Saturday, March 26, 2016

Review: Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice

Image courtesy of Warner Bros.
After a combined total of 13 individual movies between them, it was inevitable that Batman and Superman would eventually share screen time together. And during much of Zack Snyder's "Dawn of Justice," they spend that time together pulverizing one another - that is, when they're not off brooding in their own corners.

Snyder's picture tries to incorporate the dark, thematically rich style of Christopher Nolan's "Batman" movies, two of which are - for my money - among the best comic book movies ever made, while also continuing to depict Clark Kent and Lois Lane's story in as sunny a manner as possible. The combination mostly doesn't work, but it's far from the only thing in this overstuffed movie that fails to hit the target.

Despite what you may have heard, "Batman v Superman" isn't a colossal bust. It has its share of problems, but it's competent enough in various departments to make it more of an expensive misfire with elements of interest than a complete flop. Its greatest surprise is, perhaps, that Ben Affleck makes a pretty decent Batman, while Gal Gadot certainly makes the case for a feature length Wonder Woman story. There's also some decent supporting work here from Laurence Fishburne as Kent's editor at the paper, Holly Hunter as a senator and Jeremy Irons as the new Alfred.

However, not to be outdone by Marvel, DC Comics gets its own share of world building here and, much like its Marvel counterparts, it's never less than awkward. I think you know what I'm talking about here - those scenes when random characters not central to the action of the story pop up for the mere purpose of acting as advertising for future movies (in this case, The Flash, Aquaman and the Justice League). Imagine if you were listening to a new album by a band you liked and, halfway through a song, you get an infomercial on the band's next album. Annoying, right?

But that's far from all that ails "Batman v Superman." It's to be expected in films such as these that some shit's going to get blown up real good but, dear God, the finale in which Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman battle some sort of intergalactic, electrically fed creature seemingly goes on forever. And the scene in which Batman and Superman - both of whom believe each other to be vigilantes who are endangering the public - fight also goes on interminably. Frankly, I've seen better throw-downs between guys in Spandex in Times Square.

Snyder and company also appear to have difficulty believing that audiences can figure things out for themselves. For example, there's a plot twist, of sorts, involving a woman who may be of importance to both of the lead superheroes. The repetition of her name to drive home the connection becomes so overdone that, by the end, I was convinced it could be used for a good drinking game.

And my last major quibble with the picture is what poor Jesse Eisenberg, a very good actor by the way, is forced to endure in his performance as Lex Luthor, who comes off as that guy hopped up on too much cocaine who corners you at a party and won't shut the hell up. I'd imagine the character was scripted as such, but good heavens.

There are some effective moments to be found in "Dawn of Justice." An early scene in the film depicts that much overused flashback of young Bruce Wayne witnessing his parents getting gunned down, but Snyder gets points for Wayne's stylish fall in a hole filled with bats and the method by which he is lifted out of said hole. A sequence during which Kent hikes a snowy mountain and hallucinates Kevin Costner's character from "Man of Steel" is also pretty effective.

But all in all, "Batman v Superman" has entirely too much going on during its nearly punishing length and a fair amount of it is exposition and filler. It's the type of film that aims to please its built-in audience and not many more beyond that.

No comments:

Post a Comment