Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016) film review

Year: 2016
Running Time: 153 minutes
Director: Zack Snyder
Writers: Bob Kane and Bill Fingers (Batman created by), Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster (Superman created by), Chris Terrio and David S. Goyer (screenplay)
Cast: Ben Affleck, Henry Cavill, Gal Gadot, Amy Adams, Jesse Eisenberg, Laurence Fishbourne, Holly Hunter, Diane Lane, Jeremy Irons, Callan Mulvey, Scoot McNairy

Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice will be released in Australia on March 24 (distributed by Roadshow Films) and March 25 in the United States ( Warner Bros.)

July 20 2013,Comic-Con, San Diego: Warner Bros. made the announcement that two of the greatest superheroes of our time, Batman and Superman will finally meet for the first time on the big screen with Man of Steel director, Zack Snyder at the helm. This announcement was as good as a dream come true for superhero and comic fans alike and much caution and excitement well as a Twitter storm with the news that Ben Affleck would replace Christian Bale as the Dark Knight.

March 2016: As predicted, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice is indeed a dream come true for superhero fans...or close to it. With the obvious elements that these devotees come to expect and desire from such a film, Batman v Superman is entertaining and action-packed with superb CGI, production design and sound editing. However, for those who are not amused by the specifics of the superhero genre, Snyder's latest film will be a drawn out piece of silliness that lacks a tight-knit, convincing screenplay.

18 months after Superman's (Henry Cavill) last great battle in Metropolis, he is still being judged for bringing destruction and devastation to the city rather than being hailed a hero, which is what his alter ego, Clark Kent and fellow Daily Planet reporter, Lois Lane (Amy Adams) are still out to prove to the world. One who has witnessed the pain and suffering that Superman unleashed on the city is a man with his own secrets, Bruce Wayne (Ben Affleck). The rivalry between Batman and Superman is unleashed with neither being prepared for the danger that the eccentric, Lex Luthor (Jesse Eisenberg) is about the unleash into the world.

While Batman v Superman is a vast improvement on 2013's Man of Steel, it is far from a perfect film. Yet, one has to ponder whether a film where these two larger than life characters meet and do battle could even have had a chance at pleasing absolutely everyone? Judging the film for what it is, it does exactly what it sets out to achieve which is to entertain and provide enjoyment, especially to those of the DC fandom. As one has come to expect from a Snyder film, the CGI is incredible and the production design of Metropolis incredibly detailed. The fight sequences are carefully choreographed and highly entertaining. Hans Zimmer's incredible score adds a great deal to the film as it provides a heightened sense of tension, but also celebration of the characters.

However, even loyalists will still be able to identify the film's faults that those indifferent to superhero films will see and dislike Batman v Superman for. The obvious obstacle of any project which involves two or more protagonists is how to keep more than one storyline flowing without overbalancing or falling into the state of too much happening at once. Unfortunately, Batman v Superman commits both of these crimes, but it is obvious that screenwriters Chris Terrio and David S. Goyer were trying hard to avoid this. The beginning and end of the film feel extremely cluttered, especially the finale which drags the film out losing momentum in the process. As with other multi-protagonist films, this clutter leads to the loss of depth, emotion and connection with the characters.

This is how Batman v Superman becomes Batman's film, rather than a film about Batman and Superman equally. Try as they might for the film to find a balance between the two, Bruce Wayne/Batman is far more interesting to watch than Clark Kent/Superman and one cares more for him than they do Superman, yet it should be the other way around. Bruce Wayne is a ghost of who he once was having separated himself from meaningful relationships to avoid further pain, while Clark Kent is very emotionally invested with the women in his life. Therefore one would expect to feel more from Cavill's Clark Kent/Superman than they do. Snyder's direction of Cavill in both Man of Steel and Batman v Superman has certainly left a lot to be desired. Cavill has a greater emotional range as an actor than what we have seen as of late and the film even calls for great emotion in several scenes, but instead we see a lifeless figure who lacks charisma and on-screen chemistry with his fellow actors.

On the other hand, it is the melancholy and dark temperament of Ben Affleck's Batman that steals the show from his red-caped rival. Like all good Batmans before him, Affleck has a grand screen presence as both the Dark Knight and Bruce Wayne. Yet he is far more cynical and darker than those that have come before him and it is a welcomed change as a result of Affleck's strong performance. Fans will also enjoy the return of the Batman gadgets in the cave and also the witty performance of Jeremy Irons as Alfred.

Jesse Eisenberg's Lex Luthor also outshines that who has always been his traditional rival. While one is used to seeing Luthor as an arrogant businessman obsessed with his fortune, the Luthor in Batman v Superman is a much younger and eccentric figure. He does not come across as dangerous in the same way as a traditional villain, but rather dangerous in a way that he is so mentally unstable and quirky that it is terrifying to think what he is actually capable of.

The screenplay provides some wonderful dialogue driven scenes, particularly where Lex Luthor is involved. However, some of the ideas implemented to help move the story along are quite ridiculous and one feels as though Terrio and Goyer were clutching at straws trying to reac the story's desired outcome. The holes that are left and questions that remain unanswered by the end of the film are indeed menacing. However, what the Batman v Superman screenplay does do well is tie the film in with the rest of the DC universe, in particular the Justice League. It introduces the characters which will grace our cinema screens in November 2017 in a way which evokes intrigue and excitement, particularly that of Wonder Woman, played by Gal Gadot. Wonder Woman, as her alter ego Diana Prince, is a woman of mystery to both the characters on screen and those watching. The build up to her transformation is very well done and her eventual transformation perfect.

Despite it's misgivings, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice will still entertain and delight fans of the two superheroes. For those who are not lovers of the universe in which superheroes belong to, it's misgivings may be unforgivable.


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