Okay, so (like Star Wars: The Force Awakens), I wanted to wait and take a moment before posting my (non-spoiler) review for Batman vs. Superman (BvS). Unlike, Star Wars:FA, it wasn’t so much because of spoilers, but for other reasons which will become clear in a moment.
I LIKED IT
First, this blog post is not going to be one of my more popular ones–I already know that even as I’m typing these words because I’m going to go against “popular opinion.” I actually LIKED the movie (quite a bit, actually). I don’t use the “A” movie (Exceptional)/”B” movie (everything else) paradigm that you seem to hear (aka A-List talent vs B-List talent, or triple A movie vs a B movie). When I rate things, I’m doing so using the scale that universities use for their semester grade reports:
- A (Superior/Exceptional)–You’ve gone above and beyond in order to create something few could achieve.
- B (Above Average)–This is a good product with some minor flaws that detract slightly from the overall experience, but is still better than many would achieve.
- C (Average)–This is “good enough.” You’ve done just enough to meet the requirements, but haven’t done enough, but have too many flaws to be better than others like it.
- D (Below Average)–Not up to “standards.” This has too many flaws, isn’t crafted well, or ignores requirements. It is well below what most can achieve.
- F (Failure)–Simply put, unable to succeed. A product that is lacking in nearly every respect.
After seeing it, BvS for me is a B (Above Average). It better than a “typical” action movie (I’ll get into why I think so in a moment). It is competently made (i.e., it holds to the western philosophy of BME–Beginning, Middle, and End. It has a Protagonist & Antagonist. It has rising action, it has a climax, it has falling action, and it resolves.) It follows Fryetag’s Triangle perfectly. For that reason alone, it should not be rated lower than a C.
However, the critics would have you believe that the movie is a D/F and that it fails on many different levels. And the justification just isn’t there for me.
OPERA IN MOVIE FORM
I liken the movie to an Opera. It is a long movie (over 2 hours and 30 mins) and much of the first part is setting up the Batman/Superman, Bruce Wayne/Clark Kent dynamic. But this a movie that is larger than JUST a comic book movie. It touches on contemporary real world elements such police brutality, the nature of God and man, what it is to be a hero, what it is to be a above the law, discourse vs unilateral action, what it means to be a democracy, and what it means to be good/bad in today’s “modern” society.
All of this is in a “comic book” movie. Critics slam this as being too much, having too many plot threads, “a mess,” as I heard one reviewer put it. No, its not a Marvel movie, but then DC isn’t Marvel. They have always done things differently than Marvel. Many critics seem to be slamming the movie NOT because it is a bad movie, but because it is not a MARVEL movie and doesn’t use’s Marvel’s “template” for movies.
BvS isn’t as good as my current favorite Marvel movie, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, but it WAS more satisfying to me than Avengers: Age of Ultron. It wants to have a conversation that the critics don’t seem to want to have in their “comic book” movies.
If you like graphic novels, see the movie. If you like comic books and are up on your DC mythology, see the movie. This movie includes a LOT of knowing nods and scenes to those who like comics (DC comics and graphic novels and properties) and does NOT try to explain to those who don’t. I caught several striking scenes from various DC media: Injustice: Gods Among Us, Batman: The Dark Knight by Frank Miller, various BvS Graphic Novels, The Flash (TV show, current version), and others.
The iconography is striking, but there too, the critics want to complain. Zack Snyder (the director) is “style over substance,” I heard in more than one review. But that is what Snyder is KNOWN for. 300 was NOT a “great” movie when you get right down to it, but it was a visually striking movie. Why is that not good enough now? Because it’s a KNOWN quality about him now. Only if you’re NEW and FRESH do the critics seem to take any notice.
WHY THE DISCONNECT?
I’m linking to a YouTube video to help explain what’s going on with the review scores. Basically, the Youtuber is correct: there is a contingent who want to use social media to FORCE Warner Brothers to cater to them (fans) or those who want to punish the movie in some way (critics). I’ve seen this before in other mediums: MASS EFFECT 3 for video games comes quickly to mind. Many fans hated the ending of ME3 and social media outcry FORCED Bioware to go back and “redo” the ending of the game. This is what I feel is happing here. However, this has been building since World War Z, Man of Steel, Jupiter Ascending, and most recently, Gods of Egypt. The Youtuber ‘s (Grace Randolph) channel “Beyond the Trailer” is one that I’ve recently found) and she does a great job of quickly of explaining a lot of my problems with the critics for BvS, in particular. It’s short–only 13 minutes long and very informative:
There is nothing inherently wrong with the movie. It should be getting B’s and C’s. Not the D’s and F’s that it is currently getting. This is a good movie, with some flaws that keep it from being exceptional, but not one that should be denigrated as a failure.