Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice – Review

If I could define the phrase ‘missed opportunity’, I’d do so with Batman v Superman.

Nine years ago, the film I Am Legend contained an easter egg that couldn’t be missed – a poster for a Batman/Superman movie. This immediately raised the notion of a Batman v Superman film among movie-goers, and would you believe it has taken this long for it to be released? Trailers were looking good, but did BvS live up to the hype it’s built?

(Fight night! (Warner Bros. Pictures)

BvS has advertised itself as “the greatest gladiator match in the history of the world”. This is one – rather short – part of the story. The film is more about the moral ideology clash between the titular heroes, as well as setting up the Justice League.

Directed once again by the controversial Zack Snyder, who helmed the 2013 Superman reboot Man of Steel, I was both worried and excited beforehand. Whilst MoS was enjoyable, it was void of humour and went a bit mad with the finale. Still, I’ve waited nine years, so I remained positive.

It is clear that Snyder is taking the DCEU in a specific direction, it’s just a shame it’s the wrong one. He’ll think he’s creating a complex, dark yet action packed extravaganza. I think it’s more of an unrelentingly moody, incoherent film that even exciting fight sequences can’t fully save.

Snyder has turned two charistmatic, exceptional characters into the superhero equivalent of angsty teenagers. Watching them navigate through disjointed scenes containing heavily-pushed mythology (fake gods, monsters, aliens) isn’t exactly a ‘joy’. Dream sequences – which have been a clear attempt to spice up proceedings – blur the film’s line between what is actually happening, creating confusion – not intrigue.

Cheer up, you’re fucking Batman! (© – Warner Bros. Pictures)

Also, Snyder is clearly yet to master of the art of a solid narrative, as from the get-go we’re jumping from Gotham, to Metropolis, to the Indian Ocean, and to Africa without clear reasons why.

Despite the film being all doom and gloom, this review isn’t. I do have positives things to say, so let’s start with the cast. I really enjoyed Ben Affleck’s take on Batman. He is brooding, yet cold and calculating. His anger bursts through the screen, stealing every scene he’s in. He is arguably the best thing about BvS. His Bruce Wayne is fantastic, but his Batman is outstanding. His action sequences evidently take inspiration from the Arkham game series – I loved all of it. Take note though, his traditional moral code isn’t in tact here.

This brings a problem – Batman steals Superman’s thunder, big time. Whilst Cavill’s performance still makes Superman relatable with a good performance , Ben Affleck is simply more interesting. Perhaps this is because Batman is given more of a focus, therefore in future whoever is directing needs to make more use of Cavill.

When you realise Batman has stole your thunder… (© – Warner Bros. Pictures)

Jesse Eisenberg as Lex Luthor has split opinion. Some see him as annoying, some see him as complex and interesting. I personally see him in a positive light. He brings a quirkiness and new brand of craziness to the Luthor character, that gives scenes a lighter tone. It is easy to dismiss him as a loony-tune at the beginning, but as the film proceeds we see him develop.

Jeremy Irons as Alfred was one of my favourite characters next to Batman. He’s a brand new Alfred, establishing himself far from Michael Caine’s performance. He’s tough, cool and a bit of a hard-nut.

Amy Adams as Louis Lane feels out of place and underused. For such a powerful icon in the DC universe, she is being stereotyped as a damsel in distress rather than what she should be. This isn’t her fault though, her performance is good – blame Snyder.

Laurence Fishburne as Perry White brings the only comic relief to BvS, always on hand to provide a sarcastic comment which always got a laugh from the audience.

Finally Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman. Thank the lord Zack Snyder managed to nail it here. Both as Diana Prince and Wonder Woman, Gadot excels and proves she is the perfect choice for Wonder Woman. Her screen time, particularly in the final fight, is one of the main highlights of BvS.

WONDER WOMAN! (© – Warner Bros. Pictures)

As for the main event – the fight itself – I won’t spoil too much. All I’ll say is, you will love it but it’s too short. As much as it is smartly choreographed and intense, it ends abruptly and stupidly. Batman and Superman are all of a sudden super-friends, and  moves on to the fight with Doomsday all too quickly.

To sum it up…

Batman v Superman doesn’t necessarily deserve to be slaughtered by critics. It looks exceptional on screen, with gorgeous imagery and cinematography. This aside though, BvS‘s wonky narrative and overwhelmingly depressive tone takes attention away from otherwise great moments. I pray for DCEU’s future.

Rating: No Bad

Check out the trailer below:

What do you think? Let me know in the comments below or tweet @film_swot.

Author: Cameron Frew

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