A Droid Premiere: Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016)

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It feels like this movie has taken forever to get to the big screen. I vaguely remember Wolgang Petersen being attached at one point in the early 2000’s. This was before ‘Superman Returns’. Before ‘Batman Begins’. And then there was that Times Square billboard in ‘I Am Legend’, teasing the possibility that the two most famous superheroes of all time would one day go toe to toe for our viewing pleasure.

‘Man of Steel’ was released in 2013, and went on to become a big, but not massive, hit. It also proved to be divisive, with a portion of the audience dissatisfied with the enormous destruction during the films finale. Others were justifiably disappointed that there weren’t more scenes with Rusty riding space dragons. But with the DC brain-trust eyeing off Marvel’s money making machine/shared universe, DC decided to alter course from the originally planned ‘Man of Steel’ sequel, instead deciding that the best (ie. most profitable) way forward would be launching DC’s equivalent to the Avengers. ‘Man of Steel 2’ morphed into ‘Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice’, which introduces as many of DC superhero’s as humanly possible all at once. While Marvel have had the luck to play the long game, DC are going all in hoping to hit paydirt.

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18 months after the devastation in Metropolis which saw buildings tumble and thousands perish, Superman is worshipped by most of the world. Most, but not all. Across the bay in the sister city of Gotham, Bruce Wayne (Ben Affleck) is boiling with rage. Wayne Tower in Metropolis was one of those tumbling buildings, and the human cost of the destruction has led to Bruce unretiring the Batsuit and upping the ante on the brutality. He’s taken to branding his victims before handing them over to authorities. Once in prison, a Batman brand is essentially a death sentence. Taking umbrage with these methods is bespectacled Daily Planet reporter Clarke Kent (Henry Cavill), who has the unpopular view that Bats should probably dial it back a notch.

Back in Metropolis, Alexander Luthor (Jesse Eisenberg) is cooking up a showdown of epic proportions. None too pleased with an alien with god like powers livin’ it up under the yellow sun, he’s taken it upon himself to draw Bats into a royal rumble with Supes. He manipulates his way into gaining access to Zod’s crashed ship, collects kryptonite fragments from the Indian Ocean, manages a death squad, researches meta humans and generally talks and acts like a total creep. At one point he insists on feeding a piece of candy to the guy granting him access to Zod’s ship. It’s weird.

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When Plan A, manipulating the fight between Bats and Supes, doesn’t yield for Lex the desired results, Plan B is thrust into action. Except that Plan B would have been inevitable since it was developed concurrently with Plan A. Either way, Doomsday is unleashed and does battle to the death with the now united Bats and Supes, as well as Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot). The holy trinity of DC comics on the big screen together for the very first time. Should be a home run, right?

Unfortunately, it’s not. Which is really a pretty big disappointment, because the pieces are in place here for a great movie. Ben Affleck is very good as Batman. His Bats is skilled, imposing, and brutal. Incredibly brutal. Which is also one of the films problems. As far as my knowledge of Batman goes (a couple of comics, the movies and the Arkham games), he doesn’t kill. However, this Bats leaves a lengthy and bloody trail of bodies in his wake. It feels against character, and makes him difficult to root for. As Bruce Wayne, Affleck isn’t allowed a lot of breathing room. He’s filled with rage for the majority of the film, and there’s little in the way of levity to lighten up proceedings. There’s a longer scene at Lex’s party, but even then Bruce is all business.

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As Batman is such a dark, merciless character in this film, you tend to root for Supes. Henry Cavill is given a bit more of an opportunity to show some emotions other than rage and fury, and his scenes with Lois Lane (Amy Adams) and Martha Kent (Diane Lane) help humanise the film. Both Adams and Lane are welcome presences in a very testosterone heavy, overly serious movie. As for Lex Luthor, well he’s a pretty terrible character. He’s weird, irritating, and aggravating, and never really comes across as incredibly smart. But the biggest problem with the character is that he’s clearly a nutjob. Jesse Eisenberg’s performance, complete with rapid delivery, exaggerated ticks and mannerisms, only compounds the dismal failings of the character. It’s a fundamental misconception of the character.

