Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice

**The following review doesn’t reveal any Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice spoilers except a brief synopsis and some details revealed in the trailers **

Ever since Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice was announced at the 2013 San Diego Comic Con, the world has been waiting to see the battle of a lifetime. Nearly three years later, people can now see the Dark Knight go one on one with the Man of Steel on the silver screen for the first time, thanks to director Zack Snyder. Snyder, in a way, has been chosen to lead Warner Bros. with their DC Comics film series. He directed this movie’s predecessor Man of Steel (2013), and will direct the upcoming Justice League films as well as produce Suicide Squad, The Flash, and Aquaman. It’s an interesting choice based on the fact that Snyder is quite the polarizing filmmaker; many critics and fans haven’t approved his work in some time. In fact, Man of Steel was met with a lot of criticism, hence why they didn’t make another solo Superman movie. Instead, they had to add Batman because he is a box office draw. Regardless, this is the beginning of what is to come from DC and Warner Bros., and the tone will be set by Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.

Ben Affleck (Batman) goes face to face with Henry Cavill (Superman) in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice

Ben Affleck (Batman) goes face to face with Henry Cavill (Superman) in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice

 

The movie follows the final events from Man of Steel when Superman (Henry Cavill) battle with General Zod (Michael Shannon) nearly destroyed everything in sight in the city of Metropolis. However, the audience is given a different perspective in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. We see the events through the eyes of Bruce Wayne (Ben Affleck), who sees his building destroyed, in which some of his employees perish during the brawl. Wayne (who is secretly the Batman) now believes Superman is a force that has to be dealt with, because though he is seemingly doing good, he could “burn this whole place down” and the world would have to watch.

Now, if you’ve seen this movie already you are probably thinking, he left so much out of his plot description. Well, that’s because if I wrote a real plot synopsis, I would quickly make my word count without even making any criticisms. That’s the major issue with Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice; it’s an overfilled, convoluted movie. Instead of taking the time to develop characters, plots, and other parts of the upcoming DC Universe, they instead try to throw everything in one movie. This way DC and Warner Bros. can release the Justice League movies, compete with Marvel and make some serious comic book dough. Unfortunately, it shows. Audiences can see right through this film as they are hit over the head with subplot after subplot, character after character. Because of this, Snyder’s latest film is that it lacks a rhythm; it doesn’t flow. It feels like a string of events that are connected rather than following a neat, well-told story. In other words, it’s choppy. It took me a while to feel fully emerged in the movie; it was like playing double-dutch, just waiting to hop in between the two jump ropes. Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice does eventually find its rhythm, but by that point it already feels a bit off.

One issue this picture doesn’t struggle with is bad performances. It seems everyone brought their all, especially Affleck. In an odd way, Affleck redeems himself to comic book fans with Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. See, he has already played a superhero before, in one of the most hated superhero movies of all-time—Daredevil (2003). I’m sure a day doesn’t go by when he doesn’t hear a crack about him in those awful red tights. But after seeing his total emersion as the Caped Crusader, no one will be making jokes about it anymore. He perfectly captures the essence of the billionaire playboy of Bruce Wayne, but with one look his years of pain and suffering can be seen in his eyes- that is what makes him a great Batman. I think the one thing that is promised to movie goers that see Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice is that foundation has been set for a new Batman. Even if the upcoming Justice League movies fail and everyone rallies against another Superman picture, Warner Bros. and DC Comics will be able to fall back on Affleck’s Batman. In an odd way, this is Batman’s movie; it feels very pro-Dark Knight. So much so that it could have been called “Batman: Dawn of Justice [Feat. Superman]”

Cavill is good, and so is Amy Adams, who plays Superman love interest Lois Lane, but neither manages to bring anything spectacular. Gal Gadot makes a grand appearance as Wonder Woman, leaving people excited to see what’s to come of her. But, from what we do see of her in action, comic book fans will be very happy with their choice. Holly Hunter delivers a noteworthy performance as she debates just how the world should accept the alien known as Superman.  Though she isn’t in the movie nearly as much as the two heroes in capes, her performance is one that actually stuck out. However, one performance that people will be talking about will be that of Jesse Eisenberg, who plays Lex Luthor (Superman’s greatest nemesis). Eisenberg creates a fresh and unique version of the character; he acts more like a trembling, awkward-oddball rather than the smooth, confident speaker most people see Luthor as. In some scenes, Eisenberg is so believable that he is arguably the part of the movie. But, then there are a few scenes that feel like he is trying way too hard. The performance is polarizing, but, either way, people view it, he will have them talking about the character.

I’ve never had much of an issue with “Easter eggs.” For those that aren’t aware of the term, “Easter eggs” are hints, inside jokes, or hidden references for people watching a movie. For example, an ordinary “Easter egg” in a comic book movie is when a weapon or symbol of a superhero that hasn’t been introduced yet, can be seen in the background of a scene. It’s a teaser for the fans, essentially. Well, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice paints these eggs bright orange and then throws them at your face. The movie’s subtitle is Dawn of Justice, but just in case for anyone that isn’t catching the reference, let’s quickly break it down. Dawn means beginning in this context, which makes it the beginning of justice. What does Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman have to do with “justice?” That’s right; they are in the Justice League! This movie is the set up for upcoming Justice League movies (obviously DC Comics’ way to combat with Marvels’ Avengers movies). So, when Snyder makes it a point to take maybe five to ten minutes to preview other members of the upcoming Justice League in “Easter egg” fashion, it feels like they are jamming it down your throat. I’d love to get into more detail about this, but won’t for spoiler reasons. So, check out our video review below for more details.

Even with all the bumps along the way Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice holds steady until the third act. This is when the movie starts to fall apart. The third act feels completely generic. I imagine the boardroom meeting at Warner Bros., someone telling Zack Snyder he hasn’t hit his explosion quota yet. “We just need more things blown up!” Nevertheless, this is where the review gets tricky because a lot of my main issues with Snyder’s new movie are spoiler-related. So, I can only sum it up by being discreet as possible. The third act of this film really proved to me how unconfident the studio and/or the filmmakers are in this picture. It reeked of worry and self-consciences. As if they were worried that the movie they’ve created would fail, so they decided to throw in a portion of the movie that has every action movie trope ever. It also leads me to believe that they believe audiences are dumb. The way the story develops and certain things that are revealed (especially in the final moments of the film) validate that the filmmakers just don’t think people will get it. That’s where they’re wrong—unfortunately, they were the ones who didn’t get it.

2.5 Stars

-By Jacob Tiranno

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