BATMAN VS. SUPERMAN: DAWN OF JUSTICE Review

WHEN GODS COLLIDE
3 Out Of 5 Stars

GET TO THE POINT BEN!

A bad movie with a handful of things that I really liked! 

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Star-gazing wizards stare into the night
Hurricanes and blizzards,
Here comes the final fight
Thunder in the sky, the mighty wheels roll on
We are the phantom riders. 
We charge a thousand strong

When gods collide
The seas will divide
The sky will explode
When gods collide

Let the death match begin!
… Let the blood run red” –Thor

When the anger boiling in our hearts disrupts the ether, and the gloomy heavens reflect the disdain of our conflict with one another, just how much will we destroy ourselves to satisfy our emotions?  On everyday levels, we experience such.  Yet director Zack Snyder (300, Man of Steel) takes us through an experience where we journey beyond the day to day collisions and into a world where gods battle internal and external struggles to assuage their personal satisfaction, or sacrifice such for the greater good.

This is what happens … when gods collide.

The two biggest names in all of comic book history are FINALLY in the same movie!  This is what comic book geeks and children both now and children in heart have been waiting for their entire lives!  With the new presence of Detective Comics (DC) in Hollywood, Warner Bros. and the Snyder power of director Zack and his wife, producer Deborah, have now established a new cinematic universe that us fan boys have made to rival that of the already furbished Marvel.  THIS is that movie, to kick start things. 

The Big 3 to unite the 7 (The Justice League)!
After a rumble of an initiative, as Man of Steel 2 and then Man of Steel 2 featuring Batman and then to what it eventually evolved into what it is now: The Beginning of the DC Extended Universe (DCEU), I see Snyder kept the origins as this story centers around Superman and the chaos he ensued in his first film which is the real beginning of DC’s Hollywood presence and the actual, real kick start.  As much as I enjoyed listening to Hans Zimmer’s score for Man of Steel, it was all over this film giving the impression that this was indeed still Man of Steel 2 and not the beginning of the DCEU.  It felt as if they got lazy in this department and didn’t want to invent new music, a new theme for this newly created world.  All while infusing the similar themes of Superman while introducing others for new characters like Batman, a theme we’re all interested in knowing what his new sound will sound like.  But, we get reminded this is just an extension of the previous Superman film which ties into this one; where the aftermath leaves Bruce Wayne with distaste towards this god-like entity that can “burn the whole place down if he wanted to”.  People of Metropolis are scared, some see good in his heart and give him the benefit of the doubt, most, like Bruce, want him gone or dead.  People are in a panic!  The seeds of hate are now planted which is to lead us to the fight we’ve all waited our entire lives to witness!   

Well, it was a good effort.  Despite all the negativity that surrounded it, there was a lot of potential here that could’ve silenced a lot of people who immediately judged it and deemed it as terrible before letting it breathe and seeing for themselves what the real verdict was going to be, simply because a lead actor was cast that they didn’t agree with such a casting (Ben Affleck as Batman).  I’ve waited a life time for paper-thin reasoning to properly establish “why”, the big question here.  “Why are they fighting?”  Every mundane, doesn’t care a whole lot about movies, I just want to see something entertaining, run of the mill moviegoer asked this question.  And honestly, even though I know the textbook answer that Snyder would give to this, however, it really wasn’t answered.  In all of the marketing that I enjoyed experiencing, it’s not made clear which is where it really should’ve been.  As the title suggests, which finally derived from the evolution of the premise and direction of this story, a simple, clear-cut, explanation of what this film is about and WHY IT’S HAPPENING was not delivered:  Batman fighting Superman and how they put aside their differences for the beginning of the Justice League.  Any regular moviegoer couldn’t answer why the two biggest heroes are going at each other instead of working on the side of good like we’re used to seeing them as.  This should’ve been the focus, in the marketing and more importantly in the actual story.  Having experienced such story, and received elaboration on the reasons as to why that no one but us comic and movie geeks knew, I was let down.  

Diana Prince and Bruce Wayne exchange flirtatious pleasantries at a cocktail party.  
Let down that the reason we see some of these cool images of the fight scenes (SO glad I saw it in REAL IMAX first!) that I so wanted to get behind and stick it to all the negative nay-sayers, were just a simple misunderstanding and our god-like heroes that we’ve worshipped all our lives are just acting like children who need to grow up.  No real burning evidence engrained and fire stamped on our hearts that these two have every reason to fight each other.  Grown-ups, not children with limp hands and open palmed slap fighting, grown-ups, with all the intel and emotion that’s been building and building and building all movie long (for 2 years now in real life and in the movie), to end in a heart wrenched, and dramatic moment that we’ve waited a lifetime to witness.  The rain is pouring, the thunder is rumbling, our hearts are beating so loud we can actually hear them, we’re on the edge of our seats, tears are coming out of our eyes because each side believes with everything they hold dear, why they have to take out the other, thus forcing us to pick sides and become divided as an audience as the world we’re engulfed in is divided.  There’s accredited, believable, real evidence as to why this moment has to happen, why they have to fight, we’re crying because all the emotions of not wanting our two biggest heroes in the history of comics to fight, but because the build up perfectly justifies itself as a presence, we continue to cry because we know this fight has to happen even though we don't want it to.  And so it does.  And so they fight.  And we can’t believe what we experience … the dawn … of justice. 

