Batman v. Superman Entertains As It Disappoints

Cole Mier, Staff Writer

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Batman and Superman are re-imagined in Zach Snyder's newest film.

Batman and Superman are re-imagined in Zach Snyder’s newest film.

Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice is a mess. Just look at the title for further evidence – it sounds like the world’s most nerdy Supreme Court case. Yet, in the same way that some people follow ambulances for entertainment, I found myself having immense fun at this hot mess of a movie. Directed by Zach Snyder, the man behind 300, Watchmen, and Man of Steel, Batman v. Superman stars Ben Affleck as Batman and Henry Cavil as Superman. The film also features a host of other underutilized actors like Jesse Eisenberg as a young Lex Luthor, Amy Adams as Lois Lane, and Jeremy Irons as Alfred the butler. The plot of the film is so nonsensical that I have difficulty describing it. Essentially, Batman is angry at Superman for the destruction that occurred in the grand finale of Man of Steel, and he strives to take out Superman. A whole host of other things happen in the film, but to describe each one bit by bit would be a laborious task. Instead, I will break this review down into three parts: Batman, Superman, and Dawn of Justice.

First off, the Caped Crusader, Batman, is truly the only saving grace this movie possesses. Ben Affleck’s performance as an angry, vengeful, older Bruce Wayne has many fans, myself included, proclaiming him to be the best on screen Batman. An opening scene where the audience sees the ending Man of Steel fight between Zod and Superman from Bruce Wayne’s perspective is an electric way to kick off the movie. It makes his motivations for wanting to fight Superman clear and allows for all scenes he is present in to feel natural. Additionally, a fight near the end of the film where Batman takes on a gang of thugs is very entertaining, although brutally violent. This same description can be said about the fight between Batman and Superman. Although short, and in the end completely pointless, seeing these two behemoths clash on screen will make a massive smile appear on any fan’s face. Sadly, Batman alone cannot make this film work.

Batman shares top billing with Superman, and the character of Superman is an utter failure. Played by the incredibly uncharismatic Henry Cavil, Superman is a one-dimensional man with no clear motivations, goals, or development. This is not the fault of the actor or the comic book property; the filmmakers give Cavil no scenes to flesh out Superman. Instead of being a tortured man from a dead planet who just wants to do the right thing, Superman is an uncaring messiah figure. Many moments of this film could have been cut to make room for Superman, especially the first hour where the movie rapidly switches from Africa to India, from factories to bathrooms, with the editing skills of a chimpanzee. The film commits the crime of not staying true to its title of Batman v. Superman, and instead focusing on shoehorning in ties to potential future films in the franchise.

Instead of sticking to the simple and crowd-pleasing story that was advertised by the title, the film meanders to random dream sequences of massive bats, aliens in a desert, a time traveling visitor, and a dictator like Superman. An addition in the third act of Wonder Woman is brief and unexplained. Crammed in and random cameos from other heroes completely halt all progress that was made in the more exciting sequences. Perhaps the tone is Batman v. Superman’s largest flaw. By filming in dark and muted colors and lacking any humor, Batman v. Superman sets out to be a dark and disturbing drama, directly contrasting with the absurdity of the movie’s third act.

With all that said, I still tentatively recommend this movie to readers, with the caveat of they must keep an open mind. Despite its numerous flaws, one half of the leading duo is tremendous, the action is brilliantly done, and the mere sight of seeing these century-old characters on the big screen together is breathtaking. In the end, over ambition is Batman v. Superman’s downfall. It strived to be a Superman sequel, fight film, and Justice League set up, yet it failed on all three fronts. But in a similar manner to when one drives by a car wreck and cannot look away, my eyes were glued to the screen throughout the entire runtime of the film.

 

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