Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016)

JUSTICE OR REVENGE

Fearing the actions of a god-like Super Hero left unchecked, Gotham City’s own formidable, forceful vigilante takes on Metropolis’s most revered, modern-day savior, while the world wrestles with what sort of hero it really needs. And with Batman and Superman at war with one another, a new threat quickly arises, putting mankind in greater danger than it’s ever known before.

It takes some going to be the most controversial film of the year so far in the same year that has already given us a Sacha Baron Cohen film and an R-Rated take on Deadpool, but that was always going to be expected from Zack Snyder’s critically panned Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice, a film that at the same time both serves as a sequel to 2013’s Man of Steel as well as the launching point for the entire DC Comics Extended Universe to follow, which continues with the likes of Suicide Squad in August and Wonder Woman in November. It essentially tries to do what The Amazing Spider-Man 2 attempted to do for Sony, and for the most part, despite negative reactions, succeeds at creating a bombastic display and giving us an awe-inspiring view of what the famous Trinity might look like on screen.

I’ve always gone against the popular opinion for the most part when it comes to liking certain superhero movies. Sure, I hate X Men 3: The Last Stand and Batman & Robin as much as the rest of us, but I prefer both Amazing Spider-Man movies over the original Sami Rami Trilogy, and Captain America: The First Avenger is my favourite Marvel movie from phase 1. I also liked Man of Steel a heck of a lot more than everyone else seemed to, and that seems to be very much the case with Batman v. Superman. It’s batshit (pun not intended) insane from start to finish and doesn’t hold back. If Man of Steel felt like a Christopher Nolan-lite take on Superman for all its strengths Batman v. Superman is closer to Watchmen in tone and design, borrowing elements from both Frank Miller’s epic The Dark Knight Returns and The Death of Superman in its antagonist to weave an engaging, bombastic take that showcases the “greatest gladiator match in the history of the world.”

The cast is on top form for most of the movie. Ben Affleck wipes all memory of Christian Bale aside with an excellent performance as Bruce Wayne and Batman and Jeremy Irons delivers a better Alfred than Michael Caine. Also impressive is Henry Cavill as Superman, who makes his Clark Kent character an interesting one. And then there’s Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman, who, in the characters’ first live action movie appearance, really blows the audience away. We first meet Gal Gadot fairly on in the film but it’s not until later where she dons the Wonder Woman suit and trust me you’ll know when she does, with an excellent theme to match and an offering that fills me with hope for her upcoming solo movie. It’s going to be great.

 

Jesse Eisenberg takes on the villainous role as Lex Luthor and rather than the cold and calculative approach of the comics his portrayal is kind of like a blend of The Doctor and The Joker. It’s eccentric, and will not be to everyone’s taste but I enjoyed his performance here. It was fun and he handled himself well over the course of the movie. The red capes are coming indeed.

The supporting cast is pretty good for the most part. Laurence Fishburne reprises his role as Perry White, Scoot McNairy plays a Wayne Enterprises employee with a grudge against Superman and Harry Lennix returns as General Swanwick. Amy Adams’ Lois Lane unfortunately isn’t as proactive as she was in the first half of Man of Steel and instead suffers as a victim of the “damsel in distress” trope one too many times.

Hans Zimmer & Junkie XL’s score is about as epic as you’d expect from the composers behind The Dark Knight Trilogy and Mad Max: Fury Road respectively. It makes up for Junkie XL’s disappointing Deadpool score incredibly well, and even though this will be Zimmer’s last superhero film it was a great one to end with. He’s a legend, and without him the superhero genre would sound very different indeed.

Now, the flaws. I’ve already mentioned that I’ve had issues with Lois Lane’s portrayal in this movie but there are a few others. Do we really need to be told Bruce Wayne’s origin story again, especially when there’s an entire show that’s dedicated to that concept on air as well as Batman Begins is still so recent and his origin story is so famous anyway? We do not, but at least it was dealt with fairly quickly, and it was cool seeing Jeffrey Dean Morgan and Lauren Cohen in the respective roles as Batman’s parents. They certainly cast some good actors for their respective cameos, and it was also good to see the future Justice League members in their brief roles as well – Aquaman looked badass in his cameo, and it was pretty cool seeing Cyborg and The Flash in their brief appearances as well.

As with most superhero films this movie was about as predictable as they come, and although there was a credible threat in the form of Doomsday, it literally offered few surprises and even a major death didn’t quite have the impact as it should – although that’s probably due to comic books and the fact that you know chances are they’ll get better soon. The dialogue isn’t always perfect and the reasoning behind getting Batman and Superman to fight isn’t quite as clear as it could have been, but given that there have been far weaker reasons behind getting two sides to fight in the comics I’m willing to let this one slide. It could have also done with a better pace and possibly a shorter running time but on the whole for the most part, Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice, for me at least, works. Not every movie has to be a light hearted Marvel film and I’m pleased they broke the trend and went down this route.

Yes it has been divisive but Zack Snyder’s film is on the whole, an enjoyable popcorn flick that is suitably intense and suitably dramatic. I liked this better than the majority of Marvel’s movies – it was certainly better than their Phase 1 films and the only ones it falls short of in terms of quality are Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Guardians of the Galaxy and Avengers Assemble. So now that’s out of the way, bring on the rest of the DC Universe indeed. Now, if you’ll need me, I’ll be busy listening to that soundtrack.  

VERDICT: 8/10

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