I went into Batman vs Superman with fairly low expectations. I never got around to seeing Man of Steel, because the reviews were enough to tell me it was not my kind of movie, and the trailers for BvS didn’t give me a lot of hope that it was going to appeal to me any more. But hey, who turns down a free IMAX screening? Not this girl.

Turns out, I’m really REALLY glad I didn’t pay money to see this film. Here’s why.

The Good

Let’s start out on a positive note. There were some things in this movie I legitimately enjoyed, like WONDER WOMAN! Give me all the Diana Prince kicking ass and taking names. Gal Gadot steals every moment in the very short amount of screen time she’s given, showing her Diana to be smart, cunning, and tough. She also has the best battle cry of the trio by far. She brings energy and pops of color into all her scenes, and the hints of her back story made me genuinely excited for 2018’s Wonder Woman solo film.

Jeremy Irons was excellent as Alfred, bringing some nice moments of levity in a film that desperately needed it. Again, he’s has a very limited amount of screen time, but his frequent dropping in comments about his desire for Wayne grandbabies made me laugh (and Bruce’s eyerolling reaction each time was perfect). He and Affleck had good chemistry and sold their relationship.

I thought Ben Affleck was strong overall, but he was undermined by the terrible material he was given to work with. With a better script, he could have proved himself as good Batman. The very smart choice to make the Bat voice via voice modulation solved the Bale growl nicely, and his fight sequences were solid (helped by a more flexible suit).

In a very important supporting role, Holly Hunter was magnificent. She was the only character whose motivations not only made sense, but were supported by her actions. Her subtle but powerful acting bolstered her section of the story and I truly enjoyed her refusal to be intimidated by Lex Luthor.

And then the plot showed up and ruined everything.

As for the look and feel of the movie, while the overall design felt drab and oppressive, the costume design stood out. Each character’s look felt carefully thought out and helped sell the characters. I especially liked Diana’s beautiful gowns with the mixture of architectural elements and softness, hinting at her original comics’ costume design.

The Bad

Hoo boy. There was just so much that rubbed me the wrong way about this film. Let’s take it in chunks.

Boring. At what felt like an excruciatingly long 2 hours and 33 minutes, large sections of this movie just drag. Not helped by the drab, saturated tones Snyder loves so much, even the fight sequences blur into one long grey confusing mess that didn’t hold my attention for longer than a few seconds. Snyder could have saved 20 minutes by not including the “Wayne parents shot in slow mo/ baby Bruce running away from the funeral and discovering the bat cave” sequence, which is apparently mandatory for every film featuring Batman. When the trio finally comes together in the scene hinted at in the trailer, I was so relieved to finally have something I was excited about seeing that it seemed way more entertaining than it was. And then it lasted for another 30 minutes.

Terrible writing. The movie opens with a ponderous Batfleck voiceover, a device which never reoccurs. Characters speak in Philosophy 101 sound bites, or long rambling monologues on the nature of good and evil that never reach above high school maturity level. The only dialog that feels natural is Laurence Fishburne’s scenery-chewing berating of Clark Kent, which was especially enjoyable in the face of Clark’s hypocritical dislike of the Gotham Bat and his methods.

The writing ties in to the bad characterization, as previously noted with Affleck’s Batman. We barely get one scene with him actually doling out Bat justice before he goes into high alert of Superman revenge. Cavill’s Superman lost any charm he had previously, because they barely give us any scenes of the bumbling, sweet Clark to balance him. And Lex Luthor. I was already primed to dislike him, because I personally can’t stand Jesse Eisenberg, but his bizarre acting choices combined with a lack of motivation for his actions make him unbearable to watch.

Nonsensical plot. Apparently everyone and their brother contributed to rewrites on this thing, including Affleck. Between takes. While wearing the Batsuit. And boy, does it show. If they had stuck to the premise that after the events of MoS, Bruce is legitimately afraid of an unchecked Superman, and Clark doesn’t approve of Bruce’s vigilante methods, we could have had a tidy, interesting picture. But between setting up the Justice League characters, Jesse Eisenberg’s ridiculous Lex Luthor taking up a full third of the movie, and then throwing in some Doomsday as a boss battle, it was just way too much, and none of the separate pieces could be fully explored because of it.

The subtlety of a rock to the face. This movie had so many shots of Superman descending from the heavens, I had to stop counting. Superman = the Messiah. Yup, got it. And boy howdy, this movie doesn’t shy away from some truly problematic imagery. Superman saves a girl from a burning factory in Mexico, and as he slowly walks through the crowd to return her to her family, he is surrounded by a crowd of Mexicans in Day of the Dead outfits, kneeling around him, all reaching out to touch their perfect white savior. Yikes.

Most egregious though were the repeated callbacks to 9/11 and the aftermath thereof, including a recreation of the end of Man of Steel, but from Bruce Wayne’s point of view, desperately trying to get to his Wayne Financial building, which collapses and sends out a massive cloud of dust as he enters. It was truly hard to watch, especially since the morning of the day I saw the film was when the terrorist attacks in Brussels occurred. In all the action scenes following that, it was like they took the feedback from MoS‘s massive body count, and rather than NOT destroying giant swaths of city, they made sure to have characters note that it’s evening, so most of those buildings will be empty (aside from cleaning crews, but they aren’t important, right?) or that that particular island is uninhabited. Because that makes wholescale destruction acceptable, apparently.

