Review: Batman v Superman

Batman vs SupermanI’m a massive fan of movies and TV shows based on comic book characters and many have been wonderful lately. However, some look so awful from the trailer that you can only hope the reality is going to be a hell of a lot better. I haven’t seen Batman v Superman yet but I know a few people who have, so I asked one of them to expand on his tweets and write a review for Rarely Wears Lipstick.

While I enjoy comic-based superhero movies, Superman is one of my least-liked characters (along with Spiderman). In my opinion, he’s just so one-dimensional, and really quite earth-shatteringly dull. The entire comic thing also relies on one of the most gobsmackingly stupid ‘disguises’ know to humanity – as if all these investigative and inquisitive reporters are going to be fooled by the simple addition of a pair of glasses. And not once does anyone say “You know, Superman looks just like Clark Kent, but without glasses”. Get real.

I truly hated Man of Steel, the previous Superman film, with the same star (Henry Cavill) and director (Zach Snyder). The fact that this goodie-goodie ‘saving humanity’ character took his big fight scene to the middle of a city, with umpteen casualties and deaths that were, ultimately, preventable – it just didn’t make sense.

So while I was interested in Batman vs Superman, I didn’t expect much from it. The trailer made things look better, but I was still going in with low expectations. It’s safe to say, I wasn’t pleasantly surprised by a better film.

Batman, Wonder Woman and SupermanThere’s a lot of very good stuff in the film – but that doesn’t make it a good film. Ben Affleck as the new Batman is extremely good – it may be heresy, but I think he’s the best one on film in recent years. Even more impressively, the hilariously homoerotic Rocky montage of BatBen working out makes him hench as chuff, and you do believe he can beat Superman. It’s quite an achievement for someone to make Henry Cavill look small, but Affleck manages it.

Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman is epic – and I’m already looking forward to that stand-alone film. Sadly, she’s only in this film for about ten minutes, although she’s obviously enjoying herself. Amy Adams isn’t given much of a role as Lois Lane – indeed, women in general aren’t allowed to be relevant characters throughout – they’re there, but as foils to The Men, rather than key in their own rights. I so hope that’s not the case with the Wonder Woman movie. But Adams is a decent actress, and does her best with what she’s been given, including a weirdly needless scene where she’s in the bath.

Jesse Eisenberg as Lex Luthor is actually one of the best things of the film. Yes, he’s a bit ticcy and twitchy for my liking, but as a nascent Baddie, he works well. I like him more in American Ultra (another under-regarded film which is a lot of fun) but there’s a lot of room for him to develop Luthor in future films , which is fine with me.

Lex Luthor poster for Batman v SupermanCavill as Superman is… dull. I think that’s more about the role though, because he’s a much better actor in the heavily-maligned Men from UNCLE. But in this, stolid, joyless, and just… dull.

Actually, “joyless” is a pretty good cover-all description of the film. Comic-based superhero films are supposed to have some levity, some lighter moments and to enjoy themselves. Most manage it, but this one doesn’t. OK, it’s heavier going, but dear God, it does need some levity to lift it, instead of the “doom and gloom” that pervades the entire film.

Someone far, far smarter than me summed it up as “Zach Snyder’s a child telling his mum that comics aren’t just pretty, they’re important”. (If I could remember who said it, I’d credit them, but for now it’ll have to be just “someone smarter than me”) That’s perfect. All the way through, we’re being made to think this film is serious, that it has Something To Say, that it’s Important. And it really isn’t. (Well, it is to the studio, but that’s a different kettle of fish) It’s superheroes, for chuff’s sake. Nothing more than that, nothing less.

There are good bits – the acting’s good, the story is generally OK. But the Heavy Hand Of Snyder makes it all stodgy and serious, needlessly weighty material that needs a cheery sidekick, a stupid Kapow, a punchline or two. And that’s not the fault of the actors, or the writers. It could’ve been a great film, in the hands of a different director.

Superman poster for Batman v SupermanInstead, we’re left with a weighty film that says nothing, and does nothing. Despite Batman’s insistence that Superman is Bad because of all the deaths in the city from the fight in Man of Steel, when he’s given the same chance/decision, Batman does exactly the same and brings Big Bad back to the city. OK, they make a big deal of the area being “deserted”, but still, we’re back to superheroes destroy city buildings, which is getting seriously old. I hope someone creates a new special-effects library before long, so we can get away from smashed buildings and broken cities.

All told? It could be a great film – indeed, it should be a great film. Snyder should be sent to his room, and banned from making another comic-book film until he’s grown up and had some fun.

Can I recommend seeing it? No. If you’re massively into Justice League, Superman, Batman etc., it might be worth going. Just don’t expect much, and expect to be annoyed.

Actually, I think the final verdict on this can be summed up with something that has annoyed other people more than me. In the film – and I’m not spoiling here – a character is killed early on. They’re never named, not even a first name or a reference. And when you actually look on the credits, it turns out that that character is one that’s been key in the whole canon of Superman, right from day one. That death isn’t mentioned again and is never credited as happening – yet it’s something that should be world-altering for those around Superman, and it’s not even acknowledged.

Oh, and still no-one (outside of Lois Lane) is aware that Superman and Clark Kent are the same person, even when one disappears at the same time as the other. Utter, utter guff.

UPDATE: Thanks to Geoff’s excellent memory, we now know it was Chris Brosnahan who described the film as “2 hours of Zack Snyder telling his mom that comics aren’t just for kids”.

This post was written by a RWL Guest Blogger – Lyle is a very sweary man indeed… apart from in this review, written especially for Rarely Wears Lipstick, where he says “I’ve been good, and non-sweary. It’s been a struggle!” He’s been blogging over at D4D since 2002 and you can also find him on Twitter as @LyleD4D.

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