'Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice' Reviewed by a Superman Geek

'Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice' Reviewed by a Superman Geek

Mar 24, 2016

Note: Nothing in this review will go beyond what's already revealed in the trailers and promotional material so consider it spoiler free.

What happens when the two most iconic fictional figures of the last century finally face off on the silver screen for the first time? Well, I won’t tell you here, but it’s pretty awesome.

Superman, the first superhero to don a cape and tights squares off against Batman, the antithetical superhero with no powers. They’ve teamed up numerous times since their respective inceptions, but comic book writers like John Byrne and Frank Miller eventually discovered that their disparate methods of crime fighting would appropriately put them at odds. Superman was always the obvious choice to win because he had abilities beyond mortal men. But Batman would usually come out the victor because there’s nothing interesting about the big guy beating up the little guy and winning.

This film serves a number of purposes beyond being a fight between the two most popular comic book heroes in history. It sets up a new movie universe for all of DC Comics, specifically the modern interpretation of the Justice League. Plus it is in every way a direct sequel to 2013’s Man of Steel. If Batman were removed from the first half of the film, it would be Man of Steel 2. And yes, both characters get approximately equal screen time.

 

Superman

Henry Cavill returns as Superman/Clak Kent. His Superman has learned from the past mistakes that cost lives in the Battle for Metropolis and he’s working extra hard to save people wherever he can to make up for it. At the same time, his Clark Kent is making his name at the Daily Planet where he has to battle his boss Perry White for stories that will put him on the forefront to get the best information for his alter ego. Plus his girlfriend, Lois Lane, is still putting herself into dangerous situations, which is made even harder because some villains seem to already know they can draw him out using her.

Clark Kent is still figuring out his place in the world and has only Lois and his mother Martha to turn to for advice, which is made more difficult when both appear to have differing opinions about his best course of action. Lois points out the hope he inspires in so many all over the world, while Martha continues his father’s arguments from Man of Steel and decides that since so many fear or hate him, that he should stop because he doesn’t owe anybody anything.

 

Batman

Batman’s backstory gets a mention, but after three recent films and an entire TV series devoted to him, it’s specifically rushed through in a completely satisfying way. Anyone who still doesn’t know his parents were murdered in a mugging can still get the gist of it all, but those of us who have seen a couple dozen takes on it can still enjoy it for its brevity and completeness of the basics. Plus there are references to the Joker, and that it seems he once hurt or killed Batman’s sidekick Robin. Here’s hoping it will lead to a solo Batman film that tells the “Death in the Family” and “Under the Red Hood” stories from the comics where Robin was killed, and then made a return.

Ben Affleck’s casting split fandom upon its announcement several years ago, perhaps because he was almost too obvious of a choice. Anyone who has seen a fair amount of his work knew he’d be an excellent Bruce Wayne, and that’s the hard part of the role. Playing Batman is the easy part, although I’m sure the actors might disagree. Affleck not only nails both sides, but he might just be the best live action Batman ever. And before you start throwing around Christian Bale quotes, let’s stop pretending his Batman voice worked in the slightest. Affleck’s Batman suit has a kind of built in voice modifier, which is light years better than a tenor trying to do an impression of Barry White on steroids. “Swear to me!!”

 

Justice League

The film is still not without a few flaws. The minor ones had to do with setting up the upcoming Justice League films. As exciting as those moments were, the film by itself would have been better without them.

Wonder Woman had several scenes even before she donned the costume for the fight that was showcased in the trailer. And Gal Gadot was awesome in every single one of them. However in every case, her scenes could have been omitted from the film and nothing important would have been lost. Even though her part in the fight is important, it feels like the whole movie was written and then tried to add her in afterwards.

But none of that comes close to the addition of the cameos for other Justice League characters. It was exciting to see Flash, Aquaman and even Cyborg previewed, but it happened at the worst possible time and slowed down the rising action in the third act. It served a specific purpose at that moment, but it simply wasn’t necessary in the context of this film, and that’s the kind of balance that needs to be perfected with future outings.

 

Lex Luthor

This film’s version of Luthor is both the exact same and still incredibly different from the character than has been seen before. If anything he’s a cross between the bronze age comics version and the post-crisis take. Which is to say he’s a mad scientist and a megalomanic billionaire. Jesse Eisenberg plays it well, but the problem is the character itself, especially his motivations, which despite several attempts at explanation, never fully make sense.

Which leads to the biggest plot problem of the entire movie. The trailer specifically shows that Lex took Zod’s body and somehow created Doomsday to fight Superman. The way things started to make that happen made sense, but quickly became ridiculous and were never explained. There are satisfactory ways that this could have worked, and perhaps that will happen for the extended cut, but it just doesn’t pay off here. I expect the “How It Should Have Ended” crew to have a field day with this part on YouTube in a few months.

 

The Score

Superman’s theme is outstanding, and it’s used more on this film than his solo outing, probably because Man of Steel had such heavy use of the drum beats for Krypton and shared a similar sound for Zod and the Phantom Zone villains. His music is much more prevalent in this film, and shares time with several versions of Batman’s own specific new themes. Even Wonder Woman has her own music, although it is surprisingly electronic by comparison. It still works and is iconic, but here’s hoping there’s an orchestral version for her upcoming solo film. It may not work for an electric guitar sound in a film set in World War I.

 

What did you think of the film? Did it meet your high or low expectations?

Categories: Features, Reviews, Geek
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