Gal Gadot is getting some criticism for being a bit stiff as Wonder Woman... but we thought she nailed it.

Movie Review: Batman v Superman – Dawn of Justice

by • 03/28/2016 • All, Featured, Reel GeeksComments (0)756 •

Up... up... and OK.

The Good
Gal Gadot is great as Wonder Woman.
Jesse Eisenberg chews the scenery as Lex Luthor.

The Bad
Terrible, incomprehensible story.
No chemistry between Batman and Superman.
Am I supposed to feel sad watching a superhero movie?

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BVS Poster

Coming off the heels of 2013’s Man of Steel and borrowing heavily from the tone of Christopher Nolan’s “Dark Knight” trilogy… Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (BvS: DOJ), by director Zack Snyder, is the much anticipated setup film for a franchise based on DC Comics’ Justice League characters. The good new is, this movie isn’t necessarily the train wreck that pundits are portraying it as. The bad news is, this is probably the most somber, po-faced and dour super hero movie made to date. With a Wagnerian score and muted palette, Snyder was obviously trying to make a super hero version of Götterdämmerung… but ended up delivering Much Ado About Nothing with capes.

The Good…

Gal Gadot is getting some heat for being stiff as Wonder Woman, but we thought she crushed it.<br /> Bracelets? Check. Lasso? Check. Invisible Jet? Sequel maybe?

Gal Gadot is getting some heat for being stiff as Wonder Woman, but we thought she crushed it.
Bracelets? Check. Lasso? Check. Invisible Jet? Sequel maybe?

The supporting cast (i.e. anyone but Batman or Superman) is pretty solid in this movie. Although Jesse Eisenberg is getting a lot of flack for his twitchy, manic portrayal of Lex Luthor at the very least he seems to embrace the camp and inherent silliness of the source material and seems to be having fun with it. Lawrence Fishburne reprises his role as Perry White, editor of the Daily Planet, and brings some humor to a movie that desperately needs it. Last, but not least, Gal Gadot is a standout in her role as Wonder Woman. She portrays the Amazonian princess with a lithe, laconic grit that is in stark contrast to the pinup cliches of the character’s past. When she shows up in full costume, she nails it.

The Bat…

The titular conflict between Batman and Superman is a homage to this classic scene from Zoolander:<br /> BATMAN: Why are you acting so messed up towards me? SUPERMAN: Why are YOU acting so messed up towards ME?<br /> Seriously though... it was funny in Zoolander... here it's just bad.

The titular conflict between Batman and Superman is a homage to this classic scene from Zoolander:
BATMAN: Why are you acting so messed up towards me? SUPERMAN: Why are YOU acting so messed up towards ME?
Seriously though… it was funny in Zoolander… here it’s just bad.

Ben Affleck as Batman is, sadly enough, Ben Affleck as Batman. His portrayal of the Dark Knight is noteworthy in the sense that it is as brutal and violent as the criminals he fights against, but it is very hard to get past the notion of, “Hey… that’s Ben Affleck playing Batman.” Affleck plays the part, he definitely LOOKS the part, but he’s still Ben Affleck. When George Clooney did Batman & Robin it was at the start of his film career, but Ben Affleck has been playing Ben Affleck for the better part of 20 years in Hollywood… and it’s just hard to see him as anything other than Ben Affleck in a Batman costume. However, Jeremy Irons does a great job as the dutiful butler Alfred to Affleck’s Bruce Wayne…Irons’ Alfred is both an enabling crew chief and administer of the Batman arsenal as well as a worrying nag concerned about if and when Bruce Wayne is going to hang up the cape and settle down.

The Ugly…

The biggest problem with this movie is shown here in this photo.<br />  HINT: It's not Ben Affleck (Batman)... or the guy checking his cell phone to the right.<br /> Or those two guys in the background.

The biggest problem with this movie is shown here in this photo.
HINT: It’s not Ben Affleck (Batman)… or the guy checking his cell phone to the right.
Or those two guys in the background.

The real problem with BvS: DOJ isn’t the cast, it is the horrible, convoluted story structure that they have to work within. Coming in at about two and a half hours, this movie can be presented as indelible proof of why superhero movies should not be taken too seriously, or presented too seriously. In all fairness, if a Batman movie were to take place in the “real” world it would probably begin with the line, “Bruce, we are all here because we love you… but we want to talk about why you are a grown-ass man and keep dressing up in a bat costume so you can punch people in the face.” The fact that we are not talking about that as an aspect of “superhero reality” is the real elephant (or bat) in the room.

Zack Snyder has a signature style, as was evident in The 300 and Suckerpunch… but as a narrative, SvB: DOJ varies between making very little sense to no sense at all. For all of his visual flair, Snyder absolutely fails as a storyteller in this movie. BvS: DOJ comes together more of a pastiche of scenes that eventually lead up to the titular fight between Batman and Superman, a fight which was cribbed from the hugely superior Frank Miller comic book The Dark Knight Returns (yeah… I said it… it’s a comic book) but the end result feels just disconnected, hollow and cheap.

As for the “Dawn of Justice” The big reveal is two minutes of basically YouTube clips showing clips of Aquaman, Cyborg and The Flash… other than that? Bupkus.

Make Mine Marvel…

When asked to elaborate on why the Marvel movies just seemed more "fun" than the DC movies...<br /> Stan Lee just made a bizarre finger gesture and shouted, "Excelsior!" then demanded 150 bucks from us for his time.

When asked to elaborate on why the Marvel movies just seemed more “fun” than the DC movies…
Stan Lee just made a bizarre finger gesture and shouted, “Excelsior!” then demanded 150 bucks from us for his time.

Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice will inevitably be compared to Marvel’s 2012 film The Avengers. It’s fair to note that Batman and Superman were fighting crime since the late 1930s but the first issue of The Avengers was published in 1963, so as comic book characters, they do come from two very different touch points in our culture. Having said that, the real benchmark is that we’re evaluating two movies against is that: they were released less than 5 years of each-other, both feature hugely recognizable characters, both were financed by studios which have relatively the same amount of financial clout. Yet Marvel’s Avengers was a nice bit of goofy, campy fun… and BvS: DOJ is just a tiresome, humorless slog. Granted, it’s a slog that made over $400 million dollars globally this weekend alone, so chances are we will see another one. Which really just begs the question… why?

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