BvS: DoJ, -*

Polemics aside, I’ve got to admit that Batman versus Superman: Dawn of Justice isn’t a perfect movie, and doesn’t really deserve *****. I gave it a 7/10 on IMDB, hedging between a *** and a **** review. It does suffer from a number of problems, the most important of which is the weakness of the transition from enemies to allies based on their mothers sharing a first name. It’s a film that uses impressionistic techniques, metonymy, synecdoche, and so on – but this is an empty signifier. It’s determined by the necessary structure of the story, but it’s just not compelling. It fails the Bechdel test, despite having 3 really interesting female characters – and it feels like it under-uses all three, even though I appreciated the way they saved Wonder Woman for the perfect dramatic moment. What isn’t a flaw but at first glance seems like it should be is that the plot hinges on Luthor’s totally obsessive hatred of Superman… but Luthor and Wayne are both traumatised by the fall of Metropolis and I think the total mania of it was necessary in order for it to function as a drama.

I enjoyed the heck out of it. I’ll watch it again, I’m sure. But this wasn’t even the best film I saw that week – that was High Rise. What I really wanted from writing a ***** review was to challenge people to engage with the film they actually watched, rather than the film they wanted to watch, or thought they would get. We need film-makers, especially on big tentpole franchise movies, to be creative and push boundaries and challenge assumptions. Anything else is to acquiesce to comfortable mediocrity, and nobody wants that. BvS swung for the bleachers, and if it scored a 4 instead of a 6, I respect the attempt more than I dismiss the failings.

Batman versus Superman: Dawn of Justice – ****

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