DC Comics and Warner Brothers have released what they are banking on to be the Marvel/Disney killer this week, "Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice." It’s more than just the first time the two iconic super heroes have shared the screen. This movie is supposed to kick off a franchise that brings in all of your favorites from The Justice League. So let’s talk about the question you really want the answer to: Is the movie any good?
The short answer is no, but if you’ve read any early reviews you already know that. The more complicated answer is that "Batman v Superman" isn’t nearly as bad as I had prepared myself for it to be.
Let’s cut right to the issues this movie was up against before the script was even written. Director Zach Snyder has NEVER made a good movie (yes, I’m including "300"), and Superman is a character who just doesn’t work in the modern entertainment landscape.
Those problems are compounded by the fact that DC/Warner Bros. has a lot of ground to make up on Marvel/Disney. "The Avengers" series has been going strong and building to an epic climax with this summer’s "Captain America: Civil War" for the better part of a decade now. When Captain America and Iron Man face off in May, fans will have something invested in the outcome because we’ve watched them save the world together.
"Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice" has to manufacture that history and passion in the span of about 90 minutes. When you have a guy at the helm that makes movies that look like heavy metal album covers, (Think about it – a lot of fire and destruction presented in various shades of grey and orange and yellow) that is hard to do. I mean, at most Zach Snyder should be directing videos for bands like Disturbed.
Here’s what is really good about the movie:
Ben Affleck as Bruce Wayne – No one plays a good Batman. It’s hard to bring nuance to an adult who runs around New York solving crimes in a SCUBA suit. Affleck, though, is able to bring out a side of Bruce Wayne we haven’t seen on film before. This Bruce Wayne is still young enough and strong enough to rid Gotham of crime, but old enough to know those days are numbered and wise enough to know his life would be pretty empty without that mission.
Wonder Woman is presented as a complicated and strong character and not just a body with a lasso. Gal Gadot, who you may recognize from "The Fast and the Furious" franchise, is undeniably gorgeous, so it must have been very tempting to just put her in a push-up bra and let her run around on screen for a while. Instead, what we get is a character who is not only the moral backbone of the film, but also the turning point in a fight to save the world from total destruction.
Now here’s what’s bad about the movie: literally everything else.
We can start with the fact that "The Social Network’s" Jessie Eisenberg decided not to create an original or interesting character out of Superman’s arch nemesis Lex Luthor. Instead he just does his best impression of Heath Ledger as the Joker. We’ve seen this act before pal, and we’ve seen it much better.
For an event movie, nay, THE event movie of Warner Bros’ last three decades, "Batman v Superman" seems very quickly and carelessly cobbled together. It wasn’t as bad as I was expecting, but after "The Man of Steel," anything that wasn’t two and a half hours of me getting kicked in the face by a horse would have been a pleasant surprise.
This is a big movie that seemingly demands a big screen, so it is hard to recommend waiting for Blu-Ray, but given the long run time and the low quality, I also wouldn’t advise you rushing to the theater.
Demetri Ravanos is a member of the North Carolina Film Critics Association and has reviewed movies for Raleigh and Company, Military1.com and The Alan Kabel Radio Network. He can be heard weekday mornings from 6-10 on "The Morning Show with Mike, Lauren and Demetri" on Buzz Sports Radio.