One of the problems I have with a lot of superhero movies and several other properties like Transformers is that at the finale always revolves around some big bad destroying a big city with the fate of the world hanging in the balance. Take the 2 Avengers movies for instance: both deal with an non-human life form trying to take over the planet with an army. All of the Transformers movies have similar third acts, where dozens of robots battle each other and entire cities are destroyed. At the end of Man of Steel, Superman and General Zod duke it out above Metropolis, destroying half of the city and costing thousands of people their lives. The epilogue in that movie, like so many others, focuses on the positive fact that the villain has been stopped and nothing more. Just think about the post-credits scene of the Avengers, where New York has just been under attack of an alien army which was fought off by the Avengers. As the streets are filled with battlefield remains including injured people, the heroes are enjoying a well deserved Shawarma in a diner. This year saw an end to that attitude as both Captain America: Civil War and Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice actually dealt with the direct aftermaths of their fiery previous battles. The similarities between the two movies don’t end there as both of them feature an all star cast and pit two well known heroes against each other due to an antagonist pulling strings from behind the curtain. What really sets these movies aside is how they were both received by critics and audiences. One got raving reviews, while the other was destroyed by every self-respecting critic. The movie that was reviled: Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice
I can’t really say I had high expectations when I finally watched this movie. Not only did the critics have a unanimous negative opinion about this movie, the general movie going public as well. Only the fiercest DC fans kept on claiming that this was a great movie and that people who were negative about it just didn’t understand it. Ugh, fanboys: can’t live with them, can very much live without them.
The general complaint about Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice was the confusing story line. A lot of people seemingly had a hard time making sense of several plot points, the overall scheme and character motivations. That became a very interesting complaint when soon after the release, the negative response prompted several people and instances to bring the news that the studio ordered the movie to be trimmed down to 150 minutes because the original cut was deemed to long. This was followed by a press release that the movie as it was originally meant to be was going to be released a few months later. It would get an R-rating and have an additional 30 minutes of footage restored. They promised us that the inserted footage would make the movie much more comprehensible and resolve many questions people had after watching the theatrical cut.
But let’s face it: what a dick move.
Imagine going to a restaurant and paying the full amount for a meal, but without telling you they took some stuff out of the dish leaving you with an appetite after you have finished your meal. Then at home you receive word that multiple people complained about the meals at this restaurant, but that you can have a full meal delivered to your home in a couple of months. Not even free of charge of course. That is one shitty restaurant.
I never saw the theatrical cut so I can’t compare the two versions, but based on the negativity the theatrical release received I can probably safely state that this version is indeed much more comprehensive. The movie was easy to follow and I never felt like I didn’t understood a scene or a character’s motivation. I actually enjoyed it more than the average person did the theatrical version. Still, this is far from a great movie, which is disappointing because this is one of those movies you really want to be good. It just doesn’t live up to the expectations, not by a long shot. These are several elements that really bring this movie down:
First of all: it is way too long. Ever since Christopher Nolan created a new standard for superhero movies with The Dark Knight many of them, especially movies based on DC properties, try to be epic by having multiple story lines which come together in the finale. Sadly they become way too convoluted often introducing one plot hole after another. The Dark Knight Rises is a good example of a movie that collapses under its own weight, just like Man of Steel and now Batman v Superman. I can understand the studio’s request for a more leaner movie, but simply excising 30 minutes only made things worse. There is a good two hour movie hidden in here somewhere, but that would require rewriting the script extensively, though they can leave out a lot of the first hour since nothing much happens during that time.
Then there are several moments that are so stupid, at least one of them has become a recurring punch line on the internet. I’m talking of course about the moment Superman and Batman suddenly become best friends in the middle of the titular fight because both their mothers are named Martha. There’s also the moment of blatant stupidity as Lois throws away Batman’s Kryptonite spear in a pool of water. Several scenes later she has to retrieve that spear since it’s the only thing that can kill Doomsday, the villain who should have been kept a surprise but was revealed in one of the trailers. This scene does not only put her in life threatening jeopardy, but Superman’s as well as the presence of the spear makes him mortal. This is one of the parts that should have been excised.
These are just a couple of remarks, but I could go on and on: The inclusion of Wonder Woman for no real good reason other than to jump start Justice League, the way too convoluted scheme of Lex Luthor, The Kryptonian ship which seems very organic and leads to some trippy scenes with Luthor, various dream sequences or a scene revolving around a jar filled with Luthor’s urine.
I’m really not making that last thing up.
Being prepared for the worst, I actually thought the extended cut was watchable and pretty entertaining even if it did took took long to set all the pawns in place and wants to include too much. I still can’t recommend it to anyone and saying they must see this movie, but it also not as bad as the critical reception of the theatrical cut would make you believe. I guess Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice is just perfectly mediocre.