Batman v Superman: A lacklustre dawn to the Justice League story
Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice can best be described as an uneven disappointment that promises much but gets lost in the unveiling of too many hodge-podge ideas that go nowhere. I say hodge-podge with no disrespect meant. I am not a comic book fan, but it is hard not to be a film buff and not know of Director Zach Snyder’s intention to use Dawn of Justice as a jumping off point for future films. The problem with this plan is that he seems determined to squeeze as much promise for future films into this first of a Justice League trilogy as possible, at the expense of the quality of this first outing.
It turns this film into a long-winded introduction for the next two films, and relegates it to the status of poor cousin among other super-hero films.
First of all though, some positives. Ben Affleck is the best Batman (my opinion only) I have seen on film. I really liked Christian Bale’s Dark Knight (in Christopher Nolan’s trilogy 2005-2012), and also loved Michael Keaton’s first outing as Batman back in 1989, but Affleck has brought something very different to the Caped Crusader. In Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice Batman is borderline psychotic. A rage-filled vigilante with an itch that can only be scratched through the demise of the Man of Steel. Affleck’s Batman is scary – horror movie serial killer scary, and when he finally confronts Superman in the titular battle he shows a remorselessness and resourcefulness that any super villain would be proud to showcase. He’s not evil, don’t get me wrong, but morally he is on the wrong side of this fight, and he comes dangerously close to finishing Smallville’s favourite Kryptonian Skinsuit-clad hero before realising the danger of the path he is on.
The newest addition to DC’s film-verse, Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman, is also a bright addition here. Gadot’s Wonder Woman provides a lot more than just eye-candy here. As Diana Prince she is shrewd, charming and conveys the demeanor and intelligence of a character whose leadership will be invaluable to future members of the Justice League. As the film runs towards its climax, Diana Prince is left behind and Wonder Woman finally unveiled – and, well, WOW! Kick-ass is the only way to describe this Amazonian princess, and her battle with Doomsday at films end goes close to making up for disappointing CGI used for the Doomsday character.
Aside from Affleck and Gadot, the other big bright spot in this film is the fight between Batman and Superman. It is a great battle, and is very definitely the highlight of the film. Unfortunately the thrill of this fight is tempered by the fact that the manipulation that brought them both to this point is just, well, silly.
Lex Luthor (Jesse Eisenberg) conjures a fairly simple plan to force our two heroes to fight each other, but honestly, with the powers of Superman, the whole confrontation should never have happened. I can suspend disbelief with the best of them, but in this case, when you’re talking about a character as powerful as Superman, it’s just too difficult to not ask some obvious questions.
Eisenberg as Luthor is fine for the first half of the film, but in the second half he disintegrates into farce, and his scenes become quite cringe-worthy. As for the introduction of three other ‘meta-humans’ (The Flash, Aquaman and Cyborg) into the story-line, this was unnecessarily sloppy and did no justice (pardon the pun) to their characters. These characters could easily have been introduced in the next planned film, and would have saved this film from having to throw too many different ideas into the mix. I know there are people who will defend their introduction as being important to the ‘Justice League’ story going forward, but to me it simply diluted an already thin story-line and added running time to a movie that, if anything, needed to be shorter and tighter.
Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice is an example of mistaking clever for convoluted, and convoluted for depth. It is a very simple story, but still manages to take two-and-a-half hours to tell. It’s first hour is annoyingly repetitive (we are reminded countless times of the animosity that exists between Gotham’s Bat Vigilante and Metropolis’ favourite son) and, though the final third of the film lifts, it’s not quite enough of a pay-off to make up for a lacklustre first half.
Explosions and Action
Chaos and Carnage