GENESIS: Bk1 of The Kingdom Come Series Reviews

GENESIS: Book One of The Kingdom Come Series (All Reviews)

 Ok, Now they're all in one place: Amazon, B&N and Goodreads :) Amazon Customer September 29, 2016 5/5 A great read wit...

Sunday, December 4, 2016

This is not a boradsword! -by Edd Mcdonald

That is not a broadsword!

In recent days, there appears to be a growing interest in presenting historical realism into fantasy writing. If that’s not your bag then that’s absolutely cool. This blog is aimed at those who want the swords in the hands of their characters to function like historical swords.
Fantasy writers that this blog is for:
  • People who want the medieval weapons they write about to be used like medieval weapons
  • People who are writing fantasy but aren’t super interested in spending years reading about historical weapon use
  • Pedants like me
It’s not for you if:
  • Historical realism is not part of your book – it is a fantasy after all
  • You prefer to base your weapons use on what you’ve seen in the Peter Jackson LOTR movies
  • You are looking for a blog about gardening. Like seriously, what are you doing here?
This blog is intended as a “Quick myth buster” sheet to help out those who want to get a quick grasp of some of the basic, but commonly unknown, facts about medieval arms and armour. It’s so common for swordsmen to play a huge role in fantasy novels but for the author to have little or no experience of sword fighting that I figured it might be helpful.
I focused only on the most common stuff as I didn’t know if anyone is interested in sickle duels.
Disclaimer 1: If you don’t agree with any of the points I put forward, or your swords are lightsabres, or you just don’t like them, or your characters have super strength, or they need special weapons to cut up insect people, then that’s all fine and I’m certainly not telling anybody what they have to do! You can write whatever you would like. This guide is intended for people who want an element of historical realism to their weapons and armour. If you want it to work differently then that’s entirely up to you and this post is not judging you for doing so.
Disclaimer 2: Some of the things I’m going to say are pretty generalised. There are always exceptions, but I’ve not tried to mention them because in doing so it gives too much weight to the rarities, and diminishes the ‘norm’ which is what I’m trying to put across.
How I claim to know about this stuff: I have a BA in Ancient History and Archaeology and a Masters degree in Medieval History. I also study Historic European Martial Arts and train twice per week with David Rawlings, one of the world’s most highly respect swordsmen in the Historical European Martial Arts community. As my background is in European history I won’t be talking very much about Asian martial arts but am talking about the type of fighting that took place in Europe between 500AD and 1700 AD.
I’ve aimed to keep this to brief, bullet point form so that it’s not like reading an essay, with videos provided for those who want to look into these ideas further.
THE BIG MYTH: Swords are the dominant weapon of a medieval/ancient society.
THE TRUTH: Swords are almost always a secondary or tertiary weapon for warriors, meaning that you would only use your sword if your main weapon was lost/broken/inappropriate. Main weapons would almost exclusively be pole based weapons (lance, spear, polearm, javelin, pike etc) or a missile weapon (bow, crossbow, sling, firearm etc). There is an exception to this, which is for very large and heavy swords that require two hands to be used, but those tend to serve specific functions on battlefields (beheading horses, defending standards etc) and are used by men in full armour.
Swords are at a big disadvantage against pole weapons in most situations but usually in both battlefield formations and 1v1 situations.
Professional Swordsman Matt Easton talks about sword vs. spear
Know your swords
Terminology only matters if you think it matters, but if someone said ‘pistol’ and they meant ‘rifle’ that would generally be commented upon. Unfortunately, loads of fantasy authors seem to use D&D terminology or else just assume their own, which irritates historicity pedants like me:
Shortsword: There is no such thing in history. The image this term brings to my mind is the Roman gladius, which is fairly short as a sword, but the D&D shortsword that deals 1D6 damage simply doesn’t exist.
Longsword: This is a two handed weapon (the hilt is long enough for 3 hands to be placed, if you had 3). It is a later renaissance weapon but it was arguably a civilian and duelling weapon, not a battlefield weapon. There’s some debate on that.
Greatsword: This is a two handed sword for the battlefield.
Bastard Sword: This is the ‘hand and a half’ sword, somewhere between an arming sword and a greatsword. They were a real thing.
Broadsword: A single handed, single edged sword with a large basket guard. It is not a two handed weapon. It is often incorrectly referred to as such. The picture below shows a beautiful Scottish Broadsword made by the great modern swordmaker Marco Danelli of Danelli Armouries. If you want to see what swords should look like, his website is a great resource:
Vs. Armour
Swords do not easily cut through armour. A sword blade is very unlike either to cut, or punch through either mail armour or plate armour. If fighting an armoured opponent, people would historically used a Half Sword technique where they put one hand on the blade and use it more like a spear.
How you use a sword against someone in armour
So why use a sword? Swords are light and easy to carry. They make great side arms because they can be hung easily on a belt. They’re also aesthetically pleasing, and because in the early middle ages making swords was very expensive, they have always been a status symbol. Swords are iconic and indicate being part of a warrior class for much of the middle ages, even after they became common by the end of the 11th century. Note however that swords cease to be expensive or rare by as early as 1000AD and in the high and late medieval they were neither expensive nor the preserve of the elite. Plenty of medieval artwork shows drunken peasants having a go at each other with their swords, and it was a standard side arm for pretty much all soldiers.
Swords are not heavy! Even the longsword (often referred to as the bastard sword) only weighs 1-2kg (2.4-4lbs). It is very very fast, light and swift. It is hard to parry an attack with any sword even if you know that it’s coming! It’s totally fine for even a slightly built person to wield a steel sword for 2 hours solid without feeling tired unless they’re entirely unused to physical exertion.
If you are NOT wearing armour or have no shield, once they commence, sword fights end in about 1-5 seconds. You can basically forget about multiple clashes of blade or anything that looks like what you’ve seen on Game of Thrones. This video demonstrates longsword fighting in about as historically accurate way as I’ve been able to find:
Unarmoured longsword fighting
Wrestling is an essential part of all hand to hand combat but often neglected! When two fighters get close to each other they will commonly abandon their weapons and fight up close.
The longsword/bastard sword/2 handed sword was the knightly sword, and not very common. The most common civilian weapon set is the single sword (or arming sword) with a buckler. Sword and buckler combat probably played far, far more importance in the medieval world than longswords. Our earliest fight manual, the so called “I.33” from about the year 1300 demonstrates techniques for sword and buckler. The video below is some really great interpretation of sword and buckler fighting (but slowed down). You might note how the inclusion of the shield means that the sword fight takes much longer.
Sword and buckler
Using a one handed sword with nothing in your second hand is generally unusual up until the appearance of complex hand guards. Most people would have used a shield in war, a buckler in civilian life, a knife or cloak if you didn’t have your buckler. Failing all of those you use your free hand to slap at the enemy weapon when it comes near you! You can grab a static sword blade and it will not cut you. Medieval European swords were very sharp, but you can grip a sharp sword with your bare hand safely as long as it’s not pulled through.
I have to mention one of the biggest myths: Katanas are in no way superior to other swords. They have a mythology about their sharpness, but in most ways are quite inferior to European swords. They are prone to chipping because of the hardened blade, they are heavy compared to European swords, they are short and because they are two handed weapons this actually limits their reach. The reason for all that special smithing has nothing to do with quality, and everything to do with the terrible quality of steel in Japan during the katana’s heyday. Sorry, katana fans! They look gorgeous but they aren’t especially useful.
