Film Review & Trailer: Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice

Frances Winston reviews the Batman v Superman movie, and finds it a tad long, and at times, confusing.

Directed by Zack Snyder – Starring: Ben Affleck, Henry Cavill, Amy Adams, Jesse Eisenberg, Diane Lane, Laurence Fishburne, Jeremy Irons, Holly Hunter, Gal Gadot

To say that this is the most-hyped and anticipated movie of the year so far (yes, yes, I know it’s only March) is something of an understatement. Leading men Cavill and Affleck have been staring out at the public on everything, from buses to fast food packaging, and even Penney’s is stocking a clothing tie-in with the movie!

Basically it’s everywhere, and therefore nothing I write here will probably either encourage or discourage people from going to see it, as no one will want to be the only person around the water cooler who doesn’t have an opinion on it.

That said, my job is to review it so here goes. As is the case with all these films, it picks up after the events of the last movie – Cavill’s Superman debut, Man of Steel. Bruce Wayne and many others are devastated by the destruction caused to Metroplolis, and many people are seeing Superman as a potential terrorist rather than a god. As one such vigilante conspires to bring down the Man of Steel through nefarious means, over in Gotham, Bruce Wayne instead resolves to use his alter ego, Batman, to destroy the alien threat to humanity.

Poor Cavill doesn’t get much of a chance to develop his character beyond what we saw in the last movie, as he is called on to do little but be square-jawed and heroic, while occasionally getting mushy with Lois Lane (Adams).

All eyes will be on Affleck, whose casting as Batman was greeted with some derision (Batfleck anyone?) and he will divide critics and audiences. His Bruce Wayne/Batman is not like previous incarnations (in fairness the source material for this film is from the limited-edition, Dark Knight Returns, comic book mini-series, by Frank Miller rather than standard DC fare) and personally, I’m still not sure if I liked him in the role. I never really felt he captured the angst that famously drives Bruce Wayne.

Gal Gadot pops up as Diana Prince/Wonder Woman, and is given very little to do until the closing sequence other than look pretty and mysterious. When we do finally get to see her in action, I have to say it was pretty disappointing. Although she was introduced as a precursor to the Justice League flick, and a standalone Wonder Woman movie, this film would have functioned fine without her. (She definitely doesn’t pass the sexy lamp test).

Throw in glimpses of fellow DC characters, Aquaman, Cyborg and The Flash, along with numerous big-name and award-winning actors in supporting roles that require them to do very little other than move the plot along, and a jittery and hyperactive Eisenberg as Lex Luthor, and this gets very confusing in parts.

But this movie isn’t about plot – it’s all about the action. From the off, there are big set pieces, and no opportunity to throw in a fight scene is wasted. Unfortunately, the actual David and Goliath moment (i.e. Batman v Superman) is a bit anticlimactic as at the end of the day Superman is blessed with otherworldly powers, while Batman is just a guy in a suit (an admittedly huge suit of armour that looks impossible to move in never mind fight!) who is going to have to resort to dirty tricks to win.

It is also incredibly short. The whole movie builds up to this, and then it’s over as the duo (literally) has a bigger problem to worry about, which forces them to work together. Of course, these scenes are spectacular, but there are so many of them that they at times get in the way of any real plot development. It would also appear that they threw the entire budget at them, as in the closing scenes there is some pretty dodgy CGI, which there is no excuse for, unless they ran out of money.

If it sounds like I didn’t enjoy this movie you’re wrong. I did genuinely find it thrilling as the viewer is supposed to. But it also left me feeling unfulfilled. Almost like when you decide to have a bit of everything off the dessert trolley, and so have no one standout flavour to savour. Yes it is extremely exciting, but it has no real heart. DC’s big screen sojourns are still in their infancy, but they could do with bringing some warmth to their movies, which Marvel do so well. After all, there is a reason why people love these comic books, and we should care about these heroes.

In trying to do too much, Snyder seems to have lost his focus, and what we get is at times a bit of a mess. Still thrilling and with some awesome scenes, it ultimately adds very little to any character’s story, and has a lot of excess material that could have been cut away.

At two and a half hours long, he could easily have shaved half an hour off, and made it tighter and more coherent. Obviously, it is still going to make millions at the box office, and rightly so, as this is the kind of movie that defines summer blockbuster. However, it is unlikely to be in anyone’s top ten super-hero movies list, and in many ways it does itself a lot of disservice.

In Cinemas March 25!

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