Dr. BvS-love: Or, How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb
“It was a mess, but a glorious one.”
Such was my stated opinion of Batman v Superman as I left the theater, friends in tow, last Thursday night. I can't recall the last time I had so much fun with a film as flawed and frustrating as this one is.
Josh has shared his thoughts, and there is actually very little I would quibble with in his assessment. He and I are mostly in agreement on which things sucked and why — I just happen to be more forgiving. In that spirit, I'll begin with the ugly, work my way through the bad, and end with the good. To paraphrase Herm Albright, a positive attitude about this film may not solve all the problems, but it will annoy enough people to make it worth the effort.
The ugliest thing about BvS is the sheer amount of material Snyder and his team try to cram into a 2.5 hour film. Dawn of Just Way Too Much would have been a more accurate subtitle.
Snyder's Batman wasn't given a film of his own, so instead we get a series of flashbacks to fill in the gaps. I think we can all agree the Dark Knight deserves better than that.
Meanwhile, Superman spends his time saving the world, ticking people off, glaring at Bruce Wayne, and having angsty conversations with Lois in her bathtub.
Then there's Lex Luthor, whose origin story is only slightly less half-assed than is Batman's.
Also, Wonder Woman.
And at least four other DC supers who get brief, utterly confusing nods.
Plot-wise, BvS is what would happen if Marvel tried to pack multiple phases into a single film. It just doesn't work.
Wonder Woman is still — how can I say this nicely? — slightly less interesting than a slice of Wunderbread. Gal Gadot seems like a perfectly decent actress, but she isn't given much to work with; neither is the audience, which renders WW's dramatic reveal almost worthy of a snigger.
Jesse Eisenberg as Lex Luthor is hit-and-miss. Every now and then he shines, but let's be honest: he may as well be playing Columbus from Zombieland again (now featuring new and improved villainy!). Nor am I a fan of Amy Adams as Lois Lane. I'm still trying to figure out what it is exactly, but something is just... off. She's the wrong actress for the job.
I never thought I'd say this, but Ben Affleck is a great Bruce Wayne and an even better Batman. He's big, he's broody, he's intimidating - and when the action begins, he kicks serious ass. It may be too early to tell whether he'll carry the mantle as well as Christian Bale did, but he's off to a killer start. Literally.
The action scenes, in true Snyder form, are spectacular. A two-minute sequence featuring Batman and a gang of Luthor's thugs is worth the price of admission all by itself. The titular battle itself isn't particularly inventive, but when Frank Miller's armored Batsuit finally makes an appearance, all is forgiven. Because I don't care who you are that crap is awesome.
I also enjoyed the story, strange as that may sound given my earlier complaints. With better editing and a tighter script, BvS could've been remarkable, and some of that still shows through. (There is one scene in particular, a confrontation between Luthor and Supes, that is so well-written and shot, I was grinning the whole way through. I only wish the rest of the most had been handled so gracefully.) Convoluted and overloaded though it is, the story kept my attention. It even toyed with some intriguing theological imagery and themes – enough, at any rate, to spark several excellent post-viewing discussions among my friends.
An added bonus? The movie gave me an excuse to add a couple graphic novels to my library: Mark Waid's Kingdom Come and Grant Morrison's All Star Superman. They ought to arrive this week. Maybe I'll review them next.