Spears were THE medieval and ancient weapon. They were used in some format by every army from the beginning of history to modern day – even professional soldiers have bayonets, turning their gun into a spear. They are so underrepresented in fantasy that the only notable wielders that spring to mind are Kaladin in Way of Kings and Oberyn Martell in Game of Thrones. That’s not many for such an important weapon.
An inexperienced spearman will often (usually!) beat an experienced swordsman because the spear has a huge advantage in reach over the sword.
A spear thrust could penetrate mail but will not penetrate plate.
Swinging the whole pole around your head is a totally legitimate historical technique.
The optimal hand to hand combat weapons against plate armour are pollaxes or similar pole based weapons. These weapons were specifically developed to fight against plate armour. If plate armour is a thing in your world, this is what people should be using against it!
Pole axes are the only weapon that I’ve ever trained with where I thought “jeez, this is heavy!” They weigh a lot. Swinging them takes a lot of effort and you need to use all the muscles in your core and up into your back.
The one handed axe is a weapon that is used because it is cheap and easy to obtain, not because it is an especially good weapon.
Axe heads need to be pretty small. The huge axe that Gimli has in the LOTR films is far, far too large to be used practically (and must require him to have enormous strength to wield). An axe made specifically for war should be far smaller because in combat, speed is what matters.
If someone chooses to use an axe over a sword for non-armoured fighting then they need a very strange reason to do so. A sword has huge advantages over any single handed axe.
Axes were seldom favoured but they did have their uses. The Vikings made good use of the Dane Axe, a huge double handed weapon to fulfil specific battlefield roles.
If you don’t have plate armour, you want a shield. Shields are awesome.
If you do have plate armour, shields become redundant and you’re better off with a two handed pole type weapon.
Shields are also very inconvenient to carry around with you.
Unlike a sword, a medium sized shield is actually pretty heavy. Training for 2 hours with a Viking style shield will leave your shield arm knackered. Since shields varied between being little bucklers that just protect the sword hand and massive tower shields that covered the whole body, it’s not really possible to give a ‘standard weight.’
Armour: If you want a great documentary on armour, then the Weapons that Made Britain series is fairly good and entertaining. Note: I’m using the English spelling of armour. If you’re American you can spell it your own zany way!
Weapons that Made Britain: Armour
Leather Armour
Historically, this does not really exist as it’s most commonly imagined in fantasy. Who would wear leather to stop getting stuck with a sword? It’s like suggesting that you couldn’t push a kitchen knife through your shoe. Leather armour would offer almost no protection against bludgeoning, cutting or piercing weapons.
Leather armour is in fact actually just ‘clothing.’ Clothing made of leather.
There are boiled leather vests and some instances of leather armour around the world, but it’s inflexible and never preferrable to steel. Armour and weapons always develop in tandem: if the enemy wear cloth armour/silk then you use curved weapons because the curve reduces friction as you cut them. If they then change to leather you just punch straight through it with something straight and pointy. If they then change to plate you switch to a bludgeoning weapon and try to smash them down and then stab them in the eye when they’re prostate. But leather armour? That’s like armour made out of the same stuff as your shoe.
And just imagine how quickly it’s going to rot after your hero goes swimming in the swamp/sweats in battle.
Mail Armour
The term ‘chainmail’ is a modern convention, historically it was just called Maille.
Mail armour is not heavy. It weighs about 11kgs. A U.S. marine carries about 60kgs on his back, whilst mail’s weight is spread around the shoulders.
You cannot swim whilst wearing it, even if you were a good swimmer. It’s not an issue of weight, it’s an issue of buoyancy.
Mail is super effective against cutting attacks. You cannot cut through a mail shirt with a sword, even a two handed sword. A good cut against it might cause limited blunt trauma damage to the body beneath, but the mail won’t even be damaged.
Mail is not very effective against piercing attacks. Arrows, spears, sword thrusts – anything direct and forceful might go through mail (might – there are historic accounts of mailed knights looking like hedgehogs due to all the arrows sticking in their mail during the crusades). If you’re interested in seeing how mail does against various weapons, the following video is fairly decent:
Cutting test video – sword, axe vs. mail
Plate Armour
Plate armour is not heavy. A full suit of plate armour only weighs about 20kgs (again, 1/3 of what a US marine carries today). It does restrict your movements slightly, but you can do cartwheels, forward rolls etc without any kind of problem in plate armour.
If someone is knocked over, it takes no longer for them to get up wearing plate armour than it does if they are naked. The armour makes no difference, it is not restrictive like that.
Wearing a close visored helmet will interfere with your breathing after serious exertion.
Plate armour did not commonly cover the backs of the upper legs; it was generally assumed that if you were in plate armour then you’d be sitting on a horse, although knights often fought on foot.
Plate armour takes time to put on, and you need help getting it on (my friend estimates 40 minutes for his 15th century harness, with someone helping). It’s not practical to wear whilst travelling around or just day to day.
Plate is probably the most poorly represented armour in fantasy settings. When you are in full plate armour YOU ARE A LIVING TANK! Although the quality of armour could vary hugely, and surviving examples we have today are likely only of the very best quality, a man in full plate was almost invulnerable to even direct blows from the hand held weapons of the medieval period. A fit person who has never held a sword before who is given a suit of plate armour and a sword will almost certainly defeat very good swordsmen if they are unarmoured… but then, that’s what heroes do, right?🙂
Your best bet to kill a man in plate is to get him on the ground and put a dagger in his visor or in the joints (which would be protected by mail), or pull his helmet off (if it’s not buckled on) and get him in the head. As before, wrestling is an essential part of any warrior’s skill set.
Aiming to get a sword/spear into the visor slot or other joint whilst the man is up and fighting should be considered an essentially superhuman feat. People just aren’t accurate enough to do that in a fight.
Do you want plate armour to stop arrows? Depending on which technology level you aim at you can choose! By the 15th century, Italian armour was arrow-proof as experienced by the English longbowmen at the Battle of Verneuil in 1424. Earlier armour was far less hardened.
You need to train for many years to be able to be an effective longbowman. You need to seriously bulk up your shoulders in order to give you a significant draw strength on the bow for battle.
If you are just hunting or shooting targets you don’t need this strength, but don’t expect your arrows to go through armour. Even the bows of the strongest longbowmen eventually were defeated by armour – a bow drawn by a slinky, sexy woman who hasn’t done some weight training is not going to penetrate plate or even mail regularly.
If you intend to have main characters using bows, you need to watch this video and see just what is capable – somersaulting whilst hitting moving targets? Yep! 10 arrows in the air before one lands? Sure. Shooting faster than Legolas? Yes absolutely!
Super fast shooting archery
Now, in fairness, some people do dispute Lars’ video as being authentic but there’s only so much that you can say “See that thing you just did? You can’t do that.” Your hero archers should be capable of pretty spectacular stuff if they spent their lives with a bow.
Well, that’s it for now. I hope that some of this is useful to you or at least mildly interesting. I’d always urge you to conduct your own research and to go and train at a local HEMA class in order to test these things out for yourself. The Palace Armoury branch at the London Longsword Academy will always welcome you for a fight and a pint afterwards.


