Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016)

  • Time: 153 min
  • Genre: Action | Adventure | Fantasy
  • Director: Zack Snyder
  • Cast: Ben Affleck, Henry Cavill, Amy Adams, Jesse Eisenberg, Diane Lane, Laurence Fishburne, Jeremy Irons, Holly Hunter


Following his titanic struggle against General Zod, Metropolis has been razed to the ground and Superman is the most controversial figure in the world. While for many he is still an emblem of hope, a growing number of people consider him a threat to humanity, seeking justice for the chaos he has brought to Earth. As far as Bruce Wayne is concerned, Superman is clearly a danger to society. He fears for the future of the world with such a reckless power left ungoverned, and so he dons his mask and cape to right Superman’s wrongs. The rivalry between them is furious, fueled by bitterness and vengeance, and nothing can dissuade them from waging this war. However, a dark new threat arises in the form of a third man: one who has a power greater than either of them to endanger the world and cause total destruction!


  • Evil cannot be defeated without collateral damage. The damage may be physical, as in the absurdly gluttinous destruction on display in the final hour of Zack Snyder’s 2013 Man of Steel, or it can be emotional as witnessed in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. Fear not, the appetite for destruction is no less Rabelaisian in Snyder’s follow-up and, as with its predecessor, it lingers on ruminative appetisers before serving up an orgiastic main course of CGI-enhanced calamity.

    Man of Steel was unsubtle in forefronting its protagonist’s origin story as one of assimilation and identity reconciliation, how to be both Kal-El and Clark Kent in a world that accepts the ordinary but distrusts the different. Was Superman saviour or invader? In the end, he proved a bit of both – he saved Metropolis from Zod’s attempted domination, but it was Superman who triggered the signal that allowed Zod and his army to alight upon the Earth. Superman lost a bit of himself in killing Zod to protect the innocent, but such is the conflict of a superhero – one is bound to have blood on one’s hands.

    Accountability is one of the themes that scaffold Batman v Superman. That and the differing ideologies of its title characters. Having seen the damage firsthand, Bruce Wayne a.k.a. Batman (Ben Affleck) is resolved to neutralise a figure he perceives as a false god. After two decades of fighting crime in Gotham City, he knows all too well how men with good intentions can be overtaken by darker impulses. His faithful servant Alfred (Jeremy Irons, dryly humourous as the most exasperated employee in the DC Universe) warns that his own good intentions, borne out of the powerlessness of witnessing his parents’ deaths as a young boy, have led Batman to a questionable brand of vigilantism.

    Nevertheless, the Caped Crusader is determined to go to war with the Man of Steel, and he believes the crashed spaceship, Kryptonite, may provide him with his best weapon to defeat Superman. So does Lex Luthor (Jesse Eisenberg), the CEO of a giant tech company who has imported a large chunk of a glowing green substance with the intent of weaponising it. Luthor is opposed by southern Senator Finch (Holly Hunger), who is heading up a Congressional committee taking Superman to task for his exercise of unilateral power. She advises the American people to stop focusing on what Superman can do and instead question what he should do.

    There’s an awful lot of narrative threads in the film, most of it structured to ratchet up the tension for the main superhero showdown. It should thrill, this epic battle between these hallowed heroes, these gladiators, these costumed slabs of beef, these two Mommy’s boys. Yet it doesn’t. There are only so many times one can watch two men smash each other through and against floors and walls before it becomes tiresome. DC is obviously playing catch-up to Marvel, but they would have been wise to duplicate Marvel’s method of introducing and integrating its characters. Iron Man, Thor and Captain America each had their own films before being assembled in The Avengers; that long game allowed the characters and their relationships to one another make perfect sense and possess dramatic weight. One gets to see the alliances and misunderstandings develop, and that is one of the main reasons why the upcoming Iron Man-Captain America clash in Captain America: Civil War will be far more impactful than the one observed in Snyder’s film.

    Though the filmmakers have distanced themselves from Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight trilogy, Nolan’s work still defaults as a point of reference because Batman seen here has lived through those trials and tribulations. Is Affleck a better Batman than Christian Bale or Michael Keaton? Not necessarily, but he is good and capable as the Batman depicted here even if he doesn’t quite convey the weariness and underlying cynicism that anchor Batman’s motivations. He and Cavill square off well, though they are both blown off the screen by Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman. Alluring and formidable, Wonder Woman is hands-down the best thing about the movie. Even her theme asserts itself from the bombastic score by Hans Zimmer and Junkie XL. If nothing else, Batman v Superman stokes ample interest in next year’s solo Wonder Woman.

