Life in Writing
The reviews for Batman V Superman have come rolling in and the critics have given it an unequivocal thumbs down. For such incredible pop culture icons as Batman and Superman this is terrible news, but at least the bad reviews brought us the wonderful sad Ben Affleck video.
I had the chance to watch through this movie last night and I have to say that I understand the negative reviews, but this movie is still worth seeing.
I’ll start off with the good points, and then we’ll get around to why this movie is struggling in the reviews department.
First off, the action was on point. Every fight in the movie was entertaining to watch, and not just the parts where Batman actually fought against Superman. Both titular heroes had several fight scenes against various villains and they were fantastic. Batman is fast moving and constantly employing his gadgets to best the villains. Superman remains equally as fun to watch as he was in Man of Steel as he fights against humans and super-powered creatures alike.
The relationships were also well played out. Lois and Clark felt like a real couple. They had their hard moments, and their good moments. It translated well onto the screen and ended up being a relationship that was easy to root for. In a less romantic way, Bruce Wayne and Wonder Woman had a fun relationship dynamic of constantly one-upping the other and throwing in some witty dialogue between action scenes.
The best characterization by far went to Ben Affleck as Batman. I had my doubts going in about whether or not he could do justice to the part, but to my surprise he actually played it quite well. Despite a few changes, he portrayed the character with just the right balance of brooding and action that we’ve all come to expect from a good Batman.
A lot also has to be said for Amy Adams’ portrayal of Lois Lane. Despite having to be saved by Superman throughout the story, she still manages to be strong and independent. She takes care of herself in every reasonable situation and takes care of Superman a lot of his desperate times as well.
Now that I’ve listed a few reasons why it’s actually worth it to take the time to see this movie, it’s time to get to the ways that it didn’t work. I’ve condensed them down into two major reasons.
Problem number one: Unnecessary characters and plot points. This is a decently long movie with a lot going on. Sadly, a whole lot of it has nothing to do with the main plot. When writing a story there’s a simple test to see if a character you like is really important to the story. You just go over the key plot points without that character in it and see if it still works. Often times this will reveal that a character and the plot points associated with them are unnecessary and are just dead weight for your story. In Batman V Superman most characters are mainly relevant, but there is one blaringly obvious unnecessary character. Unfortunately, that character is Wonder Woman. In many ways she was one of the best characters in the movie, her fight scenes were fun to watch, and as I mentioned before, her conversations with Bruce Wayne made for some of the most entertaining dialogue in the film. Sadly, all of it was completely unnecessary. She did nothing to further the plot at all. If they simply cut every scene with her in it from the movie, then the plot would actually make more sense. The only thing she did was set up for a future Justice League movie. It’s sad when an amazing staple character like Wonder Woman is dead-weight, but in this movie she was. I’m hoping she’s more central to the plot for future DC movies because she really was a good character, just not a significant one.
Problem number two: the plot was inconsistent. Or rather, some of the character motivations were inconsistent. Lex Luther starts off with one plot in mind: get Kryptonite to make a weapon against Superman. For the first hour of the movie he’s entirely dedicated to this, and goes to some rather extreme lengths to do it. Then Batman steals it from him, and Lex just kind of changes his mind about even wanting the stuff. Now his only concern is getting into the crashed Kryptonian ship from Man of Steel. It’s inconsistent and it feels that way as you watch the movie. Fortunately, the weight of the movie is carried by Batman’s actions, and he’s consistent enough in his character to keep the plot together.
All in all, this movie has some problems, but it has just as many good points. I have high hopes for future DC movies, and the events of this film are sure to matter so in my opinion it’s worth watching.
Daniel M. Quilter is the author of A Soul Divided. On this blog he'll interview other authors, review books, share nerd wisdom from popular sci-fi and fantasy, and occasionally share his insights on writing. See a list of his works or see what he's working on.
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