When I first heard that Warner Bros. was planning a series of films based on the classic DC Comics characters akin to what Marvel has successfully done, I was intrigued with the possibilities. With the release of Batman Vs Superman: Dawn of Justice, we get the first look into that universe and I have to say it is one that has more than a few stumbles.
The film follows Superman (Henry Cavill), as he deals with a plot that is set to discredit him and make the people of the world fearful of him and his abilities.
One person affected by this is Bruce Wayne (Ben Affleck), who has seen firsthand the devastation that Superman is capable of after seeing the city practically destroyed in the events that culminated in “Superman: Man of Steel”.
Wayne has devised a plan for his alter-ego Batman to put a stop to Superman before he can become an even greater threat to the public and despite the urgings of his butler Alfred (Jeremy Irons), Batman continues with his plan.
As if this was not enough for Superman to contend with, neurotic tech giant Lex Luthor (Jesse Eisenberg), has decided to manipulate events into a larger and even more dangerous game as he has set his sights clearly on Superman but would also love to see Batman removed in the process.
One would think that with a premise such as this it would be a non-stop action fest that would thrill fans from start to finish. Sadly this is not the case. The first hour and change of the film plods along with little action and we get a cast, some of whom I believe are badly miscast, plodding along and blandly brooding. The characters are so unlikeable that I found myself not caring for them or their fates and was shocked how a film with so much potential and a reported $250 million budget could be so under-whelming.
The final part of the film is non-stop action but Director Zack Snyder allows his film to become awash in all the Hollywood action film stereotypes. I thought I was watching an over-the-top special effects reel as all of the action unfolded, it was very hard to get overly thrilled about it despite the skill that went into crafting it.
Affleck does a passable job in the role and hopefully as he has more outings he will grow on me, but I just never really embraced him in the part. His Batman acts out of character in many sequences as he jumps to an extreme conclusion without taking the steps in between. Eisenberg is so neurotic and annoying that you just want to slap him. He is so difficult to watch. The biggest issue I have is with Cavill. He is just so bland and uninteresting to me as Superman. Yes, I know it is unfair to compare him to Christopher Reeves, but even Brandon Routh did a more acceptable portrayal of Superman. He just is not very interesting to watch in the role, with his monotone delivery and lack of facial expressions. I want heroes that I can get behind and care about, not one-dimensional characters that do little to generate my interest and sympathy.
The most telling thing for me was for an audience that was so keyed up at the start of the film, they were pretty silent for most of it, save for when a certain character appeared and even at the end of the film, offered only a small round of applause.
The film did try to be epic in scale and it is clear that this is just the opening round of a much larger series, but for now, I could not help but feel disappointed with the result and I would be shocked if the next offerings from Marvel are not considerably better than this film.
3 stars out of 5
Second Review By Chris Daniels
Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice makes the nerd-heart go pitter-patter, but the critic in me shudders a bit.
Zack Snyder directs Henry Cavill and Ben Affleck as they dawn cape and cowl in the universe created for Man of Steel.
To begin, we are treated to a movie tie-in throwback to Man of Steel, followed by yet another retelling of the origins of Bruce Wayne’s motivations: the death of his parents. At first, I felt weary of seeing this tale once more. As a Batman fan, I’ve experienced it many times. However, as the movie unfolded, they tied the goings-on of the film to Batman’s origin in a unique way; I had to grant respect where it was due.
Bruce is distraught after seeing the devastation caused by Superman’s “saving” of our planet. Over the course of a year and a half, his anger builds, and becomes punctuated by an event in the desert during which many innocent civilians are killed by Superman’s involvement.
Batman is not without his own demons; the world still struggles to decide whether he’s a hero or villain. 20 years have passed since he began fighting crime. He now sees Superman as the world’s greatest threat.
Cavill does a great job portraying a conflicted Superman. Affleck matches his performance, creating an excellent Bruce Wayne / Batman. Any doubts from internet naysayers can be laid to rest; Ben delivers with what the director made available.
There were a number plot holes, completely unnecessary and confusion scenes, and Jesse Eisenberg does his usual quirky routine. His interpretation evolved into a more Joker-esque madness than the cold calculation traditionally found in Lex Luthor. If you’ve seen Jesse Eisenberg in another film, then you have seen his Lex Luthor. This was a wrong cast.
Wonder Woman’s appearance would have been better left a secret, rather than put into the trailers. Her involvement was so scant, that the reveal would have been a better aha moment.
The acting is good, but script didn’t allow for enough chemistry to bring out the true passion of the characters, save a couple of distinct moments. The writing didn’t pander to comic and cartoon fans. Snyder created a good film, but not a great one. It’s gritty and realistic, and the type of film fans want to see as live-action, but the aforementioned pock marks besmirched what should have been, one of the greatest films of this decade. It had the ability, but didn’t deliver on its promises.
It was interesting that Snyder felt compelled to ask the audience not to post spoilers on the internet. It saddens me that people need to be told these things, but given the plot twists and outcomes, I can see why the film’s creators were concerned about their work of art being spoiled.
It’s 2.5 hours long, so come prepared; empty your bladder beforehand.
If you’re a fan of DC, comics, or nerd-properties in general, go see it, but don’t expect the film-of-our-time to knock your socks off.
3.5 out of 5 Stars