Review: ‘Batman V Superman’ Fans Say “Sorry, Ben Affleck”
While ‘Batman V Superman: Dawn Of Justice’ will be both loved and hated, one thing is certain – the internet owes a BIG apology to Ben Affleck.
‘Batman V Superman: Dawn Of Justice’ is not a typical superhero movie. It doesn’t have the cliche Hollywood one-liners and standard hero tropes we find in many films of the genre. It doesn’t load up on comic relief or bask in whimsy. No, this movie has an unprecedentedly dark tone and the most accurate onscreen display of meta-human prowess to date. And that is exactly why this may also become one of the most divisive films within it’s genre. ‘Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice’ may struggle with its storytelling, but succeeds with its visuals, action and a brutal tone.
Cinematics (Cinematography, Acting, Story, etc.) – 3.5
While some may consider it redundant, the opening scene of the film re-introduces the story surrounding the savage demise of Wayne’s parents, in turn galvanizing the Batman. I’m sure people will disagree, but I think it essential to retell that story in order to properly introduce a new Batman. Especially a Batman that can exist in the same universe as supercharged Titans like Superman and Wonder Woman. It is also important to note that this moment was not belabored, just touched on enough to set up the breed of Batman we are about to see. Visually speaking, the intro was perhaps one of the most aesthetically pleasing, and almost operatic, origins of Batman, for me.
While the fluidity of the film does seem a bit hampered by some rough patches of editing in the first act, the story bounces between characters, allowing them each their own private developmental screen time. I perhaps most appreciate the complexity of the characters and their multi-dimensional personalities. This movie does not operate on a surface level, so unfortunately, without a relatively robust knowledge of the comic book-based counterparts, I fear audiences will miss a vast amount of the nuance Snyder has painstakingly incorporated. But that is Okay. What Snyder does is cash in on is fan adulation, doling out more comic book nods and setups for future potential than one fangirl or fanboy’s heart can handle without bursting.
Beginning with what was undoubtedly the high note of the film, Ben Affleck’s Bruce Wayne and Batman combo steal the show time and again. And let me tell you, BatFleck is no longer playing Mr. Nice Batman. And, it’s awesome. The same pep-talks that Michael Caine’s Alfred would give Christian Bale’s Bruce Wayne, falls on deaf ears for Affleck’s aged and disillusioned Dark Knight. Affleck immerses himself in the Batman role and engrains the burly caped crusader with a deep-rooted sense of rage and thirst for vigilante justice that is enthralling.
We’ve always been criminals, Alfred. – Bruce Wayne/Batman
Let Batman’s words sink in, as it helps shape the definition of heroism moving forward for the DC universe. Ben Affleck finesses the playboy billionaire Bruce Wayne and leverages it against an aged, methodical, inventive, and all-around brawny powerhouse of a Batman. Plainly stated, BatFleck is a mother f@&$ing bad @ss! Special consideration needs to be given to Ben Affleck for really bulking up and fully immersing himself in the Batman role. Even more adulating is Ben Affleck’s on-screen Batman workout routine (kinda funny, but the guy is a beast). As a longtime fan of Detective Comics, and having seen every Batman movie and series, animated or live-action, Affleck’s rendition of Batman is hands down one of the most accurate portrayals of the brooding character that I’ve seen to date. He’s a detective, he’s a strategist, he’s a peak physical specimen, he employs true to the comics fight systems, and he grappling hooks his way into our good graces. Given the tremendous, and often hateful, backlash that surrounded the initial casting, I think the Internet owes Ben Affleck a HUGE apology. Sorry Ben, please gives us more Batman. Dare I say it, you are my new favorite Batman. Sorry, Michael Keaton. I still love you too.
Not only do Snyder and Ben Affleck establish a Batman that can exist in a universe alongside titans like Superman and Wonder Woman, he also creates a unique sense of fragility that surrounds the character. This awareness requires Batman to take much more care in preserving his well-being than others, especially noticeable in their fight with Doomsday. Something, I think, that true comic book fans will definitely appreciate.
What is perhaps even more adulating than Affleck’s brawny Batman is the hyper independent and completely self-reliant powerhouse that is Diana Prince, a.k.a. Wonder Woman. Snyder makes cinematic history bringing to screen the first truly independent female superhero character, and crowns her (get it… ’cause she wears a tiara) as a titan amongst Titans. After the long and painful wait for Wonder Woman fans to see their beloved hero transcend to the big screen, Gal Gadot’s previously critiqued small frame does little to inhibit her overwhelming power in character. While we don’t learn much about her, which I didn’t expect going into a movie titled ‘Batman V Superman,’ we do see the development of her strong character traits and phenomenal fight prowess. For that reason, Gal Gadot has me really excited for the upcoming ‘Wonder Woman’ film (and I don’t mean that in a pervy way).