… Buuuuuut that didn’t happen.  Actually, none of that happened.  There was no build up.  There was no perfectly justifiable reason as to why the two biggest names in all of comics had to fight.  The comic book fanboy within me geeked out a couple times and even started to shake a little when trailer moments revealed themselves … to no fruition.  Too many confusing dream sequences instead, including what I was most looking forward to with my favorite Batman, Gaslight Batman (or “Desert Batman”).  Nothing to lead up to; no feelings being justified in the end with such a magnificent payoff; more a girl so happy to make out with you and excited for you to put your hands all over her to watch you get naked and continue with the evening only to stop you and say, “it’s getting late, I better get back home” when you reach for a condom.  But not even that, for even that has great build up.  Just blame it on the real villain of the story and tell Batman to stop being a bratty little kid, giving Superman yet again no real depth as a character.  !!THERE WAS NO REASON FOR THEM TO FIGHT!!  And the fight we did receive was quick, terribly construed, with no emotional connection to want to engage with a particular side.  It was just Snyder trying to give us what we wanted with nothing to back it up on, nothing being the paper-thin explanation of Lex Luthor (Jesse Eisenberg) as the instigator of this fight and the true nemesis of Superman, and also poorly establishing that relationship and great rivalry.  Thus fueling the hatred that surrounded this film for fanboys to point the finger and say this is just DC trying to skip ahead to where Marvel is now to try to compete prematurely.  Which DC didn’t need to follow the same path and format as the other comic book presence in Hollywood (individual films that lead in anticipation to team-up-to-fight-together-films).  Batman and Superman are the two biggest names in all of comics so DC can start out with the two as we all know and love these characters.  But a poorly constructed story to lead to the greatest fight in all of comic book history that we’ve waited literally a lifetime to be apart of, makes us think Marvel’s path is the only path and DC is just trying to play catch up.  It didn’t have to be this way; they could’ve silenced us all with that line of thinking with an amazing story here.  

Batman (Ben Affleck) waiting for Superman!
So many missed opportunities!  With rising tension to build to the match up of the century, the theoretics and hypotheticals of the BRILLIANT teaser trailer from pundits questioning the very presence of Superman in our society, the inclusion of Wonder Woman (beautifully and wonderfully played by Gal Gadot) into a well-connected story that actually needed her and not simply squishing her in to make her work as a legit character of this particular story and not just a reminder that she’s there to put the Justice League together and that her contract says she receives a lot of screen time so let’s give her that.  So much connectivity needed, so much division received instead!  I was waiting for monologues to make sense and before I knew it they were over and they never paid off.  I kept thinking, a lot of the people behind The Dark Knight (2008) were involved in this, like WRITING and producing?? 

So, the poorly constructed ground work has been laid, “this is shitty movie”.  But are there any elements of it that I like?  Oh yes, BEN AFFLECK!!  What everyone was so up in arms about was actually the BEST! THING! ABOUT IT!!  I was one of the minimal few who proudly proclaimed on social media when the casting news first hit, “I believe in Ben Affleck”, and I’m so glad he delivered and brought to fruition, our hopes and dreams as to what he could bring to this character.  He did that and more!  Now granted, with a poorly written story that has a lot of elements to it that it’s trying to cram into one big story, a lot of things suffer as a result.  So part of this is the feeble internal conflict and transition of hatred towards Superman and then respect, love and friendship with Superman (all in a matter of seconds … literally) that Affleck had to portray.  But any top notch Oscar actor would’ve done the same, bad writing is bad writing.  It’s choosing the role/project in the first place that the negative fan boy nay-sayers have a leg up on.  Nonetheless, when Snyder screened a rough cut to Warner Bros. executives as well as the cast and crew, they all saw something in Affleck, and I whole heartedly agree.  They deemed him the definitive Batman.  Controversial, as I can see why other actors to dawn the hood of the cape and cowl could be an alternative choice, but as with the WB execs … I agree!  Affleck is my favorite Batman to date!  THAT’S!  HOW!  BAT!  MAN!  LOOKS!!  Not a regular looking business man who manages to make it to thy gym when he gets a moment away from the office, like with Christian Bale.  But rather a six foot 2 plus, muscular, rugged, rough and tough son of a gun!  Who will not take any crap from anyone!  

