14A) Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice
Warner Bros Pictures.
14A for Violence, Language May Offend, Gory Scenes
Running Time: 151 Minutes.
2 and a half stars out of 4.
The dawn of the DC Universe is upon us. After years of trailing Disney and Marvel with the "inter-connected" universe, Warner Bros and DC Comics have finally assembled their Justice League Universe, with Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman teaming up with this spring's Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. That last part of the title, is important as the film mostly acts as a trailer for the upcoming slate of DC movies.
Warner Bros has a lot riding on the critical and commercial success of this film. This is audiences first introduction to the DC interconnected universe, and with films slated through 2020, this film has to click with audiences to ensure the commercial viability of future properties. With Zack Snyder returning to direct from 2013's Man of Steel, along with Henry Cavill and Amy Adams, Snyder has brought on recent Oscar winner Ben Affleck to take on the role of the Caped Crusader. This film has been long delayed, as it was originally supposed to come out in July of 2015, and was subsequently pushed to May of this year, before moving again to this March release date.
Batman v Superman has come under scrutiny from critics and fans alike, after initial screenings of the film left them disappointed. The film currently sports a "Rotten" 30% critical approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes. This score is worse than 2013's "Man of Steel" (56%) and Affleck's infamous "Daredevil" (44%). With negative buzz and poor reviews, I adjusted my expectations before going into see the film, and I was still left disappointed. This is not the disaster that you have heard it is, nor is it the grand slam that Warner Bros needed it to be. Batman v Superman is the Amazing Spider-Man 2 of 2016, in the way that it was intended to be the launching pad for a Cinematic Universe but fails at almost every attempt to setup its universe. Batman v Superman is not the train wreck that Amazing Spider-Man 2 was, but it comes close, especially during the final two acts of the film.
The first act of the film was sensational, and I began wondering why this film has received such poor reviews. The acting was solid, the score was excellent, and the writing was awe-inspiring. Ben Affleck embodied the role of Bruce Wayne/Batman and Henry Cavill did solid work in a more supporting role as Clark Kent/Superman. The first act very subtly yet effectively setups the primary conflict in the film between Batman and Superman and sets the stage for the rest of the film. Gal Gadot's first appearance as Dianna Prince/Wonder Woman was both crowd pleasing and prominent in setting up the Justice League. The first act was simply incredible, and I could not fathom why the film was being disparaged by audiences and critics alike. These were my thoughts, until the end of the first act, when the "plot" really kicked in.
The second and third acts were loud, incoherent, lazy, laughable, and unnecessary. I will not spoil what happens, but the film takes a bad left turn after a signifiant set piece, and just completely goes off the rails. Zack Snyder looses any sense of pacing, and scenes feel as if they are just together, rather than feeling as if they are in a sequence or chronological order. An example of this is at the Daily Planet office where Perry White asks Lois Lane where Clark is, and when the scene ends, instead of going to show us where Clark is, a completely different and unrelated scene follows, before getting to the scene where Clark is. I had trouble understanding what was going on during the final two thirds, and this made for a confusing viewing experience. The film felt "video game" like, in terms of, the DC Trinity having a mission and needing to get together and get the thing to take on the other thing.
The acting in the film is solid and no one does anything bad, but no one does anything amazing either. Despite all the initial backlash, Ben Affleck made for a great Bruce Wayne/Batman. Affleck was convincing and brought everything he had to the role, but the writing, like with most of the characters, was very poor. As Superman, Henry Cavill does solid work, but suffers from the same problem of not having enough screen time and nothing much to do throughout the entire film. For me, Gal Gadot is the standout of the DC Trinity, and in a brief yet effective supporting turn, Gadot brings it her all, and makes for a memorable big screen appearance as the iconic Wonder Woman, and I look forward to her solo movie ot be released next June. As the primary antagonist of the film, Jesse Eisenberg makes for a great Lex Luthor, and despite being too cartoony and unrealistic, I appreciate Eisenberg's commitment to this role.
For a film called Batman v Superman, the fight, is nothing special and is not anything that you haven't seen in the trailers. As with all the action sequences, there was a lack of energy and it felt as if every scene was being presented in slow motion. On a more technical note, the production and technical aspects of the film were impeccable. Hans Zimmer and Junkie XL's score was beautiful and memorable, particularly the Wonder Woman theme, and the visual effects were fine, but again, nothing special, which is very much the theme of this entire review (Nothing Special).
The Dawn of the DC Universe has arrived While this film has some redeemable qualities, particularly that of the acting, score, and first act, this is a mess. Easter eggs and teasers for future DC films feel shoe horned into the film and come out of nowhere and make no sense. In spite of all this, Batman v Superman is not the train wreck that many have said it is and this is more of a fun and redeemable mess rather than a flat out failure. I am all in for this DC Universe, as all my problems can be fixed with future films. Now that the "Dawn" of the Justice League is over, I look forward to the "Rise" and despite my problems with the Universe setup that takes place in this film, I couldn't help but geek out when I realized what DC and Warner Bros have in store for us in future films. I look forward to David Ayer's Suicide Squad (to be released in August), as this Universe needs a new creative voice beyond that of Zack Snyder. While this film doesn't have much going for it, and often feels very "meh," I can't help but applaud some of the aspects of the film, and in the end, I did not hate this film, I more or less felt very "meh."
The DC Heroes have landed, next up, DC's Villains, and I couldn't be more excited.