This is Zack Snyder’s second crack at a DC movie, and for the first two thirds of the movie he does a pretty decent job. The showdown between Bats and Supes is good overall, and the standout action sequence of the movie is Batman taking down a room full of armed baddies (as seen in the last trailer). The action in these two sequences is pretty straightforward, well-staged and satisfyingly entertaining. But trying to juggle the holy trinity, plus Lois as well as Doomsday seems to be too much for him. The last act is a confusingly edited bukake of visual effects. Every shot is lashed by streams of electricity, clouded in smoke and dust, battered by flying debris, and blasted by CG characters hurtling themselves towards each other. Zack Snyder has declared all-out war on your retinas.

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The first half of the movie also features numerous dream sequences, including the old faithful dream within a dream. There is really no reason for these to be in the movie. The major one, which contains imagery familiar to funny book fans, serves little purpose and only really confuses the average viewer. You can argue that it further establishes Batman’s fear of Superman’s immense power, demonstrating his point of view, but we’ve gotten that information already so it’s unnecessary and unwanted. There are far too many moving parts in this film, including Holly Hunter’s Senator and Jeremy Irons’ Alfred, and the story needed to be streamlined instead of expanded. I mentioned the dream within a dream, and I won’t reveal anything in detail about it, but it’s truly baffling and it’s something that I have to assume will be explained/pay off/make sense in a future film.

Which is a nice segway into my next point. Whereas Marvel had the opportunity to layer in little nuggets of information and foreshadowing in the post credits scenes of their 16,843 (so far) films, it feels like ‘BvS’ wants to stuff it all in this one movie. Hence you get the aforementioned dream sequences, as well the meta-human research which is handled in an astonishingly clunky and forced way. Not to mention the fact that a film with Batman duking it out with Superman STILL needs to accommodate the introduction of Diana Prince/Wonder Woman. The character’s not given a lot to do. She’s in Metropolis because of the research Lex was conducting, and that’s about it. She pops up here and there, mainly to flirt with Bruce, and then shows up in the jam-packed finale. This is not to say Gadot doesn’t make a decent Wonder Woman. She does enough to make me curious for the standalone. It’s just that, like a lot of the film, she’s crowding the main story between Bats and Supes.

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And then there’s Doomsday. While I realise you need a big threat when you’ve gathered these three together, there’s simply little interest in a fight with an enormous, roaring, hideous “unkillable” monster. If you think of all the best villains in film, it’s normally because they’re good characters first, and played by a good actor second. The Joker, Hans Gruber, Norman Bates, Harry Powell, Bruce the Shark. To name just a few. All great. Whoever thought Doomsday was a good idea needs to have a good hard look at themselves.

‘Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice’ is a real disappointment. There’s enough that works, enough to like, to make it worth checking out, but it’s also a huge missed opportunity. During the couple of scenes where it’s at its best, it’s very good. But DC and Zack Snyder have stuffed the movie to the gills in an attempt to catch up to Marvel. From this evidence, I don’t think Marvel has anything to worry about.

I hereby bestow ‘BvS: DoJ’ with 2 confused looking superheroes out of a possible 4.

BvS DoJ Rating

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About Judge Droid

In between refining my procrastination skills I talk a lot of shit about movies and such.

32 responses to “A Droid Premiere: Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016)”

  1. Xiphos0311 says :

    Not going to read this until I see the flick. So I’ll swing back around on Friday.

  2. Anonymous says :

    The last act is a confusingly edited bukake of visual effects

    So it’s a Zack Snyder film, then.

    Fucking hack. Also, given that this draws heavily from The Dark Knight Returns, I’m willing to bet on actual funny book panels appearing.

    • Judge Droid says :

      “I took that little vignette from a scene in The Dark Knight Returns, and at the end of that, he shoots the guy right between the eyes with the machine gun. One shot. Of course, I went to the gas tank, and all of the guys I work with were like, ‘You’ve gotta shoot him in the head’ because they’re all comic book dorks, and I was like, ‘I’m not gonna be the guy that does that!'”

