By Nico Beland
Movie Review: C (2 ½ stars)
WARNER BROS. PICTURES
Well, this is it, the second film in the DC Extended Universe franchise following 2013’s Man of Steel. You know the Marvel Cinematic Universe? Yeah, that’s an interesting and risky experiment that really paid off and the filmmakers knew exactly what they were doing and was planned right from the beginning.
Unlike Marvel, the DC Extended Universe was first announced after the success of Man of Steel, strike 1, none of the producers were the president of DC Comics, strike 2, and instead of following Man of Steel with a legit sequel or introduce a new superhero in a completely different movie, they jump right into a crossover with the Caped Crusader of Gotham City, Batman, strike 3.
That’s where Batman V. Superman: Dawn of Justice comes in, directed by Man of Steel’s Zack Snyder (Dawn of the Dead, 300, Watchmen) and Henry Cavill (I Capture the Castle, Stardust, The Man from U.N.C.L.E.), Amy Adams (Enchanted, The Fighter, American Hustle), Diane Lane (Unfaithful, Under the Tuscan Sun, Cinema Verite), and Laurence Fishburne (The Matrix trilogy, Mystic River, Mission: Impossible III) reprise their roles as Clark Kent/Superman, Lois Lane, Martha Kent, and Perry White, and in the Batsuit we have Ben Affleck (The Town, Argo, Gone Girl) as Bruce Wayne/Batman, conveniently four years after the final time Christian Bale donned it. The hype for this movie when it was announced was mad, I couldn’t go anywhere without seeing ads for Batman V. Superman: Dawn of Justice, whether it’s posters, trailers, billboards, commercials on TV, it was one of the most hyped up superhero movies since The Avengers and Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight trilogy, and I’ve only seen a few advertisements for Deadpool.
But hype aside, does the film live up to what it promised? Surprisingly not as much as you would think. I didn’t hate the movie or anything and I definitely don’t consider it to be the worst Batman and Superman movie ever made, need we forget Batman & Robin, Superman III, and Superman IV: The Quest for Peace? Yeah, if you’re considering this to be a downfall for Batman and Superman, clearly you have not seen any of those movies.
After General Zod’s mayhem from the last film, we find the city of Metropolis in a tough decision, should Superman be blamed for the damage that he and Zod caused during their brawl? While that’s going on, the press of Metropolis realizes that there is a mysterious Bat vigilante in Gotham City fighting crime and possibly posing as a threat to the Son of Krypton.
Billionaire, Bruce Wayne who covertly operates Gotham City as Batman steps into the picture and blames Superman for all the casualties that resulted from his battle with Zod. Clark sees Batman as dangerous figure and seeks to expose him, even if it involves fighting him.
Meanwhile an even more sinister figure steps into the picture as young businessman, Lex Luthor (Jesse Eisenberg-Zombieland, The Social Network, Now You See Me) and CEO of LexCorp who has a serious grudge with Superman, who he claims is his arch-nemesis and plots to unlock the secret to make Kryptonite, the only element that can destroy Superman, trick Batman into battling him to the death, and kill him with a spear of Kryptonite.
So it’s a one on one, Mono E Mono, face off to save the city from total destruction, it’s God VS Man, Day VS Night, Son of Krypton VS Bat of Gotham.
The film also stars Gal Gadot (Fast & Furious franchise, Date Night, Triple 9) as 5,000-year-old Amazonian princess superhero, Diana Prince/Wonder Woman, Jeremy Irons (The Lion King, Die Hard with a Vengeance, Race) as Bruce Wayne’s loyal butler, Alfred Pennyworth, and Holly Hunter (Broadcast News, The Piano, The Incredibles) as Senator Judy Finch.
Overall, Batman V. Superman: Dawn of Justice is a rather choppy superhero movie and not the best film to follow Man of Steel up with. The biggest problem with the movie is it had to follow Man of Steel up, introduce and develop the new Batman, introduce Wonder Woman, have Batman and Superman fight each other, and have Batman and Superman team up in the end to save the day, I don’t think I’m giving away anything, if you’ve seen all the trailers, you pretty much know what the movie is about coming in.
It’s too heavy on story, when this should have just been a big flashy action-packed extravaganza like The Avengers. Not to mention a lot of plot elements and characters don’t really go anywhere.
Bruce Wayne supposedly lost Robin, he has a bunch of nightmares and hallucinations and you forget about these elements shortly afterwards, we know very little about Batman here. Granted the Tim Burton Batman movie from 1989 kept Batman a mystery but you at least know his story and what caused him to become a superhero, this movie just left me asking a bunch of questions in my head that probably could have been answered if they dug deeper into Batman’s character, but you gotta get the Clark Kent x Lois Lane, Superman, and Lex Luthor half of the movie in there too, so it comes off as choppily put together.
Also while Gal Gadot was pretty awesome as Wonder Woman, she doesn’t really have an impact on anything, you could have taken her out of the movie and it wouldn’t impact much. I’m pretty sure Batman battling Superman are enough to hold a movie, you don’t need to constantly develop characters and plot elements that we’re eventually going to know later on in the Universe.
Okay, let’s talk about Jesse Eisenberg as Lex Luthor, he’s entertaining, but not in the same way as Gene Hackman or Kevin Spacey, more along the lines of Tommy Lee Jones’ Two-Face from Batman Forever and Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Mr. Freeze from Batman & Robin. To his credit, he looks like he’s having a lot of fun with the performance, it just comes off as silly, if they went for someone like Mark Strong or Bryan Cranston, I don’t think I’d have a problem.
But when the action gets going, it’s pretty fun stuff, for the amount of time it has before the story comes back into the picture. Also Ben Affleck’s take on Batman is pretty neat, not sure if I like him more than Michael Keaton or Christian Bale but I can definitely say it’s a cool take and a huge improvement over his Daredevil performance from 2003, yeah that movie never happened.
If you just want to see Batman battling Superman, Batman V. Superman: Dawn of Justice delivers what it promises, just don’t expect a whole lot, but if you want a more gripping and different kind of comic book movie, Deadpool is playing next door. Sorry DC, close but no explosion, better luck in August with Suicide Squad.