Search This Blog

Saturday, 2 April 2016

Review: Batman v Superman (2016)

Warning: Spoilers
Batman v Superman has been one of the most controversial comic book movies for several years and for good reason. Today I'll review and discuss my thoughts on the movie. This review contains lots of spoilers which will ruin the movie for you if you have not seen it yet. 

Action, Cinematography and Effects
The action is phenomenal in this film. Particularly the scenes where Batman and Superman fight they are true cinematic wonders. People who have read my other reviews know my overall dislike for too much CGI but, in the case of the fight scenes at least the CGI enhanced the movie experience. Many critics who I have seen who blasted this film loved the fight scenes so this is some prime evidence to show how good the scenes were. There is one particular scene, (which to my knowledge actually does not heavily rely on CGI although I could be mistaken), where Batman fights a group of armed thugs and it is fantastic. Zack Snyder's signature style plays very well in this scene and it is very captivating. The fast pace of it all makes it seem like it is an actual fight. Although I loved the Tim Burton and Christopher Nolan Batman films I always felt that the fighting was too rigid. They had good fight scenes but it always seemed somewhat restrained compared to the Batman of the comics or the excellent Batman: Arkham games. One thing that this film has going for it is how well choreographed the fight scenes with Batman (and Wonder Woman) are. It is fast, fluid and brutal which you want from a superhero movie. 

Although the effects are done extremely well and are perfectly enhanced by Zack Snyder's film style I would have loved to see less CGI and more practical effects. I expected Doomsday to be CGI, some things are extremely difficult to create with practical effects with this style of film, but some practical effects could have been used. For example, in The Lord of the Rings the cave trolls were created by using practical effects in some scenes and then relying heavily on CGI in the rest. I felt that they could have done this for Doomsday (incidentally both my friend and I thought Doomsday initially looked like a cave troll). Another thing to mention is how Snyder's style is good for action scenes but not the rest of the movie. Several scenes seemed to go by quickly and felt shoehorned in, the main reason why I believe this will be discussed later on but again Snyder has to be partially blamed for this. The artistic flare and quick shots may have worked well in films like 300 and Sucker Punch but with Batman v Superman it felt too much which hindered the effectiveness of it.

Cast and Characters
One thing I must give the film credit for is how well it is acted. I thought all the actors in the film did a good job and if it was with a different script there would be no complaints whatsoever. Henry Cavill as Superman is very good. He perfectly captures what I imagine Superman in his early days to be like. Not only that his interaction with Amy Adams (Lois Lane), Diane Lane (Martha Kent) and Kevin Costner (Jonathan Kent) created my personal three favorite scenes in the film. They are so emotional and well acted. My friend loved the the emotive scene between Superman and his mother and one of my favorite YouTubers, Angry Joe, said he almost cried during the scene between Superman and his dad. I personally got very emotional during the scene between Superman and Lois Lane, how it was acted and written (David S Goyer and Chris Terrio outdid themselves) reminded why I became a comic book fan and why I loved them so much. Ben Affleck as Batman is fantastic also. He effectively plays a scarred Batman, one who has strayed from the light and has descended into a brutal self-hatred. After seeing him in this I cannot wait for his three solo Batman movies. This is the bitter and angry Batman that I imagine at the end of The Killing Joke and Death in the Family (especially fitting as Robin's costume is seen with graffiti from the Joker scrawled on it). Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman is phenomenal as well although my biggest problem is how little she is in the movie. I would have loved to see her more in the movie.

Although the acting is good the characters themselves are complete morons. Lois Lane went from being quite a smart character in Man of Steel to being brainless. At the end she throws the kryptonite spear into a pool for some reason instead of doing the smart thing and giving it to Superman, only for five minutes later for her to realize the spear could be useful and her attempt to retrieve it led to her almost drowning. The reason why Batman dislikes Superman is stupid. Judging by the start of the film he seems to have a solid reason but that quickly dissipates, even ignoring Alfred who was saying what the audience was screaming at the screen. Although it would remove the main part of the film when Superman asked for Batman's help he could have literally just have listened to Superman instead of going antagonizing him. Finally we have Jesse Eisenberg as Lex Luthor. Again it was well acted but it was disappointing. Angry Joe said that he was more Joker than Luthor and he's right. Eisenberg's performance is similar characterization to that of Alexander Luthor in the comics (Lex Luthor's son from a parallel dimension in the comics) and, people keep saying he's technically not Lex Luthor because he's Alex instead. However, it is clear that this role is Jesse Eisenberg playing Jesse Eisenberg and not Jesse Eisenberg playing Luthor. If we had got Bryan Cranston as initially planned (and as many of us initially hoped) we would have likely got the cunning, cold and genius Lex Luthor instead of Eisenberg's eccentric mad genius. Also his reason for hating Superman, and wanting Batman and Superman to fight makes no sense. The idea would have worked if the entire world worshiped Superman, Luthor in the film talks often how Superman is an idolized god who has blinded the people, but many people hated Superman so it makes no sense. In the film Luthor uses the corpse of Zod from Man of Steel and his own blood to create Doomsday to kill Superman in case Batman failed to do so. However, it makes no sense. Luthor knows Doomsday is a killing machine but he seems to have no way to control him. In fact the first thing that Doomsday does is go to attack Luthor. Most of the plot holes in this film could have been removed if Luthor was not in the film.