    • Judge Droid says :

      It’s draws pretty much 50/50 from The Dark Knight Returns and the Arkham games. The tech and Alfred is especially Arkham-like.

  3. Toadkillerdog says :

    R2 I echo Xi, Ill read this after I have seen it tomorrow.
    I think flicks like this are review proof though. It will make a boatload of money.

  4. Xiphos0311 says :

    The movie was pretty OK nothing great but not near as bad as fan boi neck beard internet movie reviewer toads make it out to. The dork loser Eisenberg sucked but he always sucks. WW was way to skinny. 45 year old Amy Adams seemed more rugged and bigger then the petite delicate desert smoke wagon. I get what you’re saying about it being a disappointment but it for me did what it was supposed to do in a marginal manner set up the DCU in one flick instead of slowly doing it over several like the MCU did. Batfleck was really good. I never saw MoS so this was my first time with Cavil as Stuporman. He was perfectly ponderous as caped Jesus like he should be.

    They could’ve easily shaved 15-20 minutes off the movie and made it much tighter. most of the dream nonsense could’ve gotten binned. also why did they feel the need to recap Bats origin story once again? that was like 5 minutes that could’ve been left on the cutting room floor.

    As far as Batman killing he has done it in the funny books. This “no killing” thing is a relatively modern reinvention of the character. When Bats was first introduced way back in the day he carried a revolver for FFS. What, it was only for show? No he mowed downed evil doers. Batman(89) and Batman Returns(91) had huge body counts in them, all at Mr. Mom’s hands. All that shit is just nerd fanboi wankery, like there is any other kind.

    • just pillow talk says :

      Heh, as you know, the Marvel masses cannot be shown the error of their ways. It’s a good point, that they got to the same place in two movies vs the significant amount of movies Marvel took to get there.

    • Judge Droid says :

      I’ll venture into mild spoilers…

      why did they feel the need to recap Bats origin story once again?

      I questioned this for 2/3rds of the movie, but the resolution of the Bats v Supes fight revolves around our understanding of a certain detail of the flashbacks. So I can see why this was repeated yet again and continually drummed in.

      The Bats killing people thing I was a little taken aback by. Coming from the perspective of someone who is pretty much only familiar with the TV or screen versions of the character, he doesn’t kill. I remember there being an enormous nerdswell of dorkscontent over the end of Batman Begins. The whole “I won’t kill you, but I don’t have to save you.” thing. And I while I don’t recall a “huge body count” from the Burton Batmans, I do concede that he did kill people. But the difference is the tone, and the brutality. While the Burton Bats are kind of gothic horror, they’re also totally cheesy and contain a lot of humour. Bats in BvS is intense. Which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but he does blatantly murder people. Which is a bit off-putting. In BvS he’s basically The Punisher, except he’s had 30+ years to get over his trauma, yet is still a psychotic nutcase.

      • just pillow talk says :

        Not at all disputing the difference in tone, but what is worse: showing the brutality of the kill or doing it with a smile? Doing it with a smile doesn’t change the fact that he still killed, just makes it easier to accept.

        I seem to recall in the first Batman Keaton throwing a dude down the tower. Can’t recall if he shot a bunch of them in his Bat flying thing or not.

  5. just pillow talk says :

    Good review Droid.

    I don’t plan on seeing this anytime soon, but the one constant, unanimous view is on Affleck and the need to cut a lot of extra scenes. Oh, and Lex, yet another worthless version on screen.

    I liked MOS, so maybe there’s a chance I will like this one too.

  6. Toadkillerdog says :

    First up, R2 very good recap/review.
    Secondly, everyone here hold on to your shit, because as the only avowed MMMS member in a sea on DC fans, boy do I have a surprise for you. See what I did there?

