Director : Zack Snyder
Writer : Chris Terrio, David S. Goyer
Stars : Ben Affleck, Henry Cavill, Amy Adams, Jesse Eisenberg, Diane Lane, Laurence Fishburne, Jeremy Irons, Holly Hunter, Gal Gadot
Release year : 2016 (imdb)
Am I the only one who finds Zack Snyder to take himself too seriously?
If you, my beloved reader, were tasked of confronting two of the most emblematic superheroes in history, how would you do it? Would you build on the last not-so-successful Superman movie’s ending, show us a revenge-motivated Punisher in a Batman costume, cast (or miscast) Jesse Eisenberg as a Zuckerbergian quirky Lex Luther suffering from OCD, portray Superman as a soulless carcass of a demiurge and Lois Lane as a useless irrelevant damsel in distress, shoehorn Wonder Woman, Cyborg, The Flash and Aquaman only for the sake of unscrupulously setting up an MCU-like franchise…?
I know I wouldn’t. But that’s exactly what director Zack Snyder chose to do.
The movie starts with a flashback of Bruce Wayne’s parents murder, shot in boring slow-motion (Watchmen style). It jumps then to the cataclysmic ending of Man of Steel (the final battle between Superman and General Zod), seen from a human point of view, more specifically that of Bruce Wayne, who lost one of his Metropolitan office buildings (employees inside) as a collateral damage. This prompts Batman to question Superman’s moral code. This actually is a decent motive. As for why Superman wants to fight Batman, well, because the masked crusader acts outside the law. Period. Meanwhile, Lex Luthor is scheming to bring Superman to heel for reasons beyond my comprehension. And since this is a spoiler-free review, I will say nothing more.
Without further ado, let me stress some of the thing that I think worked against the movie.
First, characters and their development were poorly handled. With little to no back-story, it is often hard to understand what really drives their actions. Superman is unmotivated most of the time, and when he moves it’s almost always to rescue Lois. Batman is driven by revenge rather than justice, trespassing his own limits when cruelly branding and killing his enemies. Alfred is rarely seen and serves no other purpose than silently tweaking Batman’s equipment. Martha Kent and Lois Lane are serial victims, used to transport the heroes from point A to point B. Lex Luther is less of a menacing and threatening super-villain, and more of a Silicon Valley tech savvy turned billionaire (but this has to do with Jesse Eisenberg’s irritating take on the character).
Second, the acting is just average. With the notable exception of Ben Affleck as Bruce Wayne, Jeremy Irons as Alfred and Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman, the rest of the cast are just delivering lines. There is no chemistry between Clark Kent and Lois; and while Amy Adams was clearly struggling with the little she was given, Henry Cavill was barely trying. And Jesse Eisenberg has been clearly asked to reprise his Social Network role.
Third, it comes as no surprise that, with Snyder behind the camera, the movie will be more concerned with looks than substance. The excessive use of slow motion, the visual extravaganza, the heavy reliance on CGI and the overall grimness make the characters ghastly, the story depressing and the film sinister. The lad clearly mistakes darkness for quality.
I went to this movie with the best of hopes, suspending any Zack Syder prejudice and ignoring my former painful experiences with his work. I am sorry to say that I was, in spite of all my efforts, disappointed and downhearted.
We deserved better…