I am a fantasy fiction writer and historical European martial arts enthusiast. I spend my days reading about swords, writing about people swinging swords and swinging swords at people. Find me at ! Like my page at Follow me on Twitter!

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Should you change the way you write based on WHO can/will read it?

This Surprising Reading Level Analysis Will Change the Way You Write

By Shane Snow January 28th, 2015 Ernest Hemingway is regarded as one of the world’s greatest writers. After running some nerdy reading level stats, I now respect him even more.
The other day, a friend and I were talking about becoming better writers by looking at the “reading levels” of our work. Scholars have formulas for automatically estimating reading level using syllables, sentence length, and other proxies for vocabulary and concept complexity. After the chat, just for fun, I ran a chapter from my book through the most common one, the Flesch-Kincaid index:

I learned, to my dismay, that I’ve been writing for 8th graders.
Curiosity piqued, I decided to see how I compared to the first famous writer that popped in my head: Hemingway. So I ran a reading level calculation on The Old Man and the Sea. That’s when I was really surprised:

Apparently, my man Ernest, the Pulitzer- and Nobel Prize-winning novelist whose work shaped 20th-century fiction, wrote for elementary-schoolers.
Upon learning this, I did the only thing a self-respecting geek could do at that point: I ran every bestselling writer I had on my Kindle through the machine. I also ran some popular crime and romance novelists, a few political books I despise, and a couple of business writers who bought their way onto bestseller lists (i.e., their work wasn’t notable enough to sell on its own). I grabbed each author’s most well-known work, pasting in enough text to gain a statistical confidence.[1]
For reference, I threw in a few other things: an academic paper about reading level indices, another paper about chess expertise, a Seth Godin blog post, the text of the Affordable Care Act, and the children’s book Goodnight Moon.
Here’s what came out:

(Click to enlarge)
What this shows is the approximate number of years of education one needs to be able to comprehend the text. Flesch-Kincaid is the most popular calculator, but some scholars argue that other indices, like Gunning-Fog and SMOG [2] are better. For the above chart, I ran everything through the five most popular calculators, and took an average.[3]
Another highly-regarded measure is the Flesch-Kincaid “Reading Ease” score. It estimates how fast a piece of writing is to get through.

