If I had to sum up Zack Snyder's Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice in a few words, I guess I would say that it was a cacophony of chaos. And I mean that in a good way. Before diving into the details of the film, I must warn you: if you go into this film expecting some sort of transcendental cinematic masterpiece, you will be disappointed. If you go into this film expecting to see a film with a sophisticated and/or complicated story, you will be disappointed. This film is not meant to cater to casual moviegoers or film critics. It is very simply a testament to millions of fans of two (oh sorry, make that three) legendary characters who have graced our lives for more than 75 years.
The plot is simple. After the events of Man of Steel, the world is still devastated over the destruction caused during the fight between Superman and General Zod in Metropolis. Superman himself is struggling with his new-found identity as the protector of the planet, and is questioning whether he truly belongs among us. The people of this world have extremely polarized opinions about him. Many believe that he is the Messiah of God, and he was sent to our planet as our ultimate protector and saviour. Others believe that as an extraterrestrial being, he is not meant to live among us, and that his power is a threat to all mankind. One such person who shares this belief is Bruce Wayne, a billionaire and philanthropist who has been fighting crime in Gotham as Batman for nearly two decades. He is convinced that Superman is too powerful and dangerous, and that he will be the reason for humanity's downfall. He is willing to do whatever it takes to take Superman down. Meanwhile, Lex Luthor, a young businessman and CEO of LexCorp, is a megalomaniac who is fixated on defeating Superman to prove that he can even make God kneel before him. Lex acquires a reserve of Kryptonite from the Indian Ocean, and plans on weaponizing it to kill Superman. He frames Superman many times during the events of this film, and this leads to a more negative and aggressive public opinion towards Superman. Lex creates a seemingly indestructible monster named Doomsday from the reanimated corpse of Zod for the purpose of permanently killing Superman. While Superman is busy fighting with Batman, Lex unleashes Doomsday in Metropolis. Now, Superman must put aside his differences with Batman and defeat Doomsday with the help of Batman and Wonder Woman.
Now that we have the basics out of the way, let us discuss the pros and cons of the film.
1. The Performances: Nearly every cast member delivers a top-notch performance here. Henry Cavill as Clark Kent/Kal-El/Superman is much more confident in his role than he was in Man of Steel. Although there is a lot of scope for improvement when it comes to his acting, he still does a fantastic job as the Man of Steel. Ben Affleck delivers a knockout performance as Bruce Wayne/Batman. All the skeptics who thought that he would be unable to pull off the role will be silenced. Jesse Eisenberg and Jeremy Irons both stand out as Lex Luthor and Alfred Pennyworth, respectively. Eisenberg's Luthor is a merciless, ruthless and evil supervillain who has absolutely no regard for life in general and is willing to do anything it takes to get what he desires. This incarnation of Luthor is definitely more evil than any previous portrayal of the character. Irons's portrayal of Bruce Wayne's chief of security and trusted confidant Alfred Pennyworth is applause-worthy. Even though he believes that Superman is not their enemy, he is always ready to support his Master Bruce, no matter what the cost. Amy Adams does a nice job as Lois Lane, and she is arguably the best Lois we have gotten since Margot Kidder's portrayal of the character. Diane Lane, Laurence Fishburne, and Holly Hunter all shine in their brief roles as Martha Kent, Perry White, and Senator Finch, respectively. The biggest surprise is Gal Gadot, who does a great job as Princess Diana of Themyscira/Wonder Woman. Her portrayal is fierce as well as controlled. I do not know about the rest of you, but I for one, am definitely looking forward to watching her in next year's Wonder Woman.
2. The Direction: When you are watching a comic-book adaptation, it always helps if the person who made the film is a comic-book fan. That is the case with Zack Snyder. Snyder, despite being a Superman fan, does a wonderful job at giving both Superman and Batman a lot of importance and significance, and balancing them brilliantly. Granted, his style of filmmaking has more style than substance, but in this film, there is so much style, that fans will barely get the time to complain about the substance, or lack thereof.
3. The Music: The music, composed jointly by Hans Zimmer and Junkie XL, is crucial and brilliant. The score has a feeling of grandeur and scale, and it definitely helps the film, especially in battle sequences. One of my own favorites was the Wonder Woman theme, so look out for it.
