Batman vs Superman: Dawn of Justice
By Hervé St-Louis
April 9, 2016 - 16:36
Studios: DC Comics, Warner Bros., Atlas Entertainment, Cruel & Unusual Films, RatPac-Dune Entertainment
Writer(s): Chris Terrio, David S. Goyer
Starring: Ben Affleck, Henry Cavill, Amy Adams, Jesse Eisenberg, Diane Lane, Jeremy Irons, Gal Gadot, Holly Hunter
Directed by: Zack Snyder
Produced by: Deborah Snyder, Charles Roven
Running Time: 151 minutes
Release Date: 25 March 2016
Rating: PG13 (Parents Strongly Cautioned)
Distributors: Warner Bros.
Batman vs Superman: Dawn of Justice has been described by many critics as a failure, a bad film. Fans have described DC Comics and Warner Brothers's blockbuster as inferior to Marvel Comics' movies. They claim that it is an unfunny copy rushing to create a universe, instead of favouring an incremental approach.
Based on negative reviews of Batman vs Superman, the results of the second week attendance have been abysmal. The failure of Batman vs Superman has become a self-fulfilling prophecy.
This prophecy is wrong and overrated. Batman vs Superman is a good solid film that entertained me. Viewer expectations with super hero movies have become ridiculously impossible. In the last few years, many other movies such as X-Men Days of the Future Past, Avengers: Age of Ultron, and the Man of Steel have been destroyed by critics that focused on specific elements and ignored the everythin else. If any super hero comic has one tiny blemish or annoyance, fans and critics will pan them as failures.
In the same breath, films that were okay like Captain America the Winter Soldier, or mediocre like Deadpool and Thor the Dark World are described as excellent work. Woah?? Yeah, Captain America the Winter Soldier was a boring thriller that didn't grab my attention and just pushed ahead nonstop without any plot design. It mechanically moved through plot points copied from 1970s conspiracy flics without personality. Yet it has been hailed as one of the best super hero movies ever made. I didn't bother getting the Blu-ray or watching it again. I just didn't care.
There is a certain ingredient super hero movies are expected to have and when they do, they are treated as masterpieces. Humour is one of those ingredients. I'm not sure what it was in Captain America the Winter Soldier since I was bored with it. It had something else that some fans and critics loved that had nothing to do with good and solid cinematography.
Zack Snyder, notwithstanding criticisms that I have read about his work, is a cinematographer. He understands composition, pacing, and storytelling. He uses them abundantly in his work. When he adapts a comic, he sticks with the original comic book panel structure which often does not translate well as a storyboard. But when he ventures outside of a comic with an original plot, he becomes a classicist of the grammar of the film language.
This classicism annoys many viewers who expect shorter takes and more cuts. Two decades ago, audiences would have understood the classicism in Snyder's work. Today, they are rebuked by it. Snyder hurt the prospects of Batman vs Superman by adding what seemed like a studio-mandated series of flash-forwards, and flashbacks that foreshadow much of the film and future ones.
The dream sequences, however, were all Snyder's. Had he cut them out, avoided the compulsory flashforwards and flashbacks and avoided slow motion shots, viewers might have perceived his work as unpretentious. Pride is what annoyed viewers in this film. Fans and critics refused to indulge a director who decided to imbue his work with poetry. There is no room for allegory in current super hero films. They have to be literal, easy to decipher and must entertain and induce laughter on the spot. That there are fundamentally bad moral values promoted by Deadpool does not matter. The jokes were funny. That's all that matters.
I was entertained and captivated by Batman vs Superman. Lex Luthor proved to be as evil and brainy as expected of him. He settled and old comic debate about which is smarter. Luthor is clearly smarter than Batman and I like that a lot. That's what Luthor is about. The smartest man in the room who pulls all the strings. Jesse Eisenberg, playing another neurotic fiend was again excellent. It is a type of character that suits him. This is why in The Double (2013), he was not as convincing when playing an alpha male. But as Lex Luthor, he can be as evil as Mark Zuckerberg.
Ben Affleck convinced me that he could be Batman and escape from the 2003 Daredevil mess that he was part of. Amy Adams as Lois Lane grows on me. The one performance that amazed me the most was Gal Gadot's Wonder Woman. Just like with Affleck, I was completely wrong about assuming that she had been miscast. Gadot is Wonder Woman. She is sassy, fierce, graceful, loving, and sexy. Seeing her fight Doomsday was a pleasure. I can't wait to see more of her.
My review is late. I saw the film this week only. The negative comments I heard and read about Batman versus Superman almost convinced me that the film was bad. It is not a bad film at all. It is Snyder telling his critics that he is an intellectual and serious about cinematography in an age where jump cuts, fades, and jokes are considered good movie-making.
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