Written By: Mike Agostinelli
It has arrived.
After years of anticipation, the movie I have waited decades for is now playing at your local theater. I’m not the only one who has been impatiently counting the seconds until this flick either. But now that its here, the feeling is almost surreal. It was over in a matter of a scant few hours. Were those hours absolutely succulent? That is the question those of you who clicked on this will be dying to know. Was it all it was cracked up to be? Was it worth selling your soul to the devil for Mike?
In a word: no. Not really. How can any movie live up to such obsessive hype, such rabid anticipation? After all, it’s just a movie. A two-and-a-half hour slice of entertainment, one which envelopes you in its embrace and takes your mind off of things for a little bit, but is soon gone from the forefront of your mind hours after you’ve seen it. But does this mean the movie is a joke, an utterly depressing piece of garbage like many critics would have you believe? Again: hell no.
Batman Vs Superman revolves around the titular conflict between two iconic heroes. One of them I’ve loved with a fervent passion ever since I’ve had cognitive memory. Not sure why, but he’s always been my hero. My guy. My dude. My escape. I’m of course referring to Batman. The other I really couldn’t give two turds of rabbit feces about. Sorry Superman, you’re a bore. An insufferable bore. But it says something about this movie that I’ve begun to care about the guy. I kinda get his appeal now. Director Zack Snyder and co-writers Chris Terrio and David Goyer fashion a story which almost entirely focuses on how people see Superman; how he’s perceived in the public consciousness. At times this can be a bit of a slog, such as when we’re assaulted with talking head news reports and Senate Committee hearings. Other times it can be fascinating, like when Superman saves a little girl from a burning building in Mexico and upon his landing, hundreds of onlookers bow and reach out to him like he’s some kind of God. Big philosophical subjects are touched on here. Heavy ones. Of course the most important opinion on the Man Of Steel ends up belonging to The Dark Knight himself: Batman. And what a doozy of a performance it is.
Ben Affleck kills it. And I mean that in all possible ways. He looks like Batman ripped from the comics, his Bruce Wayne hits all the right notes, and he literally just exudes all the qualities I look for in a portrayal of this character. He also kills quite literally. This Batman just straight up kills dudes. That’s where they lost me a bit, and it unfortunately sullies what is a near perfect performance. Once you have Batman start killing criminals, you make him no better than the criminal who killed his parents that one fateful night in Crime Alley. And Snyder barely bothers to explain why this guy has resorted to this more permanent method of crime fighting. There are hints, like the Robin costume hung in effigy in the Batcave, the mysterious markings of the Joker spray painted across it. But this isn’t fleshed out at all; merely setup. When it will pay off has yet to be clarified. Besides this detail, Affleck exudes confidence in the role and full on charisma.
Jesse Eisenberg as Lex Luthor is another story. This isn’t Lex Luthor. This is a twitchy fool attempting to do some “modern” update of this seminal character and falling flat on his face. Luthor in the comics is an arrogant prick with a God complex who is so magnetic in his social interactions that you almost agree with everything he says even when hes discussing murdering people. This Luthor is socially awkward, with a variety of nervous tics and twitches, and is so dumb he literally has no alibi for his evil villain plan. He’s just expecting not to get caught. Sloppy.
The film is, as I described to my buddy Dave after our showing, very thick. Its a thick movie. Its loaded with stuff, most of it good; some bad. The first hour has odd pacing, bounding from one scene to another without any real flow. The best ones are predictably those involving Bruce Wayne, as he attempts to pull some James Bond-ish heists at high society functions while dressed in a tux. This is also when he comes across Diana Prince aka Wonder Woman, played by the lovely Gal Gadot. She’s just mysterious enough in these early interactions to be interesting. Superman is mostly relegated to moping and dealing with government nonsense, killing the momentum.
Once the second hour hit I essentially fell in love though. The action scenes began, things started ramping up, and awesomeness was brewing. The final forty five minutes save it all, with the titular clash of heroes, an awesome solo Batman fight scene, and a final “boss battle” where Wonder Woman shines. There are genuinely emotional and profound moments here, great showcase scenes, and fantastic setups for future DC films. Critics have been complaining the movie is “not fun.” Yet these were the same critics who practically bent down and entered Christopher Nolan’s ridiculously dark Batman films into their mouths and sucked away, lapping up every last depressing drop. This movie is nowhere near that tone; its serious and moody sure, but I walked out happy and not feeling like I’ve been through an ordeal, like how I felt with The Dark Knight.
Long story short: if you’re fond of these characters and the DC universe, you will enjoy this movie. If not, you will likely find it forgettable and flawed, but worth the ten bucks. Then when Captain America Civil War comes out you can go and make predictable sweet love to it like it can do no wrong.
I give BVS an 8 out of 10.
I’ll be back in May, kicking off the lovely Summer movie season (and a more consistent string of reviews) with Captain America Civil War.