Thursday, 7 April 2016

Batman vs. Superman Is Not As Bad As Critics Would Like You To Think...

By Gregory Robinson
Today I went to the cinema to see Batman vs. Superman not knowing what to expect. After reading several overly negative reviews from various critics I assumed the movie would not be as bad as reviews would like me to believe. When it comes to superhero/comic book films, the critic’s fanboy minds often take over, and their pessimism is unescapable.

I realised many critics mostly dislike director Zack Synder for whatever reason and anything which is not from the coveted Marvel Cinematic Universe or even worse, aims to repeat the success of the MCU which appears to be what DC/WB are attempting to do starting with Batman vs. Superman and upcoming films Suicide Squad, Wonder Woman and Justice League will receive a lukewarm reception at best. Ultimately, B vs. S is not as bad as critics are stating it to be, nor is it a perfect movie, there are various confusing scenes (like Bruce Wayne’s odd nightmares) and scenes which drag the movie beyond its limits (the funeral scenes, most of the first half, scenes involving Jesse Eisenberg doing his best Jennifer Lawrence impression) but it certainly has some positive aspects (like Ben Affleck playing a gruff/moody Bruce Wayne, Henry Cavill’s face, Lois Lane and Wonder Woman) and has the potential to launch several spin-off films which can learn from the mistakes of B vs. S.

Surprisingly, many critics seem to dislike the doom and gloom of the film and a lack of humour despite the quite saddening topics of the film. Furthermore, while many critics praised some aspects of the film, such as the special effects, the CGI were one of the worst aspects of the film for me. The overuse of CGI often gave the film an overly artificial quality and reduced the sense of immediate danger and emotion in many scenes. Some of the positive aspects of the film include Ben Affleck’s performance as Bruce Wayne/Batman, whose casting originally caused outrage among fan boys for whatever reason (I’m starting to see a trend here…). Gal Gadot plays the first cinematic adaptation of Wonder Woman and is yet another highlight of the film, while Isla Fisher as Lois Lane also manages to shine in an otherwise underused role.

To improve future films, it would be in the WB’s favour to replace Zack Snyder as the principle director/hype man of the franchise. While I do not blindly hate Snyder, I think a fresher, slightly more upbeat approach may lead to a better critical reception.  But are critics actually relevant to the success of a film like B vs. S? It seems as though people will go to see the film regardless of whether critics have some deeply rooted hatred of it, its cast and character portrayals. For instance, ran reception has been overwhelmingly positive (71% approval rating) and while many industry sites have already begun spinning the tale of the film being a massive flop, its box office performance has so far surpassed the performance of Man of Steel at the same point of time after its release.

One possible explanation for the overwhelmingly negative reception of the film (it only has a 29% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes) is the oversaturation of the superhero/comic book genre. The genre has been oversaturated on both film and television and there are dozens of films released every year and even more set to be released leading into 2020! It seems as though critics repressively believe that only MCU should be making superhero movies and already have decided that anything else is inferior. Critics who review superhero/comic book films are unable to view the films objectively. Everything is reviewed in regards to how 'Marvel' it is. The film was picked apart and  analysed based on how much the individual parts replicate the Marvel formula. It is unprofessional to put one formula on a pedestal while displacing anything which deviates from that formula.

My main criticism for WB is why did they decide to not integrate their TV and Cinematic universe? Why is Grant Gustin not portraying The Flash in the Justice League film? Where is Stephen Amell? Would it not benefit the whole franchise to create synergy between the cult following and highly praised CW series and the cinematic world? It is a horrible mistake not including the cast and characters which have already been established with millions of people or taking the opportunity to expand their worlds.
Both Arrow and The Flash are two of the best superhero/comic book dramas on television and streaming services which manage to combine doom with humour which may please critics and possibly improve the fan approval rating.

Ultimately, B vs. S is by no means perfect but it is not catastrophically bad. The highs (like Ben Affleck) deserve more praise than the negative reception the film as received as a whole. But what can you expect in Hollywood where people absolutely revel in the supposed downfall of a major movie franchise.

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