Also I felt Batman and Superman acted out of character at times. Superman less so but definitely with Batman. To start off with Superman possibly kills a terrorist holding Lois hostage. It is somewhat ambiguous if he kills the terrorist but I strongly believe that the terrorist was killed. The entire point of Superman snapping Zod's neck in Man of Steel was for Superman to truly learn the fragility of life and why he feels he has to never take a life. This seemed to be a step back. Batman is unusually brutal in the film. I don't mind that Batman disarmed and then stabbed a thug in the shoulder, smash a few cars up or use someone as basically a wrecking ball. I liked the brutal Batman and it is made better with how good the fight scenes are. What I am against is how readily Batman kills. I did not like Batman killing in Tim Burton's and Christopher Nolan's films (choosing not to save someone is still killing Nolan!) and I do not like it here. Admittedly I will give this some leniency as it seems that this Batman has been broken and strayed from the edge. However, I loved how Superman figuratively saved Batman. His sacrifice seems to have reformed Batman (judging by the last scene) which is a very good touch. I also liked the Martha link. I felt it was a dawning moment for Batman: he realized Superman is just like him. I've seen it mocked quite often but to me it seemed that it helped Batman realize that Superman is a man and not some alien.

References and Tidbits that I liked
This is a film definitely for the fans where the writers Goyer and Terrio did a good job in pleasing fans. First off I practically cried in joy when the Flash, Aquaman and Cyborg appeared. Their cameos did seem very forced but at the time I did not care (to be honest I still don't). I was very pleased to see Aquaman as I love Jason Mamoa. Perry White mentions to Clark Kent that it is not 1938, a very nice nod to the comics as 1938 is when Superman made his debut. Also there is a poster in one scene which features Superman lifting a car, this is a direct copy of the cover of Action Comics #1 where Superman first appeared. The suit Batman wears while fighting Superman is exactly the same as the one that he wears in his battle against Superman in the excellent Dark Knight Returns which is a must read for any Batman fan. One of the dream scenes is very reminiscent to the excellent DC video game Injustice: Gods Among Us and the comic spin off where Superman became a repressive ruler following Lois Lane's murder by the Joker. Also in the same sequence Batman wheres what seems to be his costume from the very good Superman: Red Son story, (which I highly recommend). That same sequence also hints at the future of the DC Cinematic Universe (it feels nice saying that). The large omega symbol that you can see in that scene, and the flying bug like creatures called Parademons, are the work of Darkseid. Darkseid is an extraterrestrial who is basically a god and is one of the Justice League's most prominent opponents. There are two things about the Congressional hearing that I liked and must applaud the writers for it. The first is the jar of 'Grandma's Peach Tea'. It is something very clever and can only be appreciated by watching the film. The second is a little joke at the expense of the Westboro Baptist Church. Outside Congress one of the protesters has a sign reading 'God Hates Aliens' written in the same style with the same imagery as the infamous group. It was something that may have passed many by (it is tucked in the corner) but it shows how much effort did go into the film.

