By Jonathan Decker (Family therapist, film critic)
WHAT'S BATMAN V. SUPERMAN: DAWN OF JUSTICE ABOUT?
Bruce Wayne, fearing Superman's power should the Man of Steel go bad, plans a preemptive strike, goaded on by Lex Luthor's manipulations.
IS IT ANY GOOD? (GRADE: C-)
Cinematically gorgeous, with terrific action and a perfect cast, Batman v. Superman- Dawn of Justice is nevertheless a misfire on part of the director, editors, and screenwriters. Fundamentally misunderstanding the titular protagonists, the creative team give us a Caped Crusader and a Man of Steel who are cynical and jaded to the point of losing their heroism for the majority of the running time. All-but-gone is the noble virtue of Christopher Reeve's Clark Kent. Missing is the selflessness of Christian Bale's Bruce Wayne who, though inhabiting a dark and violent Gotham, valued human life and truly loved his city. Instead we get a Superman who performs heroic deeds with an air of mopey misery, as well as a Batman who gets off on sadism and killing. The only character worth rooting for here is Wonder Woman (and, to be fair, she is awesome).
Our protagonists find some semblance of genuine heroism towards the end, but by then it feels like too little, too late. Matters are not helped by an unfocused narrative with too many plot points and ideas: some of them are interesting, but they're under-cooked. An upcoming extended director's cut may benefit the film, allowing the story and characters to breathe. As it is, this joyless movie is sloppy, with unclear character motivations and relationships that turn on a dime. Attempts to prep the audience for future sequels feel shoehorned and unnatural. However, the cast is excellent (Ben Affleck as Batman, in particular, owns the role inasmuch as the script allows). The visuals pop and the action is stunning. There's potential here. Even though I'm in no hurry to revisit Batman v. Superman, I'm excited for future installments if the creative team can …ahem… do justice to their actors.
IS IT OKAY FOR YOUR KIDS?
Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice is a strong PG-13 (an R-rated director's cut is on the way). The violence is fairly brutal, with innocent people killed in shootings, explosions, and collapsing buildings. Two “heroes” engage in a knock-down, drag-out fight (with one of them actively trying to kill the other), then later joining forces to battle a villain to the death. Lois Lane is seen nearly naked (her breasts are barely obscured) in a bathtub as Clark Kent playfully gets into the tub with his clothes on (the scene ends there). Bruce Wayne wakes up next to a random woman. While there are no f-words, there are other profanities scattered throughout, including sh–, SOB, and a dozen or so misuses of God's name. Not recommended for children below the age of 12.
ANY WORTHWHILE MESSAGES?
Often people become our enemies through misunderstandings; be careful not to misjudge. Coming to understand other people allows us to see their humanity and where they are coming from. When this happens, our enemies may become our friends. Beware manipulation; don't believe everything you see, read, or are told. Instead, question, research, and use critical thinking skills. The greatest love is to give your life for another.
Jonathan Decker is the clinical director of Your Family Expert. He is a licensed marriage and family therapist, husband, and father of five. Jonathan earned a masters degree in family therapy from Auburn University as well as a bachelor's degree in clinical psychology from Brigham Young University. He is an actor, author, and television personality.