By Tuvya Maeir.
It is profoundly difficult to label Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice. The film cannot be classified as a failure, because it holds the fourth-highest box office opener of all time. It cannot be called a mistake, because it proved that DC and Warner Bros. can get away with their attempt to copy Marvel’s formula. It is not a total disaster either, because there were a few decent successes scattered among the rest of the frustrating film.
But by all things sacred to the franchise, the label that can be used is one that may prove ironic given a certain character that was revealed in one of the trailers: Doomsday.
For those who don’t know, Doomsday was the monster who killed Superman in the best-selling graphic novel of all time. He was very large, ugly, grey, savage, rough, relentless, and merciless – a perfect descriptor of this movie.
The movie slogs endlessly, is devoid of color in its environments, has a shaky camera with questionable cinematography, is full of dialogue that wouldn’t feel natural anywhere, has some of the most headache-inducing pacing of any action film, divulges itself constantly in religious metaphors–
Any more than that feels like an overextension of the analogy. Unfortunately, movie directors do not have the same understanding of when enough is enough. Director Zack Snyder does not seem to learn his lesson when things receive bad reception, and his film is an obvious reflection of this tragic flaw.
The basic premise of the film is introduced during the climax of Man of Steel, the predecessor to Dawn of Justice. Fans finally get to see the collateral damage of the battle between Superman (Henry Cavill) and Zod (Michael Shannon), from the point of view of Bruce Wayne (Ben Affleck), who is secretly Batman.
Years later, through the machinations of Lex Luthor, Jr. (Jesse Eisenberg, with the “Jr.” part confirmed after the film hit box offices) and various circumstances, a fight between the two heroes becomes inevitable…or so the film would have one believe.
The acting in this film is stale and occasionally awful. Cavill’s Clark Kent/Superman is a plank of wood that occasionally leaks his natural British accent. Affleck’s Bruce Wayne is decent, while his Batman is a work in progress. Eisenberg’s Luthor, Jr. is an annoying mix of the Joker, Wesley Crusher from Star Trek, and Mark Zuckerberg from The Social Network.
The only convincing acts are a tired Holly Hunter as a senator, an okay Laurence Fishburne as Perry White, and Jeremy Irons as Alfred Pennyworth – his performance was the best in any Batman film since Morgan Freeman’s in The Dark Knight. He was a breath of fresh air amidst all the greyish smog this film seems to be really fond of.
Within a two-and-a-half-hour film, the titular fight between Batman and Superman takes no more than a pathetic five minutes, and that’s a generous estimate. And what about the “Dawn of Justice” part, the part that serves as a prelude to the full Justice League of the future? Don’t fret, there is some of this, but considering that Justice League: Part One is coming out next year, the two minute cameo montage meant to introduce these heroes doesn’t suffice.
And before anyone mentions Israeli model Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman, all that can be said is that no more than half of her character makes any appearance in the film. Her first name (Diana) is never mentioned, the word “wonder” is never used in relation to her, and the shots of her in the trailers had much more substance than any of her scenes in the film. We hear “Miss Prince”, she’s called a “woman”, and that’s it.
In an epic fight between Batman and Superman (in the context of this film), much of the audience may find themselves rooting for Spider-Man. Why? Because there is no way Captain America: Civil War, which features the web-slinger, can be any worse than this colossal mess. C-