This reviewer will be covering this Snyder Cut of Justice League in his next post. In preparation for that, it makes sense to also post his original Batman V Superman review from a previous blog. This review is based on the theatrical version screened in 3D. This critic is well aware the Ultimate Edition has a better reputation. he will admit to never having gone back and given that cut a chance. The experience of watching B V S was already a little soul-crushing. Snyders directors cuts do typically have a reputation as being stronger films fans. When the theatrical version is as borderline excruciating as B V S the prospect of sinking another three hours into one of the worst films of the past five years was a hard NO> the ultimate edition always lacked the sense of morbid curiosity that was very distinctly there with the Snyder Cut of its direct follow-up. Zack Snyder’s Justice League being readily available on an SVOD UK streaming service this critic has access to certainly helps. Here follows the original B V S review. Look out for thoughts on Zack Snyders Justice League in the next few days.
Why do Hollywood studios green light films for public consumption? On a basic level, the answer to this question is relatively simple. Films are greenlit for public consumption for an audience to enjoy and for the studio backing the film to make a profit. All this changed with the dawn of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The reason why many summer blockbusters are now greenlit is to set up the universe/franchise. This will go on to produce sequels and spin-offs until the end of time. What people don’t realise about the Marvel template, was that it took four years of work. Only then did hen they finally saw the fruits of their larger plan reap the financial reward at the box office with the first Avengers film. Now other studios and franchises are jumping on this bandwagon with much less fruitful results. This takes us nicely onto Batman Vs Superman: Dawn of Justice
Following Man of Steel in 2012, this film is intended to set up a huge slate of films based on DC Comics superheroes and characters following the Marvel template as well as providing the Batman VS Superman smackdown that audiences will more than likely want to see.
The film’s marketing did not impress this reviewer in the slightest. Man of Steel was fine (with good elements) but despite owning the DVD it’s a film that this reviewer has not come back to since he saw it upon original release. It was obvious from that film that Warner Brothers/DC were trying to mimic the tone that brought them so much success as a result of Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight Trilogy. The trailers for this film possessed nothing of interest and nothing that jumped out at this reviewer in terms of making the film a must-see. The title alone suggested a film that was trying to do far too much throughout its runtime.
Then the film was released and the mostly crucifying reviews started appearing. This reviewer cannot say he was surprised but what did surprise him with the vocal reaction of his own family after they had sat through the full 2 1/2 hours of the film. This reviewer’s brother and sister both hated the film to varying degrees and a very good friend of this reviewer said that his policy of avoiding the film (after having seen it herself) was probably for the best.
This reviewer has a rule that he has to see every major superhero blockbuster in 3-D where available. However, he was seriously considering bending the rule for this film given the shroud of negativity that surrounded it. That said he finally bit the bullet and went to see one of the final 3-D screenings available in his city. From this reviewers experience of looking at the reaction to the film if you look hard enough you will find people that say they loved it. As much as this reviewer would like to say he enjoyed the film he cannot because he believes that the critics were mostly correct. This film is a complete mess with very few things able to salvage what is otherwise an almost utter failure. The first problem the film faces is that for the first 80 to 90 minutes the film can’t stay in one place for any length of time. The film possesses a lot of badly edited jump cuts so that we as an audience are taken to yet another story element. For a movie of this size and budget, this is truly inexcusable. What with all the various plot elements at work even though this film is a backside numbing 2 1/2 hours large portions of the film focus on hugely underdeveloped elements of the story.
The next major pitfall of the film is the mismanagement of its tome. The film wants the audience to believe that it possesses the same “dark” and “gritty” tone as popularised by Christopher Nolan. This could not be further from the truth. The film possesses none of the metaphorical darkness that it so desperately wants to achieve. Instead, the darkness in this film is much more literal. You could argue this was not helped by the 3-D screening of this film that this reviewer saw but there are times where what is going on as the film plays out is so darkly lit that it is difficult to see what’s happening on screen. The almost unrelenting literal darkness means the film is an extremely grim experience to watch. When you compare this film to something like the Marvel/Netflix content there is no question that this content is heavily based on the metaphorical darkness of its settings and characters. The difference between that content and something like Batman VS Superman is that the Marvel/ Netflix content know when to have lighter moments and humour to balance out some of the incredibly metaphorically dark subject matter. You could argue that this comparison is unfair due to the fact people behind these TV series essentially have creative freedom thanks to being on Netflix but it cannot be ignored that this content that takes place in the rival connected universe has more metaphorical darkness and it’s a little finger than Batman VS Superman has in its entire body. You aren’t going to see a film like this tackle issues such as rape, PTSD and alcoholism in the same way as Jessica Jones (at least based on the first nine episodes that this reviewer has seen.) A review t will likely be published once this reviewer has finished the first season.
