Well, the wait is over, and ‘Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice’ is hitting cinemas worldwide after a great deal of hype, deliberation, and sadly, lowered levels of expectations.
It is finally here. The 17th of January, 2014 was a dark day for movie fans, comic book nerds and lovers of jaw-dropping spectacles, as director Zack Snyder, along with his team at Warner Bros. pictures, announced that the release date for their blockbuster was going to be delayed for a further 10 months.
The film opens with a number of montages, transitioning with grace from the early, dark days of the life of Bruce Wayne, witnessing the cold-blooded murder of his parents, to the controversial climax of 2013’s ‘Man of Steel’, viewing the destruction of the throwdown between Superman and General Zod from ground-level, following Wayne (played by Ben Affleck) rummaging through the chaotic streets of Metropolis. We quickly move 18 months into the future to a barren desert location, where Superman capes in and saves the life of Louis Lane, exposing his hamartia and simultaneously further disenfranchising the Son of Krypton from his township.
It’s fascinating. Superman is seen to be some sort of alien, and Bruce Wayne holds him accountable for the tragic deaths of such masses.
As such, Wayne is determined to level the score and make Superman pay for the devastation he caused. Hence, we get the long-awaited showdown of Batman v Superman.
Trudging along, and our protagonists meet (as their alter-egos), thanks to the resourcefulness of Alexander ‘Lex’ Luthor, who is cunning, mysterious and just about fits the description of psychotic. Straight off the bat, Jesse Eisenberg made a profound impact on the tone of the film, and was well suited for his role. Sometimes the in-your-face personality of his character was a bit too brazen and eccentric, but for the most part, he did a monumental job of realizing Luthor. Admittedly, it was rather different to past renditions, but fitting, nonetheless.
There is a disjointed flow throughout ‘Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice’.
Zack Snyder was faced with an almost impossible task; repent for his critiqued wrongdoings of ‘Man of Steel’ while somehow balancing two (actually, about five) powerhouse characters in one movie. He did a decent job, but there was just too much going on, on too wide of a spectrum.
Emphasis and exposition on Batman was a regular feature, placing him in the shining light as the main and most important character. Back in 2013 when it was announced that Ben Affleck would be donning the iconic black suit, there were mixed reactions, most of which were negatively skewed. In an interview, Affleck commented that the “idea for the new Batman is to redefine him in a way that doesn’t compete with the Bale and Chris Nolan Batman but still exists within the Batman canon” (Source: Screen Rant). After seeing the movie, I can confidently say that such was precicely executed, and quite frankly, this new slant was brilliant.
In order to prove just how much I love Nolan’s trilogy and Bale’s performances, and how much they mean to me and my love of movies, I would happily recite almost every one of the lines, but I’ll save that for another time. Yet, as hard as it is for me, and may be for so many of you, it is time to think of this Affleck played Batman, or ‘Batfleck’, as the best on-screen personification of Bill Finger and Bob Kane’s legendary character. Affleck and Snyder recognized the nature of this individual; older, damaged, wiser, more experienced and with more to prove than ever, and they played on those strengths right to the end.
A solid and successful portrayal of a Batman character is when there is a clear distinction between three ‘sub’ characters: Bruce Wayne the playboy, Bruce Wayne at Wayne Manor and in the Batcave with Alfred, and Batman, the Dark Knight, the Caped Crusader. Batfleck managed to portray all three with sincere class. He even gave us one of the best Batman fight scenes of all time, viciously and unrestrainedly taking out whatever stood in his path.
For the most part, this really is a Batman movie, with Superman present and just ‘there’. Superman, to me, was a bit of an outcast, trying to mend the mistakes he made in ‘Man of Steel’, as well as fix his scarred reputation.
His love interest, Louis Lane, the daring journalist and reporter for the Daily Planet, as well as his mother, Martha (don’t say that name in front of Batman), added a level of humanity to a somewhat unrelatable character. Lane was played by Amy Adams, who is always a great actress, but here, was on another lever.
Sporting the words ‘Batman v Superman’ in the title, a final fight of unforeseen proportions is what you would expect. For many, these two characters have been favorites since their childhood days, playing with figurines, reading comics and watching movies and cartoons. Their moments of conflict were brilliantly put together, with dazzling hits, tackles and punches, but sadly, it hardly lasted very long, with the arrival of the ever so unimpressive blob of CGI, ‘Doomsday’, acting as a means of further disarray.
For there to be a ‘Dawn of Justice’, there needed to be a reason for the crew to come together.
I found this to be rather forced, not being a natural creation of The Justice League, but something shoehorned in. Doomsday was simply nothing more than a barbaric creature on a rampage. Prior to seeing the movie, Warner Bros. placed myself and all other journalists and critics under a global review embargo, so we don’t reveal any “spoilers or plot twists”. Quite frankly, there were almost none. About 95% of what could be considered to be either of those was in fact blatantly revealed in the four main trailers. So, when we were eventually welcoming Wonder Woman onto the stage, it really wasn’t anything special, but actually quite mundane; everyone walked into the movie knowing she was going to be making an appearance, so why applaud her inauguration?
Nevertheless, Gal Gadot was excellent.
Despite her scarce number of lines (approximately 14, I believe), this was a true breakthrough performance for her. Unlike her sub-par performance in Triple 9, as Wonder Woman, it is clear that Gadot has a bright future.
Thanks to Village Roadshow, I was able to feast on this with my own eyes and ears in their Vmax cinema; Snyder’s stunning visuals looked so much better, and the score by one of the all-time great composers of film soundtracks, Hans Zimmer, was as visceral as it was heart-pounding. However, my one gripe with the experience was the 3D viewing – select the 2D option if you have the choice.
It is rather saddening to reflect on a movie with the world’s potential, and view it as a lost opportunity. While Affleck was a riveting and compelling Batman, the story telling failed. Snyder is known to make unparalleled spectacles that lack in substance and plot. For the most part, this isn’t an exception.
‘Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice’ is worth seeing. While the two and a half hour run-time could’ve been cut down ad shortened with the removal of several illogical and unnecessary nightmare sequences, you will still get a fun, exciting and captivating experience, witnessing the birth of the new era of DC superhero movies. I’m hoping that when all is said and done, this can be compared to ‘Batman Begins’, and the next installment will be the true gem, ‘The Dark Knight’.
My Rating: 7/10
“Well, here I am!”