DC Comics has decided to try and get a wedge of the pie that Marvel has been hogging – superhero team-up movies. Having an established team – the Justice League – that is just as popular as Marvel’s Avengers, one would think DC could come up with a competitive and comparable alternative to the wildly popular Marvel movies. Unfortunately, the difference between Marvel and DC is the amount of respect with which the films are handled.
In Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice, Batman (Ben Affleck) and Superman (Henry Caville) are made aware of each other through negative media and misunderstood circumstances. Each views the other as an enemy of freedom and justice, and both are determined to end the other’s supposed reign of terror. In a nutshell, that is the entire plot. Sure, a new, young Lex Luther (Jesse Eisenberg) is thrown in the mix as well as Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot) and another classic bad guy from the comics, but the clumsy and negligent writing will leave fanboys scratching and shaking their heads.
Dawn of Justice has many plot holes and shaky footing, such as Batman’s code of ethics being drastically different than what we’ve come to see from him. A tight narrative would have made for an interesting story arc, but with everything else writers Chris Terrio and David S. Goyer cram into DoJ, there is no room for a decent explanation. The circumstances with which Bruce Wayne and Superman enter each other’s worlds is a little out of left field as well, setting up the entire plot on a less than believable foundation. The whole story revolves around the idea that Batman and Superman are going to fight, and every plot-moving event that brings the story to that end feels contrived and forced.
What’s worse is that the editing of DoJ makes the mess of a plot even more convoluted by leaping between dream sequences, flashbacks, story threads, locations, characters, and MacGuffin devices like it was a frenzied game of whack-a-mole. The only time the film begins to have some cohesion is at the end when it finally focuses on becoming a generic rescue mission and CGI fight scene.
Director Zach Snyder’s carelessness is most amplified with his treatment of Batman. Ben Affleck is forced to play a version of Batman that is more street fighter/mindless killing machine than master detective, easily manipulated by the likes of a cartoonish Lex Luther (Jesse Eisenberg). That’s not where the carelessness stops though. It shows through the acting as well. Both Affleck and Cavill are very unexpressive, Eisenberg borders on a Jim Carey performance, and Gadot feels awkwardly stitched in with no interesting back story and hardly any lines.
The special effects are standard, nothing stand-out or shocking. I was rather disappointed with the fight scenes, especially considering how many of them there were. The choreography was forgettable – nowhere near The Dark Knight quality. To make up for that, Snyder opted for the ‘shaky camera’ filming style during those scenes. The camera shakes so much You almost can’t tell what is going on in the fight.
One mildly interesting question DoJ poses is if a person can be all good and all powerful at the same time. However, any depth or worthwhile pondering about that question is thrown out the window as enemies are mindlessly killed and the film resorts to the classic trope of slaying a giant monster. This is not the right way to kick off a Justice League franchise. If only this was a crossover movie and Deadpool was the star – there would be plenty of comedic fodder here to last Deadpool two more movies.