‘Batman V Superman: Dawn Of Justice’ – One Year On.

Movies are the most divisive art form in the world. There’s many movies people love which others don’t. There’s many people hate who others love. It’s all a great mystery. And I think the key to it all is expectation. What is it we want from a movie? I have a list in my head, and while I watch a movie, I think of that list one by one. Everyone else is the same. So following ‘Man Of Steel’, which I absolutely adore, is ‘Batman V Superman: Dawn Of Justice’. Not a project I originally wanted, as I’d hoped for a straight forward Superman sequel. But as time grew, my excitement and anticipation for ‘Batman V Superman’ grew. And with the knowledge that the movie would not only feature Batman and Superman, but would also showcase the first big screen Wonder Woman, along with appearances from the remaining Justice League team, I built my expectations up to an incredible height. After all, a movie with Batman, Superman AND Wonder Woman, while setting up a future Justice League movie and cinematic universe, could only be incredible, right? Let’s think about it… All of the previous Batman movies are heavy on action and spectacle. All of the previous Superman movies are also filled with joyous action and adventure. And ‘Man Of Steel’ couldn’t be more magnificent. Yes, it’s got some minor problems, but it’s a movie that didn’t cheat anyone. It delivers pure bang-for-your-buck entertainment. And on top of it all, the classic Wonder Woman TV show from the 1970’s is action-packed too. So safe to say that ‘Batman V Superman’ should be one hell of a spectacular action movie? But for me, first time around… Not a chance. For me, very little action, very much talking, and almost no Batman V Superman at all. I hated it. Aside from a couple of scenes, and the beautiful Hans Zimmer score (The track ‘Beautiful Lie’ is my favorite piece of Batman music), I was not pleased at all.

The funny thing about expectation is it hurts when it’s not met. Have you ever been to a restaurant, ordered a meal and been told you’ll have it in 15-20 minutes, but an hour later you’re still sitting there waiting? That’s the exact same feeling I got from ‘Batman V Superman’. I went in with every belief that my crazy man mind was going to explode with glee from action overload. So when I find myself eventually at the cinema, sitting in my seat like a kindergarten kid about to get cookies, I think I’m in for a hell of a showdown. But instead, I find myself sitting through an exercise of who can speak the deapest. I’m waiting, waiting, eternally waiting for something wonderful to happen. But yet, I’m scratching my head, wondering just what the heck is going on. Where’s the action? Where’s the big V from the title? What is all that weird random dream sequence stuff? That crazy Flash scene where he comes to Bruce Wayne howling that Superman is bad? And why on earth do I want to tear the head from Jesse Eisenberg? Didn’t someone tell him he’s playing Lex Luthor from Superman and not Riddler from Batman? Even Holly Hunter comes across as a total bore, just spluttering random nonsense. Constant talk, total craziness, but barely a drop of action to ignite my blood. And everytime I think we’re about to get blown away, as Bruce Wayne makes his many threats against Superman, all I get is another 20 minutes of talking. Cinema experiences are a perfect way of watching movies, because you learn so much from a room full of total strangers. And when everyone is in total unison, you don’t feel so bad for hating what’s up on the screen. A collective sound of yawning and stretching filled the sound of that cinema room on opening day. All of us, just sitting there, bored out of our skulls, wondering if somehow we’ve slipped into another universe. A universe where Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman could possibly be boring. The 3 stars are fantastic, with Ben Affleck especially shining through as the latest live-action Batman. But why is it that they’re standing around, chatting as if they’re on a coffee break? And if it couldn’t be any worse, when the big hurrah finally arrives, it ends after maybe 10 minutes? With a scream of “MARTHA!”… “WHY DID YOU SAY THAT NAME?!”, which leads to Batman declaring Superman a friend, after having just tried to murder him. Ironically, that has become one of the biggest internet movie memes in a long time.

Even the notion of Batman fighting Superman is hilarious, as we know Batman could never hope to even put a dent in Superman’s cape without Kryptonite. So when that big fight comes, it held not one surprise for me. I saw it all coming. When you know what’s coming, there’s very little thrill to be had. It’s like somebody shouting out that they’re behind a wall before they jump out at you. And I still didn’t understand how Batman could see Superman as being an enemy to earth. Yes, an attraction for danger without a doubt, but enough to take on an alien more powerful than the world? Not a chance. Oh, and Jesse Eisenberg is still there, talking nonsense about his grandma’s peach tea and somehow believing Batman also has a red cape. Such utter insanity, 2 and a half hours of it. A very cool finale to end with, yes, and a couple of fights and short Batmobile chase. But that’s it? A Batman/ Superman/ Wonder Woman movie that has less action than any solo movie from those heroes? Even the new ‘Wonder Woman’ is action packed, even if a bit too talky at times. But here’s where this gets interesting…

