Ready for the film that will kick off the "Justice League," introduce "Wonder Woman," reintroduce "Batman," while also serving as a sequel to 2013's "Man of Steel with two villains to worry about? Do you also fear that helming all of these aspects will hurt the ambition? You have never been more correct. Before I give the wrong impression of my feelings toward "Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice," let me first say that I enjoyed watching this film, to a point. There is just as much good as there is bad, which is the most frustrating aspect about it. Following the events of "Man of Steel," Bruce Wayne views the happenings in Metropolis as Wayne tower turns to ash. Attempting so save a few with the little heroism left inside him, he begins to see Superman as a threat, thus kicking off the two and a half hour entertaining mess that is "Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice."
Now the big things that people will be asking is if "Wonder Woman" and Lex Luthor are any good in the supporting roles, and while many people have foreseen Jesse Eisenberg as a horrible choice from day one, I remained cautiously optimistic about his casting. I must say, I did not mind his portrayal. The film begins with him as a very annoying punk billionaire who will do whatever he wants with the company after his father's passing, but his evolution into the darker character he will ultimately become, worked for me. As for "Wonder Woman," played by Gal Gadot, her portrayal is yet to be loved, for myself at least. I really enjoyed the scenes she was in, as well as the action sequences her character appears in. That is not saying much, as her character is used in such a way that would not ruin the film she is placed in.
Not many people have been talking about the score, but to me, this score outdoes that of "Man of Steel" in almost every way, and even in the poor scenes throughout this film, I found myself paying attention to every musical aspect. From the subtly psychotic theme of Lex Luthor, to the epic rock-esque number of "Wonder Woman," the music for me was the biggest standout. Being soft and subtle when needed, while also picking up for the most epic of moments. It elevated each scene, as did the change in Cinematographer from "Man of Steel," becoming more steady and focussed. All technical aspects are terrific throughout this picture, but the issues begin with the direction.
Zack Snyder has had his ups and downs for me in the past, and while I enjoyed his take on things like "Watchmen" or "300," I found myself being a lot more conflicted with "Man of Steel." That film at least has a central focussed through-point that you can follow, which is what hurt this film. We begin with Bruce Wayne to catch the audience up on where he stands, we cut over to Clark Kent as the remainder of the "Man of Steel" story concludes, while launching Lex Luthor's master plan, bringing politics into the mix, glorifying Wonder Woman's cameo, placing Lois Lane in every scene, and setting up the Justice League. If that sounds like too much ground to cover, that is because it is. There are multiple films being told here, and none of them really get a conclusion, because they clash together midway through before that could even happen.
This film truly is a mess in many different ways, but for every good scene, a great scene will follow. Ben Affleck as Bruce Wayne and Batman is one of the best I have ever seen, bringing a dark and gritty tone to the character, darker than we have ever seen before. Henry Cavill is a very solid Superman, although his character goes back and forth from hero to villain too much for me. There are many touching moments between Batman and Superman, making for a surprisingly emotional core towards the end. This film takes a lot of chances, which I admired, but they only see about half of them through. Setting up the Justice League definitely feels slightly shoe-horned in, but that did not take away from a scene that got me genuinely excited for the upcoming "Wonder Woman" and "Justice League" films.
This review may seem like I thoroughly enjoyed this film, which would be false, it may seem like I disliked this movie, which would also be false. It is so middle of the road that it is more frustrating than anything. You may call me a Marvel fanboy, but I whole-heartedly like DC and Marvel. Marvel just seems to be doing a much better job with planning their stories. In the end, this is a film that I would definitely watch again, because there are some amazing scenes (ie. The Batman and Superman fight, the climax, and the solo Batman moments) that I truly want to revisit. In the end, would I recommend "Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice?" Yes, but to the right demographic. If you have been a fan of these characters, you can find some enjoyment here. If you want to see these characters fight, just know there is more to it than just a straight up brawl. If you are looking for a fun superhero film to take your little kids to, I would strongly disagree with that choice. It is a very dark and brutal film, with slow scenes of adult themes. "Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice" is just as disappointing as it is enjoyable.
Review By: KJ Proulx