Snyder And Eisenberg Bludgeon Your Senses In BATMAN vs SUPERMAN: DAWN OF JUSTICE

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So much Eisenberg, all of it bad.

BATMAN vs SUPERMAN: DAWN OF JUSTICE is a great example of the leadership problems with DC Comics/Warner Brothers. They don’t really know how to build a unified brand with a clear, well-defined vision. The result is a cinematic universe that doesn’t echo the comics nearly enough, and doesn’t dovetail with the CW/DC Television universe either. The earnest young Bruce Wayne of GOTHAM does not grow up to be Ben Affleck’s Bruce Wayne. The happy-go-lucky scarlet speedster that team’s up with Green Arrow on television is not the Flash briefly glimpsed in this film. The characterizations of Batman and Superman are inconsistent with the near-century of back issues that the hardcore comic fans have absorbed. If you don’t want to risk spoilers, I’ll leave you with this: BATMAN vs SUPERMAN: DAWN OF JUSTICE is overlong, overloud, and overkill. It’s also borderline boring despite the relentless violence and videogame fight sequences. Thank you for visiting CriticalBlast.com. Please enjoy one of our other categories for analysis and reviews of a multitude of pop culture topics. Come back and finish reading once you’ve seen the movie and perhaps you’ll agree with what follows. The rest of you, please join me after the paragraph break.

OK, let’s get down to business. David Goyer and Zack Snyder are simply not the right people to write and direct this franchise. From Goyer’s inconsistent script to Snyder’s questionable technical and casting choices, BATMAN vs SUPERMAN had long wore out its welcome by the time they reach the big finish. The most unforgivable problem is probably Lex Luthor. Jesse Eisenberg is an abject failure as Superman’s archenemy. Luthor is a consummate businessman and with megalomania and xenophobia--or basically Donald Trump without the bad toupee. He is not a smarmy millennial with no demonstrated reason to fear or hate Superman. And that’s the underlying theme of the movie, really: plot holes you could fly the Bat-Plane through.

Never mind the comic book traditional code against killing. MAN OF STEEL threw that out the window, so I didn’t flinch when Superman uses full strength on terrorists or Batman strafes henchmen with the Bat-Plane’s machine guns. It is the thematic trappings like the global Messiah complex that Goyer and Snyder assign to Superman which Henry Cavill barely reacts to and never addresses directly that teases  depth yet only ever amounts to another excuse for Snyder to hit the slow motion button or blow stuff up. Luthor’s undefined motivation seems to be to weaponize Superman or paint him as a threat to the world which he can exploit just the same. Eisenberg’s  Joker…oops, Luthor is so preposterous you can’t possibly suspend your disbelief enough take him seriously as a powerful character in this world. Batman is the only one who seems to regard Superman as a legit threat, though Bats changes his tune real fast when he finds out that Ma Kent and Mother Wayne shared the same first name. Superman brawls with Batman for twenty minutes, nearly gets run through by a +2 Kryptonite Bat-Spear, and then ten minutes later Batman actually utters “I’m a friend of your son,” to Ms. Kent. This is something that the comic book writers—which Goyer once was—never seems to comprehend: there is seldom a good reason for a superhero brawl. It’s poor writing to not use a real villain, even if it’s just some schmoe with a gun. Batman vs Superman is a stupid conceit that distracts from an already flimsy plot. If the last son of Krypton had simply asked Batman to help rather than risk his mother’s life on a meaningless scrum it would have saved this bloated film a good twenty minutes. Seriously, I know grade school kids who can tell a more coherent story.

It’s certainly not the worst superhero movie ever--several other SUPERMAN films, FANTASTIC FOUR, CATWOMAN, ELEKTRA,  and Goyer’s ill-fated BLADE: TRINITY could all claim that dishonor. Affleck was surprisingly effective as Batman, and particularly as Bruce Wayne. He appears to be capable of mentoring the forthcoming Justice League as the grizzled, unpowered vigilante who all but conquered Superman. Gal Gadot is as charming as she is beautiful in her role as Wonder Woman. Amy Adams is a solid Lois Lane. I had no issue with Jeremy Irons as Alfred Pennyworth. I applaud the attempt to view superman through the lens of a Jesus figure rather than merely a muscled farm boy in his underwear. Henry Cavill’s sadsack Superman and Eisenberg’s ludicrous Luthor overshadow everything else to the point of distraction. Snyder, as he so often does, fails to answer most of  the questions he raises. He also missed a great opportunity to properly introduce Cyborg, Flash and Aquaman by having them simply show up to fight Doomsday--a CGI character only Peter Jackson and his Hobbits would love--rather than lamely teasing them in video files.

There’s a scene where Lois tries to cheer up a gloomy Clark (Superman is often more grim than the Dark Knight in this picture) by reminding him that he’s a symbol of hope for so many. It’s a shame nobody reminded Goyer, Snyder or Warner Brothers of that. Warner’s “no jokes” decree during pre-production took away much of the optimism DC Comics used to be famous for. The real joke is that they keep going back to the creative team that made MAN OF STEEL so hard to swallow. Why would anyone trust or hero worship Superman when all he does is destroy massive areas of  Metropolis whenever he’s not off hallucinating with ol’ Crash Davis in the arctic? I don’t know if the decision to separate the humor and humanity of the DC television characters from the film universe was Warner’s, Snyder’s, or both, but it was the wrong decision. Sure, BATMAN vs SUPERMAN: DAWN OF JUSTICE will make a nice chunk of money, but it may not outperform DEADPOOL, which was almost entirely built on humor.  Considering what Warner Brothers has sunk into this film, merely good box office won’t be nearly good enough.

Grade: 
2.5 / 5.0