Attention: spoilers ahead! If you have been living under a rock for the last month and not seen this movie CLOSE THIS ARTICLE. This will be an unbiased review that discusses the movies cast and hits and its misses with their roles. This is an opinion piece. If you disagree, fine. Feel free to tell me how in the comments. If you are here and want to be rude, shove on. I do not condone that behavior. If you do so I will eviscerate you for all to see. You have been warned!
It has been almost a month since the phenomenon that is 'Dawn of Justice' has hit theaters. In this time it has been hailed as well as torn apart by viewers and critics alike. In the end many things can be said about it but unlike other movies in its genre a fetid air of conflict surrounds this film more so than any of its predecessors. I will begin by saying this. I am not a DC fanboy nor am I a Marvel fanboy. I am however a movie fan and a comic fan.
As a fan of movies and comics I accept there is a huge chasm that separates how one must perceive a comics adaptation to live film. Do to the aspect of reality not exactly agreeing with the world of comics a visionary must take certain liberties to make a comic movie, believable. Sometimes this can be exceedingly difficult, especially in the case of Superman. How does one create a threat big enough to make a virtual God fear defeat in a realistic setting?
This idea begins the first issue with BvS. Superman has to be looked at as someone who can be beat. For a movie to hold tension a viewer must always feel the hero may not win. If this crucial element is absent how do we become invested? In 'Man of Steel' and 'Batman v Superman' we hear the term God used often when speaking of him. They use this association to instill in us that Superman's power cannot be fully realized by mortals and what he could do with that power should be handled with caution or even fear. Because of this Superman seems to feel plastic throughout most of the story. Clark only has a few scenes and they don't seem to humanize him nearly well enough to make the audience feel for him or even try to empathize for him. Though a key member of the cast Superman almost seems an extra as the bigger picture unfolds.
Bruce's story begins much as it has with many origin stories go. We see him at the funeral of his parents and yet again witness their deaths. Many fans and critics have shown their displeasure at this as we have seen it now multiple times on film. Origins however are tricky ground for a writer. Of course the vast majority of your viewers know these story's but what about the few who don't? Origins, to an extent, must be included when a story is re-envisioned for the first time. Could they have done it differently and gotten the same effect? Surely, a dream of his parents falling, the peal scene wasn't needed along the bats. To me I did not find issue with it in whole though. If anything it could have been compacted a little more but I find they did well with the source material.
Immediately we are brought back to the battle scene in MoS. I consider this to be one of if not the best opening action sequences in recent history. In 'Man of Steel' we were privy to the fight first hand. Now we see what took place as a bystander on the ground. Even though they used some old footage they did an amazing job allowing us to "BE' there when it happened. Bruce drives through the street as explosions go off and chunks of building fall to the pavement below. Innocent bystanders are dying all around him as he tells his employees at Wayne financial to evacuate. In true Batman fashion Bruce drives into the destruction to save who he can. The gravity of this situation is realized as Bruce holds a small child, consoling her after realizing she has just been orphaned. Amid the death and destruction Superman is viewed as a villain that must be stopped.
Amy Adams once again reprises her role as Lois Lane and yet again has been relegated to a plot device. Each scene she enters is only to push the story in a direction that more often than not seems contrived. Always the damsel in distress it seems Superman must constantly keep one ear tuned directly for her voice. Several times in the film Lois gets herself into a predicament where Kal must stop everything he is doing to come to her aide which is honestly a waste of her character. Though she would never be able to fight her, Lois has stared down Diana in the past. This is not a woman who only needs to be saved. The way they keep portraying Lois in film is not only a slap in the face to the actress who brings her to life but the viewer as well.
The next scene is where I find the movie begins to truly shine. As many fans and critics have stated, Affleck's Bruce/Batman is possibly the best thing in the movie. Granted Bruce has grown to be a very dark shadow of his former self as reader's of Frank Miller's 'The Dark Knight Returns' can attest to. This older Batman has seen his share of the dregs in Gotham and has been forced to change. He's realized that criminals in Arkham don't stay there for long. To him, the blood every escaped villain shed stained his hands as well. This belief is what drives Bruce. He sees Superman as an alien who left unchecked can and will do more harm than good. Worse is the fact that he knows that if he were to ever decide that humans were his enemy, no one would be able to stop him. For this reason he swears to kill Superman. Alfred, played by Jeremy Irons, is cast perfectly. The bond between the two is clearly evident here yet the viewer can see it is strained. Alfred has seen this change in his ward and though he knows Bruce is still good, fears for what he is becoming. In their time together on film the two often mince words about the actions of Batman. Bruce goes so far as to point out that they have always been criminals and that if there is even the smallest chance Superman could be bad that he must be stopped. However there are many more things going on in this film than Bruce's morality.