Here’s a look at the reading ease of those same books:

(Click to enlarge)
Reading ease roughly correlates to reading index, but you’ll see that some of the works shift when calculated this way. For example, Hemingway moved up a rank.
Since fiction and nonfiction are not apples to apples, here’s a breakdown by category:

(Click to enlarge)
Note how none of these guys wrote above a 9th-grade level.[4]
Nonfiction is a little different, but you’ll notice that these bestselling books tend to hover at or below 9th grade as well, with a few exceptions that are known for their difficulty (e.g. Good to Great is exceptional material but only really accessible to college students) or that were just crappy books (the ones who bought their own books in order to become bestsellers):

(Click to enlarge)[5]

(Click to enlarge)[6]
The initial surprise from my little data experiment is that writers whose work we regard highly tend to be produce work at a lower reading level than we’d intuit.[7] Cormac McCarthy, Jane Austen, and Hunter S. Thompson join J.K. Rowling in the readability realm of pre-teens. The content of McCarthy’s and Thompson’s novels isn’t meant for children, but these writers’ comprehensibility is rather universal.
I wasn’t shocked that academic documents rank difficult. However, I was surprised that the ones I studied were only 12th and 13th grade reading level.
Most of us don’t read at that level, it turns out. (Or if we can, we hate to.) Here’s what research says about how many Americans even can read well:

In other words:

I did an informal poll of some friends while writing this post. Every one of them told me that they assumed that higher reading level meant better writing. We’re trained to think that in school. But data shows the opposite: lower reading level often correlates with commercial popularity and in many cases, how good we think a writer is.[8]
I recently wrote a post about three important ingredients for “shareable” writing: Novelty, identity, and fluency. “Novelty,” of course, has to do with surprising or new ideas and stories. “Identity” means the reader can relate to the subject or characters. And “fluency” means the reader can get through the writing quickly, without having to think so hard about the words themselves.
My reading level data verifies that Hemingway, et. al. write with more fluency than others. That’s what makes them exceptional. And it gives them a better chance to reach larger audiences.
In eras past, sophisticated writers aimed to entertain and persuade a sophisticated audience with big vocabulary and complex ideas. (Case in point: Ben Franklin’s autobiography—one of my favorites—is written at a 13th grade level.) In recent years, it seems an increasing number of sophisticated thinkers have intended to reach larger audiences through literary simplification (e.g., Malcolm Gladwell, one of the smartest people I’ve met, who certainly could write at a 13th grade level but intentionally writes at 8th grade level in order to bring complex ideas to an audience that wouldn’t hang at a higher level). Yet, school teaches us that higher reading level equals credibility, which is why so many of us try to sound more sophisticated when we speak and write. In fact, that’s what most business and academic writers still do: they get verbose and pack their work with buzzwords and heavy diction in order to appear trustworthy.
Turns out, that’s counter-productive.
Let’s look at Vox’s Ezra Klein, the Washington Post and American Prospect writer who made his mark in the journalism world through the opposite practice. Klein’s job, like any good reporter, is to take sophisticated information and explain it in a way that a larger audience can understand. He does it exceptionally well. Here’s what that looks like in a couple of his recent posts:

Now, at a reading ease of 57 out of 100, Klein’s articles are not Goodnight Moon. But he significantly increases the percentage of people who can actually comprehend some very complex material. And that’s made his career.
I posit that this idea has a lot to do with the unlikely popularity of blogs in general. When blogging became a thing fifteen or so years ago, journalists frequently scoffed. How can amateurs possibly win an audience’s trust like we pros can? Movies and TV shows made a trope of the enterprising young blogger who gets no respect from the newsroom.[8] Yet, blogs—with their conversational prose—took off.
For one last comparison, I grabbed a top story from a bunch of news sites around the web. It’s not a wholly scientific comparison (entertainment stories will contain different vocab than policy or business stories), but I tried to take samples that represented each publication’s standard work. Here’s what I found:

