Batman V Superman: Dawn Of Justice – Review


Just a warning ahead. There are going to be a ton of spoilers for Man Of Steel, so if you haven’t seen that movie yet, you have been warned!!  This does not mean I will be giving away spoilers for this film though.

Batman V Superman is one of the biggest releases of the year, if not the biggest. However, unlike last year, where several of the big hype movies came with no competition in sight and several films actually changed dates to avoid competition, this film does have quite a bit of competition over the Easter weekend, including family film Zootopia or Zootropilis if you live in the UK and romantic comedy sequel My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2, both of which I have seen, the former for which I got a preview screening the week before, that was probably for the wise, considering that these films need all the help they can get to outdo this one at the Box Office. Unlike the really hyped films from last year, this film almost didn’t feel like it was getting much of a fan reaction, like Star Wars or Avengers Age of Ultron where we all were going into it thinking it was going to be excellent, it’s more of everyone looking at the posters and hoping for a good film. I think that’s down to Man Of Steele which despite having a mixed reaction from fans on the internet upon its initial release, now seems to have the attitude from both fans and critics of “it’s not a very good movie”.

I actually re-watched Man of Steel before seeing this and my best description of it is, it’s a disappointing movie. It’s not as bad as some people have made it out to be, aside from the terrible product placement, the awful line from Jonathan Kent early on in the film and of course the infamous Superman breaking Zod’s neck at the end of the movie, which made me hate the movie on my first viewing, but I at least acknowledged that there was at least some attempt to tell the Superman story and it could have easily been great. When it does tell the Superman story, it does a decent job, although I think the biggest mistake of that movie was the clash of style between director Zack Snyder and producer Christopher Nolan. Christopher Nolan is not on this film though Zack Snyder has stayed on to direct and he is joined again by regular Nolan collaborator David S Goya who also wrote the screenplays for all the Dark Knight trilogy. So on the Batman side of things, he at least knows how to write a good Batman movie. The problem is, I have never seen a Zack Snyder film that I have enjoyed 100% or even one I could say is a really great movie. The only movie I would recommend out of all the movies he has directed is 300, which I only recommend because it is a really great over the top action and is very cheesy, but granted I have never seen a Zack Snyder film that I absolutely couldn’t stand, with the exception of Soccer Punch which was just awful.

The film though, has a major task at hand, it has to set up DC’s Cinematic Universe which will now be competing with Marvel’s Cinematic Universe which is moving into its third phase with the upcoming Captain America: Civil War which will be introducing a ton of characters and a whole new direction to the Marvel cinematic universe, similar to what this film was promising. But it also feels like DC is really rushing things, we have a Justice League movie out next year, which is rather surprising considering we didn’t get an Avengers movie until all of the characters were introduced, it also seems rather perplexing because DC feels like they are gambling with their brand this year, not only will this film set up their cinema, they are also gambling on their re-birth event which is coming out which will re-launch their entire comic line which I may be talking about on Axia’s site when it happens however nothing is confirmed, if this doesn’t go well DC could be in real financial trouble. With all that being said though, how does it turn out?

Batman V Superman’s plot takes place shortly after the events of Man of Steel. Bruce Wayne, aka Batman (played by Ben Affleck) becomes concerned over Superman’s presence after the destruction of Metropolis during the fight with Zod and starts creating contingency plans. Meanwhile, Superman (played by Henry Cavill) is also dealing with pressures from US government after a rescue in Africa resulted in the deaths of several terrorist suspects and both are beginning to clash with each other, believing each others styles to be incomparable to justice. Meanwhile Lex Luther (played by Jesse Eisenberg) is doing research of his own on the remains of Zod and the Kryptonian technology and has a scheme of his own in mind. The film’s I would compare Batman V Superman to would be the two animated movies, Superman/Batman Public Enemies and Superman/Batman Apocalypse and while I do think both of those movies are better than this one, this one is actually pretty OK. This film at the time of writing my review had a 29% on rotten tomatoes, that is criminal. This film is nowhere near that bad. The film has to do a balancing act between Batman and Superman and it does this pretty well for the most part, though as a result from playing the balancing act it does mean a bit is missing on either side and I think some comic fans won’t be entirely satisfied because neither one gets the full focus they deserve, but in the time frame given it does a good job. Batman V Superman has a really long running time. The film comes in at 2 and a half hours, but I think that is necessary. The major reason being that this film has to set up a lot. They have to set up Batman and his supporting cast, following on from Man of Steel and this is also supposed to be the benchmark to set up the DC Cinematic Universe. I can’t talk too much about because I promised this review would be spoiler free, but I can at least talk briefly about it. One of my big concerns with Avengers Age of Ultron was that I felt it was spending a lot of time trying to set up future movies in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. This film does a similar tactic, however, it’s better because it’s short, to the point and it will leave fans wanting more, most of which will be coming between 2017 and 2018. Though I wil admit it’s not very subtle and does kind of spell it out in way that I could flash on the screen “THIS IS SET UP FOR THE JUSTICE LEAGUE MOVIE”. The only character aside from Batman and Superman who gets a large amount of screen time is Wonder Woman (played by Gal Gadot) who is actually done well. She doesn’t get as much screen time and we don’t find out much about her, but I think that is being saved for the Wonder Woman movie coming out in 2017. This film does an excellent job of making Batman seem serious.

