ReelBob: ‘Batman v Superman: The Dawn of Justice’

By Bob Bloom

What a disappointment! What a letdown! Director Zack Snyder is cinematic kryptonite whose ineptness and lack of basic understanding of DC’s two most iconic superheroes has squandered the potential of what could have been the beginning of an exciting and entertaining franchise.

His “Batman v Superman: The Dawn of Justice” is a lumbering, lurching inept mess — an unfathomable underachievement.

The movie is predictable and heavy-handed. Worse, it lacks any lightness; it fails to provide any elbow-to-the-ribs moments that would bring a smile to any comic-book fan’s face.

From its superfluous opening, which once again, recreates the defining moment in the Batman ethos, to its clichéd final scene, “BvS” fails to ignite an emotional response — except, perhaps, dissatisfaction. It is unrelentingly grim and oppressive, sucking all the air out of the theater.

It seems that DC and Warner executives always have failed to grasp what BATMAN v SUPERMANthe Marvel people learned early: Get your audience invested in your superheroes, give the characters personalities and a few flaws, so that when they unite in an all-star movie, they are familiar to us.

“BvS” takes it for granted that the viewers know Batman and Superman so well, they can just throw them at us on the screen and we will automatically follow wherever they lead.

The film is basically a series of scenes and set pieces that fail to coalesce as a whole. The storyline is convoluted, character motivations are murky and some themes simply vanish or disintegrate.

The film does have two bright spots.

The first is Ben Affleck’s Bruce Wayne-Batman. Affleck has created an older and more brutal Batman who, after 20 years of fighting criminals, is bitter and angry because he feels he has not accomplished anything.

As he tells his faithful butler, Alfred (an ill-used Jeremy Irons), criminals are like weeds — you pluck one and another sprouts to take its place.

Bruce Wayne was in Metropolis the day Superman battled Gen. Zod, destroying half the city and unintentionally killing thousands, including hundreds of Wayne’s employees.

Affleck brings viciousness and a near-Fascist component to his Caped Crusader who metes out vigilante justice with ferocious determination.

Skip ahead about 18 months. We find Wayne obsessing in his Batcave over Superman. He does not view the Kryptonian as a savior, but as an alien menace who can turn on mankind and destroy it. Wayne sees Batman’s legacy as protecting humanity by killing Superman before he has the chance to strike.

While Batman broods, Superman continues doing his thing — saving the day whenever and wherever he is needed.

But, after a deadly incident in Africa in which Superman rescues intrepid journalist and girlfriend Lois Lane, chinks begin showing in the Man of Steel.

Slowly people — and those in the government — begin to question whether he should be allowed to be a law unto himself.

As it has happened throughout history, the fickle populace begins to turn on its protector.

Added to the mix is young billionaire Lex Luthor, who claims he wants to protect the world from this alien demigod. He connives to get his hands on some Kryptonian technology and begins pulling strings like a psychotic puppet master.

So, finally, after all these machinations, we finally get to the super-heavyweight knockdown.

Of course, it is shot in that annoying quick-cutting technique that makes it a challenge to discern who is pummeling whom. The sequence lacks vitality; it’s just two muscular guys throwing each other into walls and other objects. Even a kitchen sink becomes a weapon. It’s like a WWE match outside the confines of a ring.

Soon, Batman and Superman realize they have a common cause — and unite — but they still seemed outmatched by Luthor’s new Kryptonian created foe. Coming to the rescue is Wonder Woman, who adds a much-needed energetic boost that the movie badly needs.

Gal Gadot is the movie’s second bright spot. She is an unyielding Amazonian warrior who comes out of hiding to aid her fellow superheroes.

As with Affleck, it will be interesting to see her future exploits.
As for the rest of the cast: Henry Cavill is very passive and distant as Superman. He seems to be more of an observer than a participant as he was in his “Man of Steel” debut.

Superman should be the light to Batman’s dark. But Cavill’s Man of Steel appears glum. Rather than embrace his destiny, he appears resigned to it.

Eisenberg is miscast as Luthor. He resembles more a spoiled, narcissistic young man who refuses to take his meds than an evil genius. His mannerisms are affected and annoying, and he proves an unworthy adversary.

If “Batman v Superman: The Dawn of Justice” is to be the springboard for a series of films featuring DC characters, then alternations need to be made ASAP.

