After witnessing first hand the wanton death and destruction brought upon Metropolis from the epic scrap between General Zod and Superman, Gotham’s Bruce Wayne (Affleck) swears to kill The Man Of Steel by any means possible. Meanwhile serious questions are being asked by the government and public alike about Superman, regarding what he really stands for and whether he poses a serious threat to humanity.
Three years ago i wrote my first piece for AllThingsFilm on why i felt that a Batman V Superman film was a bad idea – my reasoning was that since Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy seemed to tell the defining story of Batman, there was simply no need to reboot him all over again. This i felt would simply confuse audiences, who would rightly be asking which version of Batman they where seeing – is it a continuation of the one Christian Bale played? Or are we watching the Keaton/Kilmer/Clooney character? And if its none of those versions then would it be wise to just introduce Batman to a Man Of Steel sequel with no hint of a back-story (i.e. how he became Batman) and just pray that no one would care? To be honest after seeing BvS i still don’t have the answer and am simply hoping that the three hour R rated special edition DVD and/or the recently announced Affleck starring solo Batman film gives me some peace of mind.
Anyhow – onto the film itself. Over all i have to say that i did like it and it by no means does it in any way deserve the near vitriolic reviews that have been aimed at it from a great deal of highbrow film critics – who frankly, in my opinion wouldn’t know a decent movie from a hole in the ground.
Not to say that i didn’t have a number of issues. The plot itself seems to be all over the place and is far too Bat-centric, with not nearly enough focus on Superman. Plus rather than just concentrate on the business of getting Batman to fight Superman, director Zach Snyder frustratingly concentrates on a huge amount of exposition and overly serious talk whilst clumsily shoehorning in some confusing story strands that are simply there to be picked up again in the now filming two part Justice League movie. Not only that but he doesn’t seem to know what to do with the whole love/hate affair that the public have with Superman. Indeed just as the Man of Steel is about to defend himself in front of the US Congress and Holly Hunter’s crusading senator, Snyder maddeningly pulls the rug out from under the audience by blowing everything to smithereens – which for me, cut short what should have been Superman’s defining moment in this film – the chance to speak for himself and turn the tide of public opinion in his favour. There also seemed to be a lack of believable motivation for some of the characters -in particular Bruce Wayne’s reasoning to kill Superman seemed very forced and not really plausible, as does Lex Luthor’s (Eisenberg) creation of the un-killable Doomsday monster from the dead body of General Zod. Yes ok Doomsday is there to kill both our superheroes – but Snyder never goes into what Luthor plans to do with him afterwards -i.e. how does he expect to control the monster? and what will he use him for? – Questions that are never answered – again very much like the introduction of Batman – we are just expected to accept it.
However my biggest bugbear was the fight between Batman and Superman which after all is the principal reason for this film to exist. Frankly – its simply way too short, ends in an entirely and horribly copped out manner, is very contrived and completely lacking the kind of brutality, fury and excitement that one would expect from what should have been the absolute mother of all dust ups.
Now i have to say that despite the above issues, there was a great deal that is very good about this film. To begin with the performances are all universally excellent – Affleck is absolutely brilliant as Bruce Wayne/Batman and just may well have delivered the best interpretation of the character since Michael Keaton in Tim Burtons 1989 blockbuster. A self confessed comic book nut in real life , Affleck superbly delivers a performance full of anger, sorrow, violence and conflicted angst that Christian Bale never quite managed in Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy. Henry Cavill, reprising his role as the last son of Krypton is also very good, but still comes up short when compared to the great Christopher Reeve – who in all honesty will never ever be bettered as Superman. Amy Adams and Laurence Fishburne are solid as Lois Lane and Perry White, and even though there isn’t enough of Gal Gadot as Diana Prince/Wonder Woman, when she is on screen she’s really great and certainly matches the lads for sheer arse kicking toughness. Jeremy Irons as Alfred is also excellent, however at the moment Michael Caine will always have given the definitive performance of this character – however i certainly wouldn’t put it past an actor of Irons stature to really make the role his own in future Batman/Justice League films. Finally (and with a certain degree of surprise) Jesse Eisenberg is extremely effective as Lex Luthor – playing him as a smug, petulant psychopath, prone to fits of rambling rage and harboring a far more insidious evil than we ever saw from Gene Hackman or Kevin Spacey’s rather silly takes on Superman’s arch nemesis.
I also would like to point out how well made it all is – Snyder’s direction of the action scenes is as sure handed as ever, particularly his re-enactment of the destruction of Metropolis from a ground up point of view and a cracking climactic set piece which sees Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman teaming up against Doomsday in what proves to be the most enjoyable part of the film. The visual effects are also all exceptionallyl realized, as is the cinematography by Larry Fong, which lends a real gritty darkness to proceedings that serves things well throughout.
So over all a good film – very enjoyable and engaging throughout with some really great performances – particularly from Ben Affleck. However Zach Snyder really needs to deliver the goods with the upcoming two part Justice League epic or one gets the feeling that this new (and very late to the party) DC expanded film universe could come to a sudden crashing halt – or be looking for a new director – time will tell. So for the for the moment Marvel Studio’s Kevin Feige and The Avengers really shouldn’t start losing any sleep just yet – however they mustn’t get complacent ether -later this year sees the release of the much anticipated Suicide Squad, a now filming Wonder Woman adventure and a potentially Affleck directed Batman solo outing – so don’t count DC out just yet.
Author: Will Strong