Three years ago, on July 20th 2013, Man of Steel director Zack Snyder announced he would follow up his critically divisive, but in my eyes near perfect Superman movie with a sequel that would pit Clark Kent against the Batman. As someone whos two favorite superheroes have always been Batman and Superman (in that order), this sounded like a dream come true… especially since I really loved everything the somewhat divisive director had done before (except Sucker Punch, which I still find relatively watchable). There was no need to worry, right? Check out our Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice Review!
A Beautiful Lie
Let me tell you one thing… IF you are one of the DC Comics faithful (comics or at least animated) and you like the darker and more serious approach to these films DC and WB have done for the last few years and even liked Man of Steel and more importantly Watchmen… you will love almost everything about this film. If you check only one of these boxes… or none… this kind of is not for you.
18 months after the black zero event destroyed a large chunk of downtown, where Bruce Wayne (Ben Affleck) witnessed how General Zod took down his Wayne Financial building with two giant blasts of heat vision, Batman is a man on a crusade… not only against crime, but against Superman. He believes that a man that powerful, even if his intentions are good now, is a way too big of a threat for all of humanity.
On the other side of the bay, which separates sister cities Gotham and Metropolis from each other, Clark Kent (Henry Cavill) is settling into his life with Lois (Amy Adams). The red caped hero has to get her out of trouble more often than he would like, because the pulitzer price winning reporter is way more risk taking, since she has a boyfriend who can track her all over the world by listening to her heartbeat. Meanwhile, genius/whackjob Lex Luthor (played with lunatic perfection by Jesse Eisenberg) orchestrates behind the scenes, to bring both heroes into conflict, to make way for his own plans.
That’s about what I am willing to spoil about the movies story, because even when you think you know the basic outline from the trailers, there is still a lot to discover that I did not see coming (one reveal/surprise cameo came as such a shock to me that I had to jump off my seat for a second and threw my hands up in surprise).
Men Are Still Good
The cast is great in this, especially Affleck, as a much (MUCH!) darker and violent Batman, and Jesse Eisenberg as Lex Luthor. Both characters are different from what we are used to, especially in the movies, with Batman taking most of his cues from Miller’s Dark Knight Returns and Luthor being much more manic and crazy than in even most of the comics. Both approaches work though, especially a more crazed Luthor was needed to liven things up a little, but be prepared to hate Batman for quite a chunk of the movie, as this version is the bad guy in this conflict. It is also NOT a Batman film as much as it is a Superman, or DC heroes film, so take that for what you will. Batman still features prominently, of course, but it is all much more focused on Superman. All returning players form Man of Steel, Adam’s Lois, Fishburne’s Perry White and Diane Lane’s Martha Kent are even better than in the first film and get a lot more space that I would have guessed, in a movie that a lot of people feared would be overcrowded. Henry Cavill’s Superman is good again, but a tiny bit wooden in some emotional scenes. His Clark Kent works as great as he did in Man of Steel though. Overall, he is still “my Superman” and I really liked him. The only character that I felt could have used a little more screen time was Jeremy Irons’ Alfred, who is a cool character anchored by a good performance, but we see too little of him. And let me just say… Wonder Woman Gal Gadot… holy moley… even people who won’t love the movie will walk away excited about her solo film in 2017. She only has a few lines and scenes, but they are pivotal and amazing. Also: don’t worry about the old “this movie might be too crowded” rumors. It is not. It has less main characters than the last 4 Marvel movies.
Visually this movie brings out everything I love about Zack Snyder. It looks just like a real life superhero comics book in a way that none other director’s films can and I loved every stylised bit of it. Flashbacks, slow motion and images ripped 1 to 1 out of comics like Dark Knight Returns are the norm here and almost every frame would make a great wallpaper. Batman’s introduction for example, looks like a scene out of a horror film, not a superhero one. The action is breath taking, and even the more CGI heavy scenes really work as well as the ones that are more practical. The big showdown the film is named after is done in a smart way and is actually really heart breaking, even if the conclusion to it is somewhat quick.
The bell is rung…
The only real problem I saw is the ebb and flow of the first hour of the movie, which has a weird pacing. I did not mind that, since I love these characters and enjoy slow story time with them, but it could be a slow start for most people. Another problem for this is that it really is not made for the “normies”. The way they handle the “dawn of justice” part, which leads into Justice League, is great and made me gasp and jump with glee, but it will have most non DC fans scratching their head. So again… like I said at the beginning… some people will definitely enjoy this more than others. For example while a lot of Marvel movies do a pretty good balancing act between making a movie based on these comics, but also very mainstream, this is not that. The film is also very, very dark. More than even Nolan’s Dark Knight Trilogy.
This is not popcorn friendly, shut your brain off and have fun- entertainment, but a hardcore DC film, made by a hardcore DC fan, so I am not sure how it plays for people who aren’t that. This is literally a DC Comic come to life and for a lot of people it will be a somewhat weird watch, since it also plays more to the rules of comics than the rules of movies. It is not a great film (well, to me it is), like Dark Knight, which manages to tip toe the line between hardcore comics and a movie that plays well for everyone, but a very different experience, aimed at a much smaller group. I salute DC and Warner Bros. for doing this, since it really is the most comic booky movie DC has ever done, but it might not do as well as it could have, if it had been made with a more mainstream approach. I as a hardcore DC fan love that, of course and hope that they will continue in this direction with Suicide Squad in August and Wonder Woman plus Justice League in 2017, which were set up great by BvS.
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