    Snyder once again goes balls to the wall for the hourlong finale, dispensing all ties to logic and moralising though not quite letting go of Batman vs Superman as an apologia for the first film. If Man of Steel had a complete disregard for public safety, then Batman v Superman goes out of its way to remind viewers that the intergalactic mayhem is confined within uninhabited areas. That nod to mindfulness certainly does not hamper the battle royale, which matches its predecessor bloat for overwrought bloat. Snyder literally does throw everything and the kitchen sink in there. There is no denying that Batman v Superman can be ponderous, replete with terrible dialogue, and probably a deserving target for the fanboys’ vitriol. Yet, as with Man of Steel, it is also a tremendously watchable and often entertaining mess of a film.

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  • (RATING: ☆☆☆½ out of 5)


    IN BRIEF: A comic book fantasy that fancies itself a serious contender when it really needs to take itself less seriously.
    GRADE: B-

    SYNOPSIS: As the world comes undone, two superheroes, with opposing views about saving the world, battle each other.

    Finally, the mystery is solved. That bothersome question that perplexed a nation comes to an end. Not since The Riddle of the Sphinx has a hypothetical query bothered so many and answered so few: In the ultimate battle between The Man of Steel and The Caped Crusader, who would rule victorious? In Zack Snyder’s comic book blockbuster, both superheroes come to blows and the outcome is up there on the big screen in all of its CGI glory.

    In Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, the stage is set for this heroic showdown, although it takes over half of the film until the deed occurs. Just as our world has lost some of its innocence, so has this modern day retelling. Cynicism and despair seem to not only fester in our superheroes nowadays. It is obviously in our film directors and screenwriters as well. This is a darker vision, but aren’t most action blockbusters? Comic book heroes are no longer comic. So follows our films, the essence of pop culture and pessimism with our popcorn.

    As its story unfolds, Superman (Henry Cavill) is an unpopular anti-hero. While previously fighting General Zod (Michael Shannon) to save the world, he has also systemically destroyed Metropolis in his battle of good v evil. Much destruction and many lives were mere collateral damage during this war to end all wars. One of these victims viewing the melee is Bruce Wayne (Ben Affleck), who decides to take matters into his own hands. And the battle of egos begins…

    On hand are many faces that doted the mythology of both superheroes. On one side are Lois Lane (Amy Adams), Mrs. Kent (Diane Lane), and Perry White (Laurence Fishburne), reprising their roles and on the other, loyal servant, Alfred Jeremy Irons), and assorted Bat-gear and nifty gadgetry, all the money can buy. Watching the match-up, with rapt interest are Diana Prince (an underused Gal Gadot) and megalomaniac Lex Luther (an oddly miscast Jesse Eisenberg, substituting triviality instead of menace). Let’s rumble! Or, at least, grumble.

    With the exception of the aforementioned Mr. Eisenberg, the cast acquits themselves rather nicely, giving their one-dimensional characters some depth. Both Mr. Cavill and Mr. Affleck fill their spandex with the right about of coolness and sex appeal, the former with a broad-shouldered charm and the latter wisely underplays the brooding millionaire playboy.

    However, script-wise, the film loses its footing, in the most logical sense. As more information is revealed, prior misgivings between the titans clear up any wrongdoing before the smackdown. So the actual bout between B v S is really BS. Its only purpose is to satiated the fanboys and teenagers who want to believe and confirm the victor. (Many moviegoers in my audience wore Batman or Superman t-shirts and sat transfixed through the showing.)

    Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice mixes political issues like racial profiling (in this case, alien v human), vigilantism, violence, religion, terrorism, and evil capitalism with its populist message. It’s heady stuff, even if the screenplay by Chris Terrio and David S. Goyer cannot bring together its own thought process with the numerous sub-plots that continually arise. The film relies on far too many dream sequences and flashbacks that only increase the film’s length and confuse the main plot. Judicious editing would have only helped the film. Again less is more.