At more than 2½ hours, the grimness and darkness of “Batman v Superman” emits a foreboding and unwelcoming vibe that will eventually deter fans and regular moviegoers alike.

The franchise cannot take itself — or its characters — so seriously. It needs to lighten up, have some fun in its future features.

This is fantasy that should try to make us — even help us, for a couple of hours at least — forget the troubles of the real world and provide an escape into a world of truth and justice with a lighthearted touch.

Bloom is a member of the Indiana Film Journalists Association. His reviews appear at ReelBob (reelbob.com) and The Film Yap (filmyap.com). He also reviews Blu-rays and DVDs. He can be reached by email at bobbloomjc@gmail.com or on Twitter @ReelBobBloom. Other reviews by Bloom can be found at Rottentomatoes: www.rottentomatoes.com.

BATMAN V SUPERMAN; THE DAWN OF JUSTICE
1½ stars out of 4
(PG-13), intense action violence and destruction, sensuality

  • ReelBob

    OK, I’ve given you my opinion. Now let’s hear yours. Share your thoughts about “Batman v Superman” here at ReelBob. Let the discussion begin.

    • Bendy

      Dear Bob, i can see that you really tried, but where you failed is mostly your lack of actual substance , do you know the difference between cinematography and popular opinion. The movie does what no other Comicbook movie from the over-hyped kid train that is a Marvel/Disney movies lately. Yes they did make 4 bad solo movies that old people like you rated high on irrelevant media like this. It’s ill informed critics like you, that have never touched a classic graphic novel in their movie life, it is people like you that are giving this great comic book movie a bad name and probably destroying a follow up for the director. You go and give awful movies like Hulk a positive review (above 50 %) ,a movie that neither has a visual style, neither script, neither dialogue, neither acting, nor is it staying faithful to his little brother – the comicbook. In 2016 critics have failed the OG of comicbooks with their comedic copy paste little brother. From the reviews i read on Rotten Tomatoes, yours is one of the more uninformed ones, but its not only you -there are other 60 + adult citizens thinking Superman saves cats in 2016, when ISIS are bombing us and killing people every other week. In a Marvel movie this is replaced with a villain that is poorly written, badly acted and not relevant for our age. Where i can see why old people and kids would prefer those type of popcorn flicks , i can see a 18 – 40 years of age groups being so dumb enough, to even consider ridiculous crap like Hulk, Thor, Ant-Man movies with this unique movie that shows the Dark Knight from the classic Miller comics, the Superman we have known from the 80s era of comicbooks, the original Wonder Woman and the best DC story-lines. We have Flash from Infinity Crisis, Aquaman cameo that was as chilling as one would hope, yes DC didnt produce 4-5 average movies with average box office results, to get to a average Avengers movie that was over hyped for being filled with one liners and humor from the 90s cop buddy comedies. I think critics that destroy franchises that we are thrilled to see and praise D grade cinema making should be banned from ever publishing an article. there should be someone reviewing your poorly thought out reviews. So stupid that it made delete my RT account permanently, a site that praises mediocrity and bashes good movie making. This is not your Godfather, its a comicbook movie with superheroes, yet you judge it based on high standards, and then ignore them in Marvels case because you like old people jokes. Disgusting review and i hope i never read another review by you ever !!!

      • Varinder

        I’ve read it all now. You cant even take a well put together critique… I think you forget that Superman as a character has never been as dark as portrayed…. and it is after all supposed to be entertainment… Also the director and his handling of action is just so hard to watch… Critising Marvel again just won’t cut it as people in vast numbers have at least come away having been ENTERTAINED…

        • Bendy

          yes right all those people, that have been entertained, i remember now it was 2008, people were so entertained that even the best movie they did pre avengers couldn’t do MOS numbers. But lets attack the dark company because we measure quality of story telling in one-liners, easy comedy and reinventing villains for whatever suits the story and not be dark …………..do they even have villains ???

