Mar 252016
 
Batman V Superman main poster
Title: Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice
Director: Zack Snyder
Starring: Ben Affleck,
Henry Cavill,
Gal Gadot,
Jesse Eisenberg,
Amy Adams
Genre: Superhero, Action, Sci-fi,
Runtime: 2 Hours 31 mins
Music: Hans Zimmer,
Junkie XL
Studio: Warner Bros. Pictures
Certificate: US: PG-13
UK: 12A
Release Date: US: Mar 25 2016
UK: Mar 25 2016
See If You Like: Man of Steel,
The Dark Knight Returns,
Whoever wins we… win?

 

Despite the swirling rays of negativity surrounding the release of Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice, Zack Snyder’s latest effort (returning to the DC universe after directing Superman solo outing Man Of Steel) proves to not only be a worthwhile watch, a solid comic-book film, and an action-laden cinematic spectacle in every sense of the word, it’s also a strong springboard into the DC extended universe – marking the first (or second) proper film on the road to the Justice League movie.

Featuring a Nigel Farage-like Bruce Wayne (played by angst-ridden Argo star Ben Affleck); all grumpy over the destruction caused by Superman and General Zod’s grudge-match at the end of Man Of Steel (where thousands of innocents were killed, and the city of Metropolis laid to waste), and perhaps feeling jealous of an illegal alien entering the country and taking his superhero limelight (especially at a time when Batman is getting bad press for using harsh tactics); we see both Bruce and the general public’s mistrust of Kal-El grow to the point where Wayne is ready to kill Superman ‘just in case’ he does anything bad.

On the flip side Clark Kent (a returning Henry Cavill), now dating Lois Lane (Amy Adams), finds his super-alter-ego under increasing scrutiny, and blamed for a number of deaths and incidents where he was simply trying to be the hero. He’s aware of the Bat fixation, himself distrusts the Batman due to the reports of his harsh tactics and, while not initially out for blood, knows it’s building to a fight.

In the background we also have pantomime puppet-master Lex Luthor (Jesse Eisenberg, Now You See Me); setting up the epic superhero battle for… for… for giggles, apparently; and a beautiful mysterious stranger we all know will turn out to be Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot, Triple 9); milling about simply because she has nowhere else to be (leaving her handily in place to save the day when necessary).

If it sounds a little thin, that’s because it is. Even at two-and-a-half-hours there’s a lot of world-building needing to be done in order to rush the build up here; not only build up to the Batman V Superman fight, but introducing Wonder Woman, Lex, the other big bad, and a trio of characters who’ll eventually join the BvS headliners in The Justice League. There are plot-holes galore, plenty of nonsensical babbling about Gods and men, and the fact the entire film hinges on Jesse Eisenberg’s Lex Luthor; an outright psychopath who’s not only poorly written, hammily played, and completely different to many established versions of the character (not always a bad thing), but seems to have no logical purpose to his actions whatsoever – what does he gain from the death of Batman or Superman?

Yet, poor plot aside, the two-and-a-half-hour runtime actually flies by thanks to the sheer amount of action on show. We revisit the destruction of Metropolis from Man Of Steel (an interesting, and well executed, way to sow the seeds of mistrust in Bruce’s mind as he watches people die through the consequences of Superman’s actions), we have Batman taking out low-level criminals, Superman taking on terrorists, Batman taking out an armoured convoy, Batman Vs Superman, and of course Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman all facing off against Doomsday; but just in case that isn’t enough, Snyder also throws in a couple of action-laden dream sequences for you. It’s candy for the eyes, it’s all substance, and it may not amount to anything deep, but damn it’s cool.

Batman V Superman 01

Plenty of stand-out moments appear as well (sadly most have been spoilt by various trailers); we see Batman infiltrate a building full of hostiles, Batman block Superman’s punch, and even Batman’s training montage, but the best of all has to be the arrival of DC’s cinematic heroine Wonder Woman; who’s first appearance on screen in full costume is handled with such gusto and gravitas (including a fist-pumpingly rousing score) she instantly rockets ahead of the male-leads to become the best thing in the movie.

Gal Gadot’s portrayal of Wonder Woman (also known as Diana) is also exceptionally strong; she holds the weight of the world, appears every bit the traveller, and has the presence to believably stand toe-to-toe with her male counterparts in both the action and dialogue scenes. Yet hers is but one of several well-placed casting decisions, as Ben Affleck (initially dismissed by the online community as a poor choice due to his Daredevil days) is fantastic as the gruff elder Bruce Wayne/Batman (excelling at both parts – something many actors fail at), Henry Cavill continues his decent turn as the rather human Clark Kent/Superman, and supporting stars such as Amy Adams, Laurence Fishburne, Diane Lane, and Jeremy Irons (Borgias star and series newcomer, who delivers a solid showing as the world-weary butler Alfred Pennyworth) all fare well, and excel in their various roles.

Batman V. Superman: Dawn Of Justice

So, in the end, you’ve got a thin plot which is riddled with holes, pacing issues (it has a strong opening, an exceptionally strong close, but a saggy middle), some dire script problems (not only cheesy dialogue, but some poorly written scenes which have characters behaving in very strange ways given the situation they’re in), a clear and apparent rush to include all necessary elements to set up the future of the DCEU, and obvious substance over style. However, you’ve also got Batman and Superman having a fight, a brilliant on screen Wonder Woman, action galore, and Batman and Superman having a fight.

True it has it’s problems, but it more than makes up for them as Batman V Superman: Dawn Of Justice is ridiculously fun. Flawed but fun, it’s pure cinematic spectacle, thoroughly enjoyable, and not only an epic trailer for The Justice League movie (which can be both a positive and a negative), but proof we’re ready for both a Batfleck stand-alone adventure, and all the evidence you should need to get excited for Wonder Woman (coming June 2017).

Matt Wheeldon@TheMattWheeldon.

Verdict
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