Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice Review

Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice

Forget Captain America and that Marvel lot, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice was the superhero grudge match I’d been most anticipating this year.

The trailers looked very promising, boasting all sorts of iconic images and one-liners.

When director Zack Snyder took to the stage to introduce the movie, he appeared as a man who, like the film itself, has been under pressure to deliver a franchise-launching hit to rival Marvel’s cinematic universe.

Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice opens with the okay-we-know-it-by-now backstory of Batman / Bruce Wayne (Ben Affleck) and in a clever move, manages to weave in the cataclysmic events of Man of Steel into the Dark Knight’s recent history.

This version of Batman is as dark as recent incarnations, but arguably too much so: he has taken to actually branding his victims in what the tabloids label brutality rather than justice. Batman’s butler, Alfred (Jeremy Irons) is similarly concerned.

We then pick up with Lois Lane (Amy Adams) and Superman / Clark Kent (Henry Cavill), who are now in a relationship, but both are perturbed by the US Senate and media’s attitude towards the Kryptonian and the collateral damage he has caused to date.

Enter Lex Luthor (Jesse Eisenberg), a loony entrepreneur obsessed with Superman’s power and harnessing it. In particular, he’s taken an interest in the remains of the alien spaceships from Man of Steel, and a recently-discovered substance called Kryptonite.

As matters unfold, and with the help of Lex Luthor, both Batman and Superman are concerned by each others’ so-called bad behaviour and before long are locked on a collision course with each other.

Oh, and in the background is a mysterious woman (Gal Gadot) who seems to be as suspicious of Lex Luthor as everyone else.

Originally planned as a mere sequel to Man of Steel, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice strains under studio pressure of acting as a springboard to further DC shaped films.

The inclusion, at one point, of sneak peeks at several other heroes within the DC Universe feels more like a succession of trailers for upcoming movies than any logical part of the plot.

And despite all the superpowers on show, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice seriously struggles to stay upright under the weight of its own pomposity. Even the wisecracks spouted around the film’s climax feel like jarring tonal shifts.

An overkill of special effects and, like the recent Avengers sequel, a cluttering of characters, also detract from proceedings.

Then there’s the title bout itself. As the trailer has informed us, though not the primary battle of the movie, the clash between the titular titans is surely the most anticipated.

We expect the wits of Batman versus the nobility of Superman. As it turns out, we get a bar-room brawl. Imagine two pro-wrestlers, but with less charisma, chucking each other around a dilapidated building.

Even when out of their capes, both Cavill and Affleck look like pumped-up bodyguards rather than a billionaire playboy or journalist.

And, looks aside, the incarnation of either character doesn’t give much to root for: Superman seems more concerned with saving his girlfriend than the world, and Batman is depicted at his most psychopathic yet.

As for Eisenberg, his version of Luthor starts out well, before before descending from as mildly creepy into some shameful overacting.

There are good things of course: both Laurence Fishburne as Perry White and Irons are great in supporting roles that offer some much-needed levity, and Gadot is impressive as Wonder Woman.

Overall, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice made for a really great trailer. It’s just a shame about the film.

Conor Brennan

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Dates ‘n stuff

March 2016