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The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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Texas A&M outfielder Jace Laviolette (17) robs a home run from Florida infielder Cade Kurland (4) in the top of the ninth inning during Texas A&M’s game against Florida at the NCAA Men’s College World Series at Charles Schwab Field in Omaha, Nebraska on Sunday, June 15, 2024. (Hannah Harrison/The Battalion)
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“Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice” isn’t so super

Despite+poor+reviews%2C+Batman+v+Superman+broke+March+box+office+records+and+grossed+%2482+million+on+opening+day%2C+reports%26%23160%3BUSA+Today.
Photo by By Jacob Martindale

Despite poor reviews, “Batman v Superman” broke March box office records and grossed $82 million on opening day, reports USA Today.

When I judge a film, the most important aspect is also the simplest one: how does it make me feel? While the question is certainly subjective, it stands as a baseline for how I approach a film’s critiques. Every piece of film’s aim is to conjure an emotional reaction in the viewer, and the best filmmakers know what strings to pull to have the audience where they want them. Unfortunately for comic book fans, Zack Snyder’s “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice” left me with just one reaction: boredom.

“Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice” is the most recent attempt by DC Comics to replicate the success of Marvel’s “The Avengers” series. It’s also a direct sequel to Zack Snyder’s “Man of Steel,” as it carries continuity from the events of that film’s conclusion — Superman, played by Henry Cavill, leveled much of Metropolis during his fight with General Zod, and now faces the collateral damage of his actions — a factor of which is the rage of Batman, played by Ben Affleck. But more than that, it’s a stepping stone to the eventual Justice League films — a point the film repeatedly smashes over the audience’s head — and at some point, the film is just trying to do too much.

To give director Zack Snyder credit, the film has a striking aesthetic. Like most of Snyder’s previous films, “Batman v Superman” is a visual marvel. Its use of over-saturated color creates a very comic book vibe, and the film’s framing and cinematography are lifted straight out of the comics. Fans of The Dark Knight Returns will identify more than one direct reference to comic panels. But also like his previous films, that aesthetic comes at a heavy price: the script.

For everything the film does right visually, it makes two mistakes in its writing. First, the film has a bizarre problem with continuity that — honestly — left me with a headache. It brazenly jumps from scene to scene without connecting them, making the assumption that the audience will “get the idea” and simply follow along.

Second, it has a terrible problem with pacing. The film is just too long. Clocking in at 151 minutes, “Batman v Superman” squanders most of its running time on building up the titular fight. These are two heroes who must somehow be pitted each other, and the film’s script endlessly bends over its own back to achieve a logical reason for these two to tango. The first hour and a half or so is entirely too dry, focusing on the politics behind its three central characters, and the result is that by the time the action rolls around, it’s too late. After being awash in a sea of mediocre dialogue and tedious, humorless plot beats for so long, no amount of CGI explosions and your-turn, my-turn fisticuffs is interesting. Instead, it feels weightless.

The film also wastes much of its running time on side plots and one-offs that add nothing to the film. Lois Lane, played by Amy Adams, has nothing of interest to do. She’s off chasing tails and connecting dots the audience connected long ago: “What’s that,” she says, “Lex Luthor is involved in all this?” And then there’s the 10-minute dream sequence lifted straight out of “Sucker Punch” that leads directly into another dream sequence. It simply doesn’t belong here. These could have been moments to shed light on the humanity of Superman, or maybe further demonstrate the insanity of Lex Luthor, played by a very twitchy Jesse Eisenberg. But the film is ensnared by its responsibilities, forced to dedicate precious screen time to set up further franchise installments, and it greatly suffers as a result.

As far as performances go, Cavill is as stone-faced and brooding as ever. He looks the part, but he doesn’t contribute anything particular to Superman’s character. Affleck’s performance, on the other hand, will have people talking. Personally, I think it’s serviceable, but many will walk away thinking he is the next true Batman, and that’s something I can partially agree with. The rest of the cast is decent, with Jeremy Irons turning in the best on-screen Alfred yet seen and Gal Gadot showing off as the new Wonder Woman, but they don’t do enough to buoy the film’s poor writing and plot.
“Batman v Superman” feels like a chore rather than the exciting event it aims to be. Although it maintains interesting visuals throughout the majority of its bloated running time, the broken script and endless tie-ins leave the film boring and soulless. This is a film that exists to ensure another, better film gets produced. If Zack Snyder can learn anything before he begins working on the Justice League films — as he is planned to do — he needs to understand that a film must be an adventure, not merely an exercise. And if he can’t, I don’t imagine DC’s extended universe will ever see the light of day.

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