Last week, I got to see an advanced preview screening of Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice. It was the morning before the movie came out for general audiences, but the reviews had already started coming in. I’m not the type of avoid reviews beforehand. I’d already seen the Rotten Tomatoes score, and I’d read the NYT review.
So, here’s what I thought of the movie. Warning: likely unpopular opinion ahead. Extra Warning: potentially some spoilers, though I tried to avoid them.
I didn’t hate it. In fact, I actually kind of liked it.
When I first walked out of the theater, I said my review was simply going to be “This is a movie boys should go see with their mommies.” And if you’ve seen the movie already, you understand why, and if you haven’t… well, sorry for the pseudo-spoiler. But since then, I realized I have a lot more to say…
Did I think it was a terrific movie? No. Actually, I thought it was kind of a mess. Parts of the storytelling were sloppy and Snyder is apparently desperate to steal the “Captain Lens Flair” title away from JJ Abrams. I also wish Henry Cavill would just shut up and stand there and look pretty because he’s pretty much useless otherwise (will we just NEVER have a good modern Superman? Maybe…). And, as one of my coworkers said, I have now relived Bruce Wayne’s parents’ deaths more than he ever has (though I didn’t mind the set-up for the movie, it felt a bit long. And the pearls? C’mon Zack. ). I felt like the pacing was off — too slow at the beginning, too much jammed into the end — and I felt like the previews to all the upcoming DC films was shoe-horned in. Jesse Eisenberg apparently missed the memo that he was supposed to be playing Lex Luthor and not The Joker. It was dark and gritty and lacking the panache of a fun comic book movie.
But I swear, I liked it. I’m getting to that part!
I feel like most of the critics’ reviews, and many “regular people” reviews are the result of, for lack of a better word, nerd rage. This movie was literally never going to please you. It couldn’t. There was no way it was going to live up to either Nolan’s or Burton’s interpretation of the Bat (we’re going to just go ahead and pretend the other Batman movies don’t exist for right now…), and most people already hated Snyder’s Man of Steel (I didn’t, but I didn’t hate this either, so…). People weren’t sure which Universe cannon the film would borrow from, and some people weren’t happy with the choices that were made in that regard.
But I went into this movie with the same expectation that I went in to Twilight* with — that this movie is NOT going to live up to the source material (beloved or otherwise). That, if you’re a fan in your head, you probably won’t like it, but if you’re a fan in your heart, you will. What does that mean? Well, to me it’s about precision vs. purity. If you want a perfect Batman v Superman (or any comic or novel or play) on screen, you’re never going to get it. Perfect is the enemy of good. If you just want to SEE Batman v. Superman because you love the characters and love the fact that they’re part of our modern vernacular, you’re going to like the movie because if it wasn’t there, there’d be no Batman v. Superman to watch, and an imperfect Batman v. Superman is better than no Batman v. Superman at all.
I’m the latter camp. I liked Batman v. Superman because it means I get a Batman v. Superman movie. And I like Ben Affleck. And Jeremy Irons. And Amy Adams. And Gal Gadot (now that I’ve seen her in the role; how amazing was she?!). And Laurence Fishburne. And Holly Hunter (though I actually like Sarah Paulson’s impersonation of Holly Hunter better than I actually like Holly Hunter, but that’s another story for another day).
Affleck defied all expectations of the Internet nay-sayers and was actually pretty perfect as Batman. Actually, he was pretty perfect as Bruce Wayne, which I’m glad we showed MORE of in this film than in others. And while I agree with the critics who say it took too long for us to see Wonder Woman in all her Amazonian Warrior glory, I think Gadot’s Diana Prince was pretty damn amazing too. I also loooooooooooved Jeremy Irons as Alfred. I thought his interpretation was fresh and interesting. He’s at least tied with Michael Caine in my book.
I did get a little bit of dream sequence fatigue in the movie, but in general I find that to be lazy storytelling in any movie/book/TV show/whatever. Once, totally fine. Twice, okay. By the third time, I feel like the writer/director is just half-assing the narrative. And I felt the HEY WE HAVE MORE MOVIES COMING was a bit too heavy-handed (did we really need the video clips? Couldn’t we have just seen their logos?). But at this point, I’m nit-picking because, well, that’s what we do when we review movies, right?
Overall, I agree – the movie was dark, gritty, ill-paced, and a bit of a mess story-wise. But the acting was solid, the characters were interesting, and damn it, it was just plain fun. And isn’t that really what going to the movies is all about?
*END NOTE: Okay, y’all know I’m a die-hard Twi-hard. And I get that everyone wants to nerd rage about BvS. But it SERIOUSLY doesn’t deserve to have the same (or close) Rotten Tomatoes score as New Moon or Breaking Dawn Part 1. I was SHOCKED to see that the other three Twi-pics were almost DOUBLE the BvS score. Come on. I mean, I’ll defend ALL of those movies for what they were, but… I dunno. The Internet is a weird place, man.