By Carter Glace, staff writer
I actually had the rare opportunity to see the premiere of “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice” two weeks ago. The event itself was an absolutely blast, and if there is any solace to the film being this monumentally bad, it is that the extra week has given me plenty of time to think about the film and get myself into a blinding, shaking rage.
As a lover of comic book movies and superheroes, “Dawn of Justice” is my “Phantom Menace” or “Attack of the Clones.” The ways in which it fails are so monumental and vast, I find it difficult to know where to begin. Looking down the next 10 years of DC movies, I feel like I have been given a vision into an upcoming apocalypse, and the sheer horror of it is driving me mad, especially seeing so many of my peers ignore the warning signs. So let me try my best to make any sense of this 151 minute, $450 million dumpster fire.
I Need a Hero (or Maybe Just a Protagonist)
By the time we’ve jumped to seven completely different locations within the first seven shots of this film, you this is going to be a rough one. Despite David Goyer, Zack Snyder and Chris Terrio spending over three years and almost half a billion dollars, very little of that money went into making anything resembling a coherent story. Instead, we get a handful of subplots that if you squint your eyes very hard, make the illusion of an epic tale. The closest thing we end up getting to a main character is Lex Luthor, only because all of the tangled strands of concepts and images all vaguely tie to him somehow. He wants Batman to fight Superman, so he makes a series of internationally incidents for Superman to show up at, making people wonder what his place in the world is. Then he lets Batman steal a box of kryptonite from him even though he could have just convinced Bruce Wayne to work with him. Oh yeah, and Wonder Woman shows up because Lex has an incriminating picture of her. If that seems like way too little to stretch out into a two and a half hour film, you know cinematic storytelling better than anyone involved with this project. Of all of the appalling things about this train wreck, its most damning quality is just how hollow it is. After 150 minutes, we haven’t learned anything, the characters haven’t changed and no progress was made, save for getting ready for another sequel. Speaking of which…
Dawn of Franchise Maintenance
What quickly becomes apparent is that “Dawn of Justice” is a far more appropriate name for this murky urine on celluloid. The scatological pacing and story reveal that underneath all of the hype, this film’s closest relative is “The Amazing Spider-Man 2:” everything that happens is a deliberate and careful move to set up the pieces for the next film. There are scenes in this film that bring nothing to the story other than to serve as Marvel-esque after credit scenes, only they’re in the middle of the movie, where they are super distracting. None of the characters act like human beings or even comic book characters, but follow the logic of studio heads who want you to know how hard they’ve worked to set up the next ten years of films. The result: character assassinations of Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, and especially Lois Lane and most of the cast from the last film. Superman forgets about his powers at critical times, Batman simply refuses to listen when Superman is trying to talk things out, people with critical information regarding Lex’s schemes simply refuse to out him for no reason, and apparently no one bothered to clean up the volatile kryptonian technology across the planet. The pinnacle of the idiocy comes when, for reasons I still can’t comprehend, Lois throws one of Batman’s kryptonite weapons into a pool of water just so Superman will have to retrieve it (hint, hint). Much like how “Amazing Spider-Man 2’s” ultimate goal was to set up the “Sinister Six,” “Dawn of Justice’s” only purpose was to set up the “Justice League.” Everything that happens in the film is a formality, from Batman changing his ways to Wonder Woman owning her powers to Lex setting up an even greater threat to Superman… well, we’ll get to that.
Batman v Superman v Boredom
But what about the “Batman v Superman” title? It almost feels like false advertising. Yes, they fight, but it is one of the most forgettable, blandest battles I have seen since “Fan4stic.” Batman uses a series of kryptonite bombs to weaken Superman, so instead of seeing all kinds of powers, we just get two dudes punching each other. It is so limp and non-passionate, I can’t help but feel Zack Snyder’s insistence on his heroes being hulking macho-men makes compensating for something. In general, I feel critics are being far too kind to the action in this film, which save for a pretty awesome scene of Batman terrorizing henchmen has taken a nosedive from “Man of Steel.” For all its faults, “Man of Steel’s” action was clean, epic and impactful, one of the high marks for the genre. Here, if it isn’t profoundly boring, it is loud, blurry and incoherent (there actually aren’t even that many action scenes). Snyder’s technical skills have seemingly vanished overnight.
I could go on, and rest assured I will next week, where I will focus more on the hack job this film does to its source material.