“Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice” Movie Review

Alright, so here it is. The year is drawing to a close, and there were some earlier releases that I feel would be criminal to not look back and review. Let’s start off with one of the most anticipated movies of the year, and one of the most disappointing. This comic superhero film meant as a kickstart for the DC Extended Universe, released nationally on March 25th, 2016, where it had the biggest opening for a superhero movie of all time at that point. This was unfortunately followed by a historic drop at the box office and never recovered, hampered by the negative reactions from fans and critics. Some time after the events of Man of Steel, billionaire playboy Bruce Wayne returns to his vigilante persona of the Batman, whom he has worked as for nearly 20 years. Meanwhile, Clark Kent, A.K.A. Superman, uses his resources as a freelance reporter at the Daily Planet to try and expose Batman for his increasingly violent actions against criminals. Eventually, they will come to a head and face-off, with eccentric billionaire Lex Luthor watching their fight from afar. To start this review, is Dawn of Justice as terrible as many critics say it is? No, it’s not. Does that make it a great movie like many fanboys profess? Okay, let’s start off with what I liked. After years of being the center of tabloid scandals, Ben Affleck has proven himself as both a filmmaker and an actor, and he does a fantastic job as Batman. It’s hard to imagine that 3 years ago, fans were outraged at his casting, going so far as to post petitions online for a different actor. But Affleck embodies the brooding, tortured, and charismatic qualities of the American icon, even if his actions are very different than what we know him for. Henry Cavill was fine as Superman, but the chemistry he had with Affleck on-screen is questionable. In a small role that had many people scratching their heads as to why it was relevant, Israeli model Gal Gadot is beautiful and strong as Wonder Woman. She totally encompasses the warrior spirit and loving nature of the character and was actually useful in the story, even if she doesn’t appear for much of it. This being directed by Zack Snyder, a very visual director, the special effects look beautiful. The crisp camera work from Larry Fong is matched by the intense editing job by David Brenner. The action? Oh yeah, the action scenes are insanely cool. In one particular segment, Batman is invading a warehouse crowded with mercenaries and he just beats the piss out of all of them. It felt like a Batman: Arkham video game come to cinematic form. And the titular battle between the heroes is really intense. It’s long and drawn out, and, by the end, you can clearly tell both crime fighters are exhausted. Now let’s get to everything else. Narratively, this movie is a mess, chock full of unresolved subplots and pointless characters. Even with a whopping runtime of 2 hours and 31 minutes, it still didn’t feel like enough time to flesh out everything to its fullest extent. For example, the Knightmare Sequences everyone’s been talking about was badass in every sense of the word. But when you really start to think about it, there wasn’t much point to it other than to tease Darkseid’s existence in this universe. It was never mentioned again by any of the characters, so if they cut out that segment, I don’t think that their lives would be any different. And then, there’s Jesse Eisenberg as Lex Luthor. He’s bad. I don’t his character was bad, but his portrayal was jarring. He felt out of place with all of his quips and crazy mannerisms, especially considering the dark tone. Speaking of which, this is a major point of contention among audiences; the tone and characterization. Both are very dark and gritty, with one reviewer calling the film “joyless.” I’m fine with this new take, as interpretations of the characters have to remain distinct and different. But in the end, when that new take ends up compromising the story of the film, then it really doesn’t matter. However, recent reports say that executives are trying to right the wrongs with their upcoming slate of comic book productions, specifically Justice League. So I’m excited for that to come out next November. For right now, however, the theatrical Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice is a visually impressive yet jumbled up superhero adventure void of any plot cohesion. If you are going to watch this movie at all, watch the Ultimate Edition. It has added 30 extra minutes of footage that help explain certain plot points better and gives more R-rated content. The best thing to come out of this movie? I’m now pumped to see Wonder Woman and the Batfleck solo film more than I was before.

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