          • Darren Hood

            ENOUGH! I’ve heard it all before, but this takes the cake. Money only proves that people bought a ticket to see a film, not that they thoroughly enjoyed it. As for Iron Man, you do realize it was a film based off an untested property and made more money than anyone expected it to. Iron Man was a surprise hit with talent that for the most part was considered a has been, now that same talent is an A lister and Marvel a business empire. As for Superman he is the most recognizable superhero there ever was. Yet he couldn’t pull in numbers that pleased Warner Bros. leading them to mandate this clusterf… of a film, to not only put Batman in, because Batman sells, but to also add a backdoor pilot for Justice League. Before you go on and flood my inbox with comments that MOS made more money than “this many” Marvel films, let me tell you this, Marvel actually made a larger profit off of their successes than DC/WB did with Man of Steel. MOS had a larger budget so % wise, it was less profitable to Warner compared to say Iron Man or Captain America or Thor which made more off of a smaller budget. Face it, your film was not a success and instead of WB listening to word of mouth they doubled down on their talent that clearly has no place with this kind of project throwing everything and the kitchen sink with it. One other property I can think of that did this has to be Sony and the Amazing Spider-Man 2. Another film they threw the kitchen sink at inflating their budget with insane marketing but failing to deliver on a cohesive story or developed characters and look what happened there.

          • Bendy

            yes yes we heard it all before, Disney made a bigger profit than Warners because the budgets were smaller, well guess what as a fan i don’t want them to have smaller budgets and look cheap as fuck. Iron Man was a good movie up until the 3rd act came and ruined the movie, Captain America was a weird World War movie with laser guns XCUZ ME, Thor had one good horse joke and the rest was him pretending to be from this super race of assholes that are probably dumber than us apparently, and Iron Man 2 was the biggest cluster fuck of them all, Whiplash was downplayed as fuck, the movie was nothing more than a lame sequel …so dont go and tell me that BVS is worse than any of those cluster fucks of movies, this guy is like 199 years old and does reviews for material which is beyond his reach,. Fuck him and fuck you, you both can go and watch the new Kid Fest Fuck called Civil War Avengers 3 ft Iron Man 4 – because caps sucks and no one gives a shit , Spiderman 2 is on your end, all the spiderman movies up untill now have sucked !!!

          • You sound bitter and frustrated, and I can appreciate that. but I would insist you use a civil tone and try to have a rational discussion. We are, I hope, all adults here with our own opinions. So, let’s just let it go at that before this discussion gets too far out of hand. Again, thanks for your input. And BTW, if I were 199 years old, I would be a superhero!!

          • Darren Hood

            It seems that you are confusing quality for quantity and obsessing over every story change. Each story takes liberties with the characters and environments even BvS to an extent, but for the most part what sets Iron Man apart from the DCU is his character. Fans found an admiration in the boozing billionaire on a path of redemption, using a suit of armor of his own design. Sure the sequels are heavy handed but they are still entertaining, because of the great charismatic RDJ and his supporting cast. There’s a wit and charm to these films while giving off a serious vibe due to his looming death. People forget that in IM2 Tony is secretly dying and living off the rails crazy, because he refuses to accept it. So for all intents and purposes IM2 has that going for it. IM2 is bloated and incoherent at times but it still has a personality, a heart to it.

            BvS has an interesting premise but it fails to do anything with it. Batman’s reasons for hating Superman come across as hypocritical and Superman is still in the wrong for hating Batman and not once do the filmmakers ever try to plant in the minds of any character that they could be wrong or just jealous of their counterparts. Any chance to develop this rivalry is lost when they have to weigh in on 9/11 again, ISIS like terrorists, on the talking heads bickering whether Superman is needed without saying much or adding anything relevant, forced in JL moments and easter eggs up the wazoo. This film is so bloated and incoherent much like IM2 with it’s decisions to force in Avengers moments, but they seem incredibly subtle compared to BvS. All these things are happening that they forget to do one thing, build Superman up, let him smile, give him attributes other than the usual mopey sad sack who saves the world. Zack Snyder cuts the heart out of these characters not because he wants them more serious, but because he a Superman who smiles is reminder of Christopher Reeve and therefore antiquated and uncool.

          • Bendy

            Hi Darren,

            The only thing you are confusing is the source material. Tony Stark as portrait by RDJR is nothing more than RDJR doing himself. If you just look at the character himself he is contradicting himself all the time. The actual big bad of IM 1 is Iron Monger, who is his friend in the beginning and is kind of motivated by the hero himself to be the the source of all that mayhem. We have one guy that is the main pillar of the badness of the movie, he is again using technology made by RDJR.

            This is the case in Iron Man 2 as well, same laze plot. This shows the unwillingness of Marvel to go where the source already went 60 years ago. I can pretend here that Tony Stark is not Marvel’s Bruce Wayne, but even with that in mind he ain’t no hero to me.