Superman has definitely got to be one of the weakest and most underwhelming characters in the film, but with that said he was still a phenomenal Superman. I would even go as far as saying Henry Cavill is the best on-screen Superman of all time. While some critics (I won’t name names) argue that he is a shapeless character bending to the will of the people, I see him more as the ultimate transplant, looking to embody what people are most comfortable with, whatever that may be. That is a very Superman thing to do. The film also picks at the fact that it’s not 1938 anymore (the year Action Comics introduced Superman) and that it’s time for them to match the real world. Touche Snyder, perhaps you have a point. In an increasingly complex and atrocity filled world, 1938 Superman may be far too simple to be cinematically viable, or not. That is really a matter of personal preference if you ask me.
It’s also hard to see past the impetuous faux-genius of Alexander ‘Lex Luther,’ who was played by Jesse Eisenberg. While I am absolutely certain that many people will have issues with Eisenberg’s rendition of the timeless Superman arch-nemesis, I feel that his take is a fresh, relevant and effective cinematic interpretation of an age old character. Although his grand plans seem to be fraught with logical errors, that one would not think befits a genius of his caliber, Luthor’s tone draws his villainy from a place of inferiority and powerlessness. To me, those traits epitomize what it means to be Lex Luthor. Some critics have pointed at Eisenberg’s facial mannerisms as being over-the-top, I would argue that those very mannerisms aptly capture the unlikeable side of Lex Luthor.
Now for the not so good, while the trailers over exaggerated a need to worry about the inclusion of Doomsday, using the bony abomination still doesn’t fully satisfy. On the other hand, his inclusion is a valiant effort to bring to screen a larger than life character who, even in the comics, is devoid of personality. While the visual spectacle is definitely there, Doomsday is still relegated to a deus-ex machina type of plot progressing device. As mentioned earlier, another qualm with the film is the rough editing of the footage. It seems like ample time was given to framing shots, visual effects and costume design, but the production team really skimped on the editing. I cannot tell if that is due to the film being heavily cut for time, or perhaps the first act not being cut enough. Either way, there is some trepidation when it comes the the choppiness of the first 1/3 of the film, although that apprehension is eased by the Affleck’s really interesting take on Batman. There are also the typical film blunders that will the leave the audience wondering why and how, but nothing so ludicrous as to unravel the story. Did I mention Batman is AWESOME in this? Oh, I did? Okay, just double checking.
Entertainment Value – 4.5
Honestly, what really sets this film apart from the rest of the superhero movie pack is the film’s complexity and level of nuance. There are so many subs stories and potential arcs created that any true comic book lover would likely be able unable to contain themselves throughout the duration of the 2 1/2 hour film. At the same time, I can see how a lot of people would see this film as more of a springboard to launch the Justice League brand. Even so, this movie is still packed with goodness and spreads the love to all the characters. All the tidbits give potential to a fantastic, and I mean fantastic, future for both the justice league films and the greater DC cinematic universe. If Snyder’s ‘Batman V Superman’ is a sign of things to come, I am so thrilled that the genre is willing to explore other avenues than the hyper-polished mainstream feel.
To really boil it down, I found ‘Batman V Superman’ entertaining for three major reasons. 1) The dialogue and acting are more nuanced and unique that other films within its genre. 2) While some argue about the fight scenes being too big, I enjoyed seeing the very comic book appropriate battle amongst titans play out in live-action format. 3) Batman is FINALLY Batman! He thinks like Batman, he acts like batman and he FIGHTS like Batman! I can’t stress enough how much I enjoyed Affleck’s take on Batman. The sheer will and rage he feels makes for a very gratifying battle. The film’s surprising resolution is also a championing factor in the entertainment column, as few audience members would EVER expect them to take it down the road they have chosen. This is when hard-line comic book fans will divide based on their favorite DC runs but, again, to me divisiveness means a film has made you think long and hard enough to form an option and choose a side.
Re-Watchability – 4.5
I have not wanted to re-watch a movie as badly as I do this one. The moment I stepped out of the theater, I was ready to sit back down and see the movie again. I am not just talking entertainment value, now I want to go back and isolate all the individual nods and setups, not to mention anything I may have missed. For the Batman scenes alone, I would happily watch this movie on repeat. Simply put, I WILL see it again in theaters, I WILL buy the Blu-Ray, I WILL even buy the Ultimate Edition R-rated blu-ray release.
'Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice' May struggle with its storytelling, but succeeds with its visuals, action and a brutal tone. It gives fans one of the most intricate and true-to-comics rendition of Batman to date, at the same time, proving Ben Affleck has what it takes to usher the brooding Dark Knight into the future (perhaps literally...). I would certainly watch this film again and gladly recommend it to ANY fans of the comic book film genre and action film genre alike.