Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice Review

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If you go into “Batman V. Superman: Dawn of Justice” hoping for a bunch of fun one liners, and upbeat, wholesome story you will surely be disappointed. These films are completely different from the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Three years ago Warner Bros. announced they would jump start their shared universe after the events of “Man Of Steel”. Everyone is dying to know whether this DC film will stand up to its Marvel competitors.

“Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice” is a remarkable film, with plenty of action a story that will engage you and your emotions throughout. As good as the film is, it does suffer from flaws that like most films have these days. Does that mean that this film is bad? Not at all. This film is well made, a technical juggernaut and a feast for the eyes. It has its flaws but make no mistake, Dawn of Justice is a bold film with big ideas and is breathtaking,

Unlike the MCU, “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice” doesn’t need innocuous one liners, or tongue and cheek action sequences. Not to say that Marvel has been doing superhero movies wrong or  badly, but this film offers so much more.  Like its predecessor, “Dawn of Justice” tries to remove itself from comparisons to the MCU.

Before we get into the meat and potatoes of “Batman v Superman,” let’s take a moment to talk about the rating. “Dawn of Justice” is dark. I’m not here to dole out parenting advice, but maybe your 10 or 11-year-olds should stay away from this one. Though it’s nowhere near the level of violence or sensuality seen in “Deadpool,” it does push that PG-13 rating.

Although I appreciated a lot of things about this film let’s take a pause and talk about the things I did not care for.

The biggest flaw in the film has nothing to do with the narrative, the actors or their acting, and even the dialogue from Chris Terrio is smart, engaging and truly a gem. The characters were fleshed out in a fast and interesting way without banging us over the head with the usual origin stories. Pacing is where “Batman v Superman” really misses the mark and is quite possibly the biggest issue that “BvS” faces. The first twenty minutes or so viewers are swiftly taken back into the world Snyder and company have created. This film begins with a great emotional opening scene, which is then followed by a great action set piece shot in Detroit. But once things get going with Lex Luthor’s diabolical plan you can’t help but wonder why the editing team didn’t leave a few of those scenes on the cutting room floor. The rest of the film is a little jagged around the edges as well. As a completed work, the film could have used one more round of edits to fix those places that drag. These scenes are few, but unfortunately they are not far between as it is a strand of narrative that could have been shaped in a different way during post-production . I’m critical of this because the Filmmakers had over 3 years to finalize an incredible final cut. The film is great, even amazing at times, but it doesn’t transcend in the way that “The Dark Knight,”  “Superman: The Movie,” or even “Spider-Man 2” does.

Now onto the good.

We know Zack Snyder knows how to capture amazing visuals and action sequences. What most people don’t give him enough credit for are those quieter moments between two actors. Snyder was able to pull some truly great performances from Jesse Eisenberg, and Ben Affleck. It was a treat to see Henry Cavill evolve as an actor in this film as well; his portrayal Superman has truly some great emotional underpinnings. He’s dealing with that hangover from Man Of Steel just like the rest of the world is. 

Ben Affleck is the definitive version of Batman. He cuts a dashing figure as The Caped Crusader. His Batman is brutal and is ripped right from the pages of Frank Miller’s “The Dark Knight Returns.” There are so many nods to that version of Batman in this film not just within the overall look of the suit, but in the way Affleck portrays his version of The Dark Knight Detective. Affleck’s take on Bruce Wayne is fantastic too, we simply cannot talk enough about how good he was in this film as both Bruce Wayne and Batman. Wayne is much more active in this iteration compared to previous versions of the character where he was seen as being more reactive, like in the Burton or Nolan films. He also does more detective work too which was phenomenal to see. Although it’s totally open to interpretation, there is an aspect to his Batman that many might find out-of-character. It’s happened before on the silver screen, but for spoilers sake I’ll leave out the issue I had with Batfleck’s Batman.

The real MVP is Jesse Eisenberg as Lex Luthor. He gives a tour de force performance as a man who is clearly flawed, utterly insane and willing to stop at nothing to kill both Superman and Batman. The final scene for his character is fantastic and it really begins to set up him for future installments, since in a way he is the key to the DC Villains on the silver screen. Contrary to popular belief, Gal Gadot isn’t the real stand out. She’s fine in the minor role that she plays in the film, and when she finally shows up as Wonder Woman you truly jump out of your seat in utter excitement. There isn’t much that she does in the film other than be a really interesting super-heroine that you want to get to know more about.

Hans Zimmer and Junkie XL definitely contribute to the team of major all-stars that this film puts forward. Not only are they able to crush the score again with the Superman theme, but the new Batman theme that plays throughout is incredible and it helps aid in the emotional beats of the film. You only get a hint of the new Wonder Woman theme two-thirds of the way in, but when it plays it’s unforgettable. I hope whoever the composer is for “Wonder Woman” keeps that riff for her future outings on the big screen.

As a minor note on the death of Wayne’s parents: I’m tired of seeing that happen in every live action version of Batman. “Dawn of Justice” not only gives us something completely different, but it stays within canon. It’s now my favorite version of that pivotal moment in Bruce’s life. It’s cinematic and completely emotional. Junkie XL and Hans Zimmer’s music in these scenes are able to achieve something most films can’t come close to.

The ending of the film is nearly flawless. The action is tight and the character motivations are fleshed out. The CGI at the end is not top-notch unfortunately. The only thing to compare it to is the CGI in the recent Hobbit films. It almost takes you out of the film, but you’re so drawn to each and every beat of the finale that it’s hard to really care about such minor detail.

“Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice” is not perfect. There are glaring flaws in the cohesion of this film, but it’s a complete step up from “Man Of Steel” and it improves every aspect of that film. The only question that remains is “how will the fans respond?” If the fans aren’t so warm to this version of Batman and Superman is it time to shut the universe down and get someone else to helm the next versions? Only time will tell. At this point Snyder and company should be making nearly flawless films that hit home by being faithful to the mythology of all their characters. Maybe this will be the final nail in the coffin for the people who have reacted negatively toward Zack Snyder’s position at the helm of the DCEU. If fans don’t go in droves to see it….well, maybe it is time for Snyder to walk away. As much as I enjoyed this film, the bottom line is money talks and the rest walks. If this movie doesn’t score a big opening weekend and have legs…well, ladies and gentleman I’m not sure what the studio will do. As I would like to see where the characters will go from here, especially Ben Affleck’s Batman and Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman.

What did you think of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice? Let us know in the comment section below.

 

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