Zack Snyder found directorial fame in 2004 with a semi-successful, admittedly entertaining rendition of George A. Romero’s Dawn of the Dead. Remember that flick? A bunch of no-names and Ving Rhames saying Rhamesian things the entire time? Ahead of the zombie craze curve by almost a decade? From 2004 onward, things are a bit rocky. He seemed to be on the up and up with 300, stole my heart with The Watchmen (I will argue to this day rivals V for Vendetta as one of the best graphic novel adaptations out there) but fell to shambles with Sucker Punch, a box office and critical flop overwrought with CGI and an over-the-top, hard to follow plot.
Then in 2013, Snyder decided to dip his feet back into the DC universe and take on Man of Steel, the quickest reboot of a franchise (seven years after the failed Superman Returns) behind The Amazing Spider-man’s five-year turnaround following Spiderman 3 (never forget: Toby Maguire dancing in the New York City streets with an Avenge Sevenfold concertgoer’s haircut wearing an upscale waiting staff outfit). This time, however, Snyder didn’t have the brilliant source material of Alan Moore to lean on like a crutch, and as a result, the film devolved into an incoherent origin story reliant on special effects and piss-poor writing. The film bombed critically, but somehow set the volley for future installments. Go figure.
Enter 2016, a little over midway through the “Decade of the Super Hero,” and enter Snyder once again manning the torpedoes behind Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, arguably the most hyped collaborative comic book movie since The Avengers. But enter a film so breezy, so bereft of anything remotely resembling a narrative arc, that it can hardly be said to be a story with a beginning, middle, and end. The flow between scenes is unmistakably clunky (you don’t have to be in film school to see it/feel it), multiple times resorting to smash cuts to black, a desperate ploy to try to make what came before it seem cathartic and pivotal.
The film is so overtly disjointed and makes no effort to put the cinematic glue between scenes, that we are left feeling like there are pages of the script Snyder opted to wipe his ass with rather than include in the final production. Entire scenes are left to the audience to suss out, with Snyder and the Gang believing that an empty glass box with a batarang inside is sufficient enough to convey to the audience that Batman stole the kryptonite from Lex Luthor. Give me a break, you pretentious sacks. Do some reprioritizing with your shots and show me the scenes that actually matter.
At a whopping two hours and thirty-three minutes, the film is not short on content; I’ll give it that. But the content is so cliché, formulaic, and downright mundane that when Superman and Batman finally do faceoff, you’ve blown your attention-wad on the monotonous “world and story-building” in which this film seems to revel. I’ll concede that this film had a lot of ground to cover to be successful in any way, shape, or form: Batman’s origin story, his rise as a crime-fighter, Superman’s god-like status amongst men, his distrust amongst the public, Lex Luthor’s backstory, his ascension to evil-hood. There was a lot of potential jelly in these donuts. A lot of theoretical meat on these bones. But like a slow-cooked rib, the meat doesn’t hang to the bone. Like an overstuffed donut, the jelly comes spewing out at the first bite. The film is crippled by its own massive content. In other words, in the immortal words of Paul Rudd’s Kunu: “you’re doing too much, do less.”
I’ll go on record and say I desperately wanted to enjoy this film. It had the potential to explore the complex nuances and ramifications of having a god exist amongst men (think The Watchmen’s Dr. Manhattan). Perhaps this notion is more successfully explored in the “director’s cut” (a whopping three hours and change), and perhaps it is done in supplement to Jesse Eisenberg’s heinous acting and peculiarly undeveloped god-complex (seriously, it was like he was channeling his best Nicolas Cage impression infused with a send-off to Heath Ledger’s Joker. Not good). Perhaps the scenes that seem to be missing, the proverbial “glue,” are in the uncut version. But I highly doubt it. No, what I think we have here is another shameless cash-grab into the comic-book universe, a unrepentant plug for future super-hero movies, a dizzying display of narrative incoherence, in short: a shit movie.
I give it 2/5 SAD AFFLECKS