Batman vs. Superman is being critically lambasted (Rotten Tomatoes scored it 29% “fresh,” Metacritic scores it 44/100), but fans of the two “guys in clown suits” ignored the critics, showed up in very large numbers and ponied up an estimated $166-million domestically, $420-million worldwide, setting an all-time Easter weekend box-office record.
No spoiler here – it’s in the online previews – but B vs S significantly alters the previous profile of both Superman and Batman movie characterizations. Both are vigilante criminals, unlawfully causing widespread public death and destruction – Superman unintentionally. Batman, on the other hand, tortures and kills at least 17 criminals by shooting, stabbing, and severely beating them. One of the more memorable lines from the movie is when Superman disrupts Batman’s road chase of bad guys, causing the Batmobile to crash. Superman rips off the Batmobile’s doors and, when Batman stands up out of the wreckage, he threatens Batman, telling him to “stop,” warning him that there is to be “no more Batman.” In response, Batman growls “Do you bleed? You will bleed!” That made the theater crowd whistle and yell their approval. I may have also grunted something too, but don’t remember.
As Bruce Wayne (Batman), Ben Affleck is almost perfect. (Memo to Christopher Nolan, director of the excellent “Dark Knight” Trilogy: Why was Affleck not Batman all along!?) In fact, all the major actors in B vs S were on their game, perhaps except Jessie Eisenberg, an actor I had otherwise liked in previous roles, but not here as Lex Luther. Eisenberg comes across as having mistaken his role to be the comical Joker, not a menacing villain.
The battle between Batman and Superman meets expectations. They are later joined by a newly introduced Wonder Woman to do battle with Doomsday, a creature more powerful than Superman. Three other DC comic superheroes also make brief cameos. All of them, Batman and Superman included, will appear together in a “Justice League” movie already in pre-production. Many may also later begin their own solo film franchises.
The climax of B vs S has an utterly jaw-dropping and surprising development that had me thinking … “wow, you have blanking got to be kidding!” I did not stay for any post-credits that may hint at further developments, so I can’t predict what’s next. But there’s real promise in this thriller.
Yeah, I’ll likely buy the Blu-ray when it is released.
My rating: 3.9/5.0
A coda: I initially watched this movie in a normal theatre and remarked that the picture/photographic quality was quite poor. A friend who is an even more extreme cinemaphile severely disagreed with my experience. He had watched the IMAX 3D version and noted none of the problems I described. Because I otherwise thought the movie view-worthy, I returned to Penn Cinema at the Riverfront and viewed the IMAX 3D version and confirmed their correct assessment. I also looked in on Theater 6 in the 16 theater complex (one of Penn’s four theaters showing differing versions of B vs S, and the same one I had sampled late Thursday). Voila, the non-IMAX, non-3D version was also now without the problems I had described. Of course I had to find out what happened on my initial viewing.. One attendant suggested that the projector for the theater in question may have been in a “dim” mode in which one of the projector’s two lamps had either failed or been purposely turned off. If no customer complains, and the automated unmanned projection cycle runs without alerts, such problems can and do happen. He asked if I had complained, or asked for a refund. I had to admit I did not. I am usually very good at complaining. In fact, I claim expert status — but I blew it this time.