One area where BvS succeeds is completely turning me off Jolly Rancher candies. Jesse Eisenberg, a questionable casting choice to most. Many fans and critics felt this was by far the worst casting decision in the film. Upon my first viewing i have to admit, i agreed. This Luthor played out more like the Joker than the genius that is Lex. When I watched the movie a second time I was able to look at things differently. As we were all delighted to hear, Lex is actually Alexander, Lex's son. The writers pulled one over on us in the trailers. Now I'll admit Eisenberg is an acquired taste. He doesn't have much range as a character actor but what he does, he does well. In BvS I feel he did exactly what was asked of him by Snyder. Would I have chosen a different actor? Sure, I just like many wanted Bryan Cranston of 'Breaking Bad' fame to be cast. If my theory on that is correct however, we may just get to see Cranston sooner than later.
Each diatribe Lex delivers paints a picture of what molded him to be the man he is. We begin to see a picture of his relationship with his father. Abused as a child and looked at as a failure Alexander tried to earn his fathers approval, often to only suffer his wrath. Extremely intelligent but unguided Alex began to loathe his father and quite possibly the world at large. The audience can easily tell something has snapped in his mind. I myself (upon my second viewing) had come to look at him as a "Mad Scientist" of sorts and honestly, it made his character more acceptable in this dark world. The biggest i had with ALex after that point was more story based than character. So as a viewer you tell me that ALex acquired kryptonite, forced the government to allow him access to alien tech, not only discovered that there were other Metahumans in the world but got footage of them and also designed their logo's? Wow! this kid has been busy. Sadly this is Lex's story, things just happen for him without little effort or thought. The story failed here more than anything. Hopefully they correct ALex's short comings in the JL movie by bringing in his father "The" Lex Luthor. How epic would it be to return to the prison cell in Justice League to continue his story. I can see the guard coming in and telling Alex to face the wall again. Footsteps can be heard along with the shuffle of a trench coat grazing the floor. A gritty voice calls out. "Yet again, you fail in something that should have been so simple." Alex turns to see his father (Bryan Cranston) standing there. "Now you think I should just bail you, my failure out and finish the job!? How does that saying go? Never send the boy to do the mans job." God i would love this. We can only hope.
Probably the most disappointing part of the movie, Wonder Woman. Now this is where i am sure I will get a lot of hate but in my opinion Gal Gadot just does not make an imposing warrior. Dianna is an Amazon. now i know that in fact there is no such thing but in decades and centuries of stories, books, TV and film viewers have a very clear picture of what an Amazon should be. Now this isn't a height thing or a build thing. This is an intimidation thing. This Wonder Woman does not intimidate me. She looks like a Barbie doll dressed up like Zena. Before Fast6 i didn't know who she was and I surely didn't watch Fast7 for her acting. Aside from all of that, the little screen time Gal did have as Dianna was wasted on her though I will admit she was not granted much. For that reason alone I am willing to see her solo film before I cast my big stone.
Lastly we get to Doomsday. Now I am sure all of you have heard the references of 'Ninja Turtles' and 'Lord of the Rings' Trolls but honestly his appearance didn't bother me near as much as the way they handled him. His origin is not only massacred in the movie but it undoubtedly cheapened one of the most formidable opponents Superman has ever faced. He honestly seemed an afterthought to me. It amazes me how people have this notion that Lex Luthor is not a suitable enemy to require the Justice League being formed. Lex has on countless occasions been the main villain in JL story arcs, why not in this film? Well because they didn't write Lex to be that. That is the only answer. Doomsday could have been used so much better and later in the series than the first outing. They could have built his origin up by utilizing the fortress of solitude. Instead they chose to do this and it backfired. Doomsday was sadly given the least amount of thought of any of the characters in the movie.
In the end i would grade the cast playing their roles a B-. Superman is hard to pull off in this realistic gritty world but i feel they did ok with him here. Batman is a darker version of him than we have ever seen, I find his role to be the best as he has the most to "grow" t become the hero we know he is. Lex was good as a mad scientist who never quite proved himself to daddy. Wonder Woman was hollow and did not capture me the way she should. I will hold off judgement till her solo outing. Doomsday had no redeeming qualities to make him an apt villain. He was a plot hole forcefully created and loosely filled. I do not blame Snyder for this movies failures. I blame Chris Terrio and David S. Goyer. They wrote this story and for the most part that is where it failed.
Thank you for taking the time to read this and please feel free to give me your opinion as well, respectfully. I know Comic book adaptations bring out the fanboy in us all but we can have peaceable discussions even if we disagree.