Friday, April 01, 2016

My Review of Batman V. Superman: Dawn Of Justice (2016)

Written by Chris Terrio And David S. Goyer
Directed by Zack Snyder

Lex: “Bruce Wayne meet Clark Kent. I love it. I love bringing people together.”

If ever there was a movie that seemed divisive in it’s inception, never mind actual release, it could possibly be this one. It would seem odd that the meeting of two of DC’s biggest superheroes on the big screen would generate such a reaction but when you have a director as polarising as Zack Snyder helming this movie, what can you expect?

I promise this review isn’t going to descend into a Snyder bashing fest but saying that, it’s hard to ignore the controversy his contributions to the DC movie universe have been so far. This movie however is not quite the disaster area that some more vocal critics seem adamant on claiming it is though and that’s something I feel should be emphasised.

It’s far from perfect and some of the mistakes that Snyder previous made with Man Of Steel resurface here as the director does seem to have an appetite for wanton city wide destruction during his climatic moments and it’s fair to say that Metropolis is possibly subjected to even more damage here than when it was just a guy in a red cape making his presence known to the world. Even I didn’t know what to make of the onscreen carnage we got during a certain segment when our heroes banded together to fight off a dodgy GCI version of Doomsday.

The main plot itself is a bit convoluted but the nuts and bolts seemed to be having Lex Luthor (Jesse Eisenberg) going to some of the strangest lengths in order to get both Batman (Ben Affleck) and Superman (Henry Cavill) to respectively annihilate each other and it’s a plan that almost works too, sadly enough.

Eisenberg is possibly one of the most vile incarnations of Luthor we’ve seen in a long time. He doesn’t quite exude menace, in spite of his actions and many horrific acts but put it this way, even Joffrey Baratheon would side eye the little shit from a great distance. By the end of this movie, you’ll honestly want to bludgeon his Lex to death but revealing the actual fate of his character would be a bit too much of a spoiler, amongst many other things I’ll allude to but won’t reveal. Out of the two villains though, Lex does ultimately work better than Doomsday.

In terms of the heroes, this movie has essentially four of them. I wasn’t particularly enamoured with Amy Adams previous outing as Lois Lane but in this movie, she actually improved dramatically even if she was placed in three situations where she had to play the damsel in distress. Aside from those moments, she’s given plenty of opportunities to shine, help save the day and even break your heart and that’s a Lois Lane I can get behind.

As for the man of steel himself, I initially feared the worst for Henry Cavill with this one. I genuinely thought Superman was at risk of being sidelined in his own shared movie but thankfully I was wrong. Yes, there were certain things I didn’t like (his public shaming etc) but overall, Cavill really excelled himself, especially during the last half hour of the film.

Then there’s Ben Affleck. While I admit that I kept an open mind to his casting as Batman, a part of me did wonder if he was truly right for the part. Thankfully those reservations were allayed because Affleck genuinely felt like Batman to me onscreen. An older, more brutal version of course, semi—retired and scarred from losing many battles but motivated into maintaining his vigilantism as he feared that Superman could be a bigger threat to society before seeing the light. The movie rethreads some familiar territory with the caped crusader but not at the expense of slowing things down either. Basically, Affleck turned out to be a perfect choice to play Batman.

And of course, there’s also Wonder Woman. If there’s almost one thing all critics of this movie have been consistent of in their praising, it’s that Gal Gadot is perfect as the Amazonian demigoddess/princess/warrior and I’m not rocking the boat by suggesting otherwise. She genuinely is brilliant in the role, exudes warmth and charisma, lights up the screen and is great with both Batman and Superman during their fight scene with Doomsday. My only complaint is that I wish she had appeared in more scenes but it’s a minor quibble though.

In terms of supporting characters, the movie isn’t devoid of them. Holly Hunter is quite strong as a temporary antagonist for Lex in her role as Senator June Finch and Diane Lane has some choice moments as Martha Kent. Scoot McNairy has a bit of a pivotal role in Lex’s overall but I don’t feel much was really done with Laurence Fishbourne’s Perry White to be honest. The best supporting role however will go to Jeremy Irons as Alfred, subverting the role in a different way to Sean Pertwee’s take on the character in Gotham at the moment.

As for the cameo appearances – by now you definitely know who they are and they’re handled pretty well. They don’t intrude on things too much but they do whet the appetite for the Justice League nonetheless. The dream sequences/hallucinations on the other hand are a bit too distracting for some and probably should’ve been trimmed or scrapped altogether.

-  Opening and closing narrations truly set the tone for the movie in a big way. The retelling of Bruce’s back story was done nicely in this movie.
-  I’m genuinely surprised by one death in this movie and it’s not the one you think it is. Can you guess which one? As for the Easter Eggs we got here, nicely played.
-  Some of the stuff cut from this movie (namely the Jena Malone material) will surface on the DVD release.
-  Was it me or was there a lot of celebrity cameos in this movie? Looks like it’s not just Supergirl that’s tuned into the real world. Most of them I didn’t even know were happening until I was watching.

Batman V. Superman: Dawn Of Justice was never going to be a perfect film. It always seemed destined from the start that it would not receive the type of love that Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy did and while a lot of the criticism for the movie and Snyder’s approach is certainly justified, I still think there was a lot to love here. All the main cast members were on fine form, there were some genuinely beautiful moments, character wise and the final act was an incredible mixture of action and heartbreak. It’s not going to be every DC fan’s cup of tea and it may alienate casual cinema goers but I definitely would recommend seeing it nonetheless.

Rating: 7 out of 10

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