Dueling Critics: Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice
Two of DC Comics' most beloved superheroes face off in director Zack Snyder's latest comic book based feature
Fritz: Neither of us particularly enjoyed Man of Steel - I thought it got off to a decent start, but turned into a slog once Zod and co. arrived. So we weren't exactly chomping at the bit to see Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice. So what did you think? Did Zack Snyder improve upon the last one? Is it more of the same?
David: Actually, I think it's worse. It takes forever to get going with needlessly complicated plotting, then the second half is non-stop sound and fury with much of its digital mayhem and destruction hard to decipher thanks to extremely darkened shots and frantic editing. It doesn't help that the characters are paper thin and the supporting cast has little to do. This movie makes an accomplished actress like Amy Adams (Lois Lane) come off as dull! What did you think about the action scenes and characters?
Fritz: I also liked Man of Steel better. The relationship between Clark Kent and his adopted father was a solid foundation for the first hour. Here, it just almost seems to be dawdling for 60-90 minutes. The action scenes are pretty ho-hum. The only fun movie moment that got me excited was Wonder Woman's first appearance in the final battle, accompanied by the updated theme music. But unfortunately, because the movie is so overstuffed, she barely registers as a character. Regarding the actors, Henry Cavill proved he has impeccable comic timing and delivery in The Man from U.N.C.L.E., but these Superman movies have been so relentlessly dour and humorless that it doesn't allow him to use his best skills as an actor (you could say the same things about Amy Adams).
David: Yes, there are a few little moments in the finale where the film has a faint pulse, but too little too late. It is overstuffed with characters, and I feel the picture would have played better if it removed all the clutter and really focused on the rivalry between Batman and Superman. As is, it plays like a passing animosity between the two. I do think Ben Affleck is a serviceable Batman but, as you stated about Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot), isn't properly developed.
Fritz: Are you feeling comic book movie fatigue? What do you think could've been done here to make it seem fresher and more interesting? Are you looking forward to the next big comic book tentpole (Captain America: Civil War) or are you ready for a break from comic book movies?
David: I do feel a comic book movie fatigue. These multi-character super hero epics are beginning to run together. I also think audiences may be on to it. The reason I think Deadpool did so well critically and at the box office is that it subverted the genre and did it with humor, thus coming off as something refreshing. I think the upcoming Suicide Squad has the same potential because it seems to have the same twisted sense of humor and is a little off kilter. I get that Batman v Superman director Zack Snyder wants to go The Dark Knight route and make a dark and serious movie, but the Dark Knight films DO have humor. Snyder's film, on the other hand, is joyless.
Fritz: The other character who is underdeveloped in all this is Lex Luthor. The Nolan franchise gave actors like Liam Neeson, Tom Hardy, and Heath Ledger (among others including Tom Wilkinson, Cillian Murphy, Rutger Hauer, and Marian Cotillard) lots to work with in their antagonist characters. Jesse Eisenberg could be a good Lex Luthor, but his role feels undercooked at the script level, which is how the movie feels as a whole. And yes, I agree that Affleck's a fine Batman. He's just left stranded like the rest of the cast.
David: I disliked Eisenberg's manic Lex Luthor immensely. His chewing of the scenery suggests a frustrated actor because he has little to work with.