What did I think of Batman vs Superman: Dawn of Justice? I loved it. it was much better than “Cats.” I will see it again and again.
In all honesty, I really enjoyed Dawn of Justice. Watching this film is more like watching a comic book come to life on-screen than watching a movie featuring comic book characters. Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy and the Marvel films are more like the latter; bent closer to realism and grit. In fact, so was Man of Steel. Snyder’s Dawn of Justice is something else, entirely. I wonder if that’s what threw a lot of initial viewers.
One specific criticism I took note of before I saw it had to do with editing. Writers suggested the movie was disjointed and chaotic. I didn’t feel the same way. If you’ve watched shows like The Flash or Gotham, you may have noticed some of the same kinds of cuts; jumping from one conversation to a not-so-connected scene or flashback. That’s the way comic books read to me, so it felt natural rather than disjointed.
More than anything, the critique of this film felt a lot like the critique of Ryan Adams’ 1989 (a cover of Taylor Swift’s entire album). A number of reviewers jumped on it as un-inventive or boring; citing common tonal selections and a lack of emotion variance. As I read reviews of that album, I keep thinking “Wasn’t this whole project done if fun? Do we have to treat every project like it’s supposed to be the followup to OK Computer?”
Friends, this movie is not important. It’s just not. As much as I love Batman character and his basic story, I love him the way I do Oakland sports… it’s an entertainment. The seriousness with which folks came at Dawn of Justice reminded me of that Dad at the zoo who keeps pressing his kids to get to the next exhibit or the guy in the gym who keeps checking his physique in the mirror and scoffs at puny punks like me for how little we can lift. If you’re not having fun, go home.
Having said that, here are a few things i didn’t like, a few things I loved and what I hope for next:
Things I Didn’t Like:
LOIS LANE –
I honestly wanted to see more from the character and know that Amy Adams is more than capable of it. In a film featuring Gal Godot’s confident and powerful Wonder Woman, I wanted to see a Lois more similar to Morena Baccarin’s portrayal of Dr. Thomkins (Gotham); a woman who clearly has the upper hand in her relationship. Especially when the script calls for her to play such pivotal role in the storyline. This Lois was a touch too helpless for me. I also think that helped to weaken the Superman character.
LEX LUTHOR –
Jesse Eisenberg just didn’t do it for me. I actually liked the direction the script took his character. He started out more like a young, Silicon-Valley startup millionaire. In fact, I might have liked seeing him just re-do his take on Zuckerberg but with more anger. His “crazy” felt un-rehearsed and his motivations weren’t super clear from scene to scene. In short, I didn’t feel like his performance lived up to the size of the character. It was like seeing a TV-sized Luthor vs IMAX-sized Batman and Superman.
THE JL REVEAL –
Don’t get me wrong, I LOVED seeing the reveal in essence. I liked that it was revealed by hacking Luthor and that we got to see a glimpse of the symbols and basic info of each hero-to-be. But I’d rather have seen a just that glimpse and then accessed those clips online after the film. (http://batmanvsuperman.dccomics.com) The longer look felt forced and premature.
Things I Loved:
BEN AFFLECK – Full disclosure: I lost my mind when Affleck was cast as the new Batman. In fact, I wrote at this very blog about it. I thought his celebrity would make it difficult for me to see Bruce Wayne. I thought Ben would be incapable of the physicality I had longed to see in a cinematic Batman…
Boy was I wrong.
For my money, Ben Affleck is the best Bruce Wayne / Batman ever on the big screen. His love of this character really comes through in the way he embodied both parts of the Wayne/Bat psyche.
The aspect of his performance that puts it way over the top has only some to do with Affleck and at least equal to do with Snyder’s direction; Batman is physically imposing. Watching him thrash criminals, scale walls and (spoiler) beat the snot out of Superman was deeply satisfying as a fan. Contrasted to the disappointing final brawl between Bane and Bale’s Batman, these fight scenes featured a Batman who was almost supernaturally quick and strong, fighting and moving like the uber-ninja he was trained to be while using tech that was out-of-this-world cool. I was geek-happy.
THE SUPERMAN CONFLICT –
This is something a number of writers and even a few fans have disliked. I happen to enjoy the inner struggle Cavil has to carry in the story; that the weight of what it means to be Superman is heavy… too heavy for Superman himself. Much of that weight comes from the external, cultural conflict which I also really valued. Being Superman and being able to knock down whole cities during your fist-fights comes at a cost to people who live in the city you just knocked down. If you’re like me, you watched the tail end of “Man of Steel” with a bit of nausea. There stood Superman with his girlfriend in the middle of death and devastation, sharing a lovely little cinematic kiss. I wanted to grab a handful of kryptonite and punch him in his “perfect teeth”! What a gift Dawn of Justice offers! I get to see Batman do it!!!
GAL GODOT –
The minute she hits the screen, she just shines. Not only because she’s a beautiful actress but because she steps into the story as a fully-formed character. This really isn’t an origin film in any way. Godot steps into the story as a Wonder Woman who knows exactly who she is and feels no pressure to prove herself. That confidence carries throughout the rest of the film and into the final conflict with Doomsday.
THE SIZE OF THE MOVIE –
Bringing this full circle, I loved how big and loud and fast everything was. Again, it was like watching a comic book come to life. I was able to let go and get caught up in a way that a more realist take on these same kinds of characters just doesn’t allow.
Things I Look Forward To:
WONDER WOMAN SOLO FILM –
Gal Godot’s performance was too much for the size of her role in DOJ. What that says to me is that she will have more than enough to carry a well-done origin film.
THE FLASH –
Of all the JL characters coming at us Ezra Miller’s Flash might be the most fun. I laughed at the reveal clip (milk still in his hand)
SEEING DOJ AGAIN –
Everyone I know who has seen this film twice has liked it more the second time, including Kevin Smith.