The film alludes to there being tons of back story with this Batman from the various sets, to the technology used, to even one of the Bat Suits in the Bat Cave clearly being defaced by the Joker who we will be seeing in the up-coming Suicide Squad movie. They never go into too much detail about this and I think some fans will be annoyed that this is rather vague about what has happened with Batman’s back story in these films, but to be fair, we have had a trilogy of films that have gone into Batman in quite an extensive manner and we have a set up that will allow future movies to fill in the blanks. It’s better that the film will show you this rather than have it tell you everything, this Universe it pretty young, we have to give it time. This film also doesn’t spend too long on the Batman origin story, it keeps it quick and to the point which is good because we have seen the origin a lot now and are familiar with it.

I think a lot of the characters that have been pulled across from Man of Steel are also improved. This is especially evident with Perry White and Lois Lane who were both saddled with way too heavy pretentious dialogue that was clearly contributed by Christopher Nolan and are allowed to be the characters that are closer to their comic counterparts. This also means we can much more appreciate the casting of Amy Adams and Laurence Fishburne in both of those roles. Finally for another good positive point, the film builds pretty well. It has a quite slow start but it does build well, especially to the inevitable confrontation between Batman and Superman and by the end it does feel like we have been on a journey of how we got to this point. I’m not going to go into too much detail about it, because I think it’s best to experience this as you are watching the movie, especially considering the trailer didn’t give away as much as we thought. I think some fans will find a reason to be nit picky about it, but I think the build up to the fight is pretty good and the inevitable confrontation is done excellently and it has a really good climax. Speaking of the climax, the film has a brilliant one. It’s already been ruined in the trailer that the final fight is with Doomsday but it’s still a really good fight. Doomsday in the comics is the one villain to really push Superman to the test and he can really match him strength to strength, so this may be jumping the shark slightly quickly with bringing this character in at this stage, it does make for an excellent climax and it’s great to see the trinity on screen together for the first time, the trinity being Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman. I’m probably making it sound like this is an excellent plot and I can’t say that unfortunately, I do have a few legitimate complaints with this movie. For starters, I think the film has a bit of an issue with Batman on a couple of points. Don’t get me wrong, Batman is written pretty damm well and it feels at the end like we are going to get more out of this version of the character that I would really like to see, however, I think Zack Snyder might have borrowed a bit too much from Frank Miller. I think in a sense, Batman comes off as being like a paranoid nutcase at times and can be really violent with less of a moral code, but at least the film pulls it back and he never reaches the psychotic tendencies he had in All star Batman and Robin, oh and if you ever see that on a comic shelf, do yourself a favour and put it back, it’s genuinely one of the worst Batman comics you will ever read and Frank Miller keeps threatening us that he is going to try and continue the story, just don’t Frankie, we do not want it!! Frank Miller also has this really weird obsession that he believes that Batman and Superman shouldn’t be friends, an opinion that I definitely do not share, there is something to be said about their camaraderie when it is written well. This film portrays them as two sides of a coin coming together to clash one another and it does that pretty well, I just can’t believe that Batman wouldn’t ask too many questions, there is a bit of manipulation going on in the background, but still, it does at times feel a bit off kilter, and I would be lying if I said I though it was a brilliant portrayal. There are also a couple of problems with Lex Luthor. Now Lex Luthor is pretty good for the most part, he is done very well, but they do go a bit too over the top at times and forget to rein him in. At times if feels like Jesse Eisenberg is auditioning to play the Joker more than he is Lex Luthor, that being said however, they do get down Lex Luthor’s superiority complex and I think they get down a lot of his ego.

