“The greatest gladiator match in the history of the world. God versus man. Day versus night! Son of Krypton versus Bat of Gotham!” – Lex Luthor
Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice…A great movie? Or a horrible movie? Well, neither.
I went into this particular movie excited, who doesn’t want to see two of the greatest superheroes battle on the big screen!? It was built up to be one of the greatest comic book movie adaptions of all time, instead many viewers (myself included) sat there when the lights came on and the credits rolled with a sense of disappointment.
Don’t get me wrong the movie wasn’t bad, it just wasn’t great either. I expected to walk away from this epic brawl dying to see more and eagerly awaiting the arrival of the Justice League movies. However, I just feel ‘Meh’ about them now. Let me talk about why I feel this way, oh MAJOR SPOILERS AHEAD so don’t read on if you still haven’t seen this movie yet.
Let’s talk about the main cast first.
Superman/Clark Kent (Henry Cavill) – Henry Cavill’s portrayal of Superman is great, I loved him in Man of Steel and looked forward to watching him act again. Cavil’s Superman costume hasn’t changed since ‘Man of Steel’ which is great because the costume looks fantastic. However, I feel like his character was overshadowed by Batman throughout this movie, maybe it comes down to the fact that these days people favour Batman over Superman or the fact that Ben Affleck’s Batman performance was awesome (more on that later). During the movie I felt that Superman’s dialogue could have been better but Cavill’s facial expressions save the day, especially the congressional hearing which ended in a flames leaving Cavill’s Superman standing amongst the dead. During that particular scene you could really see the pain on Superman’s face and that alone sold Cavill’s performance for me. I will also discuss Superman’s ending later in the review (Grrr). Overall Cavill’s Superman performance is great, even though his dialogue isn’t great, he does well with what he was given.
Batman/Bruce Wayne (Ben Affleck) – So what can I say about Ben Affleck’s Batman…HE IS RUTHLESS! Ben has done a great job of portraying the dark knight, so good that his Batman is now my favourite. First of all, he is both a great Batman and Bruce Wayne, I genuinely believed his performance as both. Ben’s Batman is also terrifying, which I think is appropriate because Batman is supposed to project fear. One particular moment which showed this was the first time we see him when a police officer attempts to shoot Batman with a shotgun but he scrambles around the ceiling (avoiding the bullets) and out through a gap. My jaw hit the ground because it was exhilarating, scary and awesome all in one. The costume is amazing, taking influence from the famous Frank Miller comic series ‘The Dark Knight Returns’. The voice is no longer distorted naturally, it is now changed with a voice changing device created by Alfred. I prefer this method compared to Christian Bale’s gargling marbles voice which I think sounds silly (no offence Bale you’re still a good Batman!) but also shows that this is happening in todays times, using the technology that we have available. Batman’s fighting choreography is absolutely perfect! Part of me wants to believe that the fight choreographers had played Rocksteady’s Batman game series and thought “B-I-N-G-O”, the fighting looks fluent and Batman uses his gadgets effectively while fighting, what else can I say…it’s just perfect! Overall Ben’s performance is the best in this movie, absolutely astounding!
Wonder Woman/ Diana Prince (Gal Gadot) – Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman surprised me, mainly because we saw very little of her in the trailers so i hadn’t expected much from her. However, in the movie she does appear often through different ways, such as at Luthor’s party (which was seen in the trailer) and the final fight at the end appearing with Superman & Batman to form ‘The Trinity’ to confront Doomsday. I was worried how they would portray her in battle but during her fight with Doomsday she is BADASS, especially when Doomsday knocks her down and she stands back up…she smirks, as to acknowledge that she loves battle. Her costume is great, I am glad they didn’t go with the traditional ‘American Flag’ colour scheme and instead went with a more fearsome looking battle armour. She is shown to be more of a fighter in this movie, and not just something nice to look at which is usual for her character. Her shield and sword are also great, but her ‘Lasso of Truth’ is what catches your eye when she uses it against Doomsday. Overall I really like Gadot’s portrayal of Wonder Woman, it will be interesting how she performs in her own solo movie in 2017.
