Review: Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice

Where to start? How to describe? I’m wrestling with ideas and questions after last night’s early screening but I can’t find the ideal place to begin, so I suppose it is best to begin at the beginning.

The setting for this week’s feature film takes place nearly two years after the events of the high-grossing 2013 summer blockbuster. The film follows three principle characters.

The first is Bruce Wayne, who spends his nights ushering vigilante justice in Gotham City. Two years ago, Wayne witnessed firsthand the assault on Metropolis at the hands of the invaders from another world. Wayne harbors resentment towards the last alien standing at the end of the battle; he saw one of his buildings collapse, his employees displaced, maimed and traumatized.

The second principle character is Lex Luthor, the favored son of Metropolis with an major axe to grind and a hidden agenda to boot. While Wayne is resentful toward the third principle character to be named later, Luthor is certifiably off his rocker with hatred and fear over the last extraterrestrial and his paranoia leads him to believe that the alien threat is only in its infancy and he must take steps to ensure the survival of the human race.

The third and final principle character is the man himself, Superman and he has the whole world talking. He’s being hailed as a hero, a savior and in rare instances a god while simultaneously being labeled a menace, a threat, an interloper, a man “who answers to no one. Not even, I think, to God.”

Principle character B (Luthor) harbors deep fear and resentment towards Principle character C (Superman) and he also happens to despise Principle character A (Wayne’s vigilante alter-ego, Batman) so he hatches this elaborate and sinister plot to augment the rising tensions between Principle characters A & C with an insurance policy of world destroying proportions in case his goals don’t see the light of day. His ambition:

The greatest gladiator match in the history of the world. Black and Blue. God versus Man. Day versus Knight. Son of Krypton versus Bat of Gotham!

Image by Warner Bros.

This is Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice, the highly anticipated follow-up to Man of Steel, directed by Zack Snyder and written by Chris Terrio and David S. Goyer. I’ve been waiting, rehashing all of the important tidbits of news and information related to this feature ever since I first caught wind of it’s production and after all of that time, all of my anticipation, all of my excitement and hype, I can proclaim with deep reverence that Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice is an epic…letdown!

I want to get this out of the way though: the film sets out what it wants to accomplish. This is the film that will be the bedrock, the cornerstone of the DC Entertainment Universe culminating in the assembly of DC Comics most celebrated heroes down the road into the future; in this Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice is successful.

The cast does a respectable job. This is quite a collection of actors including Henry Cavill, Ben Affleck, who does a passable rendition of Bruce Wayne/Batman (I just want to throw that out there), Gal Gadot, Jesse Eisenberg, Jeremy Irons, Amy Adams, Diane Lane, Laurence Fishburne, Tao Okamoto, Scoot McNairy, Holly Hunter and Callen Mulvey; I’d say the standouts of this cast would be Gadot and Eisenberg and everyone else simply ties for 3rd place.

Let’s get back to the main point shall we? I’m not exaggerating when I say this, I’m legitimately serious, when I left the theater after attending an early screening of Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice, I HAD A HEADACHE!!! This was an unmitigated and completely unnecessary fiasco that did not need to occur!!! Oh my Lord the elements that this movie needed to succeed were there and it just failed to take advantage of all of it!

For starters, the screenplay read as though it were inspired by a massive car wreck, just endless brutal collisions and cutoffs that made the film feel so disjointed and jagged, it was difficult to find a moment and allow myself to settle in and feel comfortable. Chris Terrio won the Oscar for his screenplay on Argo and while I felt that there were strong points in the writing, which were few and far between, this is the best he and David S. Goyer could up with?! Looking back, someone needed to shout “Is there a (script) doctor in the (production) house?!” Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice was handling so many subplots it felt as though it was doing an amateur’s effort at juggling bowling pins!

The run-time for this movie was little over two and a half hours long and I vehemently believe that if a few superfluous scenes were left on the cutting room floor, I would not have to be so, let’s say, “passionate” in my review. I don’t want to spoil this movie but there was no need for the film to begin with the Wayne family getting killed; Zack Snyder, you already made it clear that Batman is already established in this universe and the whole world already knows how he became the Dark Knight, you did not need to go over an already obvious detail to start this film! This is just an example of an unnecessary scene that did not need to be in this movie.

The editing, courtesy of David Brenner, was at the intersection of choppy and sloppy. Every time I tried to settle into the action, the movie haphazardly jumps to another character arc. I think the reason why I left the theater with a headache is because my brain suffered from whiplash from the times this movie zoomed from one action to another!

Image by Eva Rinaldi, via Wikimedia Commons

The directing? I personally don’t have an opinion on Zack Snyder; most of his movies have been average in my eyes and I think he’s brought this franchise and the mythology of Superman as far as he could take it but I think the folks at Warner Bros. need to take a moment, sit down and inquire whether or not he is the right filmmaker to helm the Justice League because this is something they cannot afford to get wrong! Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice was sloppy and anticlimactic and he engineered it.

I understand that there was a lot he wanted to cover in this movie but the film suffers because he wanted to do so much.

The film wasn’t an entire mess though! I thought Hans Zimmer and Junkie XL collaborated on an stellar score, Michael Wilkenson did a great job with the costumes, the visual effects were glowing, the art direction team did a superb job, the production design of Patrick Tatopoulos was solid, Larry Fong’s cinematography was decent, just allow me to reiterate that this did not need to be a bad film! The elements for this to be good were there and it accomplished what it set out to do, but the execution was an epic washout and it is so disappointing because this was a historic event for superhero genre films and my most anticipated movie of the year!

Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice had the celestial makeup of a star and instead it just became Jupiter.


12 thoughts on “Review: Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice

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