    But in the hands of its director, restraint is non-existent. He fills every inch of the screen with crashes, explosions, and in-your-face CGI. Mr. Snyder, not one of my favorite directors, I must add, throws in everything, including a kitchen sink. (It’s true!) Still, this may be his finest film to date, He does keep things moving along, although it is hard to tell if the film’s many action sequence are well staged on his part, due to the frenzied editing by David Brenner and blurry handheld camerawork by Larry Fong.

    With the film’s multiple endings, justice may be finally served and a new sequel will arriving soon to a movie theater near you. With Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, the verdict for this critic may not be a misfire, but the evidence remains inconclusive. Call it a mistrial.

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  • Quickie Review:

    After the Metropolis incident, the world wonders must there be a Superman? Meanwhile, fearing the dangers of a Superman (Henry Cavill) left unchecked, Batman (Ben Affleck) is determined to take on the Kryptonian. While the two icons fight, a new threat is created by Lex Luthor (Jesse Eisenberg). Batman v Superman brings together the two biggest comic book characters in one movie, something fans have been waiting to see for decades. The action and the portrayal of the characters, especially the new Batman, will surely please even the harshest critics. However, the disjointed focus in the storytelling is the Achilles heel of this movie. The simplest way to review this movie would be to say, Batman v Superman was great, but the Dawn of Justice did not work. Unfortunately in their attempt to build the bigger Justice League universe, they failed to make a coherent film. Yet, I think the movie is still worth a watch because of the grand scope and the new Batman.

    Full Review:

    I know Man of Steel was not universally liked, but I loved it. I thought it was fresh and modern take on a classic superhero. Then when they announced 3 years ago that the sequel was going to be the fight between Batman and Superman, I lost my mind! It was a long wait to BvS, and when I saw it during the midnight premiere, I came out having very mixed feelings.

    There is a lot to like about the movie, most important of which is Batman. This is the first time I truly felt that Batman was terrifying. He is agile, brutal, and downright unstoppable. I’m sorry Nolan’s Batman, as much as I love you, Batffleck would beat you like eggs for breakfast. Ben Affleck is also a really good Bruce Wayne, he wears the mask of a suave playboy but in his private moments you can see the rage building inside him. That rage is not unjustified, the reason why Batman would hate Superman and become so blindingly cruel is completely earned because of Affleck’s performance. You get to glimpse into his psyche and see how the years of pain and loss have affected him. Superman’s own story continues in BvS. Now that he has revealed himself to the world, he struggles with the question: should Superman even exist in this world? I thought Henry Cavill played that conflict in a subtle way, which I feel is more fitting. Apart from the two main leads, the action is incredible! If you thought Man of Steel’s action was good but just too much, then I think you will find BvS action an improvement because of the better pacing (in terms of how spread out the fights are). These were some of the more jaw dropping moments, where I felt like the scenes leapt off a comic book page and on to a motion picture screen. Especially the Batman and Superman fight which had clear and beautiful homages to the comics.

    At the same time, there were a lot things that left me scratching my head wondering “what were they thinking?” Whenever the movie focused on Batman and Superman, I was hooked. Then there are several sequences with the sole purpose of setting up the universe and future movies. None of them contributed to the current story we were watching. These sequences will most likely make sense to the comic fans, but for everyone else it’s just a bunch of WTF moments that throws off the flow of the story. Actually some of these setups were quite lazy, and that’s all I can say without spoilers. One of the biggest concerns that people had was Lex Luthor. If you liked him in the trailers, then you will have no problem, and if you didn’t, you’ll hate his portrayal. There were times where I actually thought he came off menacing because of how mentally unhinged he was. However, more often than not, he acts like a blabbering fool, and we are not laughing with him, but rather laughing at him. Lastly, the female characters Lois Lane (Amy Adams) and Martha Kent (Diane Lane) are relegated to being damsels in distress, and it is so boring that it’s tiring. Thank god Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot) was there even if it was for a short screen time, at least she fought for herself and kicked major butt.

    So as much as I wanted to come out of the movies saying “I loved Batman v Superman!” I just can’t… The many strengths of the movie are exceptional, but the weaknesses are truly frustrating. Ben Affleck as Batman is the main reason I’d see this movie multiple times. I still say you should give it a try in the cinema, because although it’s a mess, at least it’s an enjoyable one.

