Batman v Superman movie review: Yawn of Justice

The follow-up to director Zach Snyder's Man of Steel (2013) is an inexplicably glorious mess.

Director: Zack Snyder

Cast: Ben Affleck, Henry Cavill, Gal Gadot, Jesse Eisenberg

On paper, Batman v Superman is pure gold. In execution, however, it is several marbles shy of a full set. The follow-up to director Zach Snyder’s Man of Steel (2013) is an inexplicably glorious mess.

While it isn’t a bad film, it just isn’t very good. It has Batman. It, as the title suggests, even pitted one Superhero juggernaut against the other. It has Wonder Woman, making her maiden silver-screen appearance. It has the token CGI monster, a megalomaniac villain, stunning visuals and brilliant acting. It also has a story. In fact, it has several stories, and that was perhaps its undoing.

The movie opens with a familiar-yet-tired retelling of Bruce Wayne’s childhood tragedy, when both his parents were gunned down in a mugging gone awry. This is the fourth time – five if anyone’s counting the TV series Gotham; we’re not – this scene has played out on film. No wonder Batman is so crotchety. Nobody ever lets him forget how he saw his mum and dad die.

Right after, we revisit Man of Steel’s climactic battle between Superman (Henry Cavill) and General Zod (Michael Shannon), but this time from the point of view of Bruce Wayne (Ben Affleck). Enraged at the mayhem and destruction caused by the two aliens, Wayne decides that Superman – an all-powerful alien who can destroy the Earth should he set his mind to it – is a danger that must be eliminated.

And that’s when it all begins to unravel. Everyone starts talking, a lot. Then everyone reacts to the events around them. They get worked up. Then there’s more talking. Then there’s obligatory action sequence to provide relief from all the exposition. Then there’s more talking.

By the time the movie shakes off its inertia well into its final 40 minutes, the audiences would have been subjected to sequence upon sequence of brooding introspection and trippy nightmares (Bruce Wayne/ Batman), insecurity and anger (Clark Kent/ Superman), and extreme reactions to the actions of the two superheroes (everyone else).

The highly-advertised fight between Batman and Superman lasts a disappointingly short time. There just isn’t enough action from the fight itself to justify the exhaustive, and chatty, build-up to it.

That is not to say it is all doom and gloom. BvS: Dawn of Justice is an engaging movie, if one watches it in small doses. The problem arises from the fact that it serves as a sequel to Man of Steel as well as sets up the superhero ensemble Justice League movies. Two separate stories are woven together with predictably confusing results.

Snyder achieves the dual effect of making the 153-minute runtime of the movie seem both too short and too long. Too short because an unbelievable amount of lore is packed into one movie, and too long because, well, the execution is found wanting. The fault, however, is not the director’s. The culprits here are writers David S. Goyer (Man of Steel, The Dark Knight Trilogy) and Chris Terrio (Argo). They seem to have thrown all their ideas into a tin can, rattled them around, and committed the resulting mess to paper.

The movie has a few redeeming features, though. The performances, for one, are top-notch. Ben Affleck, who has impressively bulked up for the role, gives arguably the best portrayal of the Caped Crusader on film. He provides a light touch to the playboy-billionaire Bruce Wayne and plays Batman with a darkness and anger that has been missing from previous incarnations. It also helps that he so completely looks the part.

Henry Cavill plays a Superman who is still finding his place in the world. He doesn’t quite know what his limits are and is battling insecurity throughout. Cavill plays the character with a vulnerability that makes the otherwise plain Superman rather interesting.

Gal Gadot is magnificent as Diana Prince/ Wonder Woman. Fans have clamoured for the character to appear on the big screen for as long as superhero movies have been a thing, and Gadot brings her A-game to the table. Her Diana Prince is mysterious, stunning and confident while her Wonder Woman, the Amazonian warrior, is a force to reckon with.

Oscar-winner Jeremy Irons is wonderfully dry as Bruce Wayne’s long-suffering butler, Alfred. Amy Adams (Superman’s love interest Lois Lane), Laurence Fishburne (Daily Planet editor Perry White) and Diane Lane (Superman’s mother Martha Kent) reprise their characters from Man of Steel.

The only false note in this acting symphony is Jesse Eisenberg as the arrogant, smarmy Lex Luthor, Superman’s nemesis. Simply put, the miscast Eisenberg just plays a more socially-awkward version of the character he played in Social Network – Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg.

Perhaps history will be kinder to the movie, once it is viewed in the context of the ever-expanding DC cinematic universe. But that luxury will be afforded to fans after the two Justice League movies are released. For the moment, Dawn of Justice pays the price for acting as a sequel and trying to do in a couple hours what Marvel managed in four years and multiple movies – set up its superhero universe.

Watch the film's trailer below:

( Source : Deccan Chronicle. )
Next Story