I might have bit off a little more than I can chew here. Without rancor, I can say this is one of the very worst tremendously expensive movies I’ve ever seen. I am excluding any “Fantastic Four” movies because that just wouldn’t be fair.
Fighting words, huh?
I don’t have the finger strength to type out everything that’s wrong with this movie. But that is the point, isn’t it? It’s not “Join the Chorus of People Who Loathe this Film.” I have to say something nice about it.
And I can.
But first, let’s look at the key problem. It’s not the heavy reliance on CGI, the terrible direction, the flat characters, the plot points that go nowhere, the inexplicable fight at the end, the lack of actual motives, etc., etc. etc.
Those were all, indeed, serious problems. But those are symptoms. They’re not the base of it all. Like superheroes and supervillains, a mistake this huge has an origin story. And the origin is with the DC/Warner Brothers executives.
DC/Warner obviously wants to tackle tough subjects, but they’re doing it with a director who has no sense of subtly and no sense of humor. This is not an accidental hiring.
Greg Silverman, the Warner Brothers executive who is in charge of the DC movies, said:
The filmmakers who are tackling these properties are making great movies about superheroes; they aren’t making superhero movies.
– Interview with “The Hollywood Reporter,” 6/3/2015
Here is what I think he is trying to say: we make movies about serious issues and that is the focus of the film. Superheroes are supplementary to the message we are sending. The most important thing is the heavy message in everything we shoot.
Here’s the problem: It is IMPOSSIBLE to make a Merchant Ivory-style prestige film starring a man who flies around in a unitard.
It doesn’t matter how muted you make the colors on the unitard. It is a costume-type stolen from “old-tyme” trapeze artists. There will always be an absurd angle to it, no matter how much you make the character go through an existential crisis.
Once one decides to ignore that fact and make a version of “Remains of the Day” with superheroes, it is going to fail.
So this movie was screwed before pre-production.
Okay, So When is the “Say Something Nice” Bit?
I’m getting to that. What hurts about “Batman V. Superman: This Title is Too Long” is the potential wasted. There were good things on the screen. And I am going to start with the most controversial one.
Eisenberg’s acting choice regarding Lex Luthor could have been the most fascinating part of the movie. Had he been in the hands of a director who could actually direct, he would have shined.
As it was, his performance stood out because it was utterly unlike the tone of the movie. It was discordant. It was almost like he was starring in a completely different movie; perhaps the movie he wished he was in.
Again, under a director who was capable of doing anything more than home movies, this discordance could have been played as the eccentric hallmark of the supervillain. Instead, it was wasted on the flat colors and characters surrounding him.
Villains, particularly supervillains, are supposed to be interesting. This character merely left more questions. Why was it that Lex Luthor went from garden-variety rich guy sociopath to insane babbler? Something must have happened. He switched from one to the other. Do we really have to wait for the director’s cut to get that explanation? Is there an explanation at all? Was Snyder, as usual, so distracted by shiny things that he forgot to include that?
Gah! Back into the negativity.
Let’s just say that as it was, Eisenberg was memorable in the movie. That’s good.
Now for another controversy.
There was a lot of worry about her, particularly about her appearance. She was, after all, a wafer-thin model portraying one of the strongest people on the planet. Her acting resume was light, and here she was asked to carry the role of one of the most iconic superheroes in the DC roster. How was THAT going to work out?
Just fine, actually.
She did a great job considering what she was up against: David Goyer flushing the franchise down the crapper and Snyder making explosion noises with his mouth while filming.
So up against negative expectations, she pulled out a really good performance while using dialogue that a lesser actor would giggle over while reading.
Physically, she was also impressive. She was intimidating and came off as someone who really loved fighting. Cudos to their stunt coordinators and trainers.
All of that effort would have been wasted on an actress who wasn’t up to the part. Gal Gadot was.
Now for the last controversy.
This might get me in trouble with my friends.
Affleck might be my favorite on-screen Batman.
This is not particularly due to the movie. Batman/Bruce Wayne in the movie was problematic. It made no sense for him to brand criminals, for instance, and it REALLY made no sense that other criminals would consider the branding a death sentence. It certainly isn’t explained.
Anyone caught by Batman should be treated like royalty. They have a tale to tell. There is zero reason why a “Bat-brand” would get you killed.
The whole “Flash visits from the future” and “Desert Storm: Batman Edition” sequences were beyond ridiculous. The screen time would have been better used with a few minutes of Zack Snyder and David Goyer flipping off the audience. They both have the same intention.
Anywhoozle, here’s the thing. Ben Affleck got Batman. He could do the suave Bruce Wayne, and he could be Batman without a silly-sounding voice like Christian Bale.
I want to state that Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy are two of the best Batman movies ever made. But the very second Bale spoke as Batman, it sounded like he was navigating through a sinus infection. As a criminal, I would have been afraid because I would think this monster thought so little of me that he’s putting on a silly voice while beating me to a pulp.
Affleck’s Batman voice is the perfect growl. It’s deep and rumbling and sounds really pissed off. The scene where he’s melded into the shadow, which comes alive to disarm the rookie cop is who Batman is supposed to be.
Then they start up with the “Bat-brand” nonsense and the whole thing slides into idiocy.
In the comic series, Batman is smart but he’s also a huge brute. Affleck got that. It’s obvious that he’s a comic book reader. He nailed it.
And while we’re talking about Batman, Jeremy Irons IS Alfred.
Did They Want to Make A Tragedy? Mission Accomplished!
The tragedy they thought they were making was two forces of good who should be best friends fighting each other to the death thanks to the machinations of a force of evil.
The real tragedy was the sheer waste exploding on the screen.
You have a good Batman, a good Wonder Woman, and a good Lex Luthor, and you do THAT to them? The fight ends because they both have mothers named “Martha?” Then they disappear into a CGI mess that’s a smear of black and shadows with flames to really obscure the action?
It is really that bad of a movie. And what makes it really terrible is it should have been soooooo good. I think DC has the best roster of heroes and villains. There’s no Marvel character that compares to the Joker, and no hero as iconic as Superman or Batman.
In the pursuit of making a film with superheroes rather than a superhero film, they missed the whole point of the endeavor. They made neither a superhero movie or a movie about superheroes.
They made a waste of time.
But damn, Ben Affleck was watchable.
Dear Zack Snyder – no, Superman is NOT Jesus. Superman was invented by two Jews for a start. Stop it already, and have fun directing your Ayn Rand passion project. I’m sure you’ll misunderstand Rand like you do for every other subject you film.