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  • In 2013, Zack Snyder made the moderately successful, superhero film Man of Steel. He shot it with a weaker second half showcasing darkness overload, a lack of humor, virtually no romantic interludes, and an unnecessary amount of death and destruction. He did though, direct “Steel” with an acceptable sum of narrative clarity. With Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (my latest review), Snyder does the opposite. He becomes the bemused storyteller, the antithetical Spielberg. He tries to juggle too many characters, too many subplots, and too many locations. Basically, wacky Zacky butchers the almighty cinematic form. Listen, I don’t fault the actors/actresses and I can’t knock Zack for his wide-eyed intentions. His vision here is not to entertain but to make you ponder and think (that results in a real boring first hour). But by his inclination of trying to be Christopher Nolan (coupled with some choppy editing by veteran David Brenner), he turns “Justice” into the anti-popcorn flick, the type of cinematic vessel that a fanboy would analyze and a young child would want to leave the theater halfway through. In truth, I predict Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice will have a strong opening weekend with ticket buyers. I then see its box office take drop further than Marco Rubio’s political ratings. Ouch!

    Featuring a bloated running time of 153 minutes, harboring a Hans Zimmer film score that is equal parts loud and unbalanced, and highlighting a brief cameo by Mr. Kevin Costner, “Justice” marks the first time that Batman and Superman have shared the screen together. Add Wonder Woman, The Flash, and Aquaman to the mix (“Flash” and Aquaman are on screen so briefly, I wouldn’t have known it had someone not told me) and you’ve got something that veers completely from the advertised battle between Bruce Wayne and Clark Kent. Watching Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice only reminded me that it was more of a blatant setup for future Justice League movies.

    Bottom line: Almost all the performances in “Justice” are decent (that includes Amy Adams, Jesse Eisenberg, Henry Cavill, and Ben Affleck). Director Zack Snyder however, lets his cast down by failing to install their screen time in a less-than-scattershot manner. Added to that, the events and characters from his superior Man of Steel, don’t transition well to Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. It’s a copy-edit nightmare. Actors like Laurence Fishburne (director of the Daily Planet) and Diane Lane (Superman’s mom, Martha Kent) have their scenes so randomly inserted, there’s no tone and no sense of them being compelling. And with Snyder being such a special effects maestro, here he gets sloppy. In “Steel”, he filmed action sequences with a visual artistry that I’d never seen before. In “Justice”, there’s no poetry, no adequate movement from frame to frame. Oh and if you’re wondering about the main event between Superman’s superhuman powers and Batman plus his gadgetry, gas-fueled Batmobile, well their highly anticipated duel is on and off the screen faster than a speeding bullet (ha). Overall rating: 2 stars.

    Rating: 2 out of 4 stars

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  • Lex Luthor brings up an interesting paradox as he faces eye to eye with Superman. One who is all-powerful cannot be all-good and one who is all-good cannot be all-powerful. Is the Man of Steel all-good or all-powerful? That’s what we are left to wonder as the Son of Krypton zooms off to face the Bat of Gotham, the gladiator fight of the century and one that fanboys around the world were hoping to see on the big screen one day. Here it might be but fanboys are going to have to wait to fully understand what this fight really means to the DC Extended Cinematic Universe.

    Origin stories could become tiring and that is especially true when you’re highly knowledgeable on the exact events that take place due to repetition. Batman’s origin has been told multiple times and with The Dark Knight being rebooted once again, fans were ready to be further exhausted. Director Zach Snyder brings the energy drink as he captures the origins of Batman and who he is beautifully within ten minutes.

    Any fan of Batman is going be amazed by Ben Affleck’s performance as we see a grittiness that has never been so present. This is by far the grittiest and darkest Bruce Wayne that has been portrayed with Jeremy Irons’ Alfred matching perfectly. Fans are going to have so many flashbacks of Frank Miller’s Dark Knight Returns and countless video games. Honestly, comparing Affleck’s Batman to others who took on the mantle will be premature as we still need to see his application of Batman in a standalone feature. With that being said, that standalone Batman film’s release date needs to be pushed forward from 2018 to tomorrow. Thank you Warner Bros.

