Fight or Fly Far Away
Reviewed by Mason Manuel
Son of Krypton versus the Bat of Gotham. The fight of the century that comic lovers have been dying to grace the big screen for decades. So after all this time, has the wait been worth it? With a solid cast and crew, the signs all pointed to a positive conclusion. But while the titular clash of titans pays off, laughable performances and a lackluster story inevitably casts this film into the throws of obscurity.
Director Zack Snyder is back in all of his sepia tone filter glory, shading every frame in either a soft brown or steely gray. Batman V. Superman feels like an apology letter for the ending death toll of Man of Steel. Starting off from the much more human perspective of Ben Affleck’s Bruce Wayne, we see the chaos and carnage caused by the Superman/General Zod fight that leveled Metropolis. This grounded perspectives gives the Kryptonians a much more threatening feel than Man of Steel does and helps the threat feel more relatable so we can see where Batman’s rage comes from. After Wayne Industries is leveled in the opening scene Bruce Wayne decides that an alien with unbelievable power and no restraint is too dangerous to be kept alive, even if said alien claims to be on Humanity’s side. Yes, that’s right I said kill. This version of Batman takes a 1989 style of Batcode in that he doesn’t give a flying sh*t about which criminals live or die. Guns are not his primary weapon but if they are lying around and handy, why not use them to pop off some heads? This Bruce is too old to be squeamish about how he deals with his enemies and decides that Superman needs to go. Superman/Clark Kent on the other hand has heard about a bat vigilante who is torturing or killing criminals and is even being helped by the police without restriction. Both heroes decide that neither can live while the other survives and plot to dethrone each other.
Batman V. Superman is DC Comics attempt to catch up with the Marvel Cinematic Universe but it comes off feeling much too rushed and bloated. Marvel has succeeded with their shared universe because they took extensive time in building each character’s persona. Though we have already had plenty of time with Superman, Batman and a surprise reveal of Wonder Woman needed the majority of screentime to make their presence felt in the “Dawn of Justice.” Because of this we see little of Superman and the inevitable conflict that comes between the two heroes feels rushed and uneven. Wonder Woman played by Gal Gadot does the best she can with what little she is given but feels like little more than a cameo in the run of things. We also spend a lot of time being introduced to Jesse
Eisenberg’s Lex Luthor whom is easily the worst part of the entire film. Eisenberg is not a bad actor by any means but the vision of Lex that was created for him is. The BvS version of Lex Luthor is utterly ridiculous, bordering on comical at best and insane at worst. Luthor has always been a character of questionable sanity but he has never been without a sense of swagger. Eisenberg plays a young version of the character that either never went through puberty or drowns into a nervous wreck at the excitement of his own evil plots. Speaking of which, his motivations for going against two of the most powerful heroes in the world are pretty shady, in that they make no sense whatsoever. He goes on about how a God-like creature cannot be all powerful and decides that because he feels this way he will kill everyone just cause. It’s a crazy take on the character in the worst way and does not belong in what is otherwise a very dark tone of film.
While the story elements and characterization are severely lacking, the battles are not. Say what you will about Zack Snyder’s directing but he knows his way around an action scene. When Batman and Superman do finally clash, every punch feels absolutely brutal. The only problem is it takes so damn long to get there. The first two and a half hours of the film are all focused on building up the lore of what will eventually become the Justice League, and while these scenes are cool, they detract from our two main men. We see flashes (ahem) of Barry Allen, Aquaman, and Cyborg, but I would have given it all up for more time with Batman. Affleck does an excellent job bringing the caped crusader to life both physically and psychologically. Seriously, props to a man who is 43 and has a body that could make most models ashamed. But no Batman is complete without his Alfred. Luckily, Jeremy Irons does a great job at being an older, gruffer manservant to Master Wayne. Whenever the story focuses on Batman the film excels which makes me feel like Snyder would have almost preferred to start out doing a solo Batman film but was forced to include Superman and the other superfriends.
While the clash of heroes may not be all that was hoped for, it is not without merit. There are awesome fight scenes and an obvious homage to comic book lovers. But if you do not count yourself as part of that audience then steer clear. There is nothing here for people that do not enjoy the comic-verse. Though Affleck and Irons do an admirable job with their performances, a laughable Jesse Eisenberg and wooden Henry Cavill ruin what material they have. I would have liked to see this film in the hands of another director, but with Snyder scheduled to either direct or produce virtually every other DC film in the near future, it doesn’t look like that will happen any time soon. RDR gives Batman v. Superman a 6.4 out of 10.