Lex Luthor (Jessie Eisenberg) – Jessie Eisenberg’s Lex Luthor…WHY?! WHY?! WHY?! Ok, let me try that again…I think they should’ve cast Bryan Cranston, so i was disappointed from the beginning and didn’t have much faith in him. I have noticed over the years Jessie doesn’t portray characters, he portrays himself with said character’s name. I think there are two reasons that ruins his performance, the first being that HE HAS NO MOTIVATION TO HATE SUPERMAN. Seriously?! I don’t buy the whole ‘he’s an alien! I don’t trust him!’ story, at least when Batman says it we believe him because he watched as Superman, accidentally, killed a lot of his workers. If he does have motivation, it hasn’t been shown and you necessarily shouldn’t have to know the back story before entering the cinema. I just feel like they could have written a better reason as to why Lex hates Superman so much that he wants to destroy him. The second reason is that he tries too much to be a ‘Joker’ style villain, especially in the scene at his party when he appears to be rambling to himself or at the end chanting those embarrassing ding, ding, ding noises. Although maybe they were trying to hint at a “is he, isn’t he?’ kind of idea. However, he does have moments of brilliance, such as on top of his tower throwing pictures (laughing while he does this) of Superman’s mother tied up and gagged at Superman while he watches Superman fall to his knees. I truly felt like he was an adequate villain for this movie during this scene but it soon fades. Overall his character is disappointing, although I’m willing to give him the benefit of the doubt depending on later films. I still believe that Bryan Cranston would have been thee perfect choice…
Lois Lane (Amy Adams) – Amy Adams’ Lois Lane is average, I felt that she is only in the movie as a plot device or as the ‘damsel in distress’ for Superman. I can only remember three moments in the movie that involves her character, the first being her first scene where Superman saves her from armed men, the second scene is when she confronts Lex Luthor on top of his tower and Lex throws her from the tower causing Superman to come back and, yet again, save her. The third scene involves her retrieving the kryptonite tipped spear, the same spear which she for some reason throws away in a flooded building, the building begins to collapse causing Superman to, wait for it…save her yet again. See the pattern? Overall her performance and character are average. I feel like she was only in it because she has always been associated with Superman and it would feel wrong to leave her out even though she doesn’t add much to the film. The way she acts at the end of the film however when she finds the engagement ring evokes real emotion and makes you think that Superman isn’t just a hero, he’s someone’s parter, son, friend.
Alfred J. Pennyworth (Jeremy Irons) – I love Jeremy Irons’ Alfred! It is such a refreshing version of the character, he’s his butler, technician and best friend all in one! I personally think that one of the reasons I love the character is down to Jeremy Irons’ voice; gives me chills! Also in a movie that is dark and gritty it is great to see that they still include humour through Alfred by having him direct quips and jibes at Batman. It’s also good to see Alfred being involved with creating Batman’s equipment and repairing them between missions for him, like at the beginning of the movie when he is checking his voice changing device. It’s also fun to see Alfred actively helping Batman with missions, supplying intel and of course one of my favourite parts, Alfred controlling the Bat-wing! Overall I completely love this version of Alfred, very entertaining and a breath of fresh air for the character, Bravo Mr Irons *Tips Hat*.
Now, lets talk about the story, obviously I can’t mention every part of the story but I will mention the main parts. In my opinion the story is probably the weakest part of the movie in whole. The movie’s opening sequence showing the destruction of Metropolis from Batman’s point of view is great, it perfectly ties itself together with its predecessor ‘Man of Steel’. I was on the edge of my seat watching Batman race through the streets dodging the destruction caused inadvertently by Superman, and that moment when Bruce Wayne watches his company building crumble was emotional. You could really see the hate in Bruce’s eyes for Superman while he stands among the rubble, clutching a little girl who had just lost her parents in that building.
However, from there on it was less than impressive, apart from the ‘Nightmare sequences’ which is interesting and also foreshadowing an ‘Injustice’ story in the future (where Superman becomes evil). The nightmare sequence is also foreshadowing the arrival of Darkseid (DC’s equivalent of Thanos), which is clear by the giant Omega symbol stamped into the earth’s surface (Darkseid’s symbol) and the arrival of Parademons (Darkseid’s soldiers from the planet Apokolips). During this dream sequence they introduce, my favourite Superhero, The Flash! Although his introduction feels a tad out of place I still love it because I got to see my favourite superhero on the big screen and my jaw dropped when I saw him. He seemed to be using the speed force to create a ‘time boom’ (similar to a sonic boom, but using time travel) to some how send this message to Batman, which is:
Bruce, Bruce! Lois! Lois Lane, she is the key, am i too soon? I’m too soon! You were right about him, you always have been right about him! Fear him! Find us Bruce! You have to find us!
The Flash and his message is used solely to set up Batman finding the other members of the Justice League yet again teasing at a possible ‘Injustice’ movie which I would love to see!..Please? Although the scene is widely known now as the “Nightmare sequence” it may also be an alternate memory (confusing I know), but its possible through the introduction of The Flash. The concept is taken straight from the Flashpoint story arc or ‘the Flashpoint Paradox’ animated movie (which I highly recommend you watch). In that story arc the Flash accidentally changes the past and alters the future, which causes a war-plagued apocalypse. The DCEU could utilise this to possible reboot the entire DCEU in the future, bringing in new era of movies and cast members (but this could be ages away).