(Click to enlarge)
I was curious why GQ was more complex than the Los Angeles Times, and Cosmo less complex than GQ. Turns out that esoteric vocabulary that you tend to find in fitness and health articles (like the one I sampled for GQ) clocks in at a higher reading level, even if the rest of the prose is simple.
You may not be surprised to learn that the 3rd-grade-level BuzzFeed post was the most shared article on the list. The top BuzzFeed News article, on the other hand, dealt with weightier subject matter and was more advanced reading (and shared much less). The Economist, of course, publishes the most complex writing. Strange, however, that Huffington Post’s big news stories tend to be complex as well. This is a product of subject matter to a degree, but I suspect it also has to do with having more seasoned writers on staff and an aim over recent years to appear more sophisticated. They’re not writing at a level that a well-educated person can’t jibe, but the fact that 50% of the country isn’t going to comprehend the top general interest story on HuffPo is pretty interesting.
What does this all mean?
We shouldn’t discount simple writing, but instead embrace it. People freak out that teenagers are reading 5th-grade-level books, but it turns out that’s not a bad sign. Of course, we want to teach teens to comprehend higher reading levels than Harry Potter, but just because we can doesn’t mean we should be forced to waste time slogging through Ph.D.-level papers when the Ph.D.s could write more fluently.
The other lesson from this study is that we should aim to reduce complexity in our writing as much as possible. We won’t lose credibility by doing so. Our readers will comprehend and retain our ideas more reliably. And we’ll have a higher likelihood of reaching more people.
Of course, nobody’s going to be excited enough to read or talk about something just because it’s easy. To make an impact, writing has to be interesting, too.[9]

It might not be reasonable (or desirable) to write business texts at a 4th grade reading level. Gladwell and Hemingway are different beasts.[10] But within a given genre, the best writers tend to write the simplest.[11]
And in case you’re wondering, this blog post got an 8.6.

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Thursday, April 14, 2016

My review of BvS: Dawn of Justice

First, let me say how hyped I was for this movie. I was nuts over it.
These characters are my childhood, shit, my adulthood, more so than any other heroes.

I was so excited that for the last month I was avoiding everything about it online and Tv; of course, you can't dodge it all, but I did my best.

I was even taking the time to workout beforehand all the things I didn't understand, like or agree with, based on the trailers I'd seen (before going Dark) and telling all my friends my ideas as a way to counteract all the negative talk already circling the drain—and this was before the actual first reviews came out.

I was supposed to see the movie with one of my best friends, a Die-In-the-Cape Superman aficionado, who like me, also enjoyed Man of Steel. But I'm glad I didn't see it with him, because he was loosing faith early on, despite all my theories and how I fervently denounced hater trash-talking—mostly cause many weren't fans of the genre or didn't enjoy MoS or who wanted everything to be Marvel's take on Super Heroes—my friend couldn't be swayed from going into it with far less than modest hopes.
(It didn't help that we couldn't get a schedules right, ya know, the Life of Dads) 

SOOOOO he saw it early, like a dozen hours before me and I told him to tell me, without spoilers, if he liked it or not and he basically came away saying...

He liked it far less than Man of Steel, though he's glad for fans—basically he was disappointed more than anything. This just wasn't what he was expecting, so this kinda put a huge question mark on the whole Justice League going forward.

So, I had all of this floating in my head when I saw it the next day with my wife.
I watched it in almost near silence. When it was over, we left without saying much, she kept asking me how I felt, what I thought, so here it is....

Between 3.5 and 5 out of 10 Stars is how I rank Dawn of Justice

So, if you loved this movie, well, there's no point reading onward cause it won't matter.

Q: That's an odd Star Rating?
A: Well, I split it because I view the movie two ways 1) Story 2) Visuals
So the story is the meat of the movie—dialogue, motivations, acting but not really because they were directed to deliver those lines that way, but the plot and so on. And for me, that's a 3.5 out of 10.
The Visuals were great—costumes, almost all the scenes, graphics, almost all the action and so on, which is why I gave it a 5 out of 10.

Lets do the reverse: Visuals 1st because they're mostly positive

Ok, so, clearly the actors looked great, the costumes looked great.

And this is a pretty bad ass Bat Cave; this isn't even all of it. 


Yep, that's a sweet Bat Mobile *even if a little too obviously Urban Warfare*

Yep, that's also a sweet Bat Wing *Seems to be a shitload of Batman stuff?*

I mean, you get it, it's a damn good looking movie...for the most part; yes, plenty of scenes were too dark (not gritty) just dark and hard to see. The battle with Zodsday (you'll get this later) was really hard to see, not nearly enough contrasts, too much smoke and fire and just dark. Nevertheless, for the most part, this was a very pretty movie with some great slow motion scenes and crisp-action driven scenes, which Snyder is a master of. 

Ok, good, so this really sums up why it's a 5 out of 10. The visuals were pretty damn good, but, since I kinda lump music into visuals—no, you can't see them, but they do add to the weight of a scene—this movie didn't really have a good score and I can't remember any music in the movie that stirred my emotions anywhere near how I felt when watching MoS. 

Now, onto the hard stuff.

While I respect Snyder and his team for swinging for the fences, this movie for me had way more misses, fouls and strikes compared to the few good hits and honestly, I don't remember any scene in the movie that was a home-run for me—and that hurts to say. Hurts me more than you know.

The Failure of Trying to do TOO MUCH

Dawn of Justice isn't Dark Knight Returns

1) It doesn't have the history of the characters in-order to have the emotional-weight needed for their fight to matter, because in the movie, they'd just met. Superman's been a hero for about two years.
2) The fight in the movie isn't nearly as creative as the comic/animated movie.
3) There's a POINT to their fight, a message, a question of WHO has power and who has the Right to it—
A) The Regan Government, which Superman is an agent of; of course Batman feels this makes Superman a tool, something he should never be given WHO HE IS and what he represents.
B) OR Batman, who wants to do his own thing and feels HEROES serve to check all other powers, except the Gov has "retired" many.
—and so because their "fight" is more than just a senseless battle-royal, their dialogue during and/or their inner thoughts depicted in the comic ARE IMPORTANT. They add substance to the conflict, but the movie lacks almost all of this and instead inserts weaker dialogue, of which is basically Batman's one lesson he's learned from his parents and then the laughable of all moments in the movie...

