. Then we get a flash forward to the events at the end of Man of Steel, and get to see Bruce Wayne’s perspective, as he was right in the middle of all the destruction. From then on, this hardened version of Bruce Wayne has a vendetta against Superman, and makes it a priority to figure out how to stop him. Lex Luthor also has his own plans in mind for neutralizing Superman. Meanwhile, Clark disagrees with Batman’s vigilante justice, and Superman continues to fly around and save people, but many people are questioning whether it’s a good thing or a bad thing to have him around, in light of the consequences of some of his actions, which makes Clark struggle in deciding what his role in this world should be. Additionally, throughout the movie, Diana Prince, a.k.a. Wonder Woman, pursues her own agenda, ultimately with the help of Bruce Wayne.
While trying to give the general synopsis in the previous paragraph, and thinking about how best to summarize the film without giving anything away, it became even more apparent to me how many different things this movie has going on, and how it has an overall incoherent storyline as a result. Because of the fact that it tries to accomplish so many things, the overall storyline suffers, and certain things feel wedged in. Oftentimes, scene transitions are quite abrupt, to the point that there is no actual “transition” at all, and more often than not, lead to scenes that feel unnecessary to the story. At the same time, it feels like certain scenes are missing from the film which could have explained things better, and made the story feel more cohesive.
That being said, I felt like the acting was top notch, which is to be expected, considering such an all-star lineup. Despite my initial skepticism when Ben Affleck was first cast as Bruce Wayne, I thought he did a great job. Granted, it would take a lot for him to replace Christian Bale as “my” Batman, but if Bale had to be replaced, Affleck turned out to be an acceptable replacement. The only acting I didn’t like was Jesse Eisenberg’s Lex Luthor. We didn’t see much of him in the first Batman v Superman trailer, so he hadn’t bothered me then, but he really bugged me in the second trailer. I did not like this over the top, eccentric, goofy, high pitched voice character that Eisenberg portrayed. I had hoped it would make sense and all come together when I saw the movie, but it was more of the same, and really distracted me. I’m not sure if it was Eisenberg’s or Snyder’s choice to portray Lex Luthor in that way, but to me, it was the wrong one. I would have preferred either a more charming, or a more menacing Lex. There’s a comment made in the movie likening Superman to a clown. However, I would peg Lex Luthor as the clown in this movie. Maybe the intention was to add some levity to the dark, gritty tone of the movie, but this Lex Luthor felt out of place to me. Perhaps that will change in future DC movies.
The highlight of this movie, for me, was Wonder Woman. Gal Gadot was another actor cast in this movie that I was initially skeptical about, considering that we had only seen her in the Fast & Furious movies. However, she turned out to be pretty awesome, both in terms of Gadot’s portrayal of her, and in terms of the character itself. Meanwhile, the other female lead, Lois Lane, although ambitious, ultimately turned out to be relatively useless as a character, which is a shame, because we need more strong female characters.
I guess it was a good thing that I was exposed to the fact that there were so many negative critic reviews and that the film had a low Rotten Tomatoes score, and therefore went into this with low expectations, because otherwise I may have been even more disappointed with the film. I’m not saying that it’s as horrible as the critics say it is, considering that I actually did enjoy a lot of it, but it wasn’t great either. At times I felt a little lost, as it felt like things jumped around and left aspects unexplained. Maybe deleted scenes can help with that. As compared to its predecessor, Man of Steel, I would say that I liked Man of Steel better, as it told a more coherent story, even if I didn’t like everything about that story.
Overall, despite the disjointed storylines in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, it did have good acting, great action scenes, and awesome effects.
I had initially intended on giving Batman v Superman a rating of 7/10, but after writing this review, I realized that I like it a little less than I thought, so I’m going to bump that score down to a 6.5/10.