Verdict: brooding in Deadpool’s shadow, Batman vs. Superman is gritty, dark and punchy, but ultimately lacks depth and hinges on what feels like a flimsy formality.
The movie opens with a swift and concise comic-book style Batman origin, pearls and all, before cutting to an equally dramatic set-up with scenes from Man of Steel. This is where Zac Snyder comes into his stride with the pacing of the obligatory origins handled carefully and quickly, bringing drama to the beginning of the film through the refreshing new arrangement. There’s certainly no doubt about Hans Zimmer’s collaboration on the music of the movie, with a fusion of blasts of 2012’s Inception distortion featuring heavily, punctuated by Junkie XL’s bassy electronic rhythms and Man of Steel melodies.
Another strong feature of the film was Wonder Woman, who although only really featured in the final showdown, seemed solid and mysterious as a character. Really, it was a shame that she only featured for expensive parties and the Doomsday confrontation, but I guess that’s why she’s got her own solo movie coming up. In that regard, future set up, whilst the only real focus, was this movie’s strength. Dream sequences featuring the Flash and nightmare sequences were a comic-loyal quirk that gave a different energy to the character progression and honestly prompted curiosity as to how the Justice League would later work. It’s not been done before, so it could be interesting.
Batman. What I loved about Nolan’s Batman, was that he was not always grounded in logic; he would appear and magically disappear, dropping bad guys in a controlled methodical fashion. Also that you would leave the theatre with your ears ringing from the resonating sound of Batman’s heavy and calculated punches. He never `killed` anyone, (yes that’s a bit of a grey area) his real strength was his use of stealth to overcome his enemies and disappearing as quickly as he came. The perfect combination of brutality and the ninja.
Batfleck’s combat ultimately left me feeling numb and I realised how much my love of Batman came from the fight scenes, over the cheesy one-liners or shots of skyscraper brooding. Whilst Batfleck was brutal, any fire was robbed from his combat from his aimless killing with guns and out-right killing criminals rather than finding an intelligent stealthy solution. I didn’t find myself impressed by the fighting, just wondering whether he would actually survive, given his clumsiness and especially after he was stabbed in a fight with only 6 men. Not exactly amazing, how exactly was he possibly going to even put a scratch on Superman?
In the end, I found myself dismissive of his fight with Superman. It completely lacked substance. Slow, boring and only lasting a matter of moments, it seemed hardly worth the hype or frankly, the effort. Rather than the greatest gladiator fight of the century, it seemed more like a comedy sketch where Batman would get himself punched towards `deathtraps` and comedically smashed through a couple walls like an grumpy ragdoll who wasn’t being taken seriously enough – and for what? For him to realise their mummies have the same name, throw away his death-stick and be instantly ready for a best friends high-five montage. It seemed false, forced, and only really for the creation of the death-stick to be used later. Which as soon as its thrown into an inaccessible area, you know it’s going to be essential to the plot. Two years of blind hatred and then buddies? Seriously? After three years of build-up and countless trailers?
Maybe I’m just an uptight Nolan-fanboy, but something seemed amiss; Batman felt reduced to simply a stubborn and stroppy man in a suit with expensive toys. There was no sense of legend, as it just became painful seeing how easily the two characters were played off one another by bumbling certified loony Lex Luthor. Even as a Batman fan, I found myself wanting Superman to just drop him on the naughty step for a time-out and for him to just put Lex’s stammering face through a wall – why didn’t you just kill him in the jail Bruce? You did it with the other criminals by giving them the mark, so that they got bumped off, why not Luthor, whether he won or not?
This movie quickly shows its true colours; the colours of Justice League.
With the anticlimactic Batman vs. Superman `showdown`, it felt hard not to come away feeling cheated by the feeling that this film is really just what it has always been, a divisive stepping stone for Justice League films. Unfortunately to anyone who has a modicum of comic-book knowledge this was about as subtle as Lex Luthor’s photoshopped logo’s for future DC superhero movies that were conveniently on his computer along with bitesize origin story chunks for future characters. Apparently the man knows so much, more than Superman and Batman, the master-detective and all their combined knowledge – although the man can’t produce a single coherent sentence. Speaking of apparent knowledge, wouldn’t Wayne have considered putting out feelers for other `supers` in the two-year gap after Superman? The whole film was so geared towards future content, that even after all the build-up it seemed artificial in its production. The Justice League it not a bad thing, its new and frankly could be absolutely amazing, but with all the promotion focused on a killer fight and `who will win?` when the real focus was the last 2 minutes at a funeral scene, is I guess what really bothered me. If the studios just wanted to have a DC Avengers type-deal as soon as possible, don’t dress it up as something that it just isn’t yeah?
Then again, I’m just another voice in a sea of angry nerds and maybe it’s me who needs a time-out.
Image credit: www.screenjunkies.com