With a portfolio ranging from 300 to Suckerpunch, director Zack Snyder is a rather inconsistent director. Perhaps unintentionally anti-auteur, Snyder swings for the fences with Batman vs Superman (BvS), attempting to cash in on what Marvel has so eloquently achieved over the past decade. But is it too late?
BvS feels desperate to be loved, like a lonely teen struggling with existential angst. Though the movie is riddled with hidden easter eggs and cultural nods – ranging from the obvious (previewing Aquaman and Cyborg), to the Geeky references (pointing to Darkseid coming), to the uber-Geek (a prisoner number ending in TK-421, the same call-sign the stormtrooper had in Star Wars Episode 4 when Han Solo confiscated the trooper disguise), all the way to the fanatical Superman Geeks (the Silver & Black S and the Christopher Reeves reference to a cat in a tree) – BvS never really finds its footing and purpose. It is almost as if the film exists just to allow Batman to move from the Chris Nolan empire as well as to introduce Wonder Woman.
Think of it this way: Superman and Batman are the leaders of the Justice League. Therefore, the audience is left witnessing a 2.5 hour battle/conflict where we know they will get along in the end.
Then there’s the “huh?” moments; those times where the audience is scratching their heads wondering what on earth is going on. During these scenes, people in the audience of my viewing were laughing because of the insanity of what was being witnessed. Though sometimes these moments center around random prophetic Knightmares (yes, that is spelled correctly for this review as a nod for Geek readers), there are moments where lines are said, actions are made, and the film jumps to another scene giving the whole moment a pointless, useless, time-wasting attitude. Perhaps if these moments were appropriately placed on the cutting room floor, the 2.5 hours would be down to an hour and 45 minutes, making for a better paced film.
Finally, though there are many problems with BvS, the last worth mentioning now are the gratuitous, repetitious God references. Man of Steel had a similar tone, but not so shoved down your throat as in BvS. Given the same motifs existing in most of Snyder’s previous films (300, Watchmen, Man of Steel), perhaps the director has a more personal God-issue/offense. After all, the films mentioned had a repeating theme of God being evil, so let’s kill God. Meanwhile, there’s also the “false God” message presented in Snyder’s films, further confusing the whole message. If one is not going to be clear about their intentions, it’s probably best to just leave it out (or make your point, then move on rather than dwell on it a dozen times over the course of 2 and a half hours).
In the end, Batman vs Superman tries to do what Marvel did with the Avengers, and fails. While BvS is not a bad movie, it is not a good movie. BvS lacks the fun, lighter moments, humor, and pathos Marvel has captured with Captain America & Co. DC has struggled with these concepts for a decade, and has yet to emerge successfully on the other side. Sure, BvS will make a lot of money, but major bucks received does not equal a quality product.
I give Batman vs Superman: The Dawn of Justice 2 out of 4 stars, and recommend viewing it on Redbox. Nothing worth the big screen and big dollars here.