            By the time Iron Man 3 came i was sure that we are getting some sort of industrial villain and i was right, for the movies, all of Iron Man’s villains come form the same place, because Marvel are too afraid to put him against the fucking Mandarin. In Age of Ultron Stark is the root of all EVIL, he represents all of those real world powerful people that want to try something and that ends up leaving people dead. He is not the solution , he is the problem. From what i see in Civil War he will be the government’s little bitch.

            So all in all we have a guy that changes his views on heroism and causes more issues than he solves every 5 minutes. RDJR has stopped acting a long time ago, he now only does RDJR – he acted the same way in The Judge, Sherlock, which i don’t believe are movies connected to the MCU and i don’t believe he has the excuses for not really trying anymore.

            The Marvel movies have been formula-tic, they take one story-line from the comics , they remove the comicbook-ness as much as possible, they rely on cameos, teases and the main draw dumb ass 90s buddy cop humor. One thing about that is i was born in the 80s so i had my share of 90s humor in the style of Eddie Murphy and i dont need my comics fussed with that type of crap.

            Batman V Superman, is made for the fans of those epic comicbook stories. is that a good thing for the GA , not for sure. But you need to be aware that this is the true comicbook movie, not the shitty comedy infused one liners made for kids and old people like Bob. Yes they are family friendly, yes they build theme parks for them, but all in all. The GA forgets them once they walk out from the cinema, they arent cult movies, they arent awards winners, they arent the movies that give you the best acting, they arent the movies that going to last, so if they arent even going to be true to the comics then i dont see much point of them at all.

            Now about your build Superman up comment , let me remind you he did choose humanity over his own people, battled 4-5 equally powered beings that could have killed him, He does smile in MOS and in BVS he did 2 things that set him apart from IRON MAN for example in a great way.

            Batman has an actual reason for not liking Superman, we are shown this in the first act. Superman doesnt hate Batman he just gives him a warning and by the time he wants to join hands things have escalated, so dont try to blame your dislike for the movie based on the fact that there isnt a real conflict.

            I hope the movie goes and makes 1 Billion plus and critics like Bob once again prove that their opinions arent worth a damn when it comes to iconic characters.

            People that have voted on RT Hulk 56 % and BVS 31 % need to really be questioned by RT on their level of professionalism. Hulk looks like a fan made CGI movie, with actors that cant act they way out of a fart. The entire attempt by Ang Lee to make that movies was a real battle between “”Am i making an intro to a computer game?”” and “”Is this a suburban housewife drama”” But sure takes the cake for worst villain battle and for the ones that havent seen it, its basically a 20 minutes darkness shots of something battling something. Then no need to point out that much of the MCU phase 1 movies seem to have higher scores on RT than BVS , which financially didn’t much more money than Man of Steel which is considered divisive 😀 ….We have Thor which was one of the more dumber plots of all time. Ban him on Earth while his brother is trying to get his father’s love by killing his new family and lets put one good horse joke and a lot of 1389 pub behavior every time Thor gets a meal. The entire relationship between N Portman’s character jane and thor is beyond stupid.

            I mean i can go on and on. But those movies were based on comics and didnt really show it, they were average, written by average writers, we expected all of the events None of their villains seems to be sticking in a 15 movie franchise, they have yet to produce ONE villain, but assholes like grandpa Bob seems to think he knows comicbooks better than us and his opinion is important enough to determine the future of the DCEU.

            Fuck this review, fuck all RT negative reviews and stop being bitches and followers of trends and opinions !!

      • Thank you for your reply. Believe it or not, I always preferred the DC Comics to Marvel when I was younger and a collector.
        And I know times have changed and characters must change with the times to stay relevant. I can appreciate that.
        I have not set out to destroy the DC franchise. I look forward to Wonder Woman and Flash movies.
        And bringing in current heinous terrorists events is totally uncalled for. I realize Superman does more than save cats — that is an ill-informed and juvenile statement. But these movies are fantasy. I admired all three Christopher Nolan Batman movies and gave them high praise. I liked the first half of “Man of Steel.”
        I do take offense when you clump all veteran reviewers of a certain age group into a singular category. My age has nothing to do with how I review a movie. I take every film individually and try my best to judge it on its own merits and own flaws.
        My opinion is my own. I may not have liked “BvS” as much as other people, but I do encourage people to see the movie and judge for themselves. BTW, have you even seen the movie yet? Just asking.
        Thanks for reading my review and responding. I appreciate it, even if we disagree.
        Bob