Spoilers. In a tirelessly dark and bleak movie, batman and superman frown a lot, hit each other and become best friends, only for Lex Luthor to ruin the party.
I have never felt so indifferent while watching a movie. The whole thing sort of felt inflicted on me, while sitting in the theatre. I looked around to see if anyone else was paying attention, because I just didn’t really “get” this film. This has to do, I think, with the messy storyline. The film jumps from one thing to another while skipping a sense of logic and continuity.
Right from the start there were scenes that partly lost me, like, a young batman floating upwards in a cloud of bats. Sure it looks nice, but it alienates the audience; it makes you keep questioning what is happening and in a bad way because it makes no real sense. I mark these moments as Zack Snyder Visual Bullshit and I could make a whole list of them. I also felt as if Snyder tried to emulate some of Christopher Nolan’s shots.
You could explain this by saying that the film tried to keep a sort of continuity with the Nolan movies, through incorporating that Nolan vision of batman. But Snyder’s scenes sometimes don’t make sense, like batman standing on a crane with the camera turning around him (felt very Nolanesque), but everyone should have spotted him there. Also, the vehicles of batman and his suit received an upgrade in armor in some sort of escalation of grittiness in the batman vision that felt really over the top. A ridicilous car chase ensued to show how badass batman’s car is, but it felt like a sequence of dumb visuals that didn’t really make much sense.
It is like Snyder just took all the batman elements and dialed them up to 11 because that looked “cool” in his eyes. Butler Alfred too was rather extreme in his snarky comments all the time. Snyder knows how to film visual action, but he doesn’t have a sense of realism that Nolan has. Gasp! Did I just call Nolan a realist? Compared to Snyder he is.
It is the strangest thing that while it takes a long time before batman and superman start fighting, that time is not well spent on any real character development. There are all sorts of subplots thrown in like police officers chasing batman and Lois Lane being a journalist in Africa, all these plots are supposed to lay the foundations of the fight later in the film, but they do not focus on batman and superman in particular, but on peripheral issues. I’m still not sure what this supposed “disaster” in Africa was supposed to be, other than giving superman a bad name.
Actually, the more I think about the film, the more annoyed I become.
I must say, two things were done well. First, from the eyes of “normal people” and batman, these Kryptonians with their power looked quite scary. The shots of metropolis under attack and the weakness of humanity gave me some shivers. Also, the fight between batman and superman was an individual highlight. Here we have a nice clash of personalities and it was fun to see these two on the same screen.
But the fight ended in a strange way that just makes me think that Snyder doesn’t really get people. There is a revelation and batman sort of groans and throws away his weapon, and after that they are best friends forever. Wait, what? The film forgot to communicate the emotions.
What else? Oh, yes, Jesse Eisenberg, whose Lex Luthor is the Joker of the movie. His ticks and mannerisms just made me want to punch him in the face. Sometimes, this is a good trait to have in a villain, but he was out of place in this film. That’s just the problem of this whole film, there is no shared vision between the elements to tie it all together as a coherent movie with a coherent “feel”.
What else? The same problem exists in this other subplot that was about introducing other superheroes for the future ‘justice league’ films. It felt shoehorned into the story. It didn’t do these characters any service and it chopped up the film.
What else? Some confusing dream sequences in which batman is in some Mad Max apocalyptic world, or that scene where a big mutated bat tries to eat him? Was that what happened? These scenes didn’t add anything for me and felt like they belonged in some other movie.
All in all, Batman v Superman is like an elephant that is dragging five trunks. It has some good stories hidden inside it, but they are chopped up in a salad of grittiness and confusion that feels heavy on the stomach.