A&E / Reviews

Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice forgets to be a good movie

 In recent memory, no comic book film has built up more hype than Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice. With the success of Marvel’s cinematic universe, this film is DC’s answer. Dawn of Justice not only pitches two of the most beloved comic book characters ever, Batman and Superman, against each other, but it serves as the beginning of a string of DC superhero films coming our way. With all this hype, could the film possibly live up to expectations?

 This film boasts a loaded cast, and everyone proves serviceable in their roles. Ben Affleck steals the show as Bruce Wayne/Batman. He is given an intriguing set up, and impresses in his action scenes. Henry Cavill improves as Superman from his work as the character in 2013’s Man of Steel. Cavill connects more with the audience this time around, allowing him to have a more powerful presence. Jesse Eisenberg plays the main villain of the film, Lex Luthor. The filmmakers chose to go in an interesting direction with Luthor, making him crazier and lighter-hearted than most comic book fans will expect. Eisenberg plays the role well, but his performance will depend on the viewer’s ability to accept this version of the beloved character. Gal Gadot is introduced as Diana Prince/Wonder Woman. She is not in the film much, but when she is, she really shines.

 Dawn of Justice follows Superman as the public tries to decide if he is friend or foe. This film has a strong political vibe to it for the first half of the two and a half hour running time. We are simultaneously introduced to Bruce Wayne, and his motivations for going after Superman. There have been eight Batman films in the last 24 years, so we have seen this character plenty on the big screen. Affleck brings a different feel to the hero in this adaptation, offering a grittier, older version of the character. One of the highlights of the film is Batman, and the way he is introduced, leaving the audience with a craving for him in future films.

 At about the one hour mark, Dawn of Justice shifts its focus from political set up to full blown action. The plot turns very convoluted, jumping around from one idea to the next at a frustratingly messy pace. Dawn of Justice is, after all, the kickstarter film for DC’s cinematic universe. Much of that is lazily included in a stuffed script that is not sure what type of film it wants to be. Instead of focusing on what audiences are buying their tickets to see, Batman fighting Superman, Dawn of Justice gets lost in its own mythology of characters and plot lines. The film becomes self-obsessed with the world it is trying to build, forgetting to be a good solid movie on its own right.

 When the highly anticipated battle finally goes down, it is maddeningly underwhelming. The trailers did a fantastic job selling this film on the fight, only for the film to squander the opportunity of having Batman and Superman do battle. Instead we are thrown into a CGI filled final act, consisting of mindless action and massive destruction. Director Zack Snyder is known for his visuals, but storytelling has always proven difficult for him. That comes to fruition once again in Dawn of Justice. The film wraps itself up with more hints at future installments to its universe, only adding to the frustration of the opportunity the filmmakers just missed.

 As a film, Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice is structurally inept, failing to tell a cohesive story in favor of setting up for sequels. Die hard fans of the characters will be able to see past this, as the film offers them enough to walk away satisfied and wanting more. General audiences or those viewing this film as more than just fan service will find a lackluster attempt to kick off a string of many films to come.

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