Zack Snyder's Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice has finally hit the theaters, and, so far, fans think it's the best thing since the birth of the Internet. Their reaction is worlds apart from that of professional movie critics, most of whom have had a more lukewarm reception to the super hero mash up film. Fans think Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice is crucial viewing, while critics want to get the treatment offered in Eternal Sunshine of The Spotless Mind to erase it forever from their consciousness. Fans say good, critics say bad. Are you with me?
I don't watch a lot of blockbusters. I am also not a professional film critic. I have zero filmmaking experience. All the same: I feel uniquely qualified to review the film's reviews so far, because I'm a very critical person. A born nitpicker. So let's play the following game: reviewing the reviews. After all, reviews are how we who are on the fence decide if a film is worth seeing or not, so we should make sure we're getting the most out of those reviews, right? Whether the review is positive or negative, fair or unfair, doesn't matter nearly as much as the lesson you should take away from the review before you buy your ticket. Bear with me while I tell you what you've learned, so you can go into the film a more knowledgeable viewer.
The Collider Review
Somewhere in its dark, anguished, brooding belly, Zack Snyder’s Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice has some interesting ruminations on what it means to be a hero… Can Batman serve as judge, jury, and executioner on the criminals of Gotham City? Can Superman go into a warzone and take out a warlord? Sadly, these fascinating questions are buried beneath the debris...
Batman V Superman isn't just a showdown between your two favorite superheroes, but also a philosophical rumination on the nature of justice and the nature of good and evil. So, basically, watching this movie will give you a leg up in your next Lit Crit class at the very least.
The Vanity Fair Review
"Indeed, the best parts of Batman v Superman play as turgid, bombastic, and really effective music videos for a Hans Zimmer and Junkie XL album about the quaking of the American spirit, and the hard-jawed men who wrestle on its fault lines.”
You get the movie in one line here: a Hans Zimmer and Junkie XL album. Hands down the best description I've heard all day. Sold.
The Variety Review
"As overblown as the lengthy showdown might become, Snyder gets closer than ever before to the chiaroscuro palette of classic comics, and even if his scrupulous efforts to avoid reopening “Man of Steel’s” collateral damage debates are a bit on the nose, at least he’s clearly received the message.”
I love this. I love that Barker uses the word chiaroscuro and gets academic in places. I walk away from this review smarter than I was when I walked into it, and I am all about carrying that into the theater with me.
The Slash Film Review
"If you thought the Jesus imagery in Man of Steel was too much, you haven’t seen anything yet. Batman v Superman is filled with religious allegories. This might seem like a nitpick but it’s really something that annoyed me while watching the film as it not subtle at all. If you miss a couple of the mentions, don’t worry, they included a dozen more so that you’ll get the point.”
A fair call, but a superhero rumination on the nature of good and evil would be nothing without religious allegories. Where exactly does Batman fit into this allegory, though? Now I need to watch the movie and figure it out.
The Red Eye Chicago Review
"Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot) forgettably makes her debut, Superman gets tossed around a lot and Batman feels more like Superman, pumped up with abilities that minimize the contrast between the two.”
I can't imagine Wonder Woman ever being anything close to forgettable. That just does not compute in my mind. I might need to pay three times as much attention to her just to make sure I and the unfortunate friends I drag to the film with me don't forget that this is her big screen debut.
Honestly, while it's nice to hear about the film from the experts who saw it, for me, Batman and Superman in the same movie doesn't hold a candle to Wonder Woman being in that movie. We should all see it on that basis alone, but, at least now when we watch, we'll be watching smart.
Images: Warner Bros. Pictures; Giphy (5)