    As for the next concern, a crowded film, fans had all right to worry as the film is heavily crowded. We go on a merry-go-round with Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, and Lex’s storylines with other members of the Justice League being thrown in as well. Don’t get me wrong, all of the intertwined storylines were necessary introductions and character developments and it is clear Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice is the stepping stone to something greater in the DC Extended Cinematic Universe. With a total of nine heroes and villains, some through Easter eggs, being introduced in the film seems unnecessary as Snyder was already given the responsibilities to introducing so many characters to begin with.

    Lex Luthor and Batman’s storylines are by far the most entertaining as Superman fails to shine among the crowded bunch of stars. Jesse Eisenberg’s Lex Luthor is by far the highlight of the film as Eisenberg brings an interesting new take on one of the most well-known and infamous DC villains. Using power and manipulation as his adrenaline, Eisenberg generates a delivery that will have you anxious to see the character development of the infamous villain as his journey has just begun.

    With the film’s run time being a grand total of 151-minutes, the film contains very little Batman v Superman as one would expect. But when the action does happen, it is top of the line. From a car chase involving a stellar batmobile to the holy trinity of Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman taking on Doomsday, Snyder crafts some of the best action sequences in comic book cinema history.

    I suggest that fans don’t compare the way Marvel established their Avengers’ initiative with how DC is establishing their Justice League’s initiative. Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice is indeed not a sequel to Man of Steel and even though Snyder refers to it as a prequel to Justice League, I would consider it more of a prologue. It establishes the Justice League storyline but doesn’t give the story away as you are left with so many unanswered questions that you have already created a countdown for 2017’s Justice League – Part One and Wonder Woman.

    Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice is a masterpiece in itself but is a stepping stone to something more grand and heroic.

