Visually delectable, fundamentally waylaid.
Zack Snyder’s event movie made for an overall enjoyable watch that fell short of high expectations. The ideas reverberating through ‘B V S’ were of paramount importance to all the positives in this film. Batman must fight Superman. Superman must fight Batman. The board is set between man and God for “the greatest gladiator match in the history of the world”. The querulous Lex Luthor (Jessie Eisenberg) and Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot) have some part to play in the showdown between the disputing parties (Ben Affleck and Henry Cavill). We also know the all-powerful villain Doomsday will be adding to the chaos. We have a very strong basis for a movie here, I mean, who doesn’t want to see how the head-to-head pans out. Wonderful, wonderful, this is great stuff… So why were so many disappointed?
Well to start with, this film draws on Frank Miller comic book themes – so it’s dark, gritty and merciless which is what people may not have expected. The world we are introduced to has had a Batman presiding over Gotham for some time now. A bleak past of clashes with the Joker is hinted at and we can see at this point in his vigilante career that this dark knight does not take any sass. The Lex we see is different: still extremely intelligent, calculating and vengeful, however with ramped up eccentricity and lunacy. Superman follows on from Man of Steel, with the Clark Kent alter ego continuing to be edged out.
One of the purposes of this film is to act as a springboard, catapulting the Justice League franchise into existence. As a result, the backbone of the story is in some parts sacrificed to achieve that objective. Furthermore, Snyder is a self-proclaimed comic book fanatic. The comic legacy that thrums through the arteries of ‘B V S’ is also something that may actually detract from it for the casual viewers. Visions, dream sequences and offshoot events take place that unless having previously read DC lore would appear rather nonsensical to the layman.
The erratic pacing and heavily laden story made for a cluttered feel, especially towards the end. I enjoyed what I saw however what made me frown was how easily the plot could be picked at. That being said, Snyder was under pressure to release a film under 3 hours in length. So cheer up, we can look forward to a promised “ultimate edition” (much like Watchmen) to be released further down the line. This will, fingers-crossed, alleviate the weighting issue and clear up some of the more difficult to follow narrative.
So check it – Jeremy Irons plays a solid Alfred. The Batman is the absolute bee’s knees. The gadgets being rocked: impressive. The Batcave: on point. Lois Lane: there. Overall themes of accountability and mistrust: intriguing. Doomsday: not so enthralling. Wonder Woman: a beast. A controversial film proven divisive amongst viewers.
Listen kids, it’s important to remember that even if a film is marketed as a big deal, it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s going to be a great movie. It definitely could have been more cohesive. As a break from the happy-go-lucky Marvel superhero flicks, the dank aesthetic was a pleasure on the ol’ retinistas. More of the same please, better execution needed.
By Zachary Whyte