I'll give Zak Snyder's latest video game that I wasn't allowed to play a passing grade. As once again Zak Snyder proves that he lacks story sense. Here I'll be trimming the fat of what felt like a five hour movie and then putting the rest of it together into something less problematic. I'm going to address the first ten pages, the dream sequences, kryptonite, and handling of Doomsday.
The First Ten Pages
As anyone with knowledge of screenwriting knows the first ten pages of any screenplay are important for setting the tone of the film. Which is what Snyder does for us here but with the wrong scene. The only person that wants to see Zak Snyder's interpretation of the death of Bruce Waynes parents is Zak Snyder. It was a beautifully shot scene that we've seen too many times before. Then to undermine the whole scene with unintentional sexual innuendo and opening credits, is just disgusting. So Zak if you're reading this don't tell us the history of Batman in an off the cuff interview. Show us the history of this Batman with your movie. So here's where you open:
Planet earth the age of the dinosaurs:
A meteor rockets to Earth. Upon impact it brings about the extinction of the dinosaurs. A doomsday of sorts.
20 years ago:
It's Batman's first night out on the beat and he escapes with his life.
18 years ago:
Batman is kicking ass and taking names.
16 years ago:
He's taking on his first big villain. Clayface or the Mad Hatter someone we really haven't seen on screen before. It's a tough fight and once again he escapes with his life.
15 years ago:
He's kicking ass with a partner by his side. Who is this partner? A young squire in red, Robin, Dick Grayson.
4 years ago:
Joker goes all “Death in the Family” on a new Robin, Jason Todd with a crowbar. Batman in return beats the Joker within an inch of his life.
Later that night he hangs up the cape and the cowl.
2 years ago:
We keep in the Metropolis scene where Bruce Wayne is heroic and shows that he's still got the moves to be Batman. We also keep this scene in because it shows us Bruce Wayne's anti-Superman motivation.
A kid in the slums of Gotham should find a piece of kryptonite that was thrown from Zod's ship. Pack's it up in a cereal box Mimic style and take the next bus to LexCorp, which stands in the distance just across the bridge. Which brings up another point about this flick that the audience isn't given a sense of geography until the third act and this helps correct the issue and we have Kryptonite from the get-go.
It's also this event that brings the Batman out of retirement with the Bat-brand and everything. Thus using the Bat-brand as a way to get Superman's attention.
And that's the first ten pages are you excited about this movie. I'm pumped. It's better than watching a gun fire in slow motion as pearls spray everywhere for ten minutes. Which was all part of Bruce Wayne's recurring dream.
My biggest issue with BvSM:DoJ was the dream sequences or are they Flash visions(I'll get to those soon enough). There were maybe five of them and if we're going by a rule of threes then it's three too many. Cut them. They were some of most interesting scenes in the film. So, why cut them? For time and for story, so you're not cheating the audience. There's nothing at stake in a dream sequence except for exposing the lie too soon. If Batman dies in a dream sequence he wakes up. There are no Inception purgatories here.
These dream sequences only serve the purpose of expressing character motivation. Which is fixated time after time through character actions and through repeated lines of dialogue. Superman is a danger to us all, can he be controlled, he'll bring others, so on and so on.
And if these dreams are in fact future visions from a Crisis event Flash; than you shouldn't muddy the water by mixing actual dreams and future visions. Because you can't have both, it's not logical. And you can't just tell your audience after the film has been out for a week plus that some of the dream sequences are actually implanted visions from the Flash, it's rude and lazy filmmaking.
Let's move on to Doomsday. Remember that meteor I said should have opened the movie, can you guess whose inside? It's Doomsday!!! Just like in the comics!!! Okay that was a little condescending. I'm sorry. But you implant this mysterious cataclysmic force within the first frame and suddenly it sets the destructive and violent tone for the rest of the film as well as, setting up a mystery for the audience to think about through out the film. So instead of obsessing about finding kryptonite in the tropics with a weird CG shell in the background. Have Lex's field team looking for a legendary ancient weapon or this meteor that's more powerful than kryptonite. They eventually find it in a very Speilbergian moment and they bring it back to Lexcorp. But on the freighter ride back Doomsday escapes, chaos ensues, shipping containers are thrown around with great ease, we don't get a clear shot of Doomday, and as he flees the ship capsizing it in the process. Luckily, Aquaman rights the ship and vanishes. This moment sets the timer that leads to the climax of the film.
Then admist the big Batman v Superman title fight we see one of Doomsday's spines emerge from the inky waters in the bay like a shark's fin. Oh yes this would require a appropriate redesign of Doomsday. Then right as Batman is about to spear Superman a cacophony rings out over Gotham and Metropolis, Doomsday has come to shore and he's fucking shit up. Now Batman has a reason to put the spear down that isn't the fact that their moms have the same first name. It's a baffling and awkward reason to stop fighting. Batman would know Clark Kent's mother's name, he's a detective, he wouldn't be thrown off by such things. Anywho, now, they most defeat this monster together and now we have some sense as to how strong this monster really is, he's able to capsize a freighter. We lose the krytonite spear, Lois, doesn't nearly drown, Superman sacrifices his life to stop end Doomsday's life, Superman's cape blows in the breeze on some wrought iron that doesn't resemble a cross, and we wrap it all up with the funeral scene. The dirt moves, credits roll, and we get a post credits scene. Because, audiences are conditioned to expect post credit scenes after eight years of Marvel cinematic universe building. The post credit sequence in this one is the S.T.A.R Labs footage of Cyborg. That was cool, I liked that reveal.
And those are my notes on how to improve BvSM:DoJ. And the fact that I came out of hiatus (is that what I called it?) to write something about this film means it really stirred something inside me and I'm glad I got it out.