  • Full disclosure here: My cultural frame of reference begins with the 1950s Western Canadian pro wrestling circuit. That’s where I learned about archetypes, Manichaean duality, moral relativism, theatrical conventions, ethnic stereotypy, and all like that.
    Certain insights from that education have remained steadfast, to wit:
    i) Usually a match was between good guy and bad guy. The villain often won, always by chicanery.
    ii) The referees were always incompetent and blind. When they refereed women’s matches or the midgets they were in addition comic buffoons. With the women that saved them from intruding upon the male spectator’s wishfulness. With the midgets they made the small seem more adroit. Thus the referees represented The Law in the outside (aka Real World), where justice is blind and scarce and its enforcers hapless.
    iii) On rare occasions two good guys would be matched, like Stu Hart vs George Gordienko. (That was in Calgary. In India Gordienko was a famous villain.) This was wrestling at its purest, the Greco-Roman ideal, so it was bloodless, unimpassioned and boring as batshit. But — both parties always seemed on the bring of erupting into the forbidden, like a punch, but in their virtue they held back. The match usually ended in a draw, with gentlemanly handshakes all around. Yawn.
    iv) When two bad guys were matched the fans’ sympathy immediately went to the more local villain, like Al “Mr Murder” Mills from Cranston, AB, when he took on a Kowalski, a Zybysko or Kinji Shibuya.
    v) Masked wrestlers were always villains and very rarely went unmasked (i.e., defeated).
    Of course that brings us directly to Batman vs Superman.
    For all its spectacular effects the film is a rich mine of mythology. Tucked into its urban cataclysms are a few brief scenes in bucolic Kansas. In addition to the central figures, its allusions cover the range of america’s favourite mythical creatures: Wonder Woman, Dorothy, Alice, the Frankensteinian creature from outer space named Doomsday (cp Kong), The Flash, and of course Anderson Cooper.
    The film can be read as a modern allegory on several dimensions. In the feminist spirit Lois Lane saves Superman’s life twice (which in this film evens the score). In the final post-nuclear battle our two stud heroes need the two women — Lois to recover the kryptonite spear and Wonder Woman to lasso the invincible monster and render him vincible. Both heroes remain devoted to their respective mothers, both named Martha, a name associated with Christian service.
    The most obvious reading is the current paranoia about massive urban destruction, the 9-11 nightmare rewrit large to cover the swelling global threat from radical Islam. Though no specific religious reference is made, the arch villain Lex Luthor is a modern technocrat who purports superiority to the tribal culture that he has supplanted and which is the source of our various theories of godhood. The villain draws on the techie nerd persona of Jesse Eisenberg.
    Luthor represents a world of inverted values. To him devils now come from the sky, like our air bound heroes, not from the deep, eruptions from the Id. “God is tribal. God takes sides,” Luthor contends. His activity, from world conquest to creating a monster, is a Satanic aspiration toward godhead: “If man won’t kill God the Devil will do it.”
    In the central battle between Superman and Batman we get the old rassle between two Good Guys but without the boredom of purity. Superman is widely blamed for the collateral damage his heroism wreaks, but that rap is bum: Lois discovers Luthor has framed Superman with murders the villains commit but make seem Superman’s doing (as Hamas frames Israel, to the antisemitic masses’ delight). Even Bruce Wayne (shades of The Donald) believes Superman should be eliminated, even if there is only a 1% chance that his power might be turned against humanity.
    In a suggestive bit of casting, a striking Israeli, Gal Gadot, launches a Wonder Woman franchise here. In contrast, African American Laurence Fishburne plays Perry White.
    For his part, Batman is condemned for making his attacks personal, branding his baddies with his bat emblem. The hero is called a vigilante. The impugning of both heroes’ virtue expresses our supposedly worldlier view, i.e., cynicism. As Luthor justifies his evil, our biggest political lie is that power can be innocent. As the two American comic book heroes face widespread public attack, the film catches the pervasive anti-Americanism in the world.
    When the weaponized kryptonite completely saps Superman of his power, he’s tossed about like a sandbag first by Batman and then by Doomsday. There we have the tragic image of an old power helpless and humiliated. This is the once powerful America humbled, especially as in the fumbling impotence of Obama’s foreign policy.
    But it’s also the obsolete idea of a protective divinity. Batman is a civilian Bruce Wayne with mechanical and technological amplification of his human resources. But Superman is a superhuman from another planet, thus godlike, who hides behind the civilian/mortal front of Clark Kent. Here Lois knows and is having a passionate affair with … them. As the film brings the old mythology into our modern time, the god must die — but here he wins the saving grace of sacrificing himself for his love. “You’re not brave,” Batman notes, “Only men are brave.” Gods are too powerful to be brave. “Do you bleed?” Batman asks him. He doesn’t, but he can love so he can die. As Wayne predicted, Superman will learn what it is to be human when he feels pain and mortality.
    Amid the final ruins the mortal crusader is given the film’s heartening coda: “Men are still good. We fight, we kill, we betray one another, but we can rebuild. We can do better. We will. We have to.” Hence this earlier exchange between the star-crossed lovers:
    Superman: Superman was never real. Just the dream of a farmer from Kansas.
    Lois: That farmer’s dream is all some people have. It’s all that gives them hope.
    Myths die but our need for their models and encouragement survives.
    Maybe that’s why this apocalyptic vision is subtitled The Dawn of Justice. The gods are gone; it’s up to us.
    Anyway, who’s rassling these days?

  • Batman Vs Superman: Dawn of Justice (English)
    After all the bad reviews, frankly it was not that bad, nor that great. In short it’s A plot, then a subplot, then again a subplot and so on; Is it really Man vs God, Son of Krypton vs Bat of Gotham, Night vs Day as the trailer claims? In some parts yes; but mostly a flawed script vs good acting.
    Ben, Henry and Amy have stuck to their roles well, but Gal Gadot and Eisenberg just stand out.
    But the saving grace are the few magnanimously created Action sequences. A one time watch if You like stylized Action sequences.
    Rating: 3/5
    Subtitles: No
    Audience: A Family watch.
    What Say: Don’t Miss this if You like stylized Action sequences.
    Performances: Gal Gadot and Eisenberg
    Technicalities: Great BGM and Cinematography.
    Watch-out: The Big fight between the Bat and the Superman.

  • With the phenomenal success of Marvel’s 8-year (and still going strong) moulding of their cinematic universe, the fashionable goal for studios now seems to be to create a vast world for their ensemble of characters to co-exist and occasionally cross paths. Marvel’s output now includes some of the highest-grossest films of all time, so it was never going to take other studios too long to realise the potential in their comic-book property. Fox’s X-Men franchise expanded itself this year with Deadpool, and the box-office success of Man of Steel in 2013 now have publishing behemoth DC flexing their muscles.

