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‘Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice’ – The What’s A Geek Mega Review

Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice is a polarizing movie. There is a group of people who will defend it to the death, while there are others who are siding with the critics and will not stop talking about how much they hate this movie. We at What’s A Geek feel that assigning Batman v Superman to one writer, to one opinion, will not do the movie justice. We’ve asked all our writers who have seen the movie to share their thoughts.

Patrick Flores:

Snyder’s own Watchmen adaptation had better narrative flow than this. Cavill’s Superman is a bland emo with bland wangst. At least Batfleck and Wonder Gal were nicer. Jeremy Irons’s Alfred is a refreshing take. Lex Luthorberg is mildly annoying. The third act is frustrating. Actually, the first act was just as frustrating as well. The middle of the movie was just really confusing. From a narrative standpoint, close to nothing makes any sense as every element needed to move the plot forward was coming from left field. And right field. And above the stadium. And from the stands. And from the roving hotdog vendor too. It’s a mess of a movie, really. The promised titular fight falls flat after all the plodding exposition setting it up, and ultimately felt like it was just there to fulfill fan expectations, and nothing more. The film’s second title, Dawn of Justice, feels like an afterthought, like how the set up within the film for the formation of the Justice League also feels like an afterthought.

At least the cinematography was gorgeous.

Overall, I’d give this flick a 6.5/10. Batfleck and Wonder Gal make up about half of that score, really, such that without them, this movie would be terribly below average.


Earl Maghirang:

Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice is as misunderstood as the alien from a long dead planet in terms of story beat and characterization. Totally agree that the movie is another gigantic fan film with a ginormous budget but this time it makes sense.

The film is one big comic book with each awkward cut a page turn, those trippy moments are internal dialogues and that ‘mess’ an action sequence. This was a Batman that undergoes a catharsis after witnessing a big death, a Superman with indecision levels that rival the most indecisive mortal and a Wonder Woman that’s as badass as her comic book counterpart. While Luthor might be whiny here but it feels like they still have plans with the character. Overall, this has more hits than misses for me.

What the heck, I loved it.


Kim Antonio:

To paraphrase a friend, I left the theater oddly dissatisfied. I didn’t find it as terrible as other DC fans nor did I sing Zack Snyder eternal praises for his work. It was just underwhelming.

There were some bright spots, however. Ben Affleck, Gal Gadot, and Jeremy Irons did well with the material they had to work with.

Overall, the film felt like someone gave Zack Snyder the perfect ingredients for a dish but he still managed to screw up the recipe. I am, however, willing to give Snyder some benefit of the doubt and see if the Director’s Cut is any better.

6/10


Nicole Santos:

I wish I could say I liked the film, but I really can’t. From the script, editing, and directing, the entire thing is a painful mess to watch. But what I have most beef with is the characterization of everyone but Wonder Woman and Alfred.

First off, we have Superman. Our problem since Man of Steel has been that Snyder never really clarified Clark’s motivations. We all know Clark just wants to do good, but my main problem here is that Cavill, while an excellent actor, could not portray the depth of the good Clark wants to do because the writing prevents him so. From what I understand from the Superman comics, Clark wears Superman as a costume to do good whilst living as Clark the human so he could have life with Lois and the people he loves. Here is it’s different. Snyder here refers to him repeatedly as messianic figure, when he’s actually just a really, really good person. A good example is in All Star Superman by Morrison. A teenage girl, climbs a building ledge and wants to kill herself by jumping. In moments Superman is at the scene, not condemning her for her actions but simply being there. He listens to her griefs, lets her know she is not alone. And that’s epitome of Clark Kent for me, which Snyder completely misses out on. He develops Clark as such an angry, angsty, despairing character that I see no light in his portrayal.