5 months later, ‘Batman V Superman’ arrives on Blu-ray and DVD. With a much rumored 3 hour cut now a reality, I take to social media in an attempt at being humorous, with quips such as “Oh, another half hour of talk, how wonderful!” and the like. But for all my dislike, I still head straight to my nearest Blu-ray/DVD store to nab a copy on first day release. The next morning, around 6am, I decide it’s time to tackle this 3 hour talkfest. With expectations now dashed, as I now know what I’m getting into, I sit back and just watch. I listen to the words, instead of waiting for action, I pay attention to performances, instead of waiting for action, and I try my best to figure out just what is going on, also without waiting for that action I so craved first time around. And you know the funny thing? I absolutely LOVED this movie on Blu-ray! From the opening scene, I paid total attention, knowing I wasn’t getting the level of excitement I’d hoped for. And as the movie moved along quite swiftly for a 3 hour picture, I found myself totally emmersed in it. Where I had been bored at the cinema, waiting for my heroes to kick ass and blow sh*t up, I found myself caught up in the actionless storyline, and I was completely hooked. I understand the insanity of the dream sequences, I understood the real threat Bruce Wayne saw in Superman (Superman attacked first, before Batman ever laid a finger on him!) and even Jesse Eisenberg as Lex Luthor made some sense to me, with my realizing that this is actually his prequel story, not the Lex Luthor I knew as Gene Hackman from the Christopher Reeve movies. Also, I found myself so impressed by the performances from the supporting cast, including Jeremy Irons as Alfred the butler, and a lovely turn once again from Amy Adams as Lois Lane. And above all else, the action that the movie does have, despite the terrribly long waits for it, is pretty spectacular. My greed and hunger having been knocked out of me the first time, I now found myself enjoying what action did make it to the screen. The fights are beautifully brutal, the Batmobile chase is short but fantastic, and the finale is a lot more fun when you haven’t been bored for 2 + hours before it. The extra half hour was also extremely worthy of inclusion, with much more fleshing out of the characters, and a little more explanation into certain aspects of the story. For a 3 hour movie, ‘Batman V Superman’ was pretty damn wonderful that morning.

With the want for one thing in movies, sometimes we don’t see what we’re really getting. For an example… When I was a child at school, we had a movie day once a month in class. One of those days, we watched Tim Burton’s ‘Mars Attacks!’. While one or two boys loved it, I and everyone else hated it, aside from a couple of scenes. And those boys were only pretending they loved it to instigate a row. We’d expected a full-blown Independence Day-style action movie with a sprinkle of Tim Burton craziness and lots of laughs. We felt let down. Years later, I watched it on TV and still hated it, although I liked it more than first time. But a long time later, I ended up owning a DVD of it in a movie pack I had bought. Popped it on to get it done with, but from start to finish, I adored it. I laughed at every gag, I loved every scene, and found myself questioning how I’d hated this movie for so long. And then it hit me. I completely understood what I was watching after so long. ‘Mars Attacks!’ was never intended to be a new ‘Independence Day’. It’s a beautifully created spoof of every bad 1950’s sci-fi movie we’ve ever seen. It makes fun of every silly alien B-movie to come from Hollywood. It’s not a movie of its own creation, it’s Tim Burton paying a loving homage to the great cheesy sci-fi classics that so many kids grew up on. And once I realized that’s what it was about, I instantly grew to be a major fan of it. To go from hating a movie to being a fan of it is all about perspective. That’s something most movie fans will understand. You watch a movie expecting one thing, and when you don’t get that, you become blind to what you are being offered. And from ‘Mars Attacks!’ to now, the only other time I’ve been converted from hate to love for a movie is with ‘Batman V Superman’.

‘Batman V Superman’ doesn’t offer quite the constant rollercoaster thrill ride I expected, but does have some very thrilling scenes that come across far more awesome on second viewing, thanks to knowing the movie’s pacing in advance. Some of it still doesn’t make sense to me, there’s far too many plotholes to go into. And the awkward Justice League cameos do little more than spoil a fun reveal for ‘Justice League’ this November. But that 5 month wait between cinema and Blu-ray gave me time to grieve for the movie I never got, and to just sit back and try my best to enjoy what has been delivered. A big, beautiful, brilliantly shot and casted movie, with the most gorgeous soundtrack score to any Batman movie and some short but very exciting action scenes. There’s not a level of action that we’d expect, but revisiting ‘Batman V Superman’ made me realize that maybe there’s more to a comic book movie than big banging thrills. With ‘Man Of Steel’, ‘Wonder Woman’ and most certainly ‘The Dark Knight’ and ‘Batman Begins’ (Even ‘The Dark Knight Rises’, despite the awfulness of that still fun movie) delivering full-on thrills and spills, it’s easy to always expect that from a DC movie. Even the original Christopher Reeve Superman movies are heavy on character building and such, but they deliver pure excitement, and plenty of spectacular action. And last year’s ‘Suicide Squad’ was a total joy. Hated by so many, but absolutely loved by me. In an intteresting twist, Christopher Nolan is a producer on this movie and ‘Man Of Steel’, but not ‘Wonder Woman’. ‘Batman V Superman’ takes the approach of ‘The Dark Knight Rises’ in terms of more talk and less action, but it does it so much better. And Ben Affleck really does make a perfect Batman/ Bruce Wayne. Given half a chance, he could become the best movie Batman. Henry Cavill is still fantastic as Superman, despite some people’s negative view of him in the role. And Gal Gadot is just sheer heaven as Wonder Woman, she’s everything anyone ever hoped for in the character’s first big screen outing (And the stand alone ‘Wonder Woman’ movie earlier this year). ‘Batman V Superman’ isn’t perfect, but it is a magnificent movie, if we look past the need for constant thrills and total coherance. I’m only sad that my dashed hopes for a full-throttle action movie made me hate this for those few months. But much like ‘Mars Attacks!’, I have seen the light, and I now don’t think I could love this movie more than I do. And the extended cut is a lesson to filmmakers on how to create an alternate experience for their movie, rather than just make a grab for cash by putting out a longer version of something by merely adding filler. Some still dislike ‘Batman V Superman: Dawn Of Justice’, but I’ve seen sense and now stand firmly in its corner. I just love it. It’s not what I expected, but I’ll always be happy to have it.