At this point, you have already read the multiple other reviews of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice available across the Internet. There are those who are evangelical towards the meeting of the World’s Finest on the live-action big screen and there are those who simply despise the movie as a drab, boring mess. If you are still reading this, then you must want to know my opinion on it and to be honest, I can see merit in both of the above points-of-view.
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• Director: Zack Snyder
• Exhibition: 2D
• Rating: 12A
• Run Time: 153 mins
Dawn of Justice begins with an opening credits similar to Snyder’s other divisive comic book adaptation, Watchmen. As the opening credits roll, we are given another recreation of the night that changed Bruce Wayne’s life. Many will already be complaining about having to sit through another origin story retelling, but the scene does serve an important purpose later on – and this is where we get our first of many examples of how Snyder is both the best and the worst thing about this DC movie universe.
The opening sets up one of the most important scenes in the movie. It is told quite well and features two of my favourite genre actors at the moment, Jeffrey Dean Morgen and Lauren Cohen (fans of The Walking Dead will know why). However, like most Hollywood blockbusters, Snyder insists one simply repeating this information again when it becomes relevant, rather than trusting that the audience remembers what happened an hour ago. This is endemic of the entire movie.
Once the flashback is over, we are thrown back into the final fight of Man of Steel, this time, told from the perspective of Bruce Wayne. One of his buildings is near the destruction and he races to it to save as many of his employees as he can. I will say now that Affleck steals the show as Batman/Bruce Wayne. Without knowing his history in this movie universe, we somehow know why he has become more brutal and unforgiving.
The destruction of Metropolis and the innocent lives lost immediately places Superman in Batman’s bad books. However, it is through Lex Luther (Eisenberg) and his behind-the-scenes machinations that the two eventually come to blows. I can see what Eisenberg was going for with the character but it simply fails to be compelling. His take shows the effect of Superman’s arrival on Lex as something that has actually broken him internally. He cannot reconcile Superman’s abilities with how he sees that world, where knowledge grants power. Unfortunately his portrayal comes off as a goof rather than a megalomaniac.
Similarly, while I think Gal Gadot is superb in her Diana Prince persona and kicks more than the required amount of ass as Wonder Woman, her presence is only necessary to further the Dawn of Justice aspect of the title and not the Batman v Superman part. Those rumours about them possibly splitting this movie in two probably should have come to pass as it may have benefitted the franchise overall.
In fact, I feel that if Snyder had cut out the Dawn of Justice elements completely, there would have been enough in the rest of the movie to make it compelling. As I stated, Affleck is superb in the role but mention should also be make of Henry Cavill’s performance, he was probably the strongest element of Man of Steel and is excellent here too. His relationship with Lois now feels earned and he is able to deliver the struggle that resides in Kal El exceptionally well.
There are other minor complaints to make too. The soundtrack was often too intrusive, some of the action scenes became blurs rather than the impactful, clean images we see elsewhere in the movie. The one complaint I cannot abide though its the visual aesthetic, where many complain that its too dark and murky. My answer to that is this is a follow-up to Man of Steel, and it introduces Batman – of course it was going to be darker and murkier!
Despite the litany of issues I and others have raised against this movie, as a DC fan, I still enjoyed myself overall with Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. I am now looking forward to Batman and Wonder Woman’s solo features more and can’t wait to see what other directors, like David Ayers, can bring to this universe.