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The much anticipated 2016 film Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice is now available for public consumption and most have found themselves with a bad case of indigestion. That's not to say there aren't elements of the film that don't mesh with fans, but the editing, script and premise of what was supposed to be the grand debut of Warner Bros and DC Comics fray into their own cinematic universe -- ended up being a dud. Do I mean a dud in terms of box office sales? No. There's no way a movie with the title Batman v Superman doesn't make a bajillion dollars. I mean a dud in terms of the overall reception to the content. Although that content includes a superb Batman portrayal by Ben Affleck, an amazing score by the legendary composer Hans Zimmer, and breathtaking shots from director Zack Snyder, the former's misguided efforts, along with writers Chris Terri and David S. Goyer, far outweighs the good. By the way, spoiler alert.
Lets start with Batman and the glaring fact that he has no qualms about killing or using guns. I know there are a handful of scattered panels on Google Image that show examples of Batman using a gun in the comics, although its either never lethal ammunition or the Batman in question is of a Earth Two or "What If" universe. At best in the main continuity he's pulling guns on otherworldly foes like Darkseid, and even then the ammo or weapon is of high tech or supernatural properties. I also understand that this universe's Batman has to be in stark contrast with Superman, especially for this film, as to display their differences in ideologies and who's methods are the most humane and effective as heroes.
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The problem is, the film does not make those contrasting ideologies their main conflict. The reason Batman's fight against Superman is held in such high regard in Dark Knight Returns (the graphic novel the film owes its likeness to), is because their battle has less to do with "punchy punchy" and more to do with the clashing of ideologies. This leads me into why they began to fight in the film and how the fighting came to a close, which I'll get to later. But as I'm sure you know, ideologies play a hand in neither situation, and the fight does not happen of Superman's own fruition. As such, the drastic change in Batman's ethic is more of a slap to the face for fans when the changes hardly play into important sections of the plot or the motivations of the titular heroes.
While on the topic of Bats, I'm all for his ruthless aggression in combat, but did someone really shoot him in the head during the saving Mrs. Kent scene? Did he ever have any ninja training at all? Is Batman now just a big, brooding, gun-totting brute? Maybe it's just a side effect of being old? Only the future can tell.
Also, is it me, or does that Kryptonian spaceship have the dumbest A.I. in cinema history? Lex Luthor enters the ship using Zod's fingerprints, just for the ship to identify Zod's dead body when Lex uses him for his special Doomsday soup. Shouldn't the ship be able to put two and two together and initiate some sort of intruder alert type tactic? By the way, for a ship with all this extensive knowledge of the universe and its inhabitants, it sure did walk into Lex's "dead council" rebuttal.
All the instances Snyder made it blatantly known that areas were uninhabited or mentions of casualties during battles were hilarious for all the wrong reasons. Savvy audience members snicker every time.
I could barely tell you which scenes took place in Gotham or Metropolis because they both look the same and bare no personality or unique features as two independent cities.
Also, it's 2016. We do not need a scene of a great female actress tripping and falling (I'm looking at you Amy Adams). Especially when it breaks from the third act's giant "superheroes unite!" throw-down.
And those were just my small gripes.
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Let's start with my main problems with the film by looking at the very first thing that irked me. Did that Africa scene, and moreover the conflict itself, need to be in this movie? The destruction of a major city should be enough to insight a political uproar. More editing and scenes that need not have made the final cut continue. There are way too many dream sequences. Bruce's dream and him waking up next to some woman in his see-through house in the forrest didn't have to be there, nor did Superman's talk with ghost dad Papa Kent. There are instances where it feels like scenes are cut too soon and the plot drags us to another scene, leaving the previous scene feeling a bit unresolved. This is where the Ultimate (Rated R) Blu-Ray cut will come into play, but when watching the movie as it stands, there seem to be so many scenes that could have been sacrificed in order to tell the plot in a more cohesive way.
