DIRECTOR: Zack Snyder
Panned by critics, loved by fans of the early showings, how does the second entry of DC’s revival and answer to Marvel’s domination of the Comic book box office really hold up?
The answer: Very well.
It may not be perfect, in fact, far from it, failing to live up to it’s predecessor, Man Of Steel (2013), which itself has had a mixed reception, but Batman v Superman is trying to do too much too soon. Setting up The Justice League before many would feel that it has earned it.
Batman v Superman is a Batman movie at it’s heart, setting up Ben Afleck’s Dark Knight as the cost of continuing to expand Superman’s story far beyond the scope set up in his first solo film, giving us more of a holding action rather then taking it to the new depths which it deserves.
So it is fair to say that whilst Superman in circling the runway for the most part, Batman takes most of the character building action, with a real effort made and with some success to justify his hatred for the Man Of Steel, as this film spends a lot of time addressing the criticism of the Man Of Steel’s apocalyptic final battle, in which the levels of destruction seemed to be out of keeping with the Superman many of us are familiar with.
But this is tied into Bruce Wayne perfectly, opening with Wayne’s point of view of the climatic battle from the last movie, complete with several well judged 9/11 visual references, spawning a fear and loathing of Superman whcih we may well agree with, whilst allowing us to maintain our understanding of the Character we know to be a true hero, not a god or a devil as many, including Lex Luthor fear.
But, the problems here are whilst the plot is good, the execution is muddled. On one hand this is an epic superhero movie, sweeping and bold, but on the other, it is trying to win the action crown with spectacle whcih is much too hollow and diminishes what is in many ways an complex character drama.
This film has a lot to say and when it takes it’s time to speak, the narrative is bold and way above the safe popcorn nonsense delivered by Marvel, but it lets itself down when it tries to play down to their level.
This is not a rant about how rubbish Marvel are, quite the contrary, I like Marvel but they are producing a safe action franchise and rarely pushing the envelope but Nolan, who is serving as Executive Producer here and often derided Snyder, unfairly might I add, are trying to create a darker more complex universe, driven by mythical archetypes and personally I like it.
It could have stood to be a little more entertaining, tighter and less concerned with setting up The Justice League but that aside, what is here is good, interesting and above the standard and ambition of so many of its rivals.
Ambition though, may be Snyder’s downfall in this case. He is trying to do too much, too fast but I believe that this will settle into the DC universe much better in time.
In summation, Batman v Superman is not without its flaws but it is an ambitious project with delivers and complex and interesting story, supported by some good performances and production design. Some moments do jar though, having said that.
The slow motion posing of the main characters, especially Wonder Woman in the finale, is no where near as cool as Snyder thinks it is, and the most disappointing moment in the entire film was the scene in the desert, as featured heavily in the trailers; where a trench coated Batman faces off against “The Cult Of Superman”… Well, it was ALL a dream!
It get the point but it felt like a cop-out of what could have been a bold move in a genre piece like this.
I just hope this movie makes it’s money as it is clearly a cog in a monumental machine but there is clearly work to be done in both tone, pacing and in many ways, integrity. As Nolan has proven, you can make a genre movie into something original and unique, without falling back into safe mode and still make a tone of money…