The next mistake the film possesses is the casting of Jesse Eisenberg. From the moment this was announced this reviewer thought it was a stupid decision to have him play the iconic Lex Luther. This reviewers fears were well-founded. Eisenberg is a decent actor (in this reviewer’s eyes) but he can essentially only do two things. He can either play a likeable and slightly washed out stoner or he can roll out his Mark Zuckerberg performance that won him so much acclaim in The Social Network. There is no denying that Eisenberg was perfect for that particular role. Since there is no evidence in the decades of comic book mythology and history of Lex Luther enjoying recreational drugs it should be obvious what direction Eisenberg takes his performance in. The results are disastrous and need to be seen by viewers to be believed,
One of the many plot elements at work here (as mentioned previously) is the desire to set up a huge universe of multiple films and franchises based on DC Comics characters. As implied by the subtitle the film puts a lot of focus on setting up future Justice League films There is a scene in the film (which this reviewer does not think is particularly spoiler-heavy although he will put a mild spoiler warning in the title of this review) in which Wonder Woman (more on her later) receives an email from Bruce Wayne containing attached video files that set up the powers of various members of the Justice League. For a film of this budget and scale, the decision to do the setup of these characters in this way is bafflingly stupid on the part of the creative team. This reviewer wonders if this particular scene might go down as one of the most ridiculous and stupid in contemporary blockbuster history and he also believes this is quite possibly the laziest way to do plot exposition that he has ever seen (regardless of film genre, budget, scale etc.) The fact that a scene like this takes place in this sort of film is frankly unforgivable.
Honestly as well-executed as the titular fight might be for some people large portions of this films third act resemble a Michael Bay film. Considering that this reviewer believes Michael Bay to be the cinematic equivalent of Satan this is not a good thing. Granted the film doesn’t have the leering sexism of the Transformers franchise but the action sequences are in many ways are as loud and empty as his canon of work (see also 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi.) Don’t even get this reviewer started on Doomsday (which this reviewer feels he can give away thanks to him being heavily present on one of the trailers.) This reviewer has not faced the biggest cinematic endurance test since he went to see Transformers: Age of Extinction in IMAX 3-D (a film somehow even longer than this snore-fest.) This reviewer could not help but think that he deserved a medal for simply sitting in the cinema and letting the film wash over him. Honestly, the only thing that got this reviewer through watching the crushingly boring final act was thought that the new Jeff Nichols film Midnight Special was next on his watch list. Nichols two previous films Take Shelter and Mud are superb and worth seeking out for anyone reading this who has not seen them.
For all these negatives (and as much as the film is for the most part a complete disaster) there are a few quality elements worth noting. This reviewer does not think that Ben Affleck is quite as good as some people are saying but there is no denying that he is good in the role of Batman/Bruce Wayne. Gal Gadot (despite being horrendously underused) is very good as Wonder Woman for the limited screen time she gets. Hans Zimmer and Junkie XL are responsible for the film score and give her a theme better than this film honestly deserves. Jeremy Irons also makes an excellent Alfred. There are also moments of the film that reuses the opening piano keys of Hans Zimmers “An Ideal for Hope “from the Man of Steel soundtrack. This happens to be one of this reviewer’s favourite pieces of film score of all time so he was pleased to see elements of it appear but at the same time when it did appear this reviewer just thought that his time would be better spent listening to that track on a loop for 2 1/2 hours. It’s worth noting that the YouTube video of that track was on rotation the day after this reviewer saw the film. You can also see what the filmmakers were trying to do with one of the film’s opening scenes depicting the Man of Steel finale from Bruce Wayne’s point of view.
This reviewer would mention that the film possesses a very trigger-happy version of Batman not seen on screen before and how it is angered large sections of the Internet but honestly he is fed up with talking about this film.
Overall the film is a total mess in terms of screenwriting, tone mismanagement, performances, and story structure and plot exposition. The film may have a few quality elements that prevent it from dethroning Dirty Grampa and the latest Divergent film atop this reviews the worst films of 2016 but there is no denying this film currently sits at number three and will easily end up on this reviewers worst of the year list. Only recommended for diehard comic book film junkies and fans of cinematic endurance tests, if a film like Deadpool represents what comic book films can look like when they are built from the ground up for fan enjoyment this film is an example of what a film looks like when it’s built from the ground up by movie studio accountants