Speaking of scenes and editing, the introduction of Aquaman, Cyborg and the Flash felt so forced and disruptive to the flow of the film. Aquaman just swam out of a rock, floating, with majestic hair, staring at the camera as if he was stuck on the character select screen of a fighting game. Shouldn't Aquaman be living it up in an underwater kingdom? And yet he's just hanging out in a rock somewhere. Cyborg's clip looked like a failed CW pilot, and the Flash's was just... mundane. And his showing in the (other) Batman/Bruce Wayne dream sequence earlier was the start of the decline for when this movie began going off the rails. It's cool to see, and the time travel forebodes a lot to be told in further installments within the universe. But here, it didn't land the mark it was aiming for. And that horrible Flash outfit was horrible. I promise you that scene with Gal Gadot and her laptop was done in her hotel room months after shooting wrapped. And are you telling me Lex Luthor took the time to conveniently create each heroes logo for their footage? Nice graphic designing, bro.
I'll go through the rest of these a bit more quickly.
Superman confronts Batman in Gotham for the first time. But he totally lets the guys with the bazooka and the heavy firearms get away in the process.
Superman can hear Lois Lane in trouble, even drowning whilst fighting Doomsday, but can't hear a bomb in a wheelchair five feet next to him. By the third "swoop in and save the day", the audience laughs. Every time.
Batman has nothing to do during the final fight with Doomsday.
Wonder Woman (is her name Wonder Woman? Or Diane? Because the film never tells you) has nothing to do until said final fight. And every scene before that, save for maybe her and Bruce's second meeting, are a bit stiff. Everyone is loving Gal Gadot, but ask yourself how many lines of dialogue you're basing that opinion on. That said, the moment Gadot glares during the final fight after being hit by Doomsday was badass.
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Even if the fight did look like a gigantic video game with all that green screen and special effects.
The anticipated Batman vs. Superman fight when it came down to it was underwhelming to say the least. It doesn't last very long, the stakes have no emotional attachment for the viewers by this point, and the combat was weak. They were just knocking each other around, there was no choreography, or any drastic changes of the setting during. It all took place in and around this dark building. Also, Batman was surprisingly cool with Superman knowing he was Bruce Wayne at the start of it all. Am I missing something? Or are we missing a scene?
Then there's what effectively started and ended the match to begin with, Martha. To the point I made in the beginning, audiences without question believed that Superman and Batman would be facing off against each other in a grudge match, because they wanted to. Clashing viewpoints coming to a head, not puny Lex Luthor strong-arming Superman into fighting the Bat 'cause Lex's got his mommy. What also ends the fight is Bruce's mother's name is Martha, just like Clark's. The way Batman finds out what Supes mother's name is so unrealistic. "Save Martha", says Supes. Don't you mean, "save my mother"? "Save my mom"? "Save my mom Martha", even. I find it hard to believe, inches from death, that a son would refer to his mother by her first name.
Lastly, zany Lex Luthor himself. He gave the Bat a chance to kill the Man of Steel. A man he views as a threat. A God with unchecked power. And his backup plan to rid the world of such a man is to create a monster. A God with unchecked power that can't even be reasoned with. Alright.
Also, his blood helped create Doomsday? So anybody, if they had Zod's body in that soup, in that ship, could have made Doomsday. I see.
Plus, just look at 'em.
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As far as Jessie Eisenberg's performance, it was great. When he came to AOL BUILD and I got to ask him what he enjoys the most from the character he played, he gave a very insightful answer to Lex's sociopathic nature both in terms of this film and in the comics. Unfortunately, the writers wanted to try something new with Supes foil. Even going as far as making this Lex Luthor, Lex Luthor Jr. It just doesn't work. Id've loved to have seen a Riddler being played by Eisenberg, since they both share a familiar tone. Unfortunately, fans worried about their casting choice for Lex were for good reason.
Anyway, those are my thoughts and my overall analysis of Batman v Superman. The Arkham-inspired Batman fight near the end was fantastic. And, again, it's a gorgeous, well scored film. And a lot of the Batman stuff, despite my gripes, were great. But when the foundation of all those great things are noticeably weak in a highly anticipated film such as this, all of those great things falter, and all of those problems shine.
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