Seeing as how Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice has been raking in the dough, it’s likely that most of you have already seen this film – and so you should. Because despite what some of your friends may have told you, despite being lampooned by the mainstream critic circuit, Dawn of Justice is, in fact, a good film, and deserves more respect and praise than it has received.
Perhaps it’s because critic’s are turned off by its dour take on the eponymous superheroes struggles, but for whatever reason, critics have had it in for this film. I myself have seen the movie twice, first by myself, then with a friend (only to ascertain whether or not my enjoyment of round one had been justified). As soon as I left the theatre I began to read critic reviews of the film on my phone. I had gone in with some idea of how it had been received, but was surprised to see that it was unilaterally panned. Especially when it was well received among audiences.
So without further ado, here is my argument for why the BVS:DOJ is worth seeing, and why the mainstream critical community these days is seemingly little more than a trained group of sychophants who thrive on negative criticism and have sense for little else than figuring out which way the wind is blowing. Get in line, folks, I’ll be taking questions later.
Dawn of Judgment
There are only two things one should really consider to be the basis of reviewing a film – what the film’s intentions were, and to what extent it achieved them. All else falls into the realms of subjectivity – cinematography, aesthetics, all personal taste. If a film makes its intent unclear to its viewer, whether by purpose or not, that also is judged.
Batman v Superman is very clear in this regard. It is a purposefully dark superhero movie wherein the dual protagonists struggle to overcome their enemies while also proselytizing about morality and whether or not “someone can stay good in this world,” all amid a backdrop of political and social hysteria. This is a popcorn flick that wants to provide a little something more to the average viewer.
It Ain’t Perfect
That is not to say that it is a great film, and to address this I am willing to make several concessions. For one, there are sections of the story that are completely antecedent to the movement of the plot – the infamous dream sequence, wherein a gun-touting Batman searches for Kryptonite in a vague desert setting, only to be betrayed and overrun by a slew of Kafka-esque insect monsters, for example. One might consider the Post Credits Scenes in the Marvel Cinematic Universe as analogous. Both are little more than mini trailers for the upcoming films in the respective franchise. Working it into the plot is a lofty concept, and Zack Snyder failed to pull it off in this case.
But that brings me to my next point: the film was undoubtedly ambitious. This may be the romantic in me, but I respect films that just go for it. Even if they miss the mark slightly – and yes, Batman v Superman did, we have to recognize the gargantuan task that this film was. It single-handedly established a DC Cinematic Universe, weaved together multiple storylines, provided the must-have flash-forward sequences that hint at things to come, and, most importantly, introduced audiences to a new incarnation of Batman. In one film. All that, it’s a miracle that it didn’t suck. In fact, it actually soared at moments. No, it soared throughout. The film was emotive, serious without being too serious, and came across as actually having a stake. My heart sang in harmony with the ups and downs throughout. And that is after all, one of the main reasons why we go to the movies, – to feel, is it not?
The Defense Rests Its Case, Your Honor
Therein lies the problem. As audience members these days, we are drawn to spectacle more than emotion. We nit-pick, and gripe, and expect the film production to roll over backwards to the whims of the mob. Unlike the Marvel films, which pander in both tone and content to the masses, it seems that this film, while still looking for the widest market possible, has drawn a line in the sand. It is not afraid to actually ask some real questions at the expense of the viewer’s security. What is asked may not the perfect question, perhaps not even an elegant question, but it is certainly a question. And that is why it deserves if not your respect, then at least your second glance. It had ambition. It tried, damnnit. Doesn’t that mean anything these days?