Fearing the actions of Superman are left unchecked, Batman takes on the man of steel, while the world wrestles with what kind of a hero it really needs. With Batman and Superman fighting each other, a new threat, Doomsday, is created by Lex Luthor. It’s up to Superman and Batman to set aside their differences along with Wonder Woman to stop Lex Luthor and Doomsday from destroying Metropolis.
‘Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice’ is a long, mostly dull superhero movie that suffers from an inability to focus squarely on the film at hand. It’s getting tiresome seeing most comic book adaptations being used primarily as a feature length trailer for whatever movie is next down the line, without stopping to consider how to make the current film strong in its own right. It’s not to say that world building is bad, and it’s a natural and necessary part of developing a comic book universe, but at the expense of a story that succeeds in its own right it’s frustrating. DC are trying to do what Marvel has done with their cinematic universe, but in a shorter timeframe and in a way that feels more forced and less natural. The rush is understandable, given the sheer amount of money superhero films are generating at the moment, but this leads to a film that feels both overstuffed with too many narrative strands, yet underdeveloped. It’s a particular shame as the DC Universe features infinitely more interesting characters than their rivals at Marvel.
There are elements of promise within ‘Dawn of Justice’, namely the performances which bode well for the future. Ben Affleck was roundly mocked when cast as a slightly older version of Batman, but he turns out to be the best thing about the film. He absolutely nails Bruce Wayne and whilst his time in the cape is minimal, there’s a lot to like about this iteration. Jesse Eisenberg’s turn as Lex Luthor is likely to be divisive but I thought his performance was good fun and he struck a good balance between comedy and menace, albeit some of the lines don’t come off as well as they perhaps sounded in the writer’s room. Henry Cavill and Amy Adams were good in ‘Man of Steel’ and they’re good again here, whilst the main support do well with little to do (Jeremy Irons, Gal Gadot). The problems lie elsewhere, mainly in Zack Snyder’s subtle as a sledgehammer direction and Hans Zimmer’s worst score to date.
I happened to really like ‘Man of Steel’, but it’s surprising to see Zack Snyder build on one of the main criticisms of that film to deliver even more action sequences reliant on throwing superheroes into buildings and destroying cities. This culminates in the absolutely shambolic climactic battle, which combines CGI, explosions and a terrible hulking mess of a villain to create a conclusion that’s virtually impossible to follow. It is absolutely dreadful. This all comes after a lot of setup and the film doesn’t do a lot to warrant its lengthy runtime. There’s promise in the exploration of Superman’s role in the world and the opening sequence following the end of ‘Man of Steel’ from Bruce Wayne’s perspective is a compelling opener to lend credence to the conflict between the two men. Beyond this the film struggles to naturally bring the two characters together and the machinations to lead to the promised conflict come off as false.
‘Dawn of Justice’ is a lacklustre superhero movie that fails to deliver a script to match the enjoyable performances. It’s poorly written, poorly directed and mostly forgettable, but it’s still better than ‘Age of Ultron’ which probably says a lot to my feelings about the direction these franchises are moving in.
Directed By: Zack Snyder
Starring: Ben Affleck, Henry Cavill, Amy Adams, Jesse Eisenberg, Jeremy Irons, Diane Lane, Holly Hunter, Laurence Fishburne, Gal Gadot, Scoot McNairy and Tao Okamoto
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