Say whatever you want about the "Depth" in this scene, how it's the moment where Batman realizes Superman is also just a son who wants to save his mother, how it suddenly snaps him back to the loss of his own mother....but what if her name wasn't Martha?
What if she was Sue Kent?
Yeah, Superman would've died. 
Think of it this way:
The audience is pushed to a cliff (the showdown) because The "Great Detective" can't do math, and ignores his own eyes, including any/all evidence about the Zod encounter following his THREAT TO THE PLANET, on top of being a ridiculous pawn of Lex's flimsy plan to make them fight. 

Next, the audience is told to jump from the cliff (buy-into the climactic Martha moment whereby our heroes become BFFS) and don't worry, it'll all work out, because the parachute—the assumption of it all coming together via subtle nuance—will open and the amazing depth will be revealed like an atomic bomb in your mind....
Except it didn't for many people; pushed to the cliff, told to jump, I and others found ourselves without a parachute. Why? The extremely poetic trigger was silly and weak. Worse. When you realized that's all they had to get the team united, it was a joke. And Nay Sayers bark that it's because the point was missed, the depth was lost....viewers just didn't "Get It"

Bull Shit! 
We got it and it's stupid and it's beneath both of these Icons.

I love Wonder Woman, but why?

1) For the one scene that ties into her own solo movie.
2) So she can promote a mini trailer of THINGS TO COME in DCU via the file Lex ha on all the other future DCU's JL members.
3) Oh, to help fight Zodsday.

Yeah, not enough. She did great. She looked great. But, no real purpose.

LEX isn't!

 Mark Zuckerberg splashed with JOKER!

"The character is in line with what audiences want to see now, which is a more modern, psychologically realistic concept of Lex Luthor. His motivations are multifaceted; he has a way of using language that’s specific to the way his mind works; he struggles with interesting philosophical dilemmas like that of the individual having too much power, even if that individual is using that power for good. For instance, Superman has so far been using his powers to do some good, but is it safe to have someone like that walking the streets? It’s great that all of this happens in the context of a very exciting superhero movie."Jesse Eisenberg's

First, I hate this buzz word, because it's empty and meaningless, but, what about this was modern.
Does Modern = Annoying? 
Psychologically realistic?
Are you kidding me? He did a piss gag!
He has a way of using language that's specific to the way his mind works?
Yeah? WOW, that's deep. But you know how also talks specific to the way his mind works:
I love this movie and this actor and this character

Eisenberg's portrayal was a train-wreck.
His intelligence wasn't frightfully inspiring, which it should've been. No, he was an over confident, pseudo-intellectual douche with daddy's wallet to play with. 

I was hoping it was all an act.
That in private, the Real Lex (even an alter ego) would come out, but it never did...

This is but a taste of what we should've gotten, and no, I'm not talking about the hair or his age.

Superman, but not the one we were expecting.

He had no heart in this movie. 
He left Man of Steel on solid footing. He was becoming Superman. And yet here, it's not that being a Hero is tough, but that it's a burden and not the kind that makes Superman upset at the state of the world, the one that makes him question What's The Point. I mean, he didn't care what the people were saying about him, he said as much to Lois in the tub scene. Later he says he's been "Righting Wrongs for a Ghost, living his life the way his father saw it, thinking I'm her to do good, Superman isn't real, just the dream of a farmer from Kansas." WWWTTTTTFFFF? And why didn't Martha have anything positive to say to him? Where were all the heartfelt, encouraging scenes from MoS? Did he forget what the symbol on his chest means? How did he go from wanting to know WHO he is and WHERE he came from and WHY he's here, to just....

What killed it most for me, was the scene in congress. It was terrible. 
It didn't reveal his humanity while all around him people were blown up, showed him as a lifeless alien.
He's not Dr Manhattan. 

He's the bridge between two worlds. 

I mean, killing Zod wrecked him. 
But when innocent people died...
Also, that scene should've been the turning point where the apprehensive portion of the public was starting to come around to him, because, there was no reason he couldn't have stopped that bomb. Remember the earlier scene where Lois had a gun to her head, but instead of Eye Beams or blurring speed or Frost Breath, Superman put the guy through the wall before he could pull the trigger? 
And yes, that dude died
Ok, so considering that, why couldn't he have reacted to the Congress woman's OBVIOUS NERVOUSNESS {which the film made sure to point out to the audience} and checked out the room, put 2 & 2 together and become a freaking hero? Or, perhaps LET HIM SPEAK before congress? There were countless other scenes in the movie that could've been cut so Superman could get a word in? Ya know, one of the great things the MoS is best at, is embodying the best in us, what we could be "If Shown the Way" and at the end of his touching speech to the world about the tragedy in Metropolis, how it's effected him, there still could've been an explosion if Snyder really, truly just couldn't get around kicking The Boy Scout in the nuts.

Louis Lane, 
outside of Solo Superman, 
or unless reporting the action, NEEDS TO GO AWAY.

Way too much film time was based on her and the terrible Spy/Corrupt Gov/Political Thriller sub-sub-sub plot they worked out for her through this mess of a muddled movie. 
In MoS, her reporting made sense, it's how we come to find Superman and because she's his direct contact, she gets wrapped up into the great plot/threat during the Kyrptonian attack. However, in this movie...her reporting takes us the long long way around to what we already know.

