Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice Review: Nolan’s Dark Tone Meets Snyder’s Visual Spectacle.
For the past two years almost every comic book fan on the interwebs has been buzzing about the Batman Vs. Superman movie. Outside of Star Wars: The Force Awakens, this film was the most talked about film to come out of Hollywood in years. Personally, Batman is and has always been my favorite comic book character. I grew up with the cheesy Adam West series and absolutely loved the Tim Burton films with Michael Keaton as Batman.
The Batman franchise after Burton moved on suffered a huge downfall that led to the mediocre Batman Forever and the unintentionally hilarious Batman and Robin. Christopher Nolan stepped in 2005 and gave the series a facelift and turned Batman into this world that felt more like a drama rather than a comic book film. Either way, I liked what Nolan did with the Bat but I am still to this day a bigger fan of Burton’s adaptation even with the amazing performance by Heath Ledger as the Joker.
Enter Zack Snyder who previously brought us several visual spectacles that include 300 and Man of Steel. I personally don’t understand the hate Man of Steel gets because it was entertaining and fun. Was the film flawless? No, but as many know not many films are. Man of Steel introduced us to Snyder’s first take on directing a major Superhero film. Yes, Snyder directed Watchmen, which I find to be incredibly underrated, but being responsible for big name superhero like Superman is a BIG freaking deal.
Now in 2016, Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice has finally hit theaters. The film, which is directed by Snyder and written by David S. Goyer and Chris Terrio had received very mixed reviews after the limited screenings here in Los Angeles. This was the first big Warner Brothers release in about 8 years that I didn’t get a press invite for and when I inquired was told “sorry, we are at capacity.” While I was a tad bit upset about the missing screening invite, I figured they just dropped the ball on this one given the hype surrounding it. With that being said, I dished out the $20 for an IMAX ticket on opening night.
The basic premise of Batman V Superman ties directly into Man of Steel. If you haven’t seen Man of Steel, I think you will get the gist but probably not fully connect the dots without seeing the other film. Basically, Batman is mad at Superman for something that happens and Superman thinks Batman is a bad guy. This leads to a fight and there is a lot of other secondary storylines throughout the film that include characters like Lex Luther, Wonder Woman, and Doomsday.
Without going into too much detail, I really enjoyed Batman V. Superman. Does the film have some issues? Of course but again like I said earlier, most films do. I think about 90% of this film works for what it is. This is a comic book film ladies and gentleman, it is not an independent film or Oscar contender. It is a film that you are supposed to sit back, stuff your face with food, and just be entertained by.
I think Batman V Superman did the job it was supposed to and did it well. It was a solid mix of story in the first half and a nice dose of action in the second. While I don’t think the script was as strong as Nolan’s previous three films, I didn’t think that really hurt the film either. The script does take on a lot of storylines and some are more fleshed out then others. The script does feel like it’s trying to tackle too much at times but that’s because this film is being used to setup other films in this universe.
I think studios have decided to shove as many characters and storylines into their films as possible so that they can create spin-offs or stand alone films. I don’t know why people seemed shocked by this concept since studios have been doing it for years now. Everything is a setup for the next film because if I recall correctly some people complained about Man of Steel having too many unanswered questions but they are touched up within this film. I think when the other films in this universe are released, people will look back on this one and say it did a good job of setting up the story for what was to come.
Henry Cavill is a fantastic Superman/Clark Kent. He looks like Christopher Reeves and is just spot for the role. I don’t understand how anyone could say anything less. He does his best with the material and embraces the innocence of the character. Ben Affleck’s take on Bruce Wayne/Batman is probably the darkest that we have seen to date. I love this version as Batman, again, not as much as Keaton, but he’s better than Bale in my humble opinion. Affleck’s take seems angry but his anger is justified.
Jesse Eisenberg’s take on Lex Luther is one that I know people have been on the fence about since the first trailer. Eisenberg is honestly one of my favorite actors but out of everyone in this film, he really stood out. I don’t think Eisenberg was bad but rather just a bit too much at times. The tone of this film is incredibly dark and gloomy yet Luther is so vibrant and charismatic. It was refreshing that at least one character in the film was on the lighter side. Eisenberg’s Luther had the best lines and dialogue in the entire film. It felt like the script was trying to make the character more modern like an updated version of a dated bad guy. The result was a mixed bag because I liked the energy and the craziness of the character but I would be lying if I didn’t say it felt a bit too animated or cartoon like. I still believe that Eisenberg would have made a much better Riddler than Luther but I am still curious how his take on this character will unfold as this franchise continues.
Gal Gadot’s take on Wonder Woman although a bit underused is really spot on. I was nervous like most fans about Gadot because lets be honest she hasn’t proved herself to be that strong of an actress as of yet. However, after seeing her take on this character, I think she’s going to nail it. If nothing else, I think people will walk out of Batman V Superman and want to see the upcoming Wonder Woman stand alone film. It kind of goes without say that Batman V Superman ensures that the Wonder Woman movie will be a box office champion.
The supporting cast members that include everyone from Diane Lane as Clark Kent’s mother Martha to Amy Adams as Lois Lane were all great. I think Lane given her limited screen time was just perfection this time around. Adams always brings her A-game no matter what the material is, and Jeremy Irons was such a great fit at Alfred. Its nice to see an Alfred that’s a little edgy rather than the classy butler like Alfred that we have seen in so many previous film versions that feels so incredibly dated. Also, kudos to whoever decided to cast Holly Hunter in the role as Senator Finch. She was fantastic!
Say what you will about Zack Snyder but the film looks great. It’s a visual spectacle and I was engrossed throughout the entire film. Snyder is a talented director and showcases his talent with this film. As I said earlier is a great mix of action and storytelling. It doesn’t feel like a drama but rather a superhero film. My biggest complaint with Nolan’s take on the Batman franchise was everything for the most part felt like it would exist in this world. I didn’t get that with this film and instead felt like I was watching a comic book film.
With everything positive that I have said, I will admit that at times the editing does feel a bit choppy and there is way too much being shoved into one film. I think the character Doomsday looked too much like Michael Bay’s reimagining of the Ninja Turtles but again it’s a huge CGI monster that did kind of looked like the character from the comics. If I really wanted to nitpick, I would say that the art department should have ironed out the details on Doomsday a bit more and the script could have maybe given the character a better introduction. If people can appreciate the endless supply of robot fights in Age of Ultron then they should be able to appreciate Doomsday because as a film fan, this is a better film and much more engaging one to boot.
All in all, Batman V Superman gets the job done and left me wanting more. I was so invested in the characters and their stories. I loved the dark tone but also appreciated how it felt like a comic book rather than a hard-hitting drama. Affleck and Cavill own their roles and bring new takes to these classic characters. The visuals are amazing and the storytelling is good enough. The film’s story does try to take on too much but overall I really enjoyed the ride. I think this is a great second entry in this new realm of the DC Universe.
MovieManMenzel’s final rating for Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice is an 8 out of 10.