“Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice” Review
There is a fantastic film hidden underneath the clutter of “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.” Very often glimpses of that film are shown as you are watching. We can see that film in the characters of Batman (Ben Affleck) and Alfred (Jeremy Irons) and in the emotional depth of both of our heroes. And we can see it in the fantastic action sequences.
But instead, we must deal with what we are given, which happens to be a just-good-enough superhero film with a jumbled plot that allows purpose for all sorts of convoluted plots that are just sort of tossed at the audience, while only a few of them stick. The film wants to be all sorts of things, but it should be only a couple of those things. The audience knows what they want, but the film won’t settle at that. And in that comes its main fault.
As mentioned before, we see much of what we want in “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice,” and all that is superb. The action sequences, particularly those of Batman, echo those of the darker side of his comic books, sometimes even reaching into Frank Miller territory. I have no problem with the dark tone of Zack Snyder’s recently formed DC universe, many times it works quite well. The tone mostly works with “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice,” but often it doesn’t. The film is utterly humorless, apart from an occasional witty quip from Irons’s Alfred or Laurence Fishburne’s Perry White, setting the film apart from the usually lighthearted nature of the recent, extremely fun films by Marvel, such as “Guardians of the Galaxy” and “Avengers: Age of Ultron.”
The film doesn’t skimp on drama, however. “Batman v Superman” puts the moral dilemma and mutual hate between the two caped idols front and center, and all for the better. You can’t say “Batman v Superman” isn’t a deep film. Both Cavill and Affleck bring the intensity that is expected from two superpowers, even if one is decked in bright red and blue and the other is named for a flying rodent. It is this incredible tension that I am hoping to see in the summer’s “Captain America: Civil War.” Even the camerawork inspires a sense of awe when it is trained on Superman’s cape billowing the evening winds or the Batsignal’s bright light shining in the cloudy sky. And especially when a certain other hero arrives on the scene. Under my own morals as a critic, I am not allowed to divulge what I am speaking of. Let’s just say that my theater cheered.
Unfortunately, this sense of transfixed wonder is not always kept throughout the film’s extremely long 2 hour 30 minutes run time. Every scene transition seems like a roll of the dice, hoping for an action-packed Batman fight scene, but far too often we get a slice of Lois Lane (Amy Adams) time filler or a another glimpse into the inner workings of Lex Luthor (played with bizarre enthusiasm by Jesse Eisenberg). At one point, we are treated to particularly strange moment involving a Jolly Rancher. You probably already know what I am referring to, but in case you don’t, I will be vague. This is something better experienced with a blind eye.
For all the give and take involved in this review, it is difficult to get my thoughts straight. Let’s face it: “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice” is a mess, even a couple steps away from being so much so that it becomes a disaster. Zack Snyder, the director of such films as “Man of Steel” and “300”, knows how to walk the line between mess and entertainment so well that it is truly up to the viewer’s interpretation. “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice,” being directed by Snyder, keeps this trend going.
So how did I feel watching this film? Entertained? Sure. Confused? Sure. Walking out of the film, I knew what I had seen. An experience. The spectacle of “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice” is what makes it worth seeing to me. If not only to see the heroes duke it out in an exciting showdown, then to see the wonder and awe that these characters continue to inspire in fans, on screen and page.
Final Rating: B-