There are many issues with the film that I need to discuss. I've already discussed some of them but there are many others. My main one is Lex Luthor's motive. If the entire world regarded Superman as an infallible icon with a few naysayers slowly coming up this would make sense. People regard Superman though as a danger, at the Congress scene the amount of people protesting against him shows that this was not the case. What I feel should have happened was that the world loves Superman bar Luthor who sees him as a false god and was badly affected by the Superman/Zod battle in Man of Steel. He then finds people who also are antagonistic to Superman and gets them a voice. Batman, going by what happens in the first scene, also turns against Superman and is provoked into fighting Superman. However, Batman has caught onto Luthor's more illicit dealings so Luthor decides to provoke a fight between the heroes thinking that it will kill two birds with one stone. Superman kills Batman removing the person investigating him while Superman gets discredited for killing Batman. Simultaneously Luthor develops Doomsday with the intention that a Superman/Doomsday fight would wreck huge damage, kill thousands and when Superman is killed Luthor could come in to save the day by incapacitating the monster somehow. However, his plan goes AWOL when the two heroes make an alliance and, his way to control Doomsday fails and the beast gets loose. While this thread is happening Lois Lane starts investigating Luthor's illicit dealing instead of that asinine one in the film where she found out that terrorists were killed by Luthor's men and not Superman (something that should have been obvious as for some reason no one questioned why Superman shot terrorists with bullets!). I felt this could have removed so many plot holes.

Also the way they showed future movies was done appallingly. Marvel shows future movies but they do it in a far better way. They do an after-credit scene, casually name drop a character or a plot point for a future film is started. What they don't do is have two dream sequences which somehow exactly fits future events that seem out of place for the audience. The Darkseid one was so out of place my friend and I had no idea what was happening until Superman disintegrated two people confirming that it was a dream sequence. The Flash one was more aggravating (although I did like his costume). At first I thought it had something to do with the end of the film but no it has something to do with a future movie. You have both restricted yourself to follow this particular path now as well as aggravating the audience. Finally I need to discuss the ending. Why? Superman dying this early on is so ridiculous. First half the world still hated Superman. If you had showed the people who had hated Superman mourning his loss then this would have been more acceptable but you never see them. Hence, it is likely they still see Superman as evil rather than good. Second, they have used one of the biggest comic arcs in thirty years in the second movie! Death of Superman was one of DC's biggest events since Crisis on Infinite Earths and they used it in the second movie! It's like Batman Begins doing the Knightfall story or Avengers doing Civil War. Marvel has waited five years to do Civil War and DC has already used up one of their biggest stories ever. As a fan this has aggravated me so much. Finally, the stakes aren't high any more. The final shot implies he's coming back to life so the danger is no longer real. It is good that they've shown that they are willing to kill off characters but now Man of Steel 2 and Justice League will no longer be high staked. Bringing back one character means that every character can do so which makes the threat less daunting. DC has really shot themselves in the foot here. 

Other thoughts
I feared this would happen. DC has wanted to catch up with Marvel and in doing so has messed up their chances of making this film as great as Avengers. Goyer and Terrio did well for the constraints that the studio put them under. As of right now the Marvel Cinematic Universe will be done by 2019. What Warner Brothers and DC has done is try to compete with an established franchise instead of waiting to let Marvel wrap up before taking their spotlight. 2016 could have been the year where we saw a Wonder Woman, Aquaman, a second Superman and a Cyborg movie which built up to a 2017 release for Batman v Superman and a 2018 release for Justice League. Doing this they could have built on characters and tied up some loose ends without having to ram it all into one film. The dialogue is bad because they had to establish so many characters. Scenes are too short to have an impact because they have to fit so much into one film. Wonder Woman has barely half a dozen scenes because they have to tie up loose ends from Man of Steel. The DC Cinematic Universe could have gotten big when the curtain was closing for the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Instead we could have gotten George Miller's (the director of Mad Max: Fury Road) film. In 2007 George Miller was going to make Justice League: Mortal. It was going to feature an already established Justice League fighting the forces of evil but was cancelled. If they wanted to catch up with Marvel they could have done this instead. Bring in the Superman of Man of Steel, Wonder Woman, Batman, Cyborg and the rest. They could have used the cast of Arrow and Flash as well. 

Despite my rants I did enjoy the film. Mostly this was because of how much of a comic fan that I am. I could not put into words how ecstatic that I was to see Wonder Woman, Batman and Superman standing together in live action. I am getting chills saying DC Cinematic Universe and knowing that this is happening. When Batman v Superman does something right it does it spectacularly. The critics have treated this film too harshly but it could have been something far greater. I am looking forward to Suicide Squad and Justice League. Both seem to be wasting less time on establishing characters and more time on building a good story. I will say my guess for Suicide Squad: I believe the Joker/Harley scene in the first trailer in the car will be after the murder of Robin and Batman kills the Joker. Most likely now this will be disproven in the first five minutes of the film. Overall the fan in me would give Batman v Superman 7/10 but the critical side of me would give it 6.5/10

Thanks for reading. Did you agree with my score? Am I talking a load of rubbish? What did you think of the film? Please leave any comments down below and I'll see you next time!

No comments:

Post a Comment