Well, it happened. After years of anticipation and months of trepidation from various online and print sources, the day had come when Batman finally met Superman in the ultimate battle for supremacy. If I had been expecting something good or great, I would say that I couldn’t have been any more disappointed.
Let’s start off with the story, which is handled in such a convoluted manner. Lex Luthor (Eisenberg) finds kryptonite and wants to weaponize it to use against Superman as a “defensive” mechanism for the city. At the same time, Superman (Cavill) and Batman (Affleck) become enemies when they see the other as a threat to society at large. This seems like a pretty straight-forward superhero story, right? The problem is though that it is not exactly handled in such a simple manner. I have no problem with complicated stories in a film but this was complicated due to the bloated and overlong running time along with the editing (and lack thereof) making it difficult to focus on one aspect of the story over any other aspects. Therein lies the film’s real problem in that they don’t know what’s most important for the audience to watch. We don’t know whether we’re supposed to follow Superman or Batman and we should have one of them lead the film. To be fair, this does feel like Batman just swooped in on a Superman movie but that’s only because there are more Superman characters in the film.
Is there anything positive to say? Well, the acting is uniformly solid. Ben Affleck is definitely the best part of the film as Bruce Wayne/Batman. As Wayne, he has a gruff exterior and an aging hero that we haven’t gotten to see yet from Batman in any of the other films. Batman is a tired man. He is tired of the crime in the city and he is tired of Superman supposedly exacerbating that crime and wants to put an end to that once and for all. Henry Cavill does just fine as Clark Kent/Superman like he did in Man of Steel (another film that wasn’t great but it was better than this one despite its share of flaws). Cavill brings a weight to any role which I only noticed after the highly-enjoyable Man from U.N.C.L.E. from last year. Jesse Eisenberg has been a source of much controversy since being cast as Lex Luthor in the film but he does fine. I will say that he doesn’t really stretch as an actor but he has little quirks here and there that make him a decent aspect of the film. Based on other portrayals of Lex Luthor though, he is not a very accurate representation but that lies on the shoulders of the writing and directing rather than the performing. The rest of the actors have limited screentime but Amy Adams, Laurence Fishburne, Gal Gadot (as Wonder Woman) and Jeremy Irons shine while Diane Lane and Holly Hunter’s characters are too underdeveloped to really make an impact either way. No one was bad though. Everyone did just fine.
…and that is about it for the positives surrounding the film. I found the film incredibly long and the pacing is completely haywire. The film starts off fairly quickly and then slows down and then suddenly it’s at a rocket-speed pace and then it’s back to moving like a slug again. Without giving anything away, this film also did a fairly cool thing towards the end that I didn’t expect but then they completely back out of it and it’s an overdone thing in superhero films that just made me roll my eyes. The film also ends about 50 times, which is what I will forever refer to as Return of the King-ing.
I am just about at my wit’s end with director Zack Snyder. Honestly, I don’t know what has happened to the guy. Dawn of the Dead was a really fun remake and I thought it was an underrated film as well, 300 was an entertaining blood-and-guts actioner, Watchmen was fantastic and easily his best film and then he’s just been going downhill ever since that. Snyder seems to have fallen in love with his bloated directorial style and that’s been making his films longer and longer. It’s like he told his editor not to cut a thing but then I just found out that they’re planning on releasing an R-rated cut of the film that’s even longer! That’s insane!
Overall, this is a film that just doesn’t work. It’s not horrible but it’s fairly weak and it takes itself way too seriously. I went in with an open mind but I left a lot sleepier. Not recommended unless you are a HUGE fan of Batman and/or Superman and even then, I wouldn’t bother.
* (Brutal; the worst rating)
** (Some elements keep it from being awful but still not very good)
*** (Completely watchable; a rental as old-timers might say)
**** (Great film with a few things here and there keeping it from being perfect)
***** (Flawless; a true achievement)