    Overall I liked it more than I disliked it. I realize that does not seem like high praise, but i went in expecting a trainwreck. It is far from that. In fact if the dream sequences had been dropped and the references to MOS had been removed, and if Lex had taken some thorzine and if the Bats origin had been removed, and if Lex had a shred of security in his house, i would have loved the first two thirds of the flick. Instead i simply liked it and wanted to love it. I did enjoy the slow build up, but when the last third rolled around? Whoo boy. That sucked shit. WW made a good entrance but then again we already saw it in trailers. And while she needs a few cheeseburgers I thought she did a good job. Affleck was fantastic as Bats. I have no issues with Bats killin fools.
    His Wayne was not really there. Still I think he is the best Batman. That is not high praise considering that Bats has never really been done properly. Supes, was just too damn mopey. I actually liked MOS. But this flick seemed to be Snyders way of answering critics. And it did not work. The final third was really shit. The intro of the JL was horsehit. But what really killed me and here is a major spoiler so look away – Bats gets into a blowtarded self righteous fury about killing Supes and damn near does it, but stops because supes blurts out please save martha, not please save my mom, but save martha, and Bats stops because somehow lois finds her way to the scene and says thats his mothers name, and it is also bat’s mothers name, so now they become super friends?
    I almost threw my empty box of popcorn at the screen.

    All that being said, i would recommend folks to see it. Do not expect a Marvel level good flick, but you will be surprised it does not suck and has some really good parts.

    No, an R rating or Directors Cut will not improve shitty writing and a dumb plot

    • Xiphos0311 says :

      If it sucked wouldn’t that make it a Marvel level film?

      Batfleck carried the movie. If he sucked the whole house of cards would’ve fell.

      Eisenberg needs to be throat punched and put out of my misery. Jesus did he suck ass once again.

      WW was way to delicate and thus not very believable. Like I said above 45yro Amy Adams was bigger and more rugged then the petite chick they cast. WW is a smoke show so she gets a pass.

      overall decent entertainment not great but it didn’t suck like the butt hurt fan bois claim.

      • Toadkillerdog says :

        Ha!
        Well there is no DC flick that comes close to the best of Marvel.
        However, i will concede that IM 3 was total shit but still better than most of the batman flicks including the last one.
        i think what happened is that the critics saw it together and saw the plot and dialogue issues as well as the shoehorning of the JL into the flick and did a collective fuck this shit. DC fanboies obviously envious of Marvel and sick and tired of hearing how great the MCU is and how much DC sucks, hoped against hope that this would be the marvel killer or at least equalizer.
        They have taken a very flawed flick and tried to polish it and convince themselves that it is good. It is not bad but it is not good either.
        I standby my recommendation that folks should see it and I think better than 50% will enjoy it.
        It was not a trainwreck, but dont go shouting huzzahs either

      • Xiphos0311 says :

        Personally I’m tired of funny book films from anywhere. I’m going to take a long break from them.

      • Judge Droid says :

        Me too. I’ll stick with The Flash but other than that I’ll be avoiding funny book stuff as much as I can.

    • Judge Droid says :

      Cheers. Yep, the last act was dismal. While I didn’t have a major problem with the Mum thing, I was really bored by Doomsday. You can clearly see that there’s a bunch of stuff in it that needs an extra scene. Why can’t Supes hear his Mum when she gets kidnapped? He heard Lois in Africa FFS! Why doesn’t Lex react when Bats steals the kryptonite? It might be because it’s part of his nefarious plan but probably not and we’ll never know since the movie doesn’t give us any clue. Why the fuck is Jimmy Olsen a CIA spook who gets shot in the head 30 seconds after he’s introduced? Apparently these scenes exist, but didn’t make it into the movie. Which makes all the flashback/dream sequence shit even more annoying because you could have replaced them with scenes that helped the movie actually make sense.

      I really didn’t like the introduction of the other JL characters. The movie literally cuts away from the build up to the last act to WW sitting at a computer opening files that show the JL characters. Apparently Lex has even gone to the trouble of giving them a superhero name and a logo. If you were researching potential meta humans and you discovered a guy who can run really fast, would you think up a cool name for him and design a logo? It’s a really shitty way to introduce those characters especially considering it interrupts the last act. That scene should have played over the end credits.

  7. Toadkillerdog says :

    I agree with what Tom said about Civil War. I am not looking forward to it other than seeing spidey in mcu.

    • tombando says :

      Toad am as big a Marvel fan as you. And Ruf.

