I’m going to say this right up front: I’ll forego the obvious jabs at this film as much as possible. I’m also going to avoid a synopsis of the film; I’m fairly certain we can ascertain a lot of what this film is about simply from the title – Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, which undoubtedly features some sort of conflict between the two named characters and, if we use our skills of deduction, also means there’s probably some connection to the Justice League – as well as the film trailers, which (as usual) tell us quite a bit.
A lot of critics are determined to crucify director Zack Snyder if at all possible, and while there are some odd choices made in this film, I cannot say all of them should be laid at Snyder’s feet. One such decision – to pack the film with a plethora of dream sequences – would feel right at home in A Nightmare on Elm Street (or one of my Teddy Dormer novels), but there is little to indicate the transition from life to dream. Even the opening sequence, which at first seems like a true flashback, is ultimately revealed to be little more than a dream. One sequence, with Batman taking on a force of Superman’s guard in a desolate city setting, could warrant a movie of its own; it is certainly intriguing enough to exist as a stand-alone project, but in the overall context of the film surrounding it, it’s an almost jarring transition, although it does luckily clue us into Bruce Wayne’s paranoid state of mind in regard to the Man of Steel.
So where do I stand on the film as a whole? The first forty-five minutes of the film feel almost like a disconnected series of scenes that initially seem unrelated to a large degree. Interjecting these scenes with the dreams I previously mentioned also create a discordant narrative that only begins to solidify during the film’s second half. A lot of this could have been easily resolved with better editing, but it may also hint at scenes excised from the final product in an attempt to reduce the film’s running time to its already two and a half hour length… scenes that may arise in the films R-rated cut that has already been promised for the film’s eventual home video release on DVD and/or BluRay.
Normally I have no complaints about not having any idea what’s going on in the plot during the first half of a film if there is a mystery at play, but the scenes need to build upon one another in a logical fashion, and as such BvS does not always do so, often hopping between various perspectives and locations in sometimes maddening fashion. However, the film’s second half is far more coherent, and the film finally constructs the narrative from the film’s first half after the fact into a state of coherence.
Many may disagree with my perception of the film’s first half, but it certainly had a way of hampering my enjoyment of Batman v Superman. There is good news, however; as many reviews have previously stated, Ben Affleck makes not only a great Batman but a superb Bruce Wayne, embodying both sides of the character in amazing fashion. One sequence shortly before the film’s climatic battle features a sequence of Batman taking out a warehouse of armed thugs in brutal fashion. As a gamer, this sequence reminded me of encounters during the Batman Arkham video games, especially with one particular move involving a box crate.
The film has proven to be divisive thus far. Is it a great film? No. Is it a good film? That is also debatable. This could also be one of those rare instances where its value is determined more by the audiences and the individual viewer. Therefore, I put it in your hands: make up your own damn mind. Love it, hate it, whichever. It’s your choice.