After the party scene where Bruce attempts to steal information from Luthor’s computer system we are shown that Wonder Woman then stole that stolen information from Bruce (a lot of theft going on). Although once Wonder Woman realises that she can’t decrypt the information she returns it to Bruce, who deciphers the code and discovers that Luthor has been documenting metahumans or as we know them ‘Superheroes’. We see a picture of Wonder Woman in her armour from the past (teasing her solo movie in 2017), a clip of The Flash (yay) using his speed to stop a robbery, a clip of Aquaman starring at a camera under the sea and then using his trident to attack the camera and finally a clip of Cyborg coming to life (showing his origin). All of this setting up the characters of the Justice League but at the same time seeming a bit out of place within the storyline.
Once the main event began thats when I was on the edge of my seat, I really liked how they showed Batman’s preparation for the fight by creating kryptonite weapons. However, I would have liked to see him build his mechanical Bat-suit. The fight itself was great, well paced, plenty of fist fighting and it showed both Batman’s impeccable tactical plans and Superman’s willpower to keep going. The fight is almost perfect, it ends with Batman having Superman at his mercy, his foot upon his throat, he slightly cuts Superman’s cheek to show that he does indeed ‘Bleed’ and after that he is ready to thrust his kryptonite spear through Superman’s chest. Superman’s last words were of his Mother’s name, Martha, which just so happens to be Batman’s mothers name, which causes Batman to start frantically asking how he knows that name. Lois arrives, conveniently in time, to clarify that the name Martha is Superman’s mother’s. After that Batman and Superman are allies, which I thought was a bit unrealistic.
Next came probably my favourite scene in the entire movie, Batman absolutely destroying armed guards holding Martha Kent hostage. It begins with Alfred taking control of the Bat-wing and launching Batman into the building the floor below all the guards. Then, all hell breaks loose. The entire combat scene was as if it was taken from Rocksteady’s Batman game series, the choreography of the fight was realistic and brutal, which is everything I wanted to see in a good Batman fight sequence. Bravo Mr Affleck, bravo. At the end of that sequence Batman saves Martha and then, this happens… Why oh why?
DOOMSDAY WAS A MISTAKE. In my opinion you can’t do Doomsday in the second movie of the DCEU, there is just no tension or terror because we all knew Superman would come back. The end of the movie is directly pulled from the comic series “The Death of Superman”, now let me get this straight, there is no problem involving Doomsday in the franchise, but not this early.
In an ideal world Superman would have followed this sequence:
Man of Steel – The first movie was good, the story made sense. It gave a good introduction to Superman himself, shown the destruction of Krypton, Superman’s upbringing and then his ascension to greatness as the Super hero we know him as today.
Man of Tomorrow – The second movie would have focused more on the development and relationship between Superman & Lex Luthor. Maybe even involving another villain such as Bizzario or maybe Brainiac? Also it would have shown more of Superman’s daily life and his struggle of balancing his work life and superhero life.
Last Son of Krypton – The final chapter would have gave Doomsday the proper introduction and shown his creation in detail. Then directly use “The Death of Superman” story arc and when Superman is killed by Doomsday (just like in Batman V Superman) there is a far greater emotional connection between the audience and Superman, evoking shock and genuine heart ache when Superman gives his own life for the safety of mankind.
I can see why they had to kill Superman because you can’t bring Doomsday into the movie and not have him kill Superman, now Superman isn’t dead, just temporarily. At the end of the movie during the funeral and the close up of Superman’s coffin you can see the dirt rise up. This is exactly like in “The Death of Superman” comic, right down to the dirt rising, so Superman is defiantly not dead. Although for those who haven’t read the comics or delved into the backstory too much, this isn’t clear. But let’s face it, you can’t do Justice League without Superman!
Finally I’m going to discuss the cinematography. The movie looks beautiful, every scene looks perfect. The quality of the footage is great, every scene looks crisp and as if we were watching this tale take place right before our eyes. The transitions between scenes is fluent and smooth which could have been difficult in fight scenes since they are fast paced and cut between different shots very quickly, however, Zack has done a great job (obviously from his past experience with ‘Man of Steel’ which had very fast fight scenes). The special effects are fantastic, especially when they are used flawlessly, just like in thee fight scene between Batman & Superman. I can’t fault the cinematography, as it worked really really well in this movie.
Overall, I’m still torn. I really want to say that I love this movie but I can’t, the movie just under performed in my opinion. Maybe a touch of over hyping caused this movie’s downfall? The budget for the movie was $250 million and so far it has made roughly $700 million so I feel that WB will be relatively happy with its performance. All I can say is that you should defiantly go see this movie, don’t let critics put you off from going to see this movie because it is a good movie, but just not a great one if you are looking for a great plot line.
Cast Performance: 7/10
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