      I already said my 3 cents on this, but wanted to again: this is Not a bad movie. Droid is right, Bats is the best part of this. I liked Supes, WW, etc. Not working Aquaman or the others into this better was a miss. But okay.

      Luthor is badly done yes he is more or less a rich Prince asshole plotting to over throw Daddy and garrot Mel Gibson. Watch the Robe and see the Caligula character same thing.

      You should see this hitfix video of Drew and Ruth Cornet coming outta the screening. He looks like he is Stunned. Seriously. I can’t fathom putting That much concern into one of these comic book movies: if they get more right than wrong , I am happy . They did here. I liked WW fine and hope the WW1 era stuff with her is handled wellish.

      Wasn’t the Cave Troll at end in comics more like a big grey Hulk?? Did he do that blasting thing?? Oh and there’s an MX missile w Supes name on it. Interesting.

      I have mixed reactions to this, but still enjoyed it. Finding the Fanboy responses to be a mix of scary and wtf.

      Good job Droid.

  8. Continentalop says :

    I really have no interest in seeing BATMAN V SUPERMAN: DAWN OF FRANCHISE, especially after just randomly watching the Supergirl/Flash crossover episode. I don’t watch Supergirl, and only seen about 1/4th of all the Flash episodes, but I will say as juvenile as it was that had charm and magic, something I don’t see the BvS:DoJ movie having.

    • Judge Droid says :

      I felt a similar thing when I watched an ep of The Flash after sitting through season two of Daredevil. It was great to enjoy a show that’s just meant to be fun. After BvS and DD I’m pretty burnt out on superheroes.

      • Continentalop says :

        Yeah all the DC and Marvel movie stuff feel like they take them too seriously and have a sense of self-importance the comic book writers never felt.

        Flash and Supergirl just get that childish playful tone right (but damn, some piss poor writing, acting and directing at times I admit).

      • just pillow talk says :

        I’m seven episodes into Flash S1, and I find it quite entertaining. I also enjoyed S2 of DD, so I still feel there is room for both tones of superhero shows, it’s just got to be done well.

      • Xiphos0311 says :

        The Flash is quite enjoyable and gets much stronger as it goes along.

      • Xiphos0311 says :

        That’s the idea Hollywood can’t seem to grasp, their products need to be good.They act GM in the 70’s.

      • Continentalop says :

        Flash kind of bored me after a while during S1, until about 10-12 episodes in and then it started taking off again. It needed time to work out the kinks, I guess. Of course, I got bored again during season 2 of the Flash until about episode 10-12 again, which has been fun and entertaining.

        I think this goes to show that 22 episodes is just too long for some of these shows, they feel repetitive or like they are just standing still, and they should just go by a comic book schedule of 12 episodes during the year and one double-sized episode (12 issues and an anniversary).

        I have seen a handful of Supergirl episodes, and for the most part they are full of charm but clunky and lack Flash’s polish. The last couple Supergirl episodes have been pretty enjoyable though (not a must-see, but not chore like Gotham or what I have seen of Arrow).

      • tombando says :

        Watched only a couple episodes of each:

        Gotham. Just Awful. Fail.

        The Flash . Fun, campy at times, light, kinda youngish slanted for me.

        Green Arrow. Snoozed. Didn’t interest.

        SuperGirl: Caught some of the Red Tornado one. Ummm ok, kinda in line w the Flash, if younger would be watching it and Flash regular.

        Seriously Gotham was Awful.

  9. ThereWolf says :

    Great review, JD.

    Dunno what to make of all this stuff now. There’s Thors and Caps and Iron Mans and Avengersies… Then there was a Supes, now Batman’s got to be in Supes. And Wonder Woman… so now there’ll be a WW flick…

    Can’t be arsed, I’ll just rent it.

  10. Jarv says :

    Seen it now.

    It’s shit.

    The Good:

    Affleck. Much to my surprise. Although he does look heavy and ponderous a lot, that’s fine for his time of life. His performance carries a lot of the film.

    Gadot. Much to my surprise. Seems to actually be having fun, and although a bit of a twiglet does at least look a) Mediterranean, and b) sort of hot.

