When the reviews came out for Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, people were pretty bummed. The film currently holds a dismal 29% on Rotten Tomatoes, despite a mostly-positive fan reaction, and analysts wonder if this is yet another false start for the long-gestating DC Cinematic Universe.
Of course, it isn’t. Like I said, there’s been a mostly positive fan reaction. Plus, the film’s already made a metric shitload of money, and Warner Bros. has already invested far too much in Suicide Squad and Wonder Woman. The DCCU is happening, whether you like it or not. And based on this movie, you probably will.
Don’t get me wrong, a lot of people hate this movie, and with good reason. It’s slow, has too many plotlines, and doesn’t know what it wants to be. I’d say that even 15, 20 years down the line, the jury is gonna be hung on whether or not this movie is any good.
But there’s the thing: at the moment, it doesn’t appear to be hung. It has a 29%. That’s a pretty unanimous condemnation. But the film really isn’t that bad, and I think we’ll see more and more people expressing that opinion after the wrath of the critics quiets down. A similar thing happened about a decade ago with Snyder’s breakout hit, 300. At the time, everyone loved it. IGN have it a 10/10. People across the board, critics and fans alike, were wowed. Since then, reception has gotten more… lukewarm. Because 300 is, at the end of the day, alright. And so is Batman v Superman.
Stylistically, I think the film is brilliant. It closely resembles Snyder’s work in Watchmen, using freeze-frames and artistic sits to replicate the feel of a comic. The performances are, by and large, fantastic. You know it’s a good cast when the weakest link is Amy Adams. Ben Affleck turned out to be a fantastic Batman, Gal Gadot is great as Wonder Woman, and Jesse Eisenberg is… interesting. It was a great performance, but he felt more like the Riddler than he did Lex Luthor.
The symbolism is blunt and across your face. Yes, yes, Superman is Jesus, Darkseid is coming, Metropolis is New York but also Gotham is New York but also Metropolis is Michigan (????), we get it. Zack Snyder’s never been one for subtlety, but good lord, does he try.
This is perhaps the main problem with this movie. Sometimes, it’s a real intense, angsty drama. Other times, it’s a superhero movie with big action and one-liners. Sometimes it takes itself too seriously, other times not serious enough. It may have functioned better as two separate movies: one, a gritty, intense Batman v Superman; the other, a fun, action-packed Dawn of Justice. But with Marvel already in Phase 3, DC doesn’t have time for two Justice League teasers. So we’re left with this.
One part of the film I really did like was Snyder’s use of magical realism. The lines between dreams and reality are blurred, which is probably the best way to do a Batman/Superman crossover. Once again, though, it just lingers on realism a little too long, leaving the audience more baffled than intrigued when fantasy is thrown in the mix.
Overall though, I rather liked the movie, even though I understood why so many people don’t. It might just depend on your opinion of Zack Snyder. Regardless, I give it a solid B. I recommend you see it just to stay “in the loop.” And who knows? You might really like it. Or not.