Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016) Review:

Please note: This review I wrote for panandscan.co.uk and can be found here.

Director: Zack Snyder

Runtime: 151 minutes

Cast: Ben Affleck, Henry Cavill, Amy Adams, Jesse Eisenberg, Laurence Fishburne, Jeremy Irons, Gal Gadot, et al.

Plot (taken from IMDb): Fearing that the actions of Superman are left unchecked, Batman takes on the Man of Steel, while the world wrestles with what kind of a hero it really needs.


Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice tries to accomplish too much at once, meaning that ultimately, we are left with a mismatch of a movie. Batman v Superman feels like a film made up of parts, rather than one whole cohesive piece – but it turns out that some of the individual aspects of the movie are rather good.

Take the performance from Ben Affleck (Batman, or Batfleck, as fans lovingly dubbed him). He plays a Batman quite different to Christian Bale’s before him; Affleck’s Batman is aggressive, brash, and more reliant on his gadgetry than Bale’s Dark Knight. In the film’s best scene, we see Batman take out a bunch of thugs in an apartment building and it feels like something straight out of The Dark Knight Returns or Year One. Batfleck is violent, and he gives off the impression that he doesn’t care anymore – he doesn’t have time for crooks – breaking his one rule (not to kill).

batman-v-superman image one

I loved Affleck’s interpretation of Batman, and he played Bruce Wayne well, using the right amount of smarm – he felt like Bruce Wayne. Unfortunately, we didn’t get to know Batman all too well, nor did we get to know anyone that well. It’s strange that such a long film didn’t give much time for character development. This is unfortunate for a film that was sold on the premise of Batman fighting Superman. The fight itself is cool, but it is underwhelming as we don’t properly get to understand the beef between the two Heroes.

Batman is shown to dislike Superman because he is reckless, destroying buildings and killing innocents, but this doesn’t really gel with Affleck’s interpretation of the Caped Crusader. Superman is played well by Cavill, who carries the power well, despite not saying too much, and for the most part, he is strung along by Jesse Eisenberg’s Lex Luthor. Dawn of Justice’s Luthor is… interesting. Lex Luthor is meant to be one of the greatest criminal masterminds of all time, but Eisenberg plays him as a slightly anxious, almost Joker like character who doesn’t know when to shut up.

batman v superman image two

It isn’t made too clear what Luthor actually wants from Batman and Superman, or anyone else; he just seems to want them all to fight for his enjoyment as far I can tell. The film does try to show the angst between the characters, but it doesn’t really succeed – especially in a dream sequence. The dream sequence sums up a lot of what Batman v Superman gets right and wrong. It doesn’t really add anything, but it looks nice. Director Zack Snyder is a good visual artist, but not a great director. Dawn of Justice is inconsistent; it’s a film that lacks focus, trying to take us to the next big set-piece, despite never really giving much thought how or why.

Thankfully, I enjoyed the set-pieces. The effects were great, it sounded great and most-importantly, you felt the power emanating from Superman and Batman. Choreography in the film was excellent, rivalling the best in the genre – did I mention the scene of Batman taking out thugs in an apartment building? But what gave me goosebumps more than anything was when Wonder Woman turned up, kicking ass and taking names. Gal Gadot played Wonder Woman excellently, even if it was just a brief appearance; it makes me excited to see her standalone movie when it releases.

batman v superman image three

But better than the set-pieces and Wonder Woman? The score. Hans Zimmer’s score is pitch-perfect. It gives the film a power that would’ve been lacking in its countless duller moments and disparate events. It’s a shame he won’t score another superhero movie, because he outdid himself with this one – particularly Wonder Woman’s theme.

It’s a shame that the few excellent moments are dragged down by a long runtime, filled with brooding and oddly misplaced jokes from the larger cast. The plot feels incomplete too, with scenes seemingly just taking place one after the other, with not a lot of thought between them. Snyder proclaimed that they made around two-and-a-half hours of cuts, and it shows.

Summary:

Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice feels like it needed a stronger edit and direction, because there is some quality to be found in DC’s dark advert for The Justice League. As an advert, Batman v Superman made me excited about what’s to come.

2.5/5

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