    The bad:

    Eisenberg. This might be the most annoying, film-wrecking performance in ages- how much of that is down to the character, and how much down to the actor is open to debate.

    Tone and pace: It’s pompous, ponderous and frankly boring for far too long.

    Snyder: It’s ugly. Like sucker punch ugly (particularly during the finale v giant turd monster). This is down to Snyder- as we literally (again) have panels from Dark Knight Returns jammed in to the fucking film..

    Giant turd monster. Just utter rubbish. Doomsday was a terrible marketing gimmick from the 90’s designed to sell comics because he was the only one that could kill Superman. No character of any description, and no interest. Not to mention he’s horribly designed from an aesthetic point of view.

    Soundtrack: Dire

    Irrelevant and annoying shit- what the fuck was that stupid dream sequence about. And did we really need to stop what little action there was to see Diana Prince looking at youtube videos from Luthor’s hard drive.

    Set up for JLA film- ugh. Darkseid next, then. Blatantly spelt out. And why would Luthor want to summon up this “god”?.

    Overall, I’d one chang it, and I have absolutely no desire to see it again on any level.

    Also, it bugged me how during the climactic fight v Doomsday they kept saying shit like a reporter saying “The work day has finished so there’s basically nobody about”, or Bats saying “This area of the city is abandoned” and so fucking on. It was like they listened to a focus group whining about the climax of Man of Stool.

    Say it once, if you really have to. After that, please leave it the fuck alone, we get the idea. No innocents will be hurt during this throwdown.

    • Judge Droid says :

      I mostly agree. I’ve also watched the extended version (not sure what version you watched) and can say that it’s better, but the problems still remain. What I mildly disagree with or feel worth commenting on…

      It’s ugly.

      I don’t agree that it’s ugly. It’s striving for “gritty” and “realistic”. There’s a lot of really nice looking shots in it, but I will concede that the relentless gritty realism is a bit much, but in keeping with what is established with the MoS. I will say I prefer this to the sped up, over-edited Captain America directors style.

      Giant turd monster.

      This is really obvious in the extended version, but the film feels like it ends after the actual Bats v Supes fight and Martha is saved. It then lurches into an unneeded 4th act with a big monster for no reason other than having the “holy trinity” unite, which unwittingly established just how irrelevant Batman is when alongside Superman and Wonder Woman. He spends the entire blob monster fight evading lasers and watching from a safe distance. His one involvement was to shoot a gas grenade of kryptonite. Big deal.

      Soundtrack: Dire

      This is one aspect of the movie that I quite liked. The WW theme is a huge change in tone and doesn’t fit at all, but on it’s own merits, it’s a pretty good theme.

      Irrelevant and annoying shit- what the fuck was that stupid dream sequence about. And did we really need to stop what little action there was to see Diana Prince looking at youtube videos from Luthor’s hard drive.

      This should have been an end credits sequence. Split it into 3 over the end credits and it would have been pretty cool. The problem here is that it’s the internet nerd consensus that Marvel own the end credits and DC are so beholden to the internet that they’re overcompensating.

      It bugged me how during the climactic fight v Doomsday

      Yep, agree. See previous about overcompensating.

      What I will say about this movie and the DC Universe in general (ie. Mos and BvS) is that they’ve got a vision of the universe and it’s not “safe”. Marvel, for all their success, play it safe.

      • Jarv says :

        It may not be safe, but it’s in the hands of Snyder. So its basically going to be shit.

        I haven’t seen Crap3 but I’m sure I’ll hate it.

        I’m completely over funny book films.

  11. just pillow talk says :

    Yeah, I just got to it too.

    I actually liked it until the shit showdown with Hulk reject monster. I didn’t have a problem with the flash dream sequence or Bruce running across the metahuman files. However, when he sent them to WW and she clicked on the files that was dumb as shit.

    I know nothing of how these characters are to act because I never read DC comics, but I imagine Lex wasn’t supposed to be so loopy. Is this really that hard a character to be put on screen? Hackman had sucked too.

    I think if you strip out the showdown and a few other unnecessary scenes, it’s a decent film. Affleck was really good and didn’t even need to do a Bat voice.

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