Movie Review: Batman v Superman (2016).

Trying something new. Just a movie review. Let me know your thoughts!

BvS Image

[SPOILER ALERT]

[BE WARNED — SOME STORY ITEMS APPEAR BELOW]

Short Version: Close to being a good movie. Instructive.

Full Version: I enjoyed aspects of this film. It was artful. The effects, the direction, the pacing, the music, the casting, and the acting were all excellent. 

It was breathtaking. I came away feeling… impressed. The movie attempted to say something meaningful about politics and humanity. It had weight.

Despite all these good qualities, it was a mediocre movie. It had every production value going for it, but it missed the two most important elements of story-telling.

1) The plot was poor. 2) The characters were unbelievable. 

Though my review is negative, there is diagnostic value in seeing just what does or doesn’t make a movie worthwhile. 

The Plot: 

It was not tightly constructed. At the end, there was no sense of, “Oh, I see—it really had to be this way. That was a complete story.” Instead, it felt as if one story started, then another interrupted it, and then there was a big fight.

On the bright side, I did appreciate the balance between complexity and comprehensibility. There was just the right amount of set-up and payoff, and I never felt lost as to the progression or meaning of the events. Also, I never lost interest. Though the plot was poor, the presentation was propulsive.

The Characters: 

If this movie was going to be “about” something, it needed to be about the characters. That’s the main attraction in a multi-superhero movie. There’s a great opportunity to see how different characters from different universes interact. 

But this movie could not find a reason to put the characters together. Missing was the joy or humor of seeing one character through the eyes of the other. I only remember one joke in the film, and if you’ve seen the trailer, you’ve seen it: “I thought she was with you.” It fits better in the trailer than the film.

If this movie was about its characters, I couldn’t tell. No character magic. This was through no fault of the actors. The story itself refused to give me any reason to respect the characters.

Each of the top characters failed to convince…

1. Lex Luthor:

Was this Lex Luthor, or was it the Joker? I couldn’t tell. His only motivation seemed to be destruction. Why? We are given no indication. Is he simply a mad man? Unconvincing.

2. Wonder Woman:

Why does she care about maintaining secrecy for herself and the other super heroes? Are they in danger? Why did she give up on humanity? Why did she then change her mind? Wonder Woman is potentially the most interesting character in the movie, yet her role seemed to amount to a glorified cameo. Unconvincing.

3. Batman:

A. What kind of hero brands criminals like cattle?

B. Why would Batman blame Superman for the destruction of Metropolis and the bombing of an important building? Some detective…

C. How brutish must Batman be to decide to kill Superman whether he be innocent or guilty? He doesn’t even give Superman an interview. Some bringer of justice…

D. How reckless must Batman be to try to kill earth’s greatest ally, knowing that there may be other powerful and malevolent beings in the galaxy?

E. How hypocritical must this Batman be, since he judges Superman for operating outside the law?

Conclusion: This Batman is not a hero.

Strangely, Ben Affleck acted the part as a hero (and he did so with excellence). We therefore had the spectacle of watching a seemingly decent man taking inexplicable actions. In art this is inexcusable. Unconvincing.

4. Superman:

If Batman is unheroic, Superman is a simply a dolt.

A. There is an alien ship on earth and Superman has let someone else take charge of investigating it. Yet Superman is the only living being with the full ability to access the ship. If anyone has claim to the ship, it is him. Why isn’t he the one doing this job?

B. Superman knows (or should know) that kryptonite is being found in various places around the earth. He is, after-all, a reporter with super-hearing! And yet he doesn’t have a plan for protecting himself. 

C. Superman loves his mother and Lois and he doesn’t have a plan for protecting either of them. He hasn’t even taken the time to recruit someone to assist him in anything he does. Am I to believe that a mentally unstable rich kid (Luthor) is able to identify both Lois and Superman’s mother, yet at the same time a man with godlike powers is unable to think ahead about this danger and plan for it?

D. After the bombing of an important building Superman decides to disappear rather than to simply meet with the President or the press to explain what happened. Why? Because he has lost his confidence? Unconvincing.

E. This Superman is willing to kill Batman in order to get an unlikely chance at saving his mother’s life. Meaning: he is willing to murder and to negotiate with terrorists. And this, after being inspired by a vision from his father? Unconvincing.

F. Superman thinks Luther is setting everything up in order to kill Batman rather than himself. Thus he doesn’t realize it is his own life that is being threatened, and he takes no precautions. We are to take this dolt as a hero?

G. When Superman tries to use the kryptonite spear against Doomsday, it does not occur to him to simply hand off the spear to the other immortal warrior who conveniently is not allergic to kryptonite. Super-Dolt.

Was this supposed to be a movie about super-heroes? Unconvincing.

Not surprisingly, this movie left me exhausted. It’s a rare thing to witness so much sound and fury signifying nothing.

For me, the test of a good movie is this: the next day or two do I feel invigorated? Is my imagination on overdrive? Do I keep thinking, “Oh that scene! I’ll remember it until the day I die…”

Did this movie enrich my life? No.

I found myself feeling lethargic and drained for two solid days. It was the “Green Mile” of superhero movies, but without any of the charm.

A final test of a good movie: Would you watch it a second time? Not likely.

Recommendation: Skip it.

P.S.
I hope this review wasn’t as depressing as the film.

P.P.S
In no way would I want to sound glib in criticism. Great heart and years of talented work went into this film. The greater lesson to take: no film is better than its plot or its characters. There is a right way to make movies. Perhaps in revealing one more artistic dead-end, this $250 million experiment will grant us some light to move forward.