FILM REVIEW: BATMAN VS SUPERMAN: DAWN OF JUSTICE

The eagerly anticipated Batman vs Superman: Dawn of Justice is directed by Zack Snyder (following on from his turn directing 2013’s Man of Steel) and Henry Cavill returns as Superman/Clark Kent, as does Amy Adams as Lois Lane, Diane Lane as Martha Kent and Laurence Fishburne as Perry White.

Jesse Eisenberg (Zombieland; the social network) takes on the important character of Lex Luthor, relative newcomer Gal Godot from Israel is our new Wonder Woman, and perhaps most importantly, Ben Affleck takes up the cowl and the cape as the latest incarnation of The Caped Crusader, Batman.

DC Comics have taken a while to respond to MARVEL and their success in creating The Avengers franchise. Beginning with Man of Steel three years ago, and now Batman vs Superman, we are now seeing the beginning of DC Comics’ Justice League movie-verse. This new film is indeed a sequel to Man of Steel, with the bulk of the plot coming from Frank Miller’s Batman comic The Dark Knight Returns. There has been much conjecture as to whether or not Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight Trilogy (starring Christian Bale) is also forming part of the long-term plot in the DC Movie-verse – arguments can be made either way as to that point (I personally think they don’t, especially after watching this new movie).

The film starts with a flashback to the Birth of the Batman, and the re-telling of the murder of Thomas and Martha Wayne, and then the next scene is a re-telling of the Battle between Superman and General Zod from Man of Steel, but this time from Bruce Wayne’s perspective. I thought that was rather awesome, and seeing this battle from a ‘mortal’s perspective’ was certainly riveting. The rest of the first act is a slow build up, with various threads of both Batman’s and Superman’s journeys being shown. The second act is the escalation of Lex Luthor’s plan, and ends with Batman declaring he needs to fight Superman. The final act sees Lex Luthor unleash Doomsday onto Metropolis, and (as shown in the trailers) the coming together of The Big 3 to save mankind.

Henry Cavill again makes a very decent Superman, following on from Man of Steel. The supporting characters had minor roles in this film – even Amy Adams’ Lois Lane didn’t have that much screen time (I’m still not sold on a redheaded Lois either…). Of those supporting characters, I loved Jeremy Irons’ portrayal of Bruce Wayne’s loyal butler Alfred – in this film he’s a tech-guru with a sharp tongue, and for such a small role, Irons totally steals the show when he’s on screen. To be honest, Jesse Einsenberg’s Lex Luthor just doesn’t quite work. He seems too young for the role (but maybe he’s going to be in future Justice League films, and thus this is a set-up role), and plays Lex as a crazy tech genius (like an insane Mark Zuckerberg). Einsenberg’s portrayal lacks the necessary menace and control required by the character (as so brilliantly shown in the past by Gene Hackman). Israeli Gal Godot actually makes an excellent Diana Prince/Wonder Woman. My big complaint about the role was that the character had limited screen time – she could have been used a bit more.

But I’m sure what everyone wants to know is: What was Ben Affleck like? There were so many hard-core BatFans screaming from the outset of Ben Affleck’s casting as The Dark Knight that he was totally the wrong man for the role. That he should be sacked. That this actor or that actor should be Batman instead. So here’s my verdict: Affleck is no Christian Bale (And I consider Bale’s portrayal of Batman the best ever). How could he be? However, Affleck doesn’t suck. Far from it. In fact, he’s actually damned good, particularly as Bruce Wayne. Batfleck (as he’s been dubbed) is a different version of Batman than Bale’s version, but this version is the one that’s required for the new Justice League movie-verse. Bruce/Batman in this film is older, wiser, angrier – and a little slower. And Ben Affleck puts him on the screen extremely well. It’s Affleck’s film. So don’t judge before you see him.

This film has been made with a very serious and dark overtone. There are very few laughs – I think the audience laughed four times throughout the whole movie. Although rated M, and unlike MARVEL’s Avengers films or the X-Men films from 20th Century Fox, this film may be boring to your 7~13 year olds, particularly in the first half with the slow build-up.

It’s a great film, and DC have set the tone for their movie-verse – dark, serious and complex. There were also plenty of Easter eggs in this film, no doubt setting up for payoffs in future films (some were obvious; some were bizarre! I hope they all make sense later!).

Well worth your entertainment dollar, whether you’re a hard-core fan or not. After all, everyone on the planet knows Supes, Batsy and WW!

4.5 stars

 

Reviewed by David Emms