clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Bird Watching: Batman vs. Superman Review

A busy and flawed universe building movie that, for the most part, meets what it's supposed to be.

I want to try something new here so I'm kind of going rogue. If you, the audience, likes it, I'll keep doing it; if not, we can just pretend like this never happened. Hopefully this turns out to be a fun thing and The Bird Writes can expand into writing about the popular culture world. And fear not, this is an entirely spoiler-free review.

Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice certainly is far from a good comic book movie. It may not be the best versus movie coming out in 2016 either, that distinction will probably go to Captain America: Civil War.  In fact, Dawn of Justice may not even be the best DC movie released this year either: something about Suicide Squad feels like it'll be pretty special.

Dawn of Justice is underwhelming, frankly kind of stupid at times, and pours on that "dark and gritty" thing because DC now mandates all their characters have the emotions best resembling a thunderstorm. Most, if not all the characters are flat and their motives are either inconsistent, questionable or never totally explained. Even Gal Gadot's Wonder Woman, who is unquestionably the film's best character, is stagnant but that is probably owed to a lack of screen time.

Henry Cavill's Superman is the worst character out of Ben Affleck's Batman and Gadot's Wonder Woman. This is disappointing because Batman vs. Superman is technically, although allegedly might be a better word at this point, a direct sequel to Man of Steel. And for better or worse, not much of this iteration of Superman has changed. This is where I believe Snyder fails his characters. Snyer, true to his Watchmen and 300 form, sacrifices characterization for CGI exuberance. Over the course of the movie, Superman is described as a "meta-human": a person that is larger than life. Well, Superman and Batman are large physically yes, but emotionally they're lacking on the life part.

Superman, again in his supposed sequel, has been left by the wayside. And that's nothing to say of how little his alter-ego Clark Kent is utilized in the movie. Clark Kent may as well be a cardboard cutout, he's just...there. Cavill barely even talks in this movie. All the discussion about "does the world need Superman" is done by other characters. Batman, Lex Luthor, Lois Lane, even Holly Hunter's useless Senator Judy Finch character ponders Superman's existentialism more than Cavill does.

Hey did you know Batman's parents were killed when he was a kid? Don't worry the movie reminds you and does so with all the subtly of the Stanford "HEISMAN!!!!" guy.

One of the first questions that people will ask is how does Affleck's Batman compare to Christian Bale's? For the most part, pretty well. I could see the Bruce Wayne Bale left us at the end of The Dark Knight Rises age into the one Affleck greets us with in Dawn of Justice. We see more of a tech-oriented Batman which I liked because we haven't really seen a Batman embrace his "world's greatest detective" side on the big screen yet. This is a good Batman. The problem is the script makes him dumb and obsessive with extreme tunnel-vision regarding Superman. Jeremy Iron's Alfred speaks for everyone in the audience when he's trying to talk Bruce out of trading fists with Superman.

DC is obviously trying to catch up to Marvel. Dawn of Justice feels panicked, like they're trying to chase down Marvel and their eight-year head start in one movie. Think about how far Marvel has come since Iron Man came out in 2008. Singular movies for their most iconic characters? Check. Singular movies expand into trilogies for said characters? Yep. Have the characters teamed up? Twice in fact, not including Civil War. Marvel's so far ahead they're now green-lighting solo movies for their lesser known characters. That's the uphill battle DC's facing and Dawn of Justice barely makes a dent.

Most of all, the movie, or maybe the DC Expanded Universe as a whole, needs some life and color injected into it. The tone is dark, the characters are brooding and even the color of their costumes are diluted. I get trying to differentiate yourself form Marvel but maybe not at the expense of making everyone constantly act like they got broken up with on prom night.

Dawn of Justice has a role and for the most part it meets what it's meant to be: it's a universe building film. When it comes to Batman, Wonder Woman and Lex Luthor we're supposed to worry about who these people are not necessarily why they are the way they are. That, hopefully, comes later.

Bird Watching Review: Two Brows out of Four