    Subtlety isn’t something Zack Snyder, director of 300 (2006), Watchmen (2009) and Sucker Punch (2011), is known for. Like Joss Whedon at Marvel before his departure, Snyder has been employed as head honcho for DC’s expanded universe. Rather than taking the time to build the world from the ground up and teasing fans with what’s to come, Snyder throws everything (including the kitchen sink in one scene) at Man of Steel’s follow-up, which introduces a seriously pissed-off Batman into the mix, as well as a hoard of famous and not-so-famous fellow superheroes who are all due their own stand-alone movies in the future. To summarise, Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice is a colossal mess.

    Picking up during the climax of Man of Steel that saw Superman (Henry Cavill) cause mega-destruction and the deaths of thousands of people during his fisticuffs with General Zod (Michael Shannon), Bruce Wayne (Ben Affleck) arrives at Metropolis to witness the carnage first hand. This older, more damaged Batman holes up in his mansion and discusses Superman’s alien threat with his trusted butler Alfred (Jeremy Irons). An unsupervised being of almost unlimited power, Wayne sees Superman as a threat to humanity and hopes to turn the public against him using his influence at the Daily Planet newspaper.

    Meanwhile, billionaire eccentric Lex Luthor (Jesse Eisenberg) takes a special interest in Superman, and convinces Senator Finch (Holly Hunter) to allow him access to Zod’s fallen spacecraft as well as the General’s body. Wayne learns of Luthor’s activities and attends one of his gatherings in the hope of stealing encrypted files, and learns that a mysterious woman by the name of Diane Prince (Gal Gadot) is also seeking the same thing. Knowing that Superman and Batman will always stand in his way, Luthor imports Kryptonite from the Indian Ocean and begins to set in motion a great battle between the two, from which surely only one will walk away.

    The plot seems to only concern itself with the bigger picture, with its eyes firmly on the Justice League movie due next year, Without any sense of immediate threat and with such an emotional detachment from its characters, it’s extremely difficult to care about much that happens during Batman v Superman. It’s all too much, too soon. On top of the muddled plot, Snyder throws in glimpses of future members of the superhero team – The Flash (Ezra Miller), Aquaman (Jason Momoa) and Cyborg (Ray Fisher) – that act like mini-trailers jammed into the middle of the movie without much thought, and a seemingly random, yet beautifully captured, dream sequence that foreshadows the big bad Darkseid.

    Most of the characters motivations are left unexplained too. While Superman’s actions with Zod left catastrophic damage, the public are pretty clear that they view him as a hero fighting an alien threat, even concocting a monument in his honour. So why is Batman so utterly pissed at him, especially when Superman doesn’t even harm him during their first encounter when he could have snapped him like a twig? Luthor, played by an Eisenberg who seems to believe he is on the set of Adam West’s 1960’s TV show, is hell-bent of neutralising Superman’s threat. Does he have daddy issues? A fear of God? Luthor rants like a teenager hyped-up from sugar and video-games and hints at these and many others, but no real explanation is given. And just what was he hoping to achieve by unleashing the part cave-troll, part what you couldn’t flush down the toilet this morning, at the end?

    The movie’s main positive is Affleck. The groans echoed throughout social media when his casting was announced, but he nails both Bruce Wayne and Batman. He is the Darkest Knight there has ever been, with a brute physicality that could flick Christian Bale’s incarnation across the screen. Snyder has the skill to bring a comic book panel to life better than anybody, and Batman v Superman is frequently astonishing to look at. Gadot also excels during her small amount of screen-time, and is the only one appearing to be having any fun. Of the smack-down itself, it’s an exciting and brutal affair, brought to a close by one of the most ridiculous moments of mutual enlightenment in cinema, ever. Like Man of Steel, Batman v Superman has defied mixed (and some utterly unforgiving) reviews and stormed the box-office, so I think it’s safe to say that the DC train will plough on.

