Could the film that suffered a historic 68% drop-off of cinemagoers in week 2 of release, and a 27% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes be that bad? Let’s find out.
Plot: Following on two years after Man of Steel. Superman’s devastation caused whilst saving America from alien invasion has caught the attention of the Senate and Bruce Wayne.
The Ultimate Edition: about half an hour longer, credits start rolling at 2h55. Mostly just scene-lengthening (like Jimmy Olson introducing himself), more time with Kahina Ziri (the black woman who wants to testify against Superman), two cops watch TV, Superman saves some lives before scarpering (which is a good addition), Lois checks her email…. There’s a TV cameo for Jon Stewart as himself giving out about Superman in kayfabe. Nothing earth-shattering.
• Ben Affleck as Batman: Affleck did a very good job – he is the best thing about this film. It was odd seeing a new Batman introduced in an ensemble film. I liked the fresher take – he is built like a brick shithouse, ridiculously jacked. “Wartime Batman” – in the batsuit but also wearing an overcoat looks hilarious; and in the action scene it looks like he’d be gassed in a matter of seconds. (That being a dream sequence is a bit of a ‘fuck you britain’!) His first appearance in the corner (like a bat) is very cool and cattle-branding villains is quite vicious (and is used as a plotpoint). In taking down henchmen he generally tries to incapacitate them but he also straight up murders a few of them (!). So weird seeing him with a gun. Affleck fights almost like a heel, embittered by years of fighting crime with no progress. Great stuff.
• Henry Cavill as Superman: A decent job. The character is very stoic, very brooding – not relatable nor charming. He’s an alien of few words and generally reflects on the bad he’s caused. Not much he can do with what he was given.
• Amy Adams as Lois Lane: Terrible. She is both unlikeable and has zero chemistry with Henry Cavill. So their “I’m sacrificing myself for you” moments feel really forced. She is a damn-fine reporter though, as she uncovers the plot behind the events of the movie.
• Jesse Eisenberg as Lex Luthor: I enjoyed his scatterbrained fast-talking mad genius take, but it wore thin/got overly theatrical by the end, like a bad Heath Ledger impression. He was a great casting choice though.
• Gal Gadot as Diana Prince/Wonder Woman: Looks the part 100%, but is not charming. Perhaps it’s because she barely has any lines, has ridiculous powers (can she create a protective aura?) and shouldn’t be in this film in the first place. I can’t see this version of WW being a success on her own film (releasing next year – please, prove me wrong!)
• Doomsday: A characterless CGI massive grey monster for everyone to rally against. It’s hard to care but there are some nice spots in his fight, including throwing Superman at a building (and a ton of glass shatters). I enjoyed when Wonder Woman hit him, he lit up like you could see his hit boxes!
Thoughts on the film:
• The colour palette is the gritty, sweaty tone that’s quite commonplace after the amazing Christopher Nolan Dark Knight trilogy. Lots of uncomfortable slimy greens and bile yellows. I don’t like the sweaty look.
• The editing was very odd in this film – it didn’t flow, and felt a bit all over the place, never settling into a groove. The film was a sequence of things that happened one after the other. Perhaps it’s the poor narrative or lack of establishing shots (much like Samurai Cop!)
• The music was a delight – the score prominenty positioned different characters’ themes; Lex, Batman, WonderWoman, Superman. It’s not understated like motifs, but bombastic & front & centre – great stuff. Hans Zimmer and Junkie XL (lol!) did a superb job.
• I enjoyed the movie’s portrayal of why Batman wants to defeat Superman, showing Superman’s wreckless devastation whilst fighting baddies, from a by-stander’s point of view. The “Superman needs to be held accountable” is an interesting angle but sadly isn’t engaging. It’s very similar to the thrust of Captain America 3: Civil War, where it’s showcased much better.
• Superman’s motivation (quickly blackmailed by Lex) is a huge let down, as opposed to Superman having his own irreconcilable ideolgy that clashes with Bats. Lex’s blackmailing allows a cop out “I’m misunderstood/we’d be friends if we could just talk for a second”.
• Halfway through the film, Bruce goes through Lex’s files, and brings up the logos of the Justice League. I hated this – it should’ve been at THE END of the film. You haven’t sold me on this movie yet, don’t shill the next one! Knowing Wonder Woman was in the film wasn’t enough to make me less annoyed to see them hocking his pals. Maybe it’s the setting, or wrong time, but Cybord, The Flash and Aquaman especially – a seaman Roman Reigns – look awful. Go away heat! There’s a time to hock these C-listers, and it’s at the end of the film when Bruce chats about other Metahumans (or after the end credits). It feels like DC are doing an extended universe of multiple films because Marvel’s doing it, not even a hint of artistic endeavour. (I’m not saying Marvel do, but they churn out great films). I hope they turn out well, hopes are low.
