This weekend’s podcast is about Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice, so it seemed appropriate to share Julia’s original review from seeing the movie in theaters. For more in-depth discussion of the movie – read, us tearing it apart – listen to Episode 6 of the Comparative Opinions podcast!
Guys, it’s not as bad as everyone says. However, I have a few contributing factors to why I might think that:
- I haven’t seen Man of Steel, so I have no comparison to that movie.
- I love Zack Snyder, and his partnership with Hans Zimmer made me really excited for the movie. Definitely worth it.
- I’m Team Wonder Woman. I wanted to see a female superhero in DC who was a total badass. The whole Batman and Superman thing was a bit secondary to me.
- I had very, very low expectations of the movie. Honestly, I was hoping it was at least a 5/10. Low expectations helped.
- I’m currently on vacation back home and saw this at an Alamo Drafthouse, drinking beer after a couple of margaritas. Alcohol definitely helped.
Instead of doing a huge analytical review, I’m going to focus on a few points that stood out to me. There’s enough reviews out there tearing this movie apart or trying to defend it. This review is coming from someone with a film degree who isn’t a huge Superman fan, had low expectations of the film, and was mildly… okay, definitely, buzzed the whole movie.
Initial thoughts as the movie started: How many times are we going to see Batman’s origin story? Especially as an opening credits sequence? Don’t get me wrong, Batman’s origin story is one of the best, and makes him one of the strongest, most relatable comic book superheroes. But honestly, this has been rehashed so many times. Every movie. Swear to the film gods, can we please get a new opening for Batman intros? The saving grace of this origin story montage sequence is that it has the stylization of Zack Snyder applied to it (think Sucker Punch), enhanced by a Hans Zimmer score, with Jeffrey Dean Morgan making an appearance as Thomas Wayne.
I loved that the beginning focused on the destruction caused by the fight between Superman and the bad guy from Man of Steel in Metropolis (I’ll be honest, still confused about that part, and will probably rent that movie this weekend). It was a very realistic setup for this movie, seeing how that mayhem affected people, including Bruce Wayne. I think too often superhero movies destroy a city because to the filmmakers and the audience it “looks so cool.” But not addressing civilians killed or maimed by that destruction leaves a huge disconnect between the hero and the aftermath. Recent superhero movies have begun to include this, but I appreciated how this particular movie focused on it. It’s the main premise of the movie, and I liked how it was addressed.
Thoughts on casting: I actually think the movie was very well cast. We’ve seen worse Batmans than Ben Affleck. I mean, who remembers Batman & Robin from 1997? I found his performance compelling enough to get me interested in his motives. The one I was less impressed with was Henry Cavill as Superman. Maybe it’s because I’m not a Superman fan, maybe it’s because I wasn’t invested in him because I haven’t seen Man of Steel, but I found his performance lackluster. P and the friend we went to see it with thought the same, so that wasn’t just me. We all had a hard time getting invested in his character. Gal Gadot is perfect as Wonder Woman, and I must say I was thoroughly impressed by her role in the movie. Subtle and epic at the same time. Amy Adams as Lois Lane is also a memorable performance; she handles being Superman’s damsel in distress in such a way that you still know she is a strong, capable woman. That is very difficult to do without feeling forced. I was incredibly impressed.
Jesse Eisenberg as Lex Luthor… was an amazing performance but an unremarkable portrayal of Luthor. The problem is the recent trend in just showing Luthor as off his rocker, instead of actually having a true motive. This one lost us when Luthor goes from having a reasonable argument against Superman (we need a deterrent, just in case he goes bad) to completely crazy and making no sense as he rambles off in Hamlet-worthy riddles. He went from sympathetic to feeling overplayed. Eisenberg’s performance, though, was fantastic, and it was obvious that he played the part wonderfully for how it was written. The problem with the role of Luthor is more in how this movie wanted to show him than in the actor’s performance.
Overall: I think this movie has done a good job of setting up the DC franchise they’re hoping to kickoff after this movie. The Justice League movies should be interesting, and I’m looking forward to the Aquaman and Wonder Woman movies as well. I wasn’t fully expecting this to be a direct sequel, and I suppose I should have. Even without having seen Man of Steel, I didn’t feel incredibly lost and confused the entire movie. The plot was complete enough without seeing the first, and so the movie was enjoyable. As I said, I went in hoping for at least a 5/10. I’d say that it surpassed that and was a solid 7/10. It was certainly not the best movie or best superhero movie I’ve ever seen, but it was also not the worst one I’ve ever seen. If you want a fun, exciting movie to eat some popcorn to (or drink to), it’s worth the money.