Batman V Superman Dawn Of Justice -This Setting Up The Expanded DC Cinematic Universe Movie Stumbles As Much As It Rocks
Dir: Zack Snyder
Starring Ben Affleck, Henry Cavill, Gal Gadot, Amy Adams, Jesse Eisenberg, Jason Momoa, Ezra Miller, Laurence Fishburne, Ray Fisher, Jeremy Irons, Holly Hunter, Kevin Costner
So after all the wait, here we are – two superhero icons finally going up against each other. Ostensibly it’s Batman V Superman. But it might as well be DC V Marvel. Or even Snyder V Nolan. Or even Snyder V Himself, Watchman/Man Of Steel-wise. No pressure then.
So how does it stand up in any of the above scenarios? Pretty much as you’d expect. Good. Solid. Decent. Enough to build a universe on? Well, the box office will decide that. We? We pretty much enjoyed it.
To focus on the positive – the first half is much stronger than the second. The opening half hour or so moves along at a really strong clip, Snyder displaying enormous flair as he retells the much told orphaning of Bruce Wayne, introduces both of his main heroes, doing their superheroic day jobs, with a fair dose of contemporary terrorism in the mix as well – Supes rescuing the rather needs rescuing-prone Lois Lane from a Middle East scenario, and the director re-configuring his Man of Steel climax (replayed here from the POV of Bruce Wayne) as a clearly intended 9/11 series of visual references.
It’s tightly edited and propels forward, if not faster than a speeding bullet, than certainly quicker than a two and a half hour comic book epic would suggest. Affleck very quickly establishes himself as a new and intriguing Bat/millionaire, with a more brutal edge than previously seen. The man acquits himself well. Cavill meanwhile seems underserved as Supes and does little as “mild mannered” Clark Kent. Maybe there’s just something inherent in the character that isn’t as interesting as the tortured orphan Wayne and his alter ego. Snyder understands this and seeks to portray the Son of Krypton alien as a God from above, feared by some but worshipped – literally – by many.
He employs Eisenberg’s eccentric corporate semi-Zuckerberg Lex Luthor as Greek chorus to emphasise this point, and to be fair, initially Eisenberg does a good job at this, ultimately playing the arch villain as a genuine psychopath.
But after a while his performance becomes repetitive, tiresome, a bit one note. Which unfortunately can also be said of the movie. It loses momentum as its script becomes more convoluted, and by the time of the Bats-Supes face off, it’s not really worth the wait. They batter each other a bit – but there’s little tension as we know they’ve got two Justice League movies on the way. And whilst Snyder is handy with an action sequence, it does feel a tad repetitive as it goes along – especially when it’s followed by yet another big noisy bust up with Luthor’s CGI’d Doomsday. (Cue the arrival of Wonder Woman – fine, but underwhelming.)
The other future members of the looming Justice League - Aquaman, Cyborg and The Flash - are lazily shoehorned in there via clips on a computer screen, except for the Flash who also appears in a Bats Iraq set dream sequence that is more confusing than rewarding.
Indeed, in its second half the film has a habit of jumping around and only explaining itself after the event. Plus it couldn’t be more po-faced than if the whole thing was taking place at a funeral (and there is one no, two of those as well.) Chris Nolan (here taking the tokenistic title of Exec Producer) is often credited with bringing the darkness to the genre, and here it’s not clear if Snyder is learning from him or simply hoping to one day be him. Either way he clearly hasn’t learned the meaning of the word “balance” – even Christian Bale knew how to play a laugh.
So is Bats V Supes the game changer it wants – and needs – to be? No. But there is a lot to like here. As well as a whole bunch of flaws. Which one of these two win the battle in the end? We’d go with the “likes” just beating the flaws.” But only on points.
(Click below for a whole other kind of Bat-movie)
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