This film also has a real issue with it’s sub plots. There are a lot of sub plots that don’t go anywhere and I think they are purely going to be fulfilled in the up-coming Justice League movie which will be out next year. Now this does build up some hype, but at the same time, it almost feels un-needed. There are a couple of sub plots that feel especially so and one that doesn’t even go anywhere by the middle of the film and is even abandoned rather quickly. Also this plot has a ton of moments that feel really unnecessary and as a result at times the plot is all over the place and struggles for a focus. Getting back to positives now. I do like Superman more in this movie and I think one of the thing they bought over that I think they do well in Man of Steel and is done even better here, the conflict of, ‘if a man has so much power, how much of it should he use’ is here. Lois Lane is also given an expanded role that is pretty good and I really enjoyed a lot of back and forth between the various characters. It doesn’t quite reach the witty repartee that the Marvel films reach, but I certainly liked it better than in Man of Steel. The other aspect in Ben Affleck’s portrayal of Batman is the fact that he doesn’t get much time to be Bruce Wayne, there’s not as much of it as I would have liked and I don’t think we got as much of his relationship with Alfred as I would have liked, but at least they are both there and they are done to a decent degree. This is pretty much how I would sum up the plot of this movie. Everything is basically there, it just doesn’t quite reach the heights it could have reached, but I think to reach that it would have had to have been another half hour longer and I think this film is already long enough as it is. Fortunately, unlike Man of Steel, it doesn’t outstay it’s welcome and thankfully it is not as obsessed with apocalyptic destruction as that film was. At least this time, when Superman saves the day, there’s not as many human casualties in the matter. Also far less product placements with the painful exception of Turkish Airlines. I think this will appease many DC comic fans, although I suspect there will be quite a few that will find areas to poke holes in it, personally though, as a long time reader of DC comics, I pretty much liked it.

Now, as for the cast, the ones brought over from Man of Steel, because this film is better written, we are allowed to appreciate their casting a lot better. Henry Cavill makes a very good Superman, Amy Adam, who I thought was one of the best parts of Man of Steel is given room to be an excellent Lois Lane and I really finally started to enjoy Laurence Fishburne’s Perry White, who is given the time to really leave us a presence on screen. Diane Lane also does a good job returning as Martha Kent. As for the new cast members, Jesse Eisenberg as Lex Luthor is ok, but as I mentioned before, he does have a tendency to go over the top and his part is threatened to be ruined by some later revelations about Lex Luthor that I really didn’t care that much for. Now let’s talk about the big one. Ben Affleck as Bruce Wayne and Batman. Now his casting caused a lot of controversy as people thought he would be a poor choice to play Batman especially in light of the fact he did a bad job playing Daredevil. Personally when I heard his casting I actually thought it was a good idea, especially considering his last movie up to that point was Argo which was fantastic and he further proved his acting ability by giving an excellent performance in Gone Girl, I can say, I was at least, mostly right. Ben Affleck is really good at playing Batman and is easily the best part of the movie, I don’t think he is as good at playing Bruce Wayne, but I think that’s because the film doesn’t really give time to have the psychology of Bruce Wayne/Batman which I think future films will do a better job of, but for playing Batman, he is pretty good. He’s no Kevin Conroy, but I like him in the role. Gal Gadot doesn’t get as much time as Wonder Woman so I won’t go into too much detail, but she is pretty passable, which is a lot considering she is an actress I don’t really care that much for most of the time. I liked Jeremy Irons as Alfred, though I would again like to make more of a judgement on him when I see the solo Batman movie that is coming up. Holly Hunter gets a decent role as Senator Finch who is trying to put regulations on Superman and I would say she was very well cast in the role. There are a few wasted potentials however, for example, we have Michael Cassidy in the role as Jimmy Olsen, but he is really wasted, as people who have seen the movie will attest to. The Waynes are also a pretty weird cameo, especially Martha Wayne being played by Lauren Cohan from The Walking Dead and Thomas Wayne being played by Jeffrey Dean Morgan, they are both really good actors, it does seem rather a waste to give them a role in which they basically have no lines. There are other ones I can go into, like Nancy Grace and Anderson Cooper in throw away cameos, playing newsreaders which feels really bizarre, I also can’t go into other cast members, because it would give away spoilers, so let’s just leave it at that and say that I think the cast is pretty good and they do a better job because this film is much better written that Man of Steel.

