Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice – Review
Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice had so much potential to be a masterpiece. Instead what we get is a very solid opening, followed by a decent story occasionally peppered with greatness. The movie runs at over two and a half hours long and while it doesn’t drag, it does feel disjointed at times.
The first twenty to twenty five minutes are wonderfully done. We see part of the climatic battle between Superman and General Zod in Man of Steel, from the perspective of Bruce Wayne and a few other people. This is old news to anyone who’s watched trailers, but it’s a great way of addressing what surely would have been a ridiculously large elephant in the room had the team behind this film chosen to ignore all the destruction that showdown caused.
The choice to build a story stemming from the aftermath of said battle was a good one. There were just instances where I wish certain things had been handled better. In a way it almost feels like they took two movies and cut them together instead of working to build one film from the start. There has already been talk of an R-Rated version for sale later this year, so maybe that full and uncut version will feel more cohesive.
I loved Ben Affleck’s portrayal of Bruce Wayne/Batman here. Clearly based on Frank Miller’s “The Dark Knight”, he’s decidedly brutal, but without the enjoyment that version took from breaking arms and legs. We see flashes of the Bruce Wayne “veneer” when he interacts with people without the mask. He talks about drinking with one person, flirts with the ladies, albeit briefly. He really is more of a “playboy billionaire” than we’ve seen in recent years, not the serious character he is with his trusted servant Alfred Pennyworth, played extremely well by Jeremy Irons. Alfred, in every iteration, tells Bruce like it is, and there is no exception here. Although instead of the prim and proper Alfred we’ve seen many times over, Jeremy Irons’ portrayal seems to have a bit of world weariness to him. Would have loved to see a few more scenes with him.
Gal Gadot caught flack early when she was cast as Diana Prince/Wonder Woman, but I think a lot of the people who complained will be eating their words. She’s turned in a great performance which unfortunately came across as more of an extended cameo than a starring role. Kind of similar to how Batgirl would pop up in the old 60’s Batman show. Wonder Woman is another character I wish had been on screen more.
I’ll admit than Jesse Eisenberg had me scratching my head when they cast him. Haven’t seen him in much(you can count me among the few who still hasn’t seen “The Social Network”) and he’s just always kind of grated on my nerves a bit. Not sure why, honestly. Maybe that’s part of what got him cast, and why it worked. We’re all mostly used to the bald, brilliant, arrogant and calm-until-you-catch-him Lex Luthor from comics and the Justice League cartoons. Eisenberg’s is basically unhinged from the start. His Lex Luthor gets under your skin in a good way, keeping you invested in the character and the eventual moment where his plans will be revealed.
Cavill’s Superman is basically the same as we saw in Man of Steel for most of the movie. We see him cut loose a couple of times but ultimately not enough. Batman steals the show, but to be honest, didn’t you expect that to happen anyway? People have been wanting to see Batman back on screen since The Dark Knight Rises.
The eventual battle between these titans is decent, but could have been better. What kills the excitement is that if you’ve seen the trailers, you’ve seen most of it already. You could honestly say the same for many of the good scenes in the movie, actually. Damn near all of them have been revealed before the movie hit theaters. It’s the same mistake Hollywood keeps making.
I thought BvS:DoJ was decent at best, overall. There were some great scenes and performances in this film but the package as a whole falters. A grade of “C”, or three bacon strips out of five, six out of ten…you get the point, right? Decent.
Early on in the showing, a bunch of people were munching on popcorn. Scene with Amy Adams in a bathtub comes up? Everybody’s jaws stopped moving in unison, lol. No nudity, but…tittilating.
This brings me to my next point. This movie is on the dark side. You’ll see Batman snap someone’s neck, break bones, the aftermath of a Bat-Symbol branding…the aforementioned Amy Adams scene, Bruce Wayne waking up next to an unnamed woman, some other tidbits that push the PG-13 envelope. This is not exactly a kid friendly film, so be mindful of that if you have young kids that you might bring.
Wonder Woman has a great little riff/theme. Sad thing is, it didn’t quite fit when they used it.
The Flash, Cyborg and Aquaman all have brief cameos.
I sincerely hope we see a Batman movie sooner than later. Ben Affleck turned in a damn good performance here, and Jeremy Irons works really well with him. We need to see this movie happen before 2018.
The biggest choice they made with this film is one I left out of this review. If you see the movie for yourself it’ll be pretty obvious what I’m talking about. I think that very risky move will ultimately be a bad decision that could set the JLA franchise off to a bad start if this movie does well enough to justify a follow up.
I’d even go so far as to say that if the movie didn’t end that way, the negative reviews wouldn’t be so plentiful.
Regarding that major plot point, there’s always the chance that it could be dramatically affected by another hero, perhaps Flash(?) in a future film. There was a pretty strange scene that hinted at this possibility. Guess we’ll have to wait and see.