Enjoyed the shots of Batman standing in the rain, and the trailer snippets of Batman standing up to Superman. Also their fight (until the end) was also how I’d expect a fight between the two would have to go – Superman tells him “I’ll kill you easily”, and can, and has displays of his power to try get Batman to stand down. When he’s suitably arrogant (with right to be) Batman turns the tide with his knowledge (in this case gaseous kryptonite). Great! Also great is Superman’s weakened state is fleeting (as he breaths more normal air) and it’s shown as Batman punches Superman and it’s like he’s hitting iron, and stops.
A massive downfall of the film is that they didn’t keep it one on one, Batman vs Superman. They throw in Lex Luthor with a lame blackmailing schtick to make the fight happen, and halfway through the film add in new heroes and villain turning this singles bout into a fucking tag match. Awful. It’s like if it was AJ Styles vs John Cena, and halfway through they start cutting to the back showing the Usos impatiently looking at the door. How dare you! Get out! What’s better than a singles match? A TAG MATCH PLAYA!
When Batman decides not to kill Superman is incredibly awkward. Sadly now they’re on the same side, and there’s still 50 minutes left. The optimist would see this as getting to see two movies in one, I see a film trying to be two films at once, which is a large disappointment.
• I like how in today’s society, if you make a poorly-received film, there’s a “director’s cut” version which promises to be better, and people are receptive to it.
• Pretty shameless with in-movie advertising, like bottles of coke being opened and drunk. Boo. No can of coke for you.
• In the opening sequence, wow, people need Bruce Wayne. So many damsels in distress! A man who was just gawking out through his window wouldn’t move until Bruce told him to, a man trapped under steel girders, and a scared little girl that would’ve been impaled if not for Bruce. They’d be headless chickens without Wayne!
• Jimmy Olsen being covert CIA was a clever twist.
• Alfred (Jeremy Irons) is relentlessly moody and sarcastic, emotionlessly downtrodden whilst talking to Bruce, convinced he’ll get himself killed. Wasn’t a fan. He looks like if Robert Downey Jr was 20 years older, which I found funny.
• Superman using his sense of hearing for stuff other than hearing a damsel in distress (hearing Alfred talk to Bruce via an earpiece) was cool.
• It’s kinda hilarious that Bruce Wayne insults Batman of getting a cat out of a tree, and shortly afterwards Superman saves a single person from a burning building. Maybe Superman could use a bit of guidance from the US Government – where he could save thousands, not just one person a day!
• The dummy of Zod looks really crap. It was obvious they used just a head shot of Michael Shannon.
• Morpheus/Perry White gets a lot of snarky fun one-liners. “Do the poor not buy newspapers?” “people don’t buy newspapers”. He also comes up with headlines on the spot “End of love affair with hero in the sky?” is far too long.
• Metropolis demolishing Gotham in the football is hilarious.
• “Is she with you?” “I thought she was with you” Is a funny line, but makes no sense as obviously Batman was just talking to her about being WW.
• Batman seeing Robin’s suit with Joker spraypaint (“Ha ha Joke’s on you”) was very cool, alluding to events prior to the movie where Joker killed Robin. I’d definitely watch that. Book it!
• A reporter gives some exposition “Superman will address the Senate, the American People, and the World”. In that order, ha!
• The new Batmobile is a lighter tumbler (part 90s batmobile) and I like it.
• Why did they need to get someone to lie about Superman? There’s plenty of people who’ve actually lost someone thanks to Superman.
• Of course Batman’s a wiz at computers and has expensive gadgets so he can clone phones and hack computers with ease. Lex is the same, working a Kryptonian ship in seconds.
• A lot of people leave their TV/monitor on when they’re not at home/work.
• Beating Superman with a bathroom sink is all kinds of awesome.
• Perry opens a newspaper for us to read. Page 1: Superman Dead. News reporter for our newspaper dead? Page 10. Left column.
• Initially annoyed Batman would bring Doomsday back to Gotham (where innocent civilians are) but he says the port is abandoned. (It spills out past the port, obviously!) Sucks to be living in Gotham or Metropolis.
• I thought killing Superman via an atomic bomb in space was very cool – I loved seeing him charred/grey/decaying in space, I thought it was very brave to do it whilst he was literally alone. Sadly it’s a fake out, followed by Lois almost drowning, then Superman almost drowning, so when they actually do his death, of course nobody believes it real, so the following scenes trying to convince you otherwise are useless. Nevermind Lex Luthor using this resurrection/life-creating fluid in the ship, they strongly hint he isn’t dead!
Overall: Batman/Ben Affleck is the best reason to watch this. Besides that it’s an overly-long, disjointed movie with some unwise creative (Superman’s lame reason to fight) and studio choices (including Wonder Woman, Doomsday, teasing Justice League halfway through). It’s a shame the film has so many problems, we’re never getting another crack at just Batman vs Superman on the big screen. The Ultimate Edition isn’t a reason to watch it again, but you’re not missing out either way. 6/10.
Enjoy the much funnier Jimmy Kimmel skit: