Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016)

Batmanvsuperman poster

18 Months after the devastation in Metropolis, when Kryptonians General Zod (Michael Shannon) and Superman/Clark Kent (Henry Cavill) fought to the death, the world is beginning to respond to Superman as his actions have held serious repercussions. Bruce Wayne/Batman (Ben Affleck) and his butler Alfred (Jeremy Irons) have been preparing to confront Superman as things get more and more out of hand. Meanwhile, Lex Luthor (Jessie Eisenberg) and Lois Lane remain on the radar of Clark, when he’s not investigating the Bat vigilante. Battles will be fought. Dawns may bring a new day. Will justice prevail? Find out in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice!

Superman... Is he a god?
Superman… Is he a god?

Fans and naysayers of D.C. Films world-builder Zack Synder will come together with a similar consensus of this film, coming to the conclusion that it could have been a lot better given the 150-minute runtime it boasts. Those whom worry about too many characters cluttering the screen can relax about that, but should be worried about the focus and attention all these characters just don’t get. For all the set-up they hope to accomplish and all the character development they think they achieved, Dawn of Justice really underwhelms and I speak as a big fan of Man of Steel whom believed that and Watchmen vetted Snyder. He’s got some really great ideas and characters he’s exploring, but he can’t commit enough time to each of them to bring a complete film.

Ben Affleck is one of the biggest standouts in this film, as he brings a dark and weathered Batman to this world of a darker timeline. This Batman is 20-years into protecting Gotham and he’s lost most of the good guys to the never-ending stream of villains, so it’s not entirely shocking that he’s ruthless with the scum of Gotham and of the mind that Superman’s unchecked power could bring about everyone’s death. His Bruce Wayne is charming, if a bit rough as well, but we spend more time with him dawning the cowl and kicking some serious Arkham Asylum ass. The nightmares which plague his sleep seem to call to something coming in the future, but it’s interesting to watch how Affleck’s Batman fights and eliminates his enemies.

Batman is brooding.
Batman is brooding.

Henry Cavill is still the perfect embodiment of Superman, but he’s playing second fiddle to Affleck’s still not totally explored Batman. Superman spends a large portion of the movie following a subplot which is mostly inconsequential as the story goes on, keeping him further away from Lois, Batman, and Lex. He has a few terrific scenes which feel very akin to Man of Steel and in those moments you hope the film will turn around for him, but you can feel Synder’s restraint to give his Superman more time to develop. Cavill and Adams share a few great moments as well, but even the Clark-Lois relationship is surface-level throughout the entirety film. ┬áSuperman has some terrific fight sequences and Cavill still does a great job with the character, despite the fact that the film doesn’t give him the treatment he deserves.

As is the standard for Zack Snyder films, you know going in that you’re in for slow-motion action and some masterfully crafted fight sequences which always stick out. This film is no different, as the IMAX shots look beyond breathtaking when the two gods collide or deal damage elsewhere. The film is incredibly loud and is accompanied by another moving Hans Zimmer score, flowing between hopeful and grim as the characters face new challenges. The overall look of the film is fairly dim, which is another signature Snyder-ism as it helps the more serious tone this universe has. The dream sequences and visions really stick out visually, as well as in the world of comics and what we are used to seeing. There are some seriously dark elements to this movie and the “heroes” we think are so righteous and that’s what really kept me engaged.

Clash of the titans.
Clash of the titans.

What stuck out most in this film is how far it departed from conversations it started and how unnecessary a lot of the film feels in preparation for the clash of the titans. There’s this underlying discussion and consensus that not everyone is in support of Superman because we’re scared of what his existence means in regards to our own beliefs. We see how people’s words and thoughts affect Clark for a moment, but then they’re brushed off as he leaves and we go focus on Batman for a bit. As far as the conflict between the two goes, it felt like they should have spent more time with one another on-screen before we entirely get behind the fight which ensues. Their fight is absolutely glorious and I could rave about it all day, but the motivations aren’t as strong as they need to be.

For everything this movie misses out on and for as negative as this review may seem, I did like it more than I didn’t. Jesse Eisenberg’s Lex Luthor is one of the more curious aspects of the film, but surprisingly his character works really well as slightly obnoxious while surrounded by serious co-stars. The Wonder Woman bits of the film are few and far between, but Gal Gadot has piqued everyone’s curiosity and I think most people are going to be excited for her film. Seeing D.C.’s Big 3 in action together had me beaming with excitement and cheering from the audience, just as their individual fights had me. There’s a lot of awesome gadgetry and accessories used by Batman and Wonder Woman and seeing them finally utilize their tools in action was very satisfying as a fan of both characters.

I don’t quite know how we ended up with this version of Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice, but it’s clear that it’s littered with clips from different films which were mostly scrapped, though in some instances I don’t know why they wouldn’t explore more. This film felt very safe with the material it adapted and used and perhaps that’s why it feels a bit more disappointing, regardless of whether you know the material or not. There’s so much potential with these characters and the way Snyder and his team have interpreted them, but you’re never swept up in the wave of excitement that’s leading us to the Justice League film. I enjoyed the film, but it’s very easy to look at lots of the film and just scratch your head.

Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice Trailer

3.5 / 5 stars     

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