4. The Special and Visual Effects: When Zack Snyder and DC Entertainment are making a film about Superman and Batman with a budget of $250 million, it is not wrong to expect good visual effects. And this film delivers in that area. Except for one or two scenes (depending on what you call "good visual effects"), the effects were top-notch, and the visual effects will be especially enhanced if you choose to see the film in 3D.
5. The Humor: When Warner Bros. Pictures and DC Entertainment announced that they were going to have a "no humor" policy in their films, we were all pretty worried. But as it turns out, DC decided to break its policy pretty early on. Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice has a few surprising touches of humor here and there, and while it may not be something to brag about at this point, it is an indication that DC is prepared to embrace a more light and humorous tone, which will be of vital importance in films like Shazam and The Flash.
6. The Characterization of Superman: While Man of Steel felt a bit grounded when it came to the treatment of its titular character, he seems much more balanced this time around. A lot of character development takes place. His complex personality is showcased brilliantly here, and the challenges he faces while trying to be mankind's greatest hero are displayed elegantly. The ending, especially, is a brilliant testament to the hero and the human that is Superman.
7. The Dawn of Justice: When it set up the heroes of next year's Justice League: Part One, the film did a better job than expected. While many, including myself, were expecting that the amount of superheroes would result in a cluster, the film brilliantly introduces us to Jason Momoa's Arthur Curry/Aquaman, Ezra Miller's Barry Allen/Flash, and Ray Fisher's Victor Stone/Cyborg. While I am definitely not at liberty to tell you the exact nature of their appearance, I will tell you that they actually do not have any actual role to play in the story. They have brief cameos which showcase their abilities, all of which will lead to their inclusion in Justice League: Part One.
1. The Characterization of Batman: While Snyder does a great job with Superman, he completely misses the point of Batman. Even though Affleck delivers a great performance, Snyder turns Batman into a ruthless vigilante, who is not afraid to kill if needed. In fact, this iteration of the character seems ready to kill whenever it is possible to do so. At certain times, it feels almost as if he is the secondary antagonist. Yes, he knows how to fight and yes, he is most certainly a "badass", but his merciless attitude towards most criminals will definitely not appeal to everyone. Despite having the most amount of screen time, he does not have any actual development, and throughout the film, he constantly spends his time whining about Superman and preparing to fight him. On top of that, no emotional development occurs between Bruce and Alfred, which was one of the things I was looking forward to the most in the film. Maybe the flaws in his characterization occur because the entirety of the film's story revolves around Superman. Even though he is not always present physically on screen, Superman is the catalyst for practically everything that happens in the film. Here's to hoping that these issues get sorted when Batman gets his own solo film in the DC Extended Universe.
2. The Length: Standing at 153 minutes (two hours and thirty-three minutes), Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice is quite long for a superhero film, and a film in general. While fans and admirers of the titular characters will have no problem at all watching the two of them light up the silver screen for two-and-a-half hours, others may run out of patience watching the mindless smashing and destruction. Since casual moviegoers nowadays are not used to watching such lengthy films, the length might become a problem.
3. The Fight: When you decide to watch a film named Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice, it is not unjustified to expect that Superman fighting Batman will be one of the major elements in the story. That expectation was not met. Considering that most of the promotional material revolves around this fight, the fight itself was not as monumental and significant as promised. Not only did Snyder take about one-and-a-half hours to actually get his heroes to duke it out, the confrontation was short-lived, and if you have watched the trailers and promos, you have basically seen the entire fight.
4. The Ending: Do you remember that, earlier on in this review, I said that the ending of the film is a true testament to Superman? While that is true, a bad thing also happens. A really bad and significant thing which is sure to have an impact on the DC Extended Universe moving forward. If this was the Marvel Cinematic Universe, I would not be too worried about what happened. It would probably just be temporary in the MCU. But unfortunately, this isn't the MCU. This is the DC Extended Universe, where everything is dark, real, gritty, and grounded. Bad things are not always temporary here. Since I cannot divulge to you exactly what happens in the end, let me just say that if this does not turn out to be temporary, then we are going to have a major problem in the DCEU.
As this review comes to an end, it is very clear that the pros of this film far outweigh the cons. At the end, it does not really matter whether Superman wins or Batman wins. What is important is that we, the fans, all win, because we could not be living in a better time to satisfy our comic book and superhero fantasies. And as an ardent fan of comic books, I strongly urge you to go and experience Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice. Even though it might seem dull and incoherent at times, it is sure to bring out the inner child in you.
FINAL RATING- 8/10