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Thursday, May 19, 2016

Movie Review: Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice

When feeling threatened by what seems like an invincible alien, do you try talking to it first or just walk up and punch it in the face? In March 2016, Batman showed us... he's not much for talking.

Directing this 151 minute action/adventure/fantasy/sci-fi is Zack Snyder.

Some of the cast is: Ben Affleck as Bruce Wayne/Batman, Henry Cavill as Clark Kent/Superman, Gal Gadot as Diana Prince/Wonder Woman, Jesse Eisenberg as Lex Luthor, Amy Adams as Lois, Jeremy Irons as Alfred, Holly Hunter as Senator Finch, Callan Mulvey as Anatoli Knyazev and Tao Okamoto as Mercy Graves.

After witnessing the destruction caused during the battle between Superman and the other Kryptonians lead by General Zod, Batman sees the threat Superman could become to mankind if he chose to. However, Superman isn't the only cape wearing individual to catch someone's eye.
Apparently, Superman doesn't like the way Batman cleans up the streets of Gotham and wants to do something about his brand of justice. Before you know it, a line is drawn in the sand as Superman and Batman warn each other what will happen if the other doesn't stop what they're doing. Little do our caped crusaders know, the real fight isn't with each other... but against something the world has never seen before.

I have to admit, I didn't go into this one with an open mind. I, like many people, have desperately wanted to see the super powered team-up between the caped crusader and the man of steel. So, when the trailer hit, of course I jumped on it to watch. Afterwords... I held very little hope I would enjoy the movie, which was seriously sad, because as a comic fan, getting to see Batman and Superman together on the big screen "should" be legendary. Well, I finally psyched my self up and decided "I'm doing this" and sat down to see it. Now, I've heard a-lot of good and bad about the movie, and truthfully, after watching it I find myself still on the fence with it. There were some really good things in there, and... some really bad. I can't say I truly enjoyed it like I thought I would, but I didn't hate it either.
                                                             
First off, the story was written by Chris Terrio and David S. Goyer, which is based on characters created by Bob Kane/Bill Finger (Batman) and Jerry Siegel/Joe Shuster (Superman). I liked the story, to a degree. I thought the way they brought in Bruce Wayne/Batman was cool. Batman sees a threat in Superman so Batman steps up to take care of it. I was completely on board for how this was going down, but I felt like the rest of the story was getting too busy with all the other stuff they packed in there. Like WW (Wonder Woman) for instance. Even though it was super cool seeing WW standing there and (finally) getting to throw down with the twin capes on the big screen, which was awesome(!), I didn't really feel like there was a true place for her in the story. It felt like WW was fit in after the fact to help push her solo film, instead of being written in from the beginning. Now, I don't know how WW came to be storyline wise, but it just didn't feel like a solid story point.
                                                       

When watching this you kind of have to keep in mind that, yeah we've seen tons of Batman/Superman films in the past... and none of them have a place here. This, world (and the people in it) is completely different from the past versions. Part of what makes it stand out is the darker tone it has, darker so than even the Nolan's Dark Knight trilogy. All of the characters are essentially "new" to us... except Batman, because apparently he's been doing his thing for quite awhile now(?). If you remember Man of Steel (2013), that was the first time Clark put on the suit and saved the world. This film is a carry over from that, he's still finding his place as, or becoming "Super-man". So, story wise, you are being introduced to a lot of characters that you, as a fan, already know, but they're not the same people we remember. There are so many points in the film that they are trying to use to help tie in other movies that it takes away from the overall storyline. 

The playthrough was a hit 'n miss for me. It takes a few to finally get things going, so it's a bit of a slow burner, which made it hard to keep my full attention. Part of that slow burn was due to the tie-in points I was talking about, which wind up dragging out the movie. Otherwise, when things took off I was glued to the screen and trying to take in everything that was going on so I wouldn't miss anything. With the title we know that at some point the dark knight and the man of steel were going to throw down with each other. Well, it was everything I expected it to be. The amp'd up fisticuffs between the capes was a really cool fight to watch. Then again, all the fight scenes in this one were seriously cool. The last battle was another spot where the story felt force in because it's the reason everyone comes together. 

The cast did a good job. Affleck... surprised me, I still hold it against him for what he did to the Daredevil movie back in the day. So, I figured Affleck would wind up mangling another superhero I dug. I can happily say, I was so wrong! Affleck did a really good job as Batman and I even liked him as Bruce Wayne. You might wonder how could you screw up one but not the other, but you can. Michael Keaton, to me, was the best combination of both Bruce and Batman. Since then, Bale made a good-ish Batman, but I didn't care for him as Bruce. So, thank you Affleck for not killing Batman for me. I still can't say I'm a fan of Cavill's Superman, which isn't all on him. Part of it is how they're writing Superman now, which has two sides, brooding or angry and not much else in between. Again, it's that darker tone the movie has, so I guess Superman's brooding fits in(?). At least an angry Batman fits, thanks to Superman's mass destruction (Man of Steel). Because of that, Bruce has an office building and a lot of workers to replace. So, I guess I'd be angry to.
                                                           

After watching WW's part and seeing how everything went down, Gadot was good, but I just don't think she was WW. However, that could be because I was (like many people) comparing her to what I knew and not taking into account that this is a new unknown version of her. Next up, Eisenberg as Luthor, I hated... hated... every part he was in. Eisenberg's character annoyed me on so many levels and made Luthor seem like a hyper-active/mentally challenged child. I tried to say the trailer was just a glimpse of a scene and not the actual character, but I was wrong. The Luthor you see in the trailer is every bit the finished product. Maybe, just may-be this is how Lex becomes the dangerous and villainous character in the future films. That's what I kept telling myself as I was watching the movie. 

When the movie starts gaining forward motion and things start happening, it becomes a cool eye bomb of CGI filled magic that's has plenty of destruction, superhero elbows being dropped on bad guys and iconic lasso and capes blowing gently in the wind so we can marvel at their awesomeness, thanks to Larry Fong's cinematography work. Michael Wilkinson did some cool work on the superhero costume designs.

Side note: When the movie hits home release there'll be an ultimate edition for it, which will be rated R for having more violence than the theatrical version and will be 30 minutes longer. Because this movie needed an extra 30 minutes tacked on to it's short running time. The Blu-ray will be released in July (2016) with both a PG-13 and R rating versions.

Overall, it has plenty of cool moments but it wasn't the blockbuster I was expecting it to be. I'd still say if you're a fan it's worth catching. If nothing else it helps set the stage for the future films. 

It's rated PG-13 for violence and language. 

3 stars


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