Two-and-a-half out of Five
There are many things that divide America: Republican vs. Democrat; Microsoft vs. Apple; Pepsi vs. Coke; DC vs. Marvel.
Now, you can add “Superman v Batman: Dawn of Justice” to the list.
“Wait, wait,” you might say. “I thought Superman (Henry Cavill) and Batman (Ben Affleck) were on the same side.”
You’re right, but this is all about their approach.
Batman doesn’t like that Superman is an uncontrollable force who can do whatever he wants with no one to stop him. Superman doesn’t like that Batman beats up on the Gotham criminals, turning them black, blue and bloody.
And since these two heroes can’t have a discussion like normal adults, they fight about it with their fists, powers and gadgets. But then Lex Luthor (Jesse Eisenberg) unleashes a Doomsday threat that forces the Man of Steel and the Caped Crusader, along with Wonder Women (Gal Gadot), to fight together.
“Batman v Superman” director Zack Snyder goes for a more solemn tone in this film, although a few jokes are sprinkled in to evoke some chuckles. However, the tone begs the question: Why so serious? Because it tips the balance from serious to overdramatic in a big way. This is amplified by a score that adds a deep “dun dun duuun” for every mildly dramatic moment and effectively sucker-punches the audience into near unconsciousness.
The story is an all-over-the-place mess. Parts of it work, like Luthor’s plan to take out the heroes, which is devised in good super villain fashion. But the plot does drag, and in between there are about a half-dozen dream sequences that add massive amounts of confusion.
It’s like Snyder has some sort of DC dream-scene quota he has to fill — because there is no reason for any of them.
The movie clocks in at two-and-a-half hours and it feels like it: It tries to pack so much into one little film that is clearly just a necessary stepping stone to a greater Justice League franchise. While it starts off slow, it seems to find its footing right before the big fight at the end, so be sure to stay awake for that.
But it’s not all bad news; there are some good qualities. Affleck pulls off Batman extremely well, portraying a character that is a calculating detective, not just a martial artist. Lois Lane (Amy Adams) is, as always, the intrepid reporter, hot on Luthor’s evil heels. And the much-anticipated arrival of Wonder Woman could not have been better. And Superman is, well, his regular good-hearted, flawless self.
Watching “Batman v Superman” is an odd mix of eye-rolling at the over-the-top theatrics and squealing with delight at the comic book qualities.
It’s a hard movie to judge; a lot of comes from your expectations walking into the theater, and more importantly when you walk out.
Because we are at war — a cinematic comic book war that is not just between Batman and Superman but ultimately DC and Marvel — DC has thrown the first punch of 2016, with the Marvel Cinematic Universe throwing the next in May with “Captain America: Civil War.”
You will have to pick a side with your movie ticket purchases. And while time will tell who the winner ultimately is, “Batman v Superman” isn’t the strongest candidate for the competition.