Zack Snyder helms another DC story with many good ideas but massive flaws in its execution.
Batman Vs Superman picks up from where we left off in Man Of Steel. Metropolis has been utterly destroyed, but both Superman and Clark Kent have begun to find their respective places in the world. Fast forward eighteen months and the collateral damage of Superman’s methods are being called in to question. One person questioning them is Bruce Wayne, who lost a lot of Wayne enterprises employees in the metropolis battle and as a result doesn’t trust the red caped hero. The other non believer is Lex Luthor who is convinced that Superman Possesses too much power to be entirely good, and has a set of nefarious techniques to bring him down to human level.
The main focus of this story are these characters and for the most part it does right by them. Superman has come a long way since Man Of Steel, he’s a much more rounded character and feels far more believe-able as a human and a hero. He’s an instinctive, smart, force for good both as Clark Kent and as his alter ego. Batman is equally strong, although for the majority of the movie it’s Bruce Wayne who’s in the spotlight. Affleck is fantastic in the role, he’s suave and assured, at times more bond than billionaire, in fact it could be said he’s better out of the cowl and cape than in it. But the most interesting character here is Luthor. Jesse Eisenberg is brilliant in the role, treading the line between a man possessed and a charming professional, he brings a wonderful, but sinister, charisma to this pivotal role.
Visually the cinematography is fine. For the most part the shots are well framed but nothing to rave about (though there are a few standout uses of smooth camera movements). The only thing really worth mentioning is that frequently shots felt as though they were missing an element of lighting. That’s not to say that the movie needs to be brighter overall, but there were times when the shadows were used so heavily that they overwhelmed the entire frame, and the action within it.
However where the visuals are fine, the sound is not. Across the board the sound mixing in the film is sub-par, speech is occasionally muffled. And lower bass-y sounds, such as gun shots, falling objects or the growl of a certain car, sound flat and washed out. But the bigger problem here is the movie’s score which is downright awful. It sounds amateurish and rushed, at times it’s almost laughably cliché. Throughout the movie it detracts from, rather than adds to, what’s happening on screen.
The biggest problem with Batman Vs Superman is the same problem that plagued Man Of Steel: jarring shifts in tone. The first hour and a half of this movie is very good indeed, establishing Superman and Batman in smart ways, connecting their stories in a manner that sets them up for a brilliant finale. Then, as the third act closes in, a series of MacGuffin’s are introduced that derail all of this character development, and all the motivations up to that point. Not only does this make the third act feel disposable, and a waste of good ideas, it screws with the pacing which, in turn, screws with the emotive outcomes of the entire movie. And to make it worse, this jarring shift in tone, happens multiple times.
The film is reminiscent of The Amazing Spider-Man 2 it tries to be daring and it introduces a number of risky ideas that would present an interesting take on this DC story and the future of it’s universe. But these jarring shifts in tone lead to the movie turning its back on every risk it takes, especially in the final minutes of the film. If it stuck to its guns it could have been a groundbreaking, fresh, take on the DC universe. Instead it’s long winded but ultimately forgettable. A huge shame considering the calibre of talent on show.
Batman Vs Superman seems like a case of too many cooks, and as a result scoring the movie is a hard thing to do. The first hour and a half of this film is a strong, well balanced, interesting adaptation of two great characters, that builds towards something fantastic. If the movie had stuck to these ideas, and taken some of these risks (especially the final one) it would have deserved a good score. But it doesn’t, and the tonal shift undoes all the hard work the movie has done up to that point. leaving the finale to be a slog-fest and making the movie as a whole to feel jumbled and messy. At first there’s a lot to like here, but ultimately Batman Vs Superman is too wasteful with the good ideas it clearly displays.
Overall, on a 100 point scale, I would score Batman Vs Superman: Dawn Of Justice: 5.8/10