Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016)
Running Time: 151 minutes
Directed by: Zack Snyder
Starring: Ben Affleck, Henry Cavill, Amy Adams, Jesse Eisenberg
Batman v Superman picks up from the previous Superman film, Man of Steel, where Superman (Cavill) has now become the most controversial figure in the world. With many seeing him as an emblem of hope, a growing number of the population begin to see him as a threat to humanity, seeking justice for the chaos he caused in Metropolis and Earth. To Bruce Wayne (Affleck), Superman is clearly a threat to society and dons his mask and cape to right the wrongs by Superman. The rivalry between them heats up as they are fueled by bitterness and vengeance. This rivalry is further intensified by a third man, Lex Luthor (Eisenberg) who intends on bringing down Superman.
To be frank, I’ve always been a huge supporter of Marvel in comparison to DC with the exception of Batman. That will always be the first superhero I was introduced to. After recently getting around to watching Man of Steel, I kept my expectations for this next installment from the DC universe relatively low, and thankfully so. More of a film to introduce the re-branded Batman/Bruce Wayne portrayed wonderfully by Ben Affleck, there’s quite a lot more screen time on Wayne than there is on Clark Kent. Affleck’s Batman is probably the edgiest we’ve ever seen of the Cape Crusader, with the suit created to give a bulkier and rougher silhouette. This contrasted well next to the sleek, almost shiny look of Superman’s suit. We are also introduced to Wonder Woman played by the beautiful Gal Gadot in this film, whom I thought stole every scene she appeared in the film, regardless she’s next to Bruce Wayne or Clark Kent. I truly hoped that they would’ve released a Wonder Woman standalone film first,prior to this one instead of after the release of this film. Why? Because it’ll be a great introduction to the character whom we know little about (unless you’re a comic book fan or a fan of the older adaptations). Having her appear in the film, fighting alongside Superman and Batman, only confused me a little, seeing her fighting the baddies with her superpowers only made me question what’s her deal, why is she so powerful, etc. Clearly, this may have been DC’s plan all along to give audience’s a taste of the Amazonian heroine, leaving them wanting more, thus ensuring an interested crowd for her standalone film.
Anyways, moving onto the story line, overall, the film felt like it lacked conviction and lacked a strong plot line to build the entire rivalry on. Granted, we all know the film is about the rivalry between Batman and Superman, but is that at all enough when we know nothing about this re-branded version of Wayne? Thus, the writers spent quite a bit of time simply expanding and reintroducing this character to the audience. Due to the fact that DC is rushing through producing and releasing these films, it felt difficult for me to pick a side between the two, or felt any kind of emotional investment in either characters without knowing much about them yet. We are also given a sprinkle of humor in the dialogue which was refreshing.
The good thing about the film for me is the first half, where there was more of a story and character development, where things felt a little less predictable and less use of CGI effects in general. The second half of the film simply felt like a blur where there was the fight between the two superheroes (as we anticipated) and the final fight with a more menacing villain, thus teaming the two of them with the addition of Wonder Woman. The use of CGI in this film is simply too much towards the end. Granted that’s more or less the nature of superhero films these days, but there’s something about the way it’s done and used in this film which made it felt like I was watching an animated film or a video game more than I am actually watching a motion picture with actual human beings in it. This is a major downside for me, especially, with the design of the main baddie in the end. The moment it’s introduced to the big screen, my first thoughts were, he looks like the spawn of The Incredible Hulk’s Abomination, The Amazing Spider-Man 2’s Electro, and Lord of the Ring’s cave troll in the Fellowship of the Ring. Additionally, the lovey-dovey moments between Lois Lane and Clark Kent during the major battle scenes in the end, simply killed the momentum for me. It made me want to laugh more than it actually made me sad or moved, even with Adams’ convincing performance.
The casting on the other hand, I thought was done well. Although it’s hard for me to let go of Christian Bale’s amazing portrayal of Bruce Wayne, Ben Affleck is a worthy successor of this role. He brought an element of anger and almost darkness to the character that isn’t as evident in previous portrayals. Cavill like his predecessor, Brandon Routh, gave a performance that lacks substance when compared to his good looks. Jesse Eisenberg as Lex Luthor brings a surprising twist to the character than previous portrayals. Eisenberg gave a performance that is unlike his other roles, it’s a bigger, and more bombastic character. The way the character is written and portrayed reminded me of Heath Ledger’s Joker in The Dark Knight maybe it’s his dislike towards Superman or his desire to take him down or the unnerving twitches on his face. It felt like an homage to Ledger.Whatever it was, it’s definitely different from Eisenberg’s usual roles and it’s refreshing to see him in this light. Gal Gadot is extremely charismatic in this film as Wonder Woman/Diana Prince, and like I said before, steals every scene she’s in. A few more of my favourites in this film that I thought really help strengthen it are – Scoot McNairy as Wallace Keefe and Holly Hunter as Senator Finch. Seeing Hunter square off with Eisenberg is truly something.
The cinematography by Larry Fong, has its moments in the film. With its closeup, less vibrant shots when depicting Wayne’s story, to the wide aerial shots of the heroes, it’s nothing like what Wally Pfister has done with The Dark Knight trilogy, but it definitely brings back a little of the 300 vibe which also shares the same cinematographer and director as this film. I would also like to point out the costume department for this film whom I thought did a brilliant job overall. What they’ve done with each of the characters really highlighted their individual personalities, especially the suits and coats worn throughout the film, from Wayne’s three-piece suits,to Luthor’s shift from semi-casual to formal. Furthermore, when you see Wayne, Kent and Prince together in a room as themselves, not their alter egos, the little touches they’ve added to their costumes, especially the colour scheme, simply hinted to the audience of their background and who they are.Moreover, the score for the film by Hans Zimmer and Junkie XL is as epic as their work have always been, but also echoed that of The Dark Knight trilogy scores.
Overall, Batman v Superman has a weak story line with epic fight sequences and CGI effects but lacks an emotional core that Marvel has done so well with their films.
Rating: 5 1/2 out of 10