Movie Review: ‘Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice’

[NOTE: This article was originally posted on Her Campus Emerson on April 4, 2016.]

Contrary to what anybody expected, the new DC film Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (BvS) has been the source of much “controversy” since its release. Okay, so controversy may not be the best word to use, considering that nothing in the film was overtly offensive or taboo, but it did have a lot of drama surrounding it.

Before the film was even released, when only the critics had access to it, negative reviews started pouring out. Rotten Tomatoes gave it a 30%. Critics absolutely destroyed it, calling it boring, saying it had a skewed plot and accusing it of being “a crime against comic book fans” (at least according to Vox).

Let’s talk about the fans. Was it really a crime against them, when a huge majority of comic book fans adored the film? The Audience Score for the film on Rotten Tomatoes is 71%, and the fan rating on IMDb is 7.3/10. That’s pretty decent! Many cast members from the film, including Ben Affleck and Amy Adams, have publicly said that the film is for the fans, not the critics, and it seems like that rings true. But does the film actually deserve the total annihilation it received from critics?

I don’t think so. See, I saw BvS on the Thursday night before it had its wide release on Friday, because I have been anticipating the film since I heard that Ben Affleck was going to play the Batman starring opposite Henry Cavill’s Superman. But even without my bias for the actors and my general love for the DC Universe, I can honestly say that this movie was an 8/10. It was not boring, the plot was not skewed and it was not a crime against anybody. The only criminals were the people who had already decided to hate the film before they even saw it.

This isn’t to say that the film was perfect. It had its great moments and things that could have been improved. Here are a few of the best and worst:

The Best

Ben Affleck

Oh, Ben. I’m pretty sure I’m his only fan. The poor man faced so much criticism when he was cast, and now everybody, even the critics, cannot deny that he is the best Bruce Wayne we have ever had. His portrayal of the character as a broken, older and morally bankrupt man was phenomenal. I left the movie craving a Batman film focusing on Affleck in Gotham City fighting his villains, not Superman’s.

In fact, while Affleck stood out, the casting was altogether great. Jesse Eisenberg played a Lex Luthor whose quirks and humor gave way to how dangerous of a villain he actually is. Gal Gadot made us all want to be Wonder Woman or be married to Wonder Woman. Jeremy Irons as Alfred hasn’t been getting much attention, but I liked how his version was more of a peer to Bruce than a guardian.

Fights

The fight scenes were not overdone by any means. Some superhero flicks will dedicate 1/3 of the film to people beating each other up, and I’m glad they didn’t here.

The Story

Critics may not have liked the plot and they may not have liked the way the plot played out, but I thought it was an interesting story. As most of us know, Man of Steel wasn’t a good movie. In fact, I think it was worse than BvS. I think most of what made it bad was that the last section of the film consisted of Superman and General Zod literally destroying the Metropolis with no remorse. BvS (spoiler alert!) starts with the end of Man of Steel from Bruce’s perspective. He’s running through the Metropolis on his way to a branch of Wayne Enterprises that is in the city. He has to watch tons of his employees and friends die because of the damage Superman has caused. He then makes it his mission to stop Superman from causing this destruction in the name of heroism.

Now, I think this was great. Not only does it try to redeem the end of Man of Steel, but it gives a good background as to why the two are fighting. The story got a lot of heat, with critics claiming that it was too slow, but BvS was set up like a comic book. It established three different stories then explained how it came together. I think this made it stronger–we got to feel the pain of the three main characters and then see what they did with that. However, that also leads us into…

The Worst

A fan review on Rotten Tomatoes stated, “Batman v Superman should have been an engaging character study, but it’s overstuffed – crowded with actors, jammed with plot, packed with mayhem,” and I cannot help but agree. At times it felt like the characters were so busy doing something that we didn’t know why they were doing it. There was so much we could have gotten background-wise. I wanted to know Clark’s perspective–was he so caught up in being a hero that he didn’t stop and think about the damage he caused on the way? What has the Bruce Wayne in this universe seen? Batman doesn’t kill, yet in this film he was going to. Has all the loss he’s faced finally taken its toll? I really wish we had more dialogue, more introspection!

Ultimately, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice was a good film. I highly suggest that you see it and form an opinion for yourself. You will meet many people who will tell you that it’s plain awful because, in this day and age, it’s cool to hate things and be negative. Take it from me, as somebody who always finds herself rooting for the underdogs, it’s much more fun on this side.

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