Time. To. Fight! 
The look of the character goes a long way, and I say this all the time, after that’s accomplished, it doesn’t take much else to nail the essence of the spirit of the character (just look at Keli Garner as Marilyn Monroe compared to a more talented yet less effective Michelle Williams as Marilyn Monroe).  As Bruce Wayne, the depressed billionaire playboy (probably taking from real life experiences) and as the mysterious caped crusader with a fear striking presence in criminals and any audience in attendance, Ben Affleck delivered!  I’m still shaking and getting goose bumps from how cleverly Snyder introduced how “Batfleck” alters his voice as Batman!  One of my favorite scenes is this introduction by Jeremy Irons as Alfred.  This voice gave the feelings I desperately needed to feel with this movie.  Sadly, only seldom would it happen.  But I loved hearing Batfleck speak!  I see why Ben Affleck stated he couldn’t take his young children to see this film as his voice in the bat suit could give a child nightmares.  I’m sure this will play up more upon in the rated R DVD version (which despite my disappointment in this film, I’m still eagerly purchasing on day 1!).  But his voice alone gives him presence in the Justice League.  When the “big 3” (Batman, Superman, & Wonder Woman) are meeting for the first time and forming a team to take out the real evil, Batman deserved to be there as a legit presence even though he has no super powers.  One of the rare times the geek within me started to shake, because of the voice.  The other was when he first threatened Superman, a line from the trailer that was heavily spoken afterwards for a year leading up to the film.  His voice tone communicated the real presence of Batman to me and I love my hero all the more now!  Batman is finally being portrayed correctly.  It’s nice to see him interact in the world he belongs to and not just in a realistic Christopher Nolan world, which is cool because it’s different and it would’ve been nice to see a Batfleck/real portrayal in that Nolan world.  But, Batman has a family and he’s home again from out on loan with Nolan.  I’m happy WB feels as I do about Batfleck, so much so that he’s getting a solo Batman trilogy (that he gets writing and directing privileges for) and this new DC extended universe is centered all on him!  So there is hope coming out of this failing first step into the DCEU.  The film will gross a lot of money which WB will utilize as “proof” that it’s a good film and to continue with the slate of new films to continue the universe.  So it’s just a minor setback.

Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot) steps in to save the day!
I liked the characters, Wonder Woman gives hope to women in film and inspiration to women outside of film which I’m happy about.  I’m all for “girl power” but, it didn’t fit into this particular story so it felt forced.  Hopefully her solo film will gel better and bring about that message in a more natural light. 

I liked what was intended with Lex Luthor.  Though it took away from the nucleus, why are the title cards even fighting in the first place; which most people didn’t know beforehand and are probably dissatisfied as to why after-hand.  Hopefully his relationship with Superman as his true nemesis will come forth in a much more clarified presence in future films. 

The relationship with the villain and Superman and how the “big 3” took him on made me nod my head and smile.  There are some winks to those who love comics and the world they take us to which was great.  But this monumental comic book event could’ve been utilized much better later on as we unravel more of the DCEU and it could’ve helped establish the more unknown characters.  Though I was happy to see Aquaman!!  The technology of today makes it easier to film with water so I’m very hopeful for him!! 

I loved everything about Batfleck, especially the full IMAX shots of him in his Superman armor!  Though the story doesn’t help me give him the support he needs and only give the majority who hated this film going into it more reason to hate it all the more.

The Dawn ... Of Justice! 
I was so waiting for the famous quote from the most famous comic of all time with the most famous rivalry between the two biggest names in all of comics.  Batman leans over and chokes a defeated Superman and with all the justified built up tension and emotion in his heart, he speaks, “I want you to remember Clark, in all the years to come, in your most private moments, I want you to remember my hand at your throat.  I want you to remember the one man … who beat you!” 

A 30 year old quote that still sends shivers down my spine!  That a rendition, amongst the many that have taken place since its inception, uttered by Batfleck’s AMAZING bat voice, would’ve been the cherry on top of a perfectly established world to now be overly enthusiastic about its creation. 

But instead, leaving the theater half excited, if at all, is how we’re left.  Not a triumphant first step, but a half-hearted one, and so very far from where it needed to land in a direction of true prosperity, and not just financial success.   

Overall, a bad movie with good things about it that makes me smile when I focus on them.   

Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016) 
Action/Adventure, 151 Minutes, PG-13
Written By: Chris Terrio and David S. Goyer
Directed By: Zack Snyder
Cast: Ben Affleck, Henry Cavill, Amy Adams, Jesse Eisenberg, Diane Lane, Laurence Fishburne, Jeremy Irons, Holly Hunter, Scoot McNairy, & Gal Gadot

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