Movie Review – Batman v Superman: Dawn of Daddy Issues

[Note: as usual, footnotes probably won’t work unless you read the full article]

We are currently enjoying the golden age of superhero movies. We had a couple of good Spider-Man franchises[1]Raimi’s studio-meddled Spider-Man 3 notwithstanding.and the insane amount of Avengers and X-Men movies, plus Guardians of the Galaxy and, more recently, the much anticipated (and record breaking) Deadpool.

Eagle-eyed[2]and nerdy readers will notice these are all Marvel titles[3]Non-nerdy readers may as well skip a few paragraphs. Or the whole post.. DC movies tended to be kitchy as all hell (like the horrible series of Batman movies starring Michael Keaton[4]I mean, seriously, Michael Keaton?, Val Kilmer[5]I mean, seriously, Val Kilmer??? and George Clooney[6]It’s like they had a “Lets See If We Can Come Up With A Worse Batman” contest.). Then we had the horrific Superman Returns and (ugh) Green Lantern. Yeah, Marvel had some terrible movies, too[6]*cough*The Wolverine*cough* but the deck was stacked pretty badly.

Then we had Chistopher Nolan’s Batman reboot, and Man of Steel[7]which has mixed reviews, but I liked it., and it looked like DC was turning things around.

Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice was hyped halfway to Krypton ever since it was announced, and not surprisingly. We’re talking about two of DC’s biggest characters, both coming together after a bunch of really good movies. Plus a lot of people assumed (correctly) that it would draw on one of the most critically acclaimed Batman comic series.

Sure, it has some hype-hiccups, like when we all learned that Christian Bale would be replaced as Batman by none other than Ben Affleck, whom we all still don’t trust after Daredevil[8]Oh yeah, add that one to the bad Marvel entries. Along with Electra. But then we heard that Wonder Woman will be making her very first Big Screen appearance.

I’m going to do a non-footnote tangent here: can you believe Wonder Woman has never been in a movie before? In fact, she’s not been in live-action since the 1970s! Now I love Lynda Carter as much as the next guy, and she did some amazing stuff for a show made in the ’70s, but Wonder Woman did not deserve to be neglected, relegated to Straight-To-DVD animation for for 40 years.

Then again, they’d probably not have done her justice[9]No pun intended. up until the mid-2000s, so maybe it’s a blessing in disguise. Anyway.

Wonder Woman was supposed to have a small cameo, but the hype made them give her a bigger part, which made even more hype.

Then release day approached, and critic screenings took place, and, well, the prognosis wasn’t very good. When it was released to the public, initial reviews from non-hardcore fans weren’t great. People were saying Wonder Woman was the only good thing in the movie, but despite being uncameoed, she still didn’t have a huge role.

Which is why I didn’t bother watching it in the theatre.

But it’s out for the home market now, so I finally got to see it. Apparently I watched the Ultimate Edition which has some deleted scenes added back in.

So, five hundred and forty three words in, I can start my actual review.

I’d have enjoyed this movie much less had I watched it in the theatre. It’s about three hours long. My review would’ve basically have been mostly about wanting to go to the bathroom. “Too long” was one of the criticisms it received, and that’s fairly justified when you can’t pause it.

Another criticism was that there were “too many characters.” I’m not sure about that one. This is hardly an ensemble cast like any Avengers or X-Men. You’ve got Superman and his non-superhero supporting cast, Batman and his, uh, Alfred, and a couple of minutes of Wonder Woman.

Now there is a bit in the middle with short cameos for a few other Justice League characters. You get a minute or so of The Flash, Aquaman and Cyborg, and if you’re not aware of the DC universe, those probably made very little sense and seemed a bit out of place. Heck, I knew who they all were and it still felt out of place. There’s another sequence with The Flash earlier in the film, and that part made very little sense, too[10]Yes, I know, Crisis, Darkseid, etc. Probably confused anyone who doesn’t know what that means. Also it was in Batman’s dream!.