The special effects and the fight scenes now. The fight scenes are very good and the cinematography is much better this time round, mainly because the cameraman learnt to take his hand off the freaking zoom button!!! Not all the scenes are shot perfectly, there’s a few weird cuts that don’t really work and I would be lying if I said I didn’t think this film was very heavily reliant on computer effects, but at least they are decent computer effects. There is also the matter of product placements, which this time are thankfully not as apparent as they were in Man of Steel. Seriously there were so many ads in that film, it felt like they were clashing with one another. What’s great about the fight scene between Batman and Superman is that it is very intelligent as to how to make the fight seem very even and it doesn’t play favourites, for the most part. I also liked the designs of all the characters costumes, especially the Batman costume which I think is probably is the best one to date! The only thing I would change is I would make the ears at the top slightly longer. Also the robotic suit used during the fight with superman is an excellent recreation of the robotic suit from The Dark Knight Returns. I also think the Superman costume is still too much of a darker tint of blue, which I would prefer brighter, but for what we have got, it’s alright. I am not a particular fan of the Wonder Woman costume, but I prefer to comment more on that when I review Wonder Woman next year. I also think that the sets are pretty good at re-creating Gotham and Metropolis and they make both of the locations seem very different to one another, however the one complaint I have about them is they both seem a bit too close. Don’t get me wrong, the comics did suggest that Metropolis and Gotham are rather close to one another and had a good transit network between them, however, not this close. Gotham has always been depicted as being a sort of city similar to Chicago that was most likely in New York state and Metropolis was more of a business mecca possibly in the mid west, again the comics never specified where on a map these two cities were meant to be, but they never suggest they were next to each other like the film does, and it really bothers me. I saw the film in 3D and my advice would be to not see it in that format. It’s good at times but doesn’t add too much to the film and at times I forgot I was watching it in 3D plus because many of the scenes are shot at night, the darkening effect the glasses have make those scenes harder to see.

Is Batman V Superman perfect? No, far from it, there are a few plot holes, there’s a couple of plots that don’t go anywhere and the plot feels rather confused at times, but for basic story telling, it’s actually pretty good. It tells a decent cohesive story and doesn’t get bogged down in pretentious dialogue like its predecessor did and it has some good central performances. Honestly, I would say it’s probably Zack Snyder’s best film to date, though considering his back catalogue, that’s not saying much. I’m not going to say it’s perfect, because I would be lying to you and to myself, but for what it delivers, it’s pretty good. The action scenes are well shot, the story is cohesive for the most part and I liked the characters and I think the film has some merits to it. It is certainly better than Man of Steel and that film has a higher rotten tomato’s score than this film. I am going to make a prediction that I think comic fans will be divided on this on in the future, however I say it’s good, but not great. It nearly hits the mark and it’s an admirable attempt. Man of Steel may have been a rickety foundation to build the DC Cinematic Universe on, but Batman V Superman reinforces it slightly, but it will need a really strong movie to keep it going. Hopefully the up-coming Suicide Squad movie that comes out in the summer will keep up the momentum. Oh and don’t stick around to the end credits there’s no post credit scene.

“What are your thoughts on Batman V Superman?”

Do you agree with me or do you have a different opinion. I would love to hear all of your comments because I think this will be a very derisive movie. Do you also agree with me that the critics were way too harsh on this film? You can also follow me on Twitter to see what other movies I am seeing. Remember, if you want to add your own content then please do.

Well that it for this week, so let’s kick off April with a bang. On 8 April I will be reviewing British Drama “Eddie The Eagle” starring Tara Eggerton and Hugh Jackman.

Thanks for reading my review, I hope you enjoyed reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it.

P.S. Do not go and see Norm of the North if it is playing at your cinema, do not watch it on DVD, do not endorse it in any way shape or form, you will regret it!!!

Calvin – Nerd Consultant

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