Film review: BATMAN VS SUPERMAN: DAWN OF JUSTICE, from ‘Built For Speed’

With its cosmic collision of (arguably) popular culture’s biggest superheroes Batman vs Superman: Dawn of Justice was supposed to be the ultimate nerdgasm, Star Wars notwithstanding. The internet frenzy preceding Dawn of Justice has been as intense as that leading up to The Force Awakens. The result, however, is an oddly uninvolving movie that succeeds neither as a Batman nor a Superman film.

Confusingly, Dawn of Justice begins as a strangely fragmented origin story rehashing the well-known Batman childhood mythology. Moving to the present day, the film spends an inordinate amount of time jumping back and forth between a troubled Bruce Wayne (Ben Affleck) and Clark Kent (Henry Cavill) before introducing its central plot point in which sneaky corporate mogul Lex Luther (Jesse Eisenberg) lures Batman and Superman into battle with one another. Convoluted and often hard to follow the film’s first half is a bit of a snooze.

The film takes a brief interesting turn when the Metropolis public and commentariat begin to question the philosophical and political implications of a demi-god alien like Superman living among them. There’s even a cameo from astrophysicist Neil De Grasse Tyson as he discusses the implications for the human species of knowing we are inferior to beings like the caped Kryptonian.

This brief moment of intellectual stimulation dispensed with, the film predictably descends into the CGI action movie maelstrom with outrageously over-the-top special effects, enormous deafening explosions and tediously familiar city-destroying superhero fights. The second half of this film is mostly empty spectacle that fails to excite or engages us emotionally. Director Zack Snyder and cinematographer Larry Fong attempt to infuse the film with a brooding atmosphere through dark noirish visuals but it just ends up looking grey and murky.

Affleck makes a passable Batman but fails to stamp his authority on the role. It almost seems that he’s angling for the James Bond gig as he spends a lot of time swanning around gala events in a sharp suit, sipping champagne and looking suave. Henry Cavill is merely stoic and stone-faced as Superman and is hampered by the fact that the downbeat script never lets him act heroically. The attempt to give his character some emotional resonance through his relationship with Lois Lane (Amy Adams) is completely lost in the noise and clutter; when Amy Adams fails to make an impression in a film there’s a serious problem. One of the film’s biggest miscalculations is casting Jesse Eisenberg as Lex Luther, he seems completely unsuited to the role and his brittle awkward performance has neither humour nor menace.  Gal Gadot briefly enlivens proceedings with a vibrant turn as none other than Wonder Woman and her entry into the DC world gives the Dawn of Justice franchise some hope.

Much internet speculation had been expended on big revelations in this film but it’s unlikely that that any of these will thrill fans, in fact one supposedly revelatory scene will no doubt be the subject of internet and Twittersphere ridicule.

Many fans have reacted to Batman vs Superman: Dawn of Justice like embittered, bunny-boiling spurned lovers such is their sense of betrayal at what this film has done with their favourite super heroes. This film is not, however, the abomination some have suggested but for DC Comics fans desperately hoping for an epochal movie event this is a thudding disappointment.

Nick’s rating: **1/2.

Genre: Action/ super hero.

Classification: M.

Director(s): Zack Snyder.

Release date: 24th March 2016.

Running time: 151 mins.

Reviewer: Nick Gardener can be heard on “Built For Speed” every Friday night from 8-10pm right here on 88.3 Southern FM.  Nick can also be heard on “The Good, The Bad, The Ugly Film Show” podcast.


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