Now, she could've been a public activist for Superman, doing interviews or reporting to "spin" the news in his happens in real news, this could've brought up conflicts in the media, how the Daily Planet is involved; she could've also LIVE FILMED the later battle with Zodsday, which could've made for some better action scenes as viewed through the lens of a camera (cleaning up the image, show us things the naked eye can't see given the speed they were fighting/moving; further shots to show scale, also, Superman could've of course rescued Lois—a trope, but it works sometimes—or she could've reported secondary damage, which Superman, Batman or WW could've contained to show their Heroic Sides) I mean, there were plenty of things for her to do. She could've had more discussions with Clark/Superman about how he's feeling, their relationship...

And the worst scene of all was the Kyrptonite Spear.
Forget that she throws it away, to then go back and get it, but then, Superman has to save her from drowning, for her to then save him from downing cause its KRYPTONITE? 
That was the most back and forth Who-is-Saving-Who? scene I've ever seen. 

What Happened to Martha between Mos and BvS?

You don't go from this: Tough discussion with a child about what his LIFE WILL ONE DAY MEA

And you don't go from this: Reassuring moment about the future

To giving him an OPT OUT. 
This scene wasn't about the realities, how failures and harsh choices for the greater good have to be made by Heroes like Superman and that letting them go unanswered (him being blamed for mass murders) to a scared humanity only worsens things.
No, this was a bitter mother pissed about how the world is treating her special, misunderstood, misrepresented little boy, saying "It's ok, screw them"

I loved the Kents in MoS, they were tough and complex, but yet they were still folksy and lovable and caring and compassionate and they KNEW and TRUSTED that Clark would one day be the SUPERMAN the world needs. That his life had a purpose and it was there job to guide him.

I don't know what Martha has become, but I know she's lost Johnathan/Jor and Lara-El's vision for a better world; and perhaps that's fine that she's scared, I understand that, but then her SON should've reminded her of who he is, where he's come from, how he was raised and what his parents in-trusted in him....unless in the time between Mos and BvS they've come to mean little to nothing. But that makes no sense!

The Batman!

For the most part, Ben did a great job. 

And while I won't tackle some issues, I have to confront this...

Trust me. I get it. It's not that Batman has never "killed" before and people often love to point to the 89" movie and certain comics or the few times when he's used a gun as examples when Batman did "non-Batman things" but Batman has always been at his best when the Line isn't Crossed.

 As a friend put it, "It's ok for Batman to put people in the hospital, it's even ok for him NOT to save everyone (karma/accidents/failures) but it's never ok for him to purposefully put people in the morgue" and I agree with this.

Though certain (short) stories have confronted the issue of killing after the fact, Superman too, the point wasn't to continue the path, but that it's the end of it—that's the final straw. Or the point of these shorts and one-offs were about HOW DID THEY GET HERE. Such stories are fantasies about our hero(s), they're philosophical wonderings, GREAT WHAT IF'S; they're not meant to be regular content, they're not the standard concept of our hero, because the heart of their conflict with the world is their Resistance to becoming what they fight. Once they give-in, it's over.

Zodsday and the Death of Superman, should never have been


I was actually excited when my theory about Zod being made into the monster came true, but then that terrible line was uttered "...he's your Doomsday" or something like that, which made me cringe. 
1) Because there was no way they'd give this major event the respect it deserved.
2) Because there was no way they'd give Superman's Death the respect it deserved.
3) Because there was no way they'd give the Aftermath of Superman's Death the respect it deserved.

Consider the animated conflict (even simplified, it's awesome)

Now consider the comic version (skipped panels)

"The Justice League International (Guy Gardner, Blue Beetle, Booster Gold, Maxima, Fire, Ice, and Bloodwynd) responds to a call from a smashed big-rig outside of Bucyrus, Ohio, and follows the trail of senseless destruction which leads them to a confrontation with the mysterious creature.[2] It systematically takes the team apart, starting by throwing a tree trunk through their aircraft and finishing by punching Booster Gold into the stratosphere. Booster Gold is caught in mid-air by Superman, and declares "It's like Doomsday is here", thus providing the monster with a name.
The Man of Steel arrives on the scene, having cut short a television interview with Cat Grant in Justice League America #69. He and the able-bodied League members follow the threat to the home of a single mother and her two children, where their battle with "Doomsday" destroys the house. The League attacks Doomsday with all their energy-projection powers; the only discernible effect is that much of his bodysuit is blasted or burned off. 


Doomsday again defeats the League, causes the house to explode into flames, and then leaps away. Superman follows, after saving the small family. Superman throws Doomsday into the bottom of a lake. After Doomsday escapes from the lake bed, he and Superman tear up a city street.
Maxima then reenters the fray. Lois Lane and Jimmy Olsen are sent to cover the battle for television, while Lex Luthor (then masquerading as his non-existent son "Lex Luthor II") dissuades Supergirl from joining the fight. 

The fight continues at a gas station, where Maxima rips a light post from the ground; the sparks from the wiring ignite the leaking gasoline and the station is destroyed in a huge explosion. Guardian arrives after Doomsday leaves, finding Superman and Maxima, and offers his aid.


