Greater than the fights between Rocky and Apollo! More powerful than the clash of the titans. Stronger than King Kong against Godzilla. Look, up on the big screen. It’s a battle! It’s a war! It’s “Barman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice.” Yes, it’s “Batman vs. Superman,” potential blockbuster from Warner Brothers that can shatter box-office records, earn millions for its makers, and which, in paving the way for the next film in the series, carries on the movie tradition of bigger, louder, and the Hollywood way.
Yes, several weeks ago one of the most eagerly anticipated and highly hyped films of the summer smashed, crashed, battered, banged, detonated, and all other forms of exploded into theaters nationwide, and despite some undeniably spectacular special effects, the overly long, extremely dark, and sometimes tedious “Batman vs. Superman” disappointed me.
The film begins 18 months after the battle with Gen. Zod at the end of “Man of Steel,” and some major changes have occurred in the life of mild-mannered Daily Planet reporter Clark Kent aka Superman (Henry Cavill). For starters he is now living with Lois Lane (Amy Adams), who now knows his secret identity, and because he has been involved with some incidents (the conflict with Gen. Zod for one) causing collateral harm to many people, Superman is no longer held in universal high esteem.
While Superman is attempting to cope with his tarnished image in Metropolis, Bruce Wayne aka Batman (Ben Affleck), who reigns over Gotham City, has decided that Superman now poses a danger to people. Conversely Superman sees Batman as someone who doesn’t have the best interest of humanity at heart, and this sets up the inevitable conflict between the two.
Now I’m not going to waste either my time or yours by going into any detail about the film’s complex plot. Instead let’s just say that it involves a rather silly Kryptonite spear, our old friend Lex Luthor (Jesse Eisenberg), a behemoth Lex manufactured from Gen. Zod’s body, and enough explosions and pyrotechnics to last 10 lifetimes.
In the film’s production notes director Zack Snyder (“Man of Steel”) explained the rationale behind the film’s rather unusual beginning and what Superman is coping with.
“We felt an interesting way of beginning this story was to examine Superman from another perspective, Batman’s perspective. Bruce doesn’t know who Superman is; all he knows is what the public knows. He blames him for the lives lost in Metropolis, lives that he felt responsible for. His hatred has been building up inside, and now, all this time later, he’s finding reinforcement of those feelings in the media.
“When we find Superman, he’s been dealing with everyday life as a superhero, but there’s a distinct shift happening in how his heroic efforts are viewed, thanks to the unintended consequences of those acts. Every action has a reaction; one guy’s rescue leaves another in distress. We wanted to explore the reality of saving people and what intervening can really mean. The classic idea with Superman is that he’s a good guy trying to do the right thing and that he isn’t political, but in truth, in today’s world, it’s impossible not to be, no matter your intentions.”
Of course as part of this film’s title implies, it paves the way for “The Justice League” in 2017, and thus we have Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot) joining Batman and Superman in the film’s climactic battle against Doomsday, Luthor’s King Kong wannabe creation. Before the movie’s somewhat surprising conclusion, however, we do get to see Batman and Superman go head to head, which is the fight everyone wants to see.
Yes, they do fight. Is there a clear winner? Kind of. Does the fight live up to expectations? Maybe. Is the film’s ending satisfactory? Perhaps. Could I sit through it again? Never.
Let’s begin with the positive aspects of the film. Both Affleck and Cavill are effective superheroes, and in the production notes each them offered interesting insight into their relationship and respective characters.
“I think the story really sets the stage nicely for understanding why Batman wants to fight Superman,” Affleck said. “It’s logical to assume that they’d be friends since they’re both good guys, but this film takes a more nuanced view of how these characters might exist in the real world and what sort of complications might come about as a result of their abilities and actions.”
“Superman is beginning to face the exact challenges Jonathan Kent was worried about,” said Cavill. “The world is filled with fear after being attacked by aliens and literally shaken to its very core. Despite having what they look to as a redeemer, the people need to direct their fear at something. In the meantime, Superman is still trying to do right by everyone and ignore the slings and arrows.”
Also on the positive side, Gadot is sensational as Wonder Woman (Eat your heart out, Lynda Carter.), and Adams is appealing as Lois Lane. Of course, as you would expect, the special effects are spectacular.
In the negative corner, with a running time of almost 150 minutes, the movie was much too long for me, and I thought it actually dragged in places early on to the point that I actually dozed off a now and then. Although the CGI was impressive, it also was a bit excessive, and the explosions became tiresome after a while. Eisenberg’s portrayal of Luthor as a giddy buffoon was extremely irritating, and finally I much prefer the traditional cape and cowl for Batman instead of what appeared to be his iron armor in this movie.
The film undoubtedly will be huge at the box office, but it definitely did not live up to its hype for me. Therefore, it earns the final score of an unimpressive six. I’ll take Rocky versus Apollo any day!