And then there’s this image, which I can’t say is inaccurate of the movie but is totally inaccurate with the characters:

bvs-02

As I said in The Comic Book Group on Facebook, this is Luthor’s schtick in the comics, not Batman’s. Batman was written as the pinnacle of human achievement, our potential and our end game. But he’s also a paranoid Bat with flaws. He cannot beat Clark, ever. Also, Clark gave him the kryptonite should anything come up. These two don’t play war with each other. These two work together. The post claims if Superman were a universal threat, Batman could depose of him even for a moment. That’s been discussed repeatedly in comics. Mostly by Lex Luthor, who has done everything he can as a human and done more just so he could be the best that ever was. Superman invalidates him, by merely existing and having his abilities. He invalidates everything Lex stands for. Lex believes he threatens humanity by invalidating what we could do as a collective just because Superman has the power to do so. This is also why I can’t stand what they made Jesse Eisenberg portray for Luthor: I can’t see him as Luthor because he acts like he’s a spoiled brat. Luthor is far from this. His father didn’t coddle him. On the contrary, he was starved affection. The Luthor keeps claiming he’s a victim of daddy’s circumstances. The Luthor in DCAU never blamed his father. He fought for his achievements. He’s actually great mind and a great man. So many interpretations put him as a hero when the world goes to hell. His only real problem is that he’s stuck on the idea that Superman is his enemy and he’s obsessed in trying to knock down a perceived false Messiah because his achievement never get acknowledged no matter how much humankind could benefit from them. Luthor is Ego and Brains, not Brains and Id.

Now take Morrison’s All Star Superman and that ending with Lex finally realizing what Superman stands for and why he can’t beat him. He sees the universe in every atom of its beauty when granted Clark’s abilities for a few minutes. Lex is nothing but a lonely iota of carbon in a very big universe. And when he realizes this, he starts no war but instead builds for a future. So, no, our collective abilities do not need to topple down a hero to show potential when we could be working for a greater good. This is what the entire Snyder franchise fails to realize.

And you can forget about how he did Batman. Disclaimer: I liked Ben Affleck as The Bat AND as Bruce Wayne, but my problem here is that this bat is impulsive. Following the timeline of events in this movie, he’s been active as the Bat for more than 20 years at least. Bruce has a lot of patience when he needs it, and I cannot understand why he couldn’t see through the conspiracy Eisenberg played with his employee. And the first person he lashes out to is Superman? He also has visions of the future ala Flashpoint? Desert Batman with a gun? REALLY?

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Some good points: Superman and Batman had great dialogue on how they view justice, but was smeared by the entire gladiator fight. I loved Wonder Woman, they actually had her fight with glee which is a damn big plus in my book. Alfred, the snark, the only light in this dank and dusty film, glory be thy sarcasm. As a whole though, I’m disappointed. So much so, because they had so much going on and they had so much to work with but the film ended up being a Frankenstein plot rushed to oblivion with hero cameos just so they could get an intro to the Justice League franchise.

Sigh.

5/10


Khan:

Okay so, I feel like I just watched a really, really long fanfilm where it was perpetually HEY THIS SOUNDS COOL LET’S PUT THIS IN without thinking about the flow and the storytelling, and that’s the sum of the entertainment value of BvS for me. Truth be told though, I’ve come to expect no storytelling but hella fun visuals from this director’s movies, and with that in mind, Dawn of Justice managed to pass for me. Getting down to more detail though.

Now, I’m notorious for being a really big Superman fan who was disappointed by Man of Steel as a Superman movie, and Dawn of Justice gives more of the same. How does this franchise keep forgetting about their main character? Clark Kent is reduced to a nonentity to the point that he’s utterly forgettable even by the other characters in the movie. This offends me. Superman himself is barely there, and we get more emotional content out of the big statue of him that gets defaced in an act of protest. No offense to Henry Cavill, I honestly think it’s just the script and the director now knowing what to do with Superman aside from punch things, and stand around and be a symbol. Speaking of symbols WOW this movie was really heavy on the imagery. I appreciate visual storytelling, but only when it’s done right and not kicked down my throat with a bathroom sink by powered armor in an abandoned capitol building as I float up a well surrounded by bats and have nightmares about post-apocalyptic futures that have no precedent.

Screw you, I’m not even exaggerating.

People complained about Superman Returns being heavy on the imagery (which it really was, but it was still a good Superman movie – but not an entertaining one) but Dawn of Justice takes all the imagery it can come up with and smacks you across the face with it while yelling SEE WHAT I DID THERE and anyhow yeah. And the storytelling, OH MY GOD weirdass dream sequences and lost flashbacks galore please master the basics before trying fancy shit. I’m not an expert but the fact that I had to ask myself whether certain scenes were flashbacks or were simultaneous, that is not something that happens very often with movies, and I feel like this is something that could have been worked on.

