– by Cecily Knobler, Live From Hollywood –
Directed by Zack Snyder
Starring Ben Affleck, Henry Cavill, Amy Adams and Jesse Eisenberg
“Zack Snyder, do your worst,” I said to no one in particular in the concessions line at this film’s press screening. Then I immediately followed that up with, “No wait, don’t do your worst. We’ve seen your worst. It’s TERRIBLE. Please, please, please do your best.” The good news, he kinda did. The bad news is, it’s still Zack Snyder.
Let’s actually list a few of the highlights. Ben Affleck as the Batman isn’t bad. Let me rephrase that. Ben Affleck as Bruce Wayne is actually quite good. As Batman, he’s just a chin in a mask, but that’s less his fault than it is the editing, writing and everything else. His trusty butler Alfred (played by a cheeky and excellent Jeremy Irons) is a highlight.
And there were moments of greatness from Jesse Eisenberg’s Lex Luthor. But there were also moments in which what appeared to be his high school theater training seeped in like sweat seeping from his pores. “I’m ACTING,” he might as well have screamed in a few of the scenes. “See? I have a tick! And a twitch!” I believed for a moment he thought he’d been cast as the Joker rather than the cooler, more calculated Lex, but I checked with an uber DC fan (my ex) and he said he wasn’t bad. In fact, such severe intelligence and megalomania is exactly how the character was originally envisioned.
The film, which is two-and-a-half hours long, is actually quite a feat in its first act. But as often happens with Snyder at the helm, it’s just far too much at times. The Hans Zimmer score was characteristically bombastic, but actually kinda fun, especially when in Luthor mode. I love Amy Adams, but haven’t totally succumbed to her Lois Lane. And we’ve gotten this far without even mentioning Superman! Henry Cavill looks the part, but it’s tough to walk in the shadow of Christopher Reeve’s legacy. Similar to Affleck, Cavill shines more brightly when he’s Clark Kent. In fact, a fighting match between Batman and Superman’s alter egos would have been far more exciting. (I’m serious, but perhaps I’m suggesting a Woody Allen film. Super rich guy just argues with a nerd.)
Sometimes the CGI is incredible and sometimes it’s laughable, (particularly in the hacky dream sequences.) I won’t give away any spoilers but I will tell you that man, the thighs on Wonder Woman (who makes her debut in preparation for her solo film in 2017) are powerful. (She’s played gorgeously by Israeli actress/model Gal Gadot.) And here’s where I get to the good part. I actually liked this more than many critics did. Yes it’s true; in keeping with the perhaps darker, grittier brand of DC Comics, it’s pretty humorless. But if you just go in knowing it’s going to take a less “winky” approach, you might actually enjoy the ride. Do I wish it were better? Of course. Do I hope to someday be the kind of person who doesn’t ask themselves questions only to answer them myself? You bet.
B – / C+