Superman then follows Doomsday's trail of destruction (compared to that of a major tornado), waiting for an opportunity to attack. With the monster's rampage drawing closer, Lex Jr. convinces Supergirl that she's needed in Metropolis while Superman is fighting elsewhere. While demolishing an appliance store, Doomsday sees a TV commercial for a wrestling show being held in Metropolis, and after seeing a road sign for Metropolis, heads in that direction. Superman engages him and throws him in the opposite direction, where he lands on the mountain housing Project Cadmus. They brawl throughout Habitat, a living forest connected to Cadmus, bringing most of it down. When the superhero Guardian arrives, Doomsday knocks him down and leaps toward Metropolis.
Doomsday is driven below ground, where he ruptures gas and electrical mains, leveling Newtown, a large section of Metropolis. Supergirl goes to Superman's aid, but a single punch from Doomsday knocks her to the ground, her form destabilized. 

Professor Emil Hamilton and Bibbo Bibbowski, Superman's allies, fire a laser cannon at Doomsday, but it does not harm him. The local police open fire on Doomsday, but again, he is not harmed. 
Superman returns to the fight.

Superman and Doomsday lay into each other with everything they have. They strike each other with so much force that the shockwaves from their punches shatter windows. At the struggle's culminating moment in front of the Daily Planet building, each fighter lands a massive blow upon his opponent. The two titans collapse and moments later, in the arms of a frantic Lois Lane, Superman succumbs to his wounds and seemingly dies.[2] Jimmy, Ice, and Bloodwynd are also present at the end.
The climactic event happened in Superman (vol. 2) #75. The issue only contains 22 panels, and every page was a single panel, which was a structure building on the previous issues - Adventures of Superman #497 was done entirely with four-panel pages, Action Comics #684 with three, and Superman: The Man of Steel #19 with two. The entire story was immediately collected into a trade paperback and titled The Death of Superman.


It's a HUGE DEAL! Multiple issues, story lines, comics and cross overs and while I'm just giving snip-its, I'm not even including all the ripples that come after this crazy huge event.

But we got

Added to this short, basic state funeral, there's a small private family funeral (can't find images of)


That's right, at the end of the movie, there's a scene with the casket where the dirt on top beings to "float" like happens when Superman is about to FLY.

 Ok, I'm basically done.

Here's my final rundown of plot holes and things which should've been cut in-order to make room for more important places to tell the damn story:

1) Cut/scrap the whole opening sequence of the Wayne Murders, Bruce finding the cave (it's tired) 
2) After Superman saves Lois from being a human shield....even if they spent a few moments kissing or w/e, once they went back outside and Lois realized the guys who killed everyone were gone, obvious dirt-bike tracks, WHY DIDN'T HE GO AFTER THEM? HE'S SUPERMAN? He likely could've still SEEN THEM riding away or heard the bikes or simply flew super speed after the tracks and quickly caught up to them? It makes no sense.
*To have them escape, keeping up with the whole terrible sub-sub-sub plot of a strange bullet no one has seen that keeps Lois occupied for most of the movie, why didn't they have some Lex Tec and vanish, teleport, escape in a cloaked ship of some kind; I mean, Iron Man's armor is basically magic on screen in the MCU, why didn't Snyder feel he could, I don't know, put some Scifi into this comic movie? It was just weak writing with no creativity.*
3) How the hell was Superman setup for the murder of the villagers when Lex's goons killed everyone, with strange bullets *The one Lois uses in her sub plot* and she's a Witness and the CIA had an operative there, so likely their were drones in the sky...ya know, the ones the terrorist leader mentioned shortly before dying? 
4) How did Superman know where Lois was in the desert?
5) Why didn't Superman take back the Kryptonian ship? I mean, he stole it back in MoS, but now he leaves it in the hands of the Gov? Wouldn't he want it? Couldn't that have opened some awesome doors? Zod's key? Perhaps rebuilding Jor-El from the depths of the ship's computer? The Wealth of knowledge....*sigh*
6) When Superman rescued the exploding space shuttle, how did he arrive in time?
7) When Clark is following Bruce down stairs to confront him about Alfrid speaking in his ear, why does he pause when hearing the Spanish news cast about the building on fire? Does he speak Spanish?
8) How does Clark Kent not know who Bruce Wayne is?
9) How did Bruce not get any word of the returned checks with the creepy writing on them—given that character's relationship to Bruce—way way way way way way way way way way way beforehand, I mean, there were months worth of checks? The guy was all over the news when he defaced Superman's statute, shouldn't it have come up then? Really, all the returned checks with evil thoughts on them, all slipped through the cracks, right until the absolute last moment so the bomb could go off in congress?
10) When Bruce goes to the underground fight match, why isn't he in disguise? Forget the Detective/Batman element, just on it's face, would it be ok for Wayne Enterprises/Family to be linked to such entertainment?
11) If Superman could hear Lois scream while fighting Zodsday, on top of finding her in the desert, how come he didn't know the scream of his own mother when she was being abducted?
12) And how did Lex know where to find Martha? Maybe Superman's link to Lois in MoS, but if that's come Batman, the Great Detective, didn't already know the identity of Superman?
13) So Lex knows the identity of the JL, anyone see a problem with this?
14) Though he's no in the movie, given that this Batman kills, how is Joker alive?
15) Why did Lex even need an import license for the Kryptonite? He's working with killers and terrorists, why didn't he just smuggle it in himself? 

Ok, now I'm done.

3.5 to 5 sad, sad stars out of 10

The point is: Keep your Justice League

I already have mine