I haven’t written a review for Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. I will however share an open letter to Ben Affleck.
Dear Mr Affleck,
With the reaction to Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice being less than stellar, you might be wondering what exactly has gone on. Perhaps you are aware and you’re putting a brave face on it. Either way I feel that you should know a few things.
Your portrayal of Bruce Wayne/Batman is imposing, brutal, and perfectly captures the three main sides of the Dark Knight’s psyche; public Bruce, private Bruce and Batman. I’d go so far as to admit that you made me forget about Christian Bale’s performance, despite my love for his take on the character. I truly hope we get to see more of you in the role. In fact, I can’t personally think of a more anticipated film than an Affleck directed Batman film. (Note – This hasn’t aged well!)
Unfortunately the film in which you debut such a faithful representation of my favourite character is an extremely mixed bag.
Some might say that your colleagues did the best they could. That however would be doing them a disservice. Despite being part of a story that strives to prove you can’t jump from one film to an entire universe in one go, they’re all well cast and with either more screen time or better direction would have truly flourished.
Though the aftermath of Man of Steel is well-addressed, Henry Cavill doesn’t get the sequel his character needed. There’s an amazing Superman in here; we just don’t get to see enough of him being the symbol of hope he should be. Wonder Woman doesn’t get much time, but Gadot shines when given the chance. Cool, calm and collected, she’s always a fierce warrior who proves she can handle things. Next to your older Batman and a relatively new Superman she’s probably the toughest one. I do hope her solo film builds on this decent first impression.
Jesse Eisenberg’s Lex Luthor is perhaps the embodiment of BvS. He tries to be so many things that it doesn’t sit right. Is he a brilliant strategist? An unhinged man-child? A tortured, rage-filled victim? Did he even know? I applaud a different take on a character; I’m just not sure what he was going for.
Zack Snyder deserves credit for his ability to make a comic book come to life on screen. With 300, Watchmen and now BvS he clearly has a talent for creating stunning and accurate moments. That’s the problem though; as full as BvS is of impressive moments it never comes together as a satisfying whole. There is a great story in there, but it seems to be have edited into into a mess? Around the half way mark it just loses its way.
That all sounds pretty depressing, so I’ll circle back to you and Batman. The physique, suit and gadgets look pretty much perfect. Bruce’s relationship with Alfred (an underused Jeremy Irons) is spot on. Then there’s the cave, some detective work and the thrilling ‘Arkham’ style of fighting. I can’t fault you.
These characters are important to me, as I hope they’ve become to you. I want them to be the best they can. But they aren’t given the chance to be her, and I’m gutted for you all.
If I’m giving the impression that I didn’t like BvS I don’t mean to. It is not a bad film. A ‘beautiful mess’ might be the most apt description I’ve heard. Are my conflicted feelings based on being thrown by it’s different (and possibly in time welcome) approach? Am I desperately trying to find a way to deal with my disappointment? I’ll need to see it again to be sure.
Don’t read too much into the more rabid and excessive reviews on the internet, some people love hyperbole. I’m not disgusted or angry with Snyder or anyone involved. I am however disappointed that such great assets have been wasted. It’s a shaky start to the DC Cinematic Universe, but I still have faith that it can find its feet.