    Rating: 2/5

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  • Since the origins of each character, Batman and Superman have been one of the most iconic characters in comic books. After their print inception, readers and fans alike were impressed to see successful adaptations of each character during the last half of the 20th century. At that point, even during Christopher Nolan’s trilogy, nobody knew how soon it would be before Superman and Batman would be seen on the same screen together. After the financial success with Man of Steel (2013), Warner Bros. pushed forward to get the DC cinematic universe expanded. And with that, the next step was to include the Arkham Knight. No surprise that in the time where social media dominates news, the internet exploded. Of course there were people who loved the idea while others felt it wasn’t ready. Some criticized this stride as Warner Bros. trying to catch up to Marvel’s success in building an expanded universe. Others felt that this plan should be given a chance. Once released, the response was about just as divided if not more.

    Chris Terrio and David S. Goyer have written the script to this sequel. Following the destruction of
    Metropolis from Man of Steel (2013), audiences are introduced to Bruce Wayne (Ben Affleck) finding a way on how to combat Superman (Henry Cavill) and make sure he will not become an enemy. At the same time, Lex Luthor (Jesse Eisenberg) is also looking for a way to rid of Superman, which requires him getting access to the Kryptonian technology left behind from Man of Steel (2013). Running underneath these two plots is a subplot dealing with Bruce Wayne making connections with Diana Prince (Gal Gadot) and figuring out her origins. This alone is enough but Terrio and Goyer’s script is too over packed for its own good. Really Batman Vs Superman is a small section of this film because there are several other things going on simultaneously. This also lessens the amount of development the main leads receive. It is those reasons that give way to some really contrived situations where it happens just because it was called for right then and there.

    The acting itself is for the most part fine. Most of the initial cast return from Man of Steel (2013) only for short appearances. Amy Adams still manages to put herself in peril even though she’s supposed to be able to take care of herself on her own. For new cast members, Ben Affleck as Batman fits the role. He sounds much more calculative and rough in his delivery. Jeremy Irons as Alfred does a great job too, inserting a few smart-alec remarks as well. Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman although not always around is quite the looker and self sufficient as an Amazonian princess. Last but not least, Jesse Eisenberg as Lex Luthor is average. People will see why many do not favor his performance but not all of it is irritating. He does come off more Joker-ish and the jolly rancher scene is unnecessary yes, but it wasn’t repeated more than once. Certainly a much more menacing actor could have been cast as Luthor, but Eisenberg is not ear bleeding bad. The real problem were the short cuts made to make all the pieces fit in for this cut of the movie.

    The action sequences themselves have credibility to them but they were also uninteresting at points as well. For the majority of the time, all the Batman scenes that involved fighting were well executed. With director Zack Snyder heading this, it’s hard to see Snyder not knowing how to properly make a good-looking action scene. Batman just doesn’t care here; if you are bad, you’re going to get hurt terribly. However, things begin to get rather tiresome when Superman enters the picture. Unfortunately because Superman flies and does super feats, CGI is needed in order to make this look realistic. This is the drawback though; looking at you Zack Snyder. Even though Snyder knows what he wants in his sequence, there are moments where the CGI is brought up to overkill levels. It’s not say that it’s unfinished CGI, but it does get to the point where it feels like the audiences may actually be watching cut scenes to a video game because everything is all computer generated. It’s just ho-hum.

    As for cinematography, Larry Fong managed the cameras. Fong’s experience with big cinematic action films isn’t a lot but does cover most of it. Seeing that he has worked with director Zack Snyder on his earlier films like 300 (2006), Watchmen (2009) and Sucker Punch (2011), it’s no shock then that Fong was brought on board for this movie. For all the scenes, the camera is fairly stable. The problem with Fong’s visuals are the lack of color throughout. The environment surrounding these characters is so drab and ugly, it’s no longer appealing to look at. When it came to music, composers Hans Zimmer and Tom Holkenborg (Junkie XL) worked together and it’s rather disappointing. Aside from Superman’s theme carrying over from Man of Steel (2013), only Batman’s theme is somewhat likable. Luthor’s finesse cue is too outlandish and Wonder Woman’s track raises too many red flags in tone. It sounds more like it belongs to Luthor with an erratic electric cello in the background with beating war drums. It doesn’t add any thematic depth to the listening experience.

    For almost all positives this sequel has, a negative can be found to counter it. The basic elements to this movie are here – casting, music, camerawork and action but that’s it. The writing isn’t focused on the premise the title states, the visuals look drained, the action has too much CGI at times and the music is frustrating to latch onto. Yet, the cast do work well and action is fair.

    Points Earned –> 5:10

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