Okay, I’ll admit one thing: I was having a hard time starting this review. This is my fifth article for The Film Queue and so far my work has been presented to you guys in a positive light with me praising the films I’ve watched. I thought it would get easier the more I write because I have a chance to discuss the excitement I get when watching a movie I love and sharing my thoughts and emotions to the reader. After leaving the theatre on Friday night, I was left stuck, puzzled with mixed feelings. I’ve been literally sitting in front of a blank screen trying to piece together my thoughts and emotions but ended up throwing them aside, creating a mess. What I am going to do is give you a direct/harsh reason(s) as to why I feel Dawn of Justice created that mess and made it into an unforgiving disaster (just like the atrocious Doomsday fight scene), but I’ll get to that later on in this review. Right now I would like to start on the few (very few) positives because I would like to leave my rant for later as I don’t want my readers thinking I’m just as deranged and unstable as Lex Luthor (again, I apologize for jumping too far ahead). Okay, let’s begin with the positives.
Ben Affleck as Batman, for the majority of the film, was awesome. He did just as amazing of a job playing Batman/Bruce Wayne as Christian Bale did. You can tell he really took this role seriously and wanted to prove himself and to the doubters that he can bring out a great performance. In my eyes he is the main star of the film. Zack Snyder can deny it all he wants but we all know that this film was intended to be Man of Steel sequel. Well, I’m sorry to say but if you fail to push yourself as an actor and don’t even try to live the part as the ‘Man of Steel’, then don’t be surprised when you’re getting bodied by someone else that is attempting to become a great character on the big screen. I’m being negative again. Let me mention some more positive points.
I really enjoyed Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman. She had this mysterious element to her that made me more intrigued whenever she appeared in a new scene. They placed her character in Dawn of Justice perfectly and with just the right amount of times to make me want to see her in her own solo film.
The action was a visual spectacle on its own. If there is one thing I can praise Zack Snyder for, it is his taste for awesome visuals of violence. The whole fight scene between Batman and Superman was like finally watching a main event pay-per view bout between two of the best to ever wear a cape and a pair of tights. As kids, we often debated on which DC hero would win and it was satisfying to be able to see it in full on the huge IMAX screen. The Batman fight scene that was also seen in the final trailer of the film was beautifully sharp and gritty, which was lacking in The Dark Knight Trilogy.
Well, that was all the positives from this film. Now to the more fun part of the review: the rant.
One of the biggest problems Dawn of Justice created even before they began filming was their choices in casting. People griped when they heard Ben Affleck, Gal Gadot, and Jesse Eisenberg were going to play, arguably, the biggest names in DC Comics. I’m glad that Affleck and Gadot succeeded but I can’t say the same for Mr. Eisenberg. What I saw in the movie was not Lex Luthor. What I witnessed instead was a stereotypical ‘mad genius’ type villain with no sense of direction for his goals. Eisenberg’s acting seemed forced, unnecessary, and too ‘gimmicky’. I’m aware I chose to write the word ‘gimmicky’ based on a film full of superheroes, but what makes Affleck’s performance different from Eisenberg’s is that you can see he’s living the part. Affleck was full of determination while Eisenberg’s performance just didn’t work, and part of that is because he played a different character. If he played a character that was named something else, then he would’ve been bearable to say the least.
It is ridiculous to think that Dawn of Justice had the budget and the numerous source materials to create a perfect Lex Luthor but instead chose to go that route. If I may compare this to the series Smallville, there you see a perfect example of how to develop a villain like Lex Luthor. Disregarding the fact that it took ten long seasons to build the animosity between Superman and Luthor, the point I’m trying to address is that it is important to slow cook your way to creating a menacing, calculating antagonist rather than forcing it just for the sake of getting it done.
Eisenberg’s performance wasn’t the only one that was disappointing. Henry Cavill as Clark Kent/Superman was cringe-worthy. He was duller and more boring than he was in the previous film Man of Steel. I saw no passion and personality displayed on the screen and it makes me wonder if Zack Snyder chose the right actor to play such an iconic superhero role. There was zero chemistry between him and Amy Adam’s Lois Lane. Every time they popped up on screen together I wanted to sleep and never wake up.
Stepping aside from character portrayals for a moment, the storyline was jumbled and it had everything to do with pacing. The first half of film was slow to begin with, and because of that, everything proceeding needed to be rushed. And when everything is being rushed, we see stuff appearing to make less and less sense. And I’m sorry, but there is no way Lex Luthor had the time to learn everything about Krypton, the origins of Kal-El, and how to construct a creature like Doomsday.
Speaking of Doomsday, besides the horrible design, he was overwhelming in a bad way. One of my gripes about the final fight scene in Man of Steel was the destruction of Metropolis. It looked visually appealing in some parts but by the end of it, it ended up being way too much for me to handle. Now in Dawn of Justice, we witness yet again an even more apocalyptic setting which became not only redundant, but unbelievable.
Now this part is mainly directed towards Zack Snyder. I know you’ll never read this but I don’t care, I need to ask you this anyway. Do you have some kind of fetish for the overusing of slow-mo’s and ‘dramatic’ or ‘intense’ music? I ask this because I see a pattern. We saw it especially in films such as 300, Watchmen, Sucker Punch, and now Dawn of Justice. There are times when using these techniques are appropriate but I’m starting to think that you’re just placing them in there just for the sake of placing them in there. It is beyond the point of annoyance and I can only hope you relax a little when you work on the upcoming Justice League movies. PLEASE STOP!
I’m not done. It’s one thing to make Superman kill General Zod but it is unforgivable to let Batman compose a massacre. Did you forget what the theme of the Batman character is all about? If you’re willing to take such a risk (and a stupid one at that) then at the very least address it. Batman could kill for a number of reasons but, Mr. Snyder, you fail to inform us as to why he started to act this way. Was it because The Joker killed Jason Todd and it got to Batman? Did it push him to destroy anything in his path? If yes, then you should’ve addressed it! You left me on my seat wondering why would Alfred be okay with Batman leaving a trail of dead bodies like that? You made me believe that you didn’t care about what you’re showing your audience, as long as you nail the visuals and the score.
There is a lot more left on the table. I failed to mention Jeremy Irons’ tremendous performance, the random scene fillers, or the cameos us superhero geeks only dream about. I’m sure I can say a lot more, but to be honest, I’m tired. I’m tired of seeing the potential go to waste. DC Comics could have been a great contender for Marvel on film and on TV but I’ll admit, Marvel is kicking their asses so damn hard it’s not even debatable. Hopefully Suicide Squad can make me eat my words.