Director Zack Snyder swings big with “Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice.” Unfortunately, he only lands a base hit.
The film is like receiving a bad Christmas gift from a loved one. You know that they spent a lot of time and money trying to give you something awesome, so you try to put on a smile for them as to not hurt their feelings.
There are moments that will make audiences smile and cheer. However, there are simply not enough of them in this 150-minute slog of a blockbuster. There are some bright spots in the film – every time Wonder Woman graces the screen or when Batman dispenses a warehouse full of criminals. This is surprising, considering the resources that Snyder had at his disposal.
What else is surprising is a film that tries so hard to fill every frame with gravitas does not have many moments that make the viewer swell with emotion. One would expect the contrary from a film that borrows so heavily from mythology and theology.
Instead of embracing the modern mythology of comic book super heroes, Snyder creates a nihilistic noirish world devoid of humor and joy. In this world, the spectacle of super heroes does not illicit joy but rather fear and carnage. Warner Brothers is hell-bent on setting their universe apart from Marvel Studios, tonally.
“Batman V Superman” is so grim and serious that it does not even have an end credit stinger, despite moviegoers’ coming to expect them at the conclusion of comic book movies. Ironically, the final scene before the credits would have worked as a great post credit stinger.
Snyder probably thought a post credit stinger would undermine the serious tone of his film. After all, he is fond of saying, “This isn’t your daddy’s Superman.”
“Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice” and the Zack Snyder film, “Watchmen,” are both faithful to their comic book source material they bring entire panels to life. Despite their faithful adaptations, though, both films do not achieve cinematically what the source material achieved in the world of literature.
Snyder captures images beautifully but he is unable to fully articulate the nuance of the literature. His shots are gorgeous but not as dense with meaning as the literature that they are based on– it is all style and no substance.
Taking several comic book storylines and merging them into one plot was successful in director Chris Nolan’s “Batman” trilogy. Unfortunately, this methodology did not work well for “Batman V Superman.”
The plot is bloated with too many plot threads and as a result none of them are served adequately. It has been lavished with praise by fans at early screenings and shredded to pieces by most critics. Maybe the truth is somewhere in between.
It’s not the steaming dumpster fire that critics at the New Yorker and NPR hale it to be but, in the same breath, it’s hard to call “Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice” a good movie. Art should make you feel something whether you love it or hate it. The film commits perhaps the biggest sin in art – it’s art you just don’t care about.