But let’s talk about the thing that bothered me the most.

Women, or fridging thereof. Almost every female in this movie was reduced to a plot device. Take Lois Lane, the smart, trepid reporter first and love interest for Superman second. In this movie, her entire existence revolves around Superman. She spends most of her time investigating a specific event involving Superman, looking adoringly at Superman, running to save Superman, being saved BY Superman, stroking Superman’s face. She’s reduced to a damsel in distress, but worse, multiple times in the movie she does something incredibly stupid. Not because it makes sense for her character, but because the plot needs it to happen.

Poor Martha Kent is also reduced to a plot point, literally only there to be a source of vulnerability for Superman. But at least she gets some lines. Mercy Graves (and I had to look up her character’s name because I honestly don’t remember it even being said on screen) is mostly eye candy; a glamorous assistant, standing around waiting for Lex to give her orders. That she’s played by an Asian woman makes this feel even more problematic—in fact, the only other women of color we see are victims, the aforementioned Mexican factory workers and a group of Asian females about to be trafficked for sex work.

We do get a couple of actual strong female characters in Senator Finch and Wonder Woman, but Finch is undermined by what happens to her (hint: she becomes a plot point). Even Wonder Woman takes a hell of a long time to join the action, supposedly because of the backstory we’ll get in her solo film, but here it just seems odd, considering how involved in the case she seems to be through the majority of the film.

Apparently everyone and their brother contributed to rewrites on this thing, including Affleck. Between takes. While wearing the Batsuit.

When the screening ended and my group started discussing what we had just seen, I found myself yelling “I just wanted them to have agency! Why did none of these women have agency! This movie is the patriarchy!!!” I was so wrung out by the sensory overload and frustrated by Lois WHY DIDN’T YOU PICK UP THE DAMN SPEAR AND USE IT GAWD, that was all I had left. My friend Jessie was worse off, almost in tears as she tried to explain how the movie made her feel.

There’s been a ton of discussion lately about the roles of women in superhero movies and there have been steps forward (Black Widow in Cap 2) and steps back (Black Widow in Age of Ultron). This was definitely a step back.

Conclusion

I went in to this movie with incredibly low expectations and the film still managed to disappoint and frustrate me. The only DC movie I’m planning to see after this is Wonder Woman; Batman vs Superman killed any desire I had for the rest of the Justice League films. (Except maybe Aquaman. Actual Hawaiian Jason Momoa is very tempting and it has the bonus of not being directed by Zach Snyder).

Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice fails to meet even the lowest of expectations
A few strong performances, particularly Holly Hunter and Gal GadotFantastic intro to Wonder WomanBeautiful costume design
Terrible writing and boring, nonsensical plotProblematic tone and imageryFemale roles degraded to plot devices
2.5Bad
Reader Rating 15 Votes
4.4
  • RamblingBeachCat

    I think you may have saved me $11.00.

  • Tony

    Wow, while several of your points seem valid and are corroborated by other reviewers this whole review seems to reek of your SJW personal views. Not sure why you felt the need to pinpoint that OMG a white man saves a Mexican girl and its racist. OMG two of the three protagonists are male so it so very male centric it offends me. OMG they showed a city being destroyed and I saw it on the same day as the Belgium attacks so it gave me a negative feeling on the movie. As a professional reviewer you should try to keep your personal feelings from tainting your review. Can’t wait until the Wonder Woman movie where I can complain about how the male characters are all being used as a plot device and do something stupid so Wonder Woman can save them.

    • RamblingBeachCat

      So…you’d rather Alyssa not give the review from her genuine perspective?

    • Tim “Socket Wrench” Neidhart

      From an opposite standpoint, the saving of a Mexican girl could be seen as Superman not racially discriminating against who he saves. Gotta make sure we know he’s a big, altruistic boy scout.

    • Tom

      Oh grow up. Whenever someone sees things from a different perspective dudes like you go crying SJW or PC instead of having a real discussion. Maybe you don’t see it the way she does, maybe I don’t but why do you feel so threatened by someones observations? Could it be your own ideas are a bit fragile? Guys like you are such cry-babies. Man up snowflake.

  • john bines

    Saving my cash… I’ll wait for the DVD director’s cut

  • Joe

    This is a stuped and very racist review of the movie that was very good this is just a review of someone who hoped the movie would fail long before it came out any true fan of justice league could appreciate this film as it completely follows the dc comic as it happens SPOILERS everything including batman finding a way to beat supeman without having to killing him and the fact that doomsday ends up killing superman which i thought dc would not let happen but they stayed true to as they first told it the END OF SPOILERS movie is good and for any fan its worth watching i say that because the same as this reviewer i did not have very high expectations of the film but it is a good film not the best film i have ever seen but a good film not racist what so ever this is just a review of someone who doesn’t undestand the dc comics with a dislike to the film before watching it the the attitude you should take into a film like this so this review is just not worth reading and you should judge the film with your own eyes as i no their will be people who like it and people who dont but this reviewers attitude going in was wrong to begin with so judge yourself

    • RamblingBeachCat

      Are you racist against periods and question marks?

