Note: This review assumes you’ve already seen the movie so there will not be a spoiler warning.
I never really thought Man of Steel, despite having several of Zack Snyder’s trademarks, felt like a Zack Snyder film. This film, however, does – and that’s not really a good thing, because in typical Zack Snyder fashion, it’s over-directed beyond belief. Within the first 10 minutes itself, you’ve got everything from closeups to wide shots to long takes to slow-mo to buildings being destroyed, all in just the first 10 minutes. It’s all a little too much. Zack Snyder doesn’t really have any subtlety either as he bashes you on the head with the “Martha” stuff. First off, we get yet another scene of Bruce’s parents being killed, but this time with the added Snyder touch of really slow slow-mo, and then Bruce’s dad whispering “Martha” with his dying breath. Then there are several scenes throughout the film where Bruce visits the place where his parents’ are buried, and Snyder makes it a point to frame the name “Martha” in a prominent manner. Then, finally, when we get to the (embarrassing and hilarious) scene where that name becomes important and more or less stops Batman and Superman from fighting, Zack Snyder sees it fit to go into a flashback to the slow-mo killing scene from the opening credits and then those scenes of Bruce visiting his dead parents.
I watched the “Ultimate Edition” and honestly, bad choice, because the first hour is just really dull. There’s a lot of exposition, lots of location hopping, lots of setup, but the movie just takes a while to truly get going. Once it does, it does get better as it goes along, but never enough to truly turn into something good. One of the biggest problems with the film is that it sets up an interesting, “meta” sort of question about the destruction and havoc wreaked upon the city by Superman and Zod’s battle in the last movie, but it takes it to a rather simplistic conclusion where Superman heroically sacrifices himself and everybody just mourns him and it’s all good. The whole thing just rings false.
What about the main event though? What about the big battle between these two behemoths of the superhero universe? Well, it’s disappointing, to say the least. The reason the two fight isn’t really good at all. Batman’s motivation is clearer and actually makes sense. Superman fights because, well, his mother’s been kidnapped and Lex Luthor tells him to kill Batman and so he goes and tries to win over Batman to his side. The fight itself is one of the least impressive sequences in the film mainly because you’re not really that invested in either of these characters.
I will freely admit that I had no idea what was going on in many of the scenes in this film. Lois Lane continues her shtick from Man of Steel where she keeps showing up everywhere just in time and she just gets here out of nowhere to blurt out to Batman what’s happened to Superman’s mom. Superman just randomly calls Batman “Bruce” out of nowhere (and this is the “extended” edition) with no hint or implication that he had somehow learned about this earlier. Lex Luthor wanting these two superheroes to fight and destroy each other is given a vague, nonsensical explanation.
There are things to like about this film though. I liked Ben Affleck in this – well, “liked” may be too strong a word, but I was fully expecting him to be nothing short of terrible, and that was a low bar, which he managed to clear, so I suppose that means he was good? I don’t know, but I didn’t hate him. I really liked Jeremy Irons as Alfred though I think his character and performance could have used a little more heart, a little more warmth and levity (but then, so could have the rest of the film). Gal Gadot was the most interesting part of the film. She’s immediately an arresting presence, beautiful and an enigma, and it made me wish this had instead been a standalone Batman film as she displays some good chemistry with Ben Affleck. Certain sequences, like the explosion at the Supreme Court (I think?), were well done.
However, for every single thing you might like, there were three times as many things to dislike. Jesse Eisenberg just overacts through every scene. The film features a lot of really weird, surreal imagery and nightmare sequences that didn’t really inspire me to wonder about what they meant and more just reminded me of Snyder’s horrible Sucker Punch, which is really not a movie I wanted to be reminded of ever again. The film overall is just one big bloated mess that only occasionally flirts with things that are semi-interesting.