Another criticism which I agree with is that the thing had absolutely no humour. Not just that, there’s no lightness. There were plenty of opportunities for light conversations, for friendly banter, even decent trash-talk. Nope[11]Actually, now that I think about it, there’s one throwaway “dialogue” that’s supposed to be kind of funny. And now that I think about that, it makes no sense..

The movie starts out with Bruce Wayne having a bad dream or… something… remembering his parents being murdered and their funeral. Then some weird stuff happens. Sure, it’s a dream, but…

He has more weird dreams throughout the movie.

At some point Superman goes on walkabout and talks to his father’s ghost[12]Yes, I know, Third Man Factor, whatever.. And Lex Luthor also goes on about his father, too. It’s a good thing Wonder Woman didn’t have time for that[13]I’m not actually sure if she even has a father in the DC Movieverse.. Basically, everyone in this thing is a bit messed up.

That all said, I actually enjoyed the thing. They went out of their way to build up the animosity between Batman and Superman, and make it all make sense. They generally took their sweet time, but hey, I actually have an attention span[14]And a pause button.. They actually gave the characters some depth.

Ben Affleck did a good job as Batman, too. He actually looked like the kind of Batman who could kick Superman’s butt. Now we all know that Batman can beat anyone with prep-time, but it’s still some work to make it not look silly. They pulled that off. He had the reasons, the motivations and the means to defeat him – again, they took their time building that up – and when he decides not to kill him, when they finally connect, it makes sense[15]Despite Lois Ex Machina..

The action sequences were also flawless. Good fight scenes, fantastic CG. They also took the time to show the consequences from all the collateral damage from Man of Steel and that the heroes took care to avoid it this time. The final battle against Doomsday was fairly epic. Yes, they changed Doomsday’s origin story, and frankly made him considerably weaker than his comic book appearance, but he (it?) was still an incredibly powerful adversary. It was Doomsday who kills Superman in the comic book, too[16]He gets better..

I love the new Wonder Woman look (which was publicised well before the movie) – I always thought the Stars and Stripes were a bit… out of place for an amazon – Wonder Woman is no more American than Superman. Less, even – he grew up in America. Wonder Woman is several thousand years older than America! So I love the more Amazon-Warrior like outfit[17]And I find it somewhat funny that it’s less revealing than the one Lynda Carter wore in the ’70s.. And the sword!

I was a bit worried about Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman, because I’ve never seen her, well, act in anything before. One thing I had a very, very silly misconception about was her accent. I know this sounds weird, having grown up in Israel, I find people speaking English with an Israeli accent to be extremely jarring. I don’t know why. I’ve heard her on talk shows and I just wasn’t sure she could pull off an American accent.

And yes, I realise that everything I just said about the outfit should also apply to the accent. There’s absolutely no reason for Wonder Woman to have an American accent. if anything, she should have an Ancient Greek accent. Gal Gadot speaks in a possibly slightly toned down version of her natural accent. And it works.

Also, she apparently improvised one of (to me) the best moments Wonder Woman has in the movie, the one that fully shows her Amazon Warrior personality. It’s a very small, blink-and-you’ll-miss-it part. During the final battle against Doomsday, when she realises this creature is going to be almost impossible to defeat, she smiles. She conveys Wonder Woman’s relish of battle perfectly. I’m looking forward to her standalone movie[18]And I hope they let it have some light moments..

Now, there were a few moments in the movie where the heroes just stand around and talk rather than doing something. If you’re going to stop Lex Luthor, friggin stop him already, don’t let him just do stuff. As Tuco said, “When you have to shoot, shoot! Don’t talk!”

All in all, though, I… kind of wish they made more movies – especially action movies – that require some attention span. Ones that take the time to develop characters. It’d be nice if they realised you can take yourself seriously without being so serious, but what can you do. I definitely don’t regret seeing this movie, but I also don’t regret waiting until I could see it at home.

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