Then there’s the villain. Man, why doesn’t anyone get Luthor right? I think Eisenberg gave it an honest try, but that script was shit. The villain doesn’t even feel like a threat. He’s basically reduced to a plot device and at no point at all does he even feel like he’s important to the movie.

There’s also a blatant ad for future movies in this one. They couldn’t even be arsed to work it in properly. As a fanboy, I’m happy to see these characters on-screen, but wow a little effort please.

But yeah. Moving on to the good stuff.

Ben Affleck’s Batman is probably going up on my favorites list. It’s a very specific Batman- it’s the old, tired Batman of TDKR, and he gives no shits about how he gets the job done anymore. In that sense, the director plays true to form and lifts scenes and dialogue directly from the comics to make sure we know what Batman we’re looking at. Honestly, no complaints here. That was pretty cool. Though I would like to see a Batman movie where he doesn’t have a bodycount, but this director’s not going to be the one to make that movie, no. Also, Irons’ Alfred? I could’ve used more of that.

Wonder Woman. Where do I start? Her first appearance in armor in the movie is enough to make you kick over the chair in front of you and scream YESSSSSSSS because that was brilliant, and I find myself looking forward to the Wonder Woman solo. For some reason though, Diana Prince didn’t click for me.

Overall though, this movie’s par for the course for Zack Snyder. If you just want a pretty beat ‘em up with lots of flashy scenes, this works. If you want to see a movie that tells a story and uses it’s characters well, not so much. An okay watch, but ultimately forgettable. I want to see some more Ben Affleck Batman though, and I’m definitely looking forward to Gadot’s WW movie now. 6.5/10 with reservations.


BJ David:

Let’s start off with a glorious gloat: IWASRIGHTFROMDAYONEBENAFFLECKISTHEBESTBATMANEVERHAHAHAHAHA!

Okay, back to the review. Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice is a convoluted mess. It could be likened to an exquisite painting of a badly composed overflowing garbage can. Yes, if you look at some strokes, you can see that there is some semblance of technique and artistry, great mix of colors, and amazing detailing. But, it’s still a picture of a badly composed overflowing garbage can: No heart, no vision. Okay, there is a vision of setting up the Justice League and the upcoming movies, but it was just too rushed.

Zack Snyder and whoever edited the film obviously did not have their respective visions of the movie aligned. There were too many unnecessary scenes that only serve to distract the viewer from an already dragging and confusing narrative. It was probably five graphic novels all compressed with a trash compactor into one mangled clump of a movie.

From here we can see how Snyder really has more style than substance as a director. In his previous blockbusters, specifically 300 and Watchmen, he was successful because he didn’t really have to do much with the flow of the story. It was already laid out in panels by the original source material; he just have to give it his amazing brand of spit-shine and polish that he is famous for. But when he took the reins for Man of Steel and BvS, wherein he was required to do most of the story-related elements, it was perhaps just too much for him.

As I’ve mentioned in the beginning, Ben Affleck did great justice (Justice… Hehehe) to The Batman. He played both the Batman and Bruce Wayne well. He was cool, charismatic, and suave as the Gotham playboy, yet gritty and awe-inspiring as the Dark Knight. Pretty much a more violent and lethal version of the iconic Animated Series incarnation voiced by Kevin Conroy. Gal Gadot was pretty convincing as Wonder Woman, but her portrayal of Diana Prince still seems lacking. Then again, we have yet to see her go deeper into the character in the solo Wonder Woman movie, so she gets a pass. And finally, as with Man of Steel, Cavill’s Superman is as boring as ever. Highly stoic as Clark Kent, and too intense to be Kal-El. He was unable to play up the goofy farmboy charm of good ol’ “Smallville” (as Lois Lane would call him sometimes), and the hopeful aura of the Son of Krypton. He, quite literally, took the light and joy out of Superman.

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All in all, the movie had some great action scenes, but it never made up for the lack of a complete narrative due to the obvious rush to keep up with the Marvel Cinematic Universe. If this is the kind of quality that DC will use as a foundation for their Extended Universe, they’re not raising a high enough bar to compete with Marvel. The only ray of hope for this franchise would be the solo Batman movie rumored to be co-written and directed by Affleck himself (he is an Oscar winning director), with the help of DC’s Geoff Johns.