    • Tom

      Learn to spell and use punctuation and grammar correctly. Learn to put your thoughts down in proper sentence form. It shows you have intelligence and perhaps the capacity for detail necessary to form coherent arguments.What you have written here has all the impact of a five-year-old having a tantrum. For example you are “stupid” not “stuped”.I wanted this to be an amazing movie myself, but it was wretched.

  • Steve Baum

    This review was obviously written from the point of view that if a movie doesn’t conform to a feminist ideological agenda, it isn’t good. A woman was practically in tears trying to explain how this movie made her feel? Really? I was brought to tears by the hand-wringing of the reviewer. . .tears of laughter. Of course, I exaggerate. I more than suspect the reviewer was as well. At least I’ll be able to somehow restrain myself from flaunting my political beliefs when I do a short review of my own and say that if you are looking for a darker take on Superheroes than what Marvel is offering, then give this film a look. I”m not going to say it’s Oscar-Worthy, but it’s a heck of a lot better than Iron Man 3 or Ant Man. Marvel definitely has some competition ahead if DC keeps the quality of their future films on par with this one. One warning. . .don’t bring the young kids expecting Avengers fun. This is a dark and brutal movie meant for adults.

    • Jordan Richards

      I disagree that this is better than Ant-Man and Iron Man 3. Ant-Man and Iron Man 3 has some problems, but nowhere near as bad as Batman v Superman. The plot is way all over the place, with too much going on in the story and sometimes dropping some plot points abruptly. Teasers for other members of the Justice League are crowbar in there, Lois Lane is completely useless in the film, Lex Luthor’s motivations are messy at best and the acting for the character doesn’t make him come across as intimidating or smart, and Batman comes across as a big idiot in the film being too irrational.

      I’m nowhere as harsh as my fellow co-worker, but the movie isn’t that great. It’s, to me, a 5 out of 10. There’s some good stuff in here for sure, but it doesn’t make a great film.

      • Big John Studd

        > Lex Luthor’s motivations are messy at best and the acting for the character doesn’t make him come across as intimidating or smart

        How are Lex Luthor’s motivations messy? They’re pretty clearly depicted. True, his actions don’t make him come across as THAT intimidating, but his plans are pretty intelligent overall. For a new, younger version of Lex Luthor that isn’t an exact replica of the comic book versions (just yet anyways), he’s not a bad villain.

      • Steve Baum

        I’ll give you that they tried to do too much in one movie. As far as Lex Luthor goes, I thought it was kind of funny that my daughter was wondering if DC was going to somehow combine Lex Luthor and The Joker into one character, bad casting/bad acting there for sure. And I’ll also agree that the teasers for the other Justice League members were extremely weak. Like I said, not the greatest movie ever made but not nearly as bad as the reviewer tried to make it sound and well worth a look for a darker take on superheroes.

    • Renee Lucero Ramirez

      You kidding me? When I watched this shit on screen we didn’t even finish watching it because it was a total waste of our precious time…”This review was written from the point of view that if a movie doesn’t conform to a feminist ideological agenda, it isn’t good” Um…no, this is the truth, and if you don’t believe her or me, look at the critics and audience’s reaction to this “This is a dark and brutal movie meant for adults” What? You mean boring, grey and uninteresting? I’m 15 and this wasn’t in anyway “Too brutal” for me, this script was written by a pretentious asshole who thinks he knows what life and death means, so gives a full monologue speech about it, without really saying anything meaningful. THAT can describe the entire movie, pretentious nonsense and boring. IF you want a dark, brutal, well written movie meant for adults, go watch Logan, THAT is a good movie that ACTUALLY has character development, and comes from Marvel, I think most people with brains can see which company makes better movies…and also, excuse women for wanting to be treated as more than Superhero girlfriends, it would be nice to see a well written female character on the lead more often…considering there hasn’t been a female superhero lead yet made by Marvel nor DC, but to prove to you I’m not bias, I expect Wonder Woman to suck, and the male characters in this movie were as boring as the female ones. And also, as a Mexican, I usually don’t get offended at…well anything really, but that scene? This woman described it perfectly. Yikes. It’s kind of funny an adult would be so ignorant as to think we would ACTUALLY behave like monkeys who would just worship anything they see, that scene was really REALLY cringy. This is officially the worst movie I have ever seen, and I’ve seen “The great dinosaur”and “Transformers”.

    • Tom

      hah you clown. There are other perspectives than your’s on the planet. Grow up .

  • Tom

    As a fan of Superman and Batman for decades, I can say as a tried and true fan of the characters that the movie was horrible. I tried to watch it a second time as I couldn’t bear to watch it all the way through the first time, hoping it would click. I wanted it to be amazing and sadly it was a crap-fest. Someday maybe they will make a movie where they understand the characters they are using.