Mikebro:

The concept of a philosopher-king was coined by the Greek philosopher Plato. It proposes a being so smart, so effectual, and so moral, that not only would it be objectively wrong not to have that person in charge, it would also be wrong not to make sure that that person does stay in power. I bring this up because Superman and Batman, taken separately, are none of these things; together, however, they are the best possible example of the concept that we have ever seen. Which is why it was such a tragedy to watch Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (BvS) and see these two paragons of humanity (never mind that Superman is an alien, you know how humans are about cultural appropriation) reduced to a squalling naive young man and a misguided, hyper-paranoid entitled rich man.

Now, I will not pretend to be an expert on DC Comics, or comics in general. My exposure to the art form stems mostly from hanging out with hyperultramassive geeks, whose default expression of affection for the things they love amount to 1) infodumps, and 2) rabid argumentation of one form or another. (I love you guys.) But I have seen my fair share of movies, and the problem with BvS that I feel the most comfortable discussing is that it had absolutely no idea what it wanted to be. Did it want to be a buildup for a line of superhero movies to rival the MCU’s? Did it want to be a political allegory about the state of immigration and gun control in the USA? Did it want to be a dark exploration of the nature of human goodness vis-a-vis the constraints of power? Did it want to be an action movie filled with whizzes and bangs and literal flying fists? Who knows. An argument could be made, however, that it succeeded at none of these things.     

Look, let’s start with the gimme, which is that the movie was a build-up for a superhero franchise. Now I don’t know about you guys, but there have got to be better ways to do that than a screen-within-a-screen portraying random superheroes, as if their mere appearance was supposed to excite cheers. I’m going to draw a parallel here: The Ant-Man reveal at the end of Captain America: Winter Soldier drew far more cheers from the cinema than Jason Momoa-Aquaman ever did when he speared a hapless underwater drone to pieces. The point here is that the cameos felt pointless, which sucks for a movie calling itself the dawn of the Justice League.               

As for allegories and explorations of human nature, I will be fair: Snyder could have succeeded. He did with Watchmen, after all. In this case, though, there were two fatal flaws in his attempt: Batman and Superman. These two are supposed to stand for the best that we have to offer, and Snyder had to make like an octopus in a glass maze in order to give us this movie’s central conflict, and it certainly shows. I mean, sure, you could always argue that Bruce Wayne is far too broken a human being, Superman far too detached, for them to be truly nice people, but Snyder somehow made them appear to be inherently terrible people. I have never seen a Superman that consistently angsty, nor a Batman who might have fired more bullets than some ISIS warlords will ever do in their lifetimes. Throughout the movie, what ran through my head was simple: I am watching a superhero movie about people who just so happen to be named Batman and Superman. The fight scenes were terribly choreographed, by the way, and, yes, there are not nearly enough explosions either. At least Hans Zimmer’s score was pretty good.

If you do insist on wasting two hundred-plus pesos on this confused, misguided movie, however, make sure you’re spending it on the one person that deserves it: Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman. Seriously. She is worth it. Not one moment was wasted when she was on the screen; it was as if she decided to bear the brunt of the movie’s failings and found the weight wanting. Such was her presence, and such was her grace.

6/10 (1 point for Gal Gadot/Diana Prince/Wonder Woman)


 

Ade Magnaye:

I wanted to love Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. I really did. Batman facing off against Superman is the stuff of comic book legend – one that the comics do not take lightly. And finally seeing them brawl on screen, no matter what your feelings on Man of Steel are, is always worth the ticket price. And I’ll admit it. The actual fight between Batman and Superman was great. Too bad we had to get through two hours’ worth of hamfisted, pretentious, and tedious storytelling to get there.

There’s really nothing more I can say that everyone in this post already have (or on my own review), so let me just point out that this is a movie that prominently features a jar of human piss. At the end of the film, you get the feeling that Zack Snyder not only distrusts his audience, but he may actually despise it.

At the end of the day, though, I feel Batman v Superman is worth watching. Not because I feel it’s a good movie, but because it’s one where you just have to see it to form your own opinions about it. It certainly is a divisive movie, and I would gladly discuss my perceived faults with the movie with anyone who’s willing.

There it is. Our Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice mega-review. Do you agree with us? Tell us your thoughts in the comments! 

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Ade is a bassist who blogs way too much about Doctor Who and Batman.

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