The recent blockbuster smash Batman vs Superman: Dawn of Justice has been torn to shreds by many reviewers, so here I am to give the opinion (my opinion) of a movie and comic book fan. Although underwhelming compared to what could have been, the movie was not completely dire, and undeserving of its current rating on sites like rotten tomatoes, where the score stands around 31%. So here’s to a slightly different look, a spotlight on the positives, as there were some and thus there is much to be excited about for the future of DC in the movieverse. The following review is entirely my opinion on things, feel free to interject, refute and offer your own thoughts. I have also attempted to keep this review spoiler free, so read on without fear of ruining the film for yourself.
The movie’s layout made it appear to be split in two, with the first half centring mostly on Bruce Wayne and his attempts to discover Lex Luther’s evil machinations. This part of the movie was good, enjoyable to watch, giving a good introduction to Affleck’s Batman and giving some story to the whole movie, without going over the top on mad action scenes. This also saw the introduction of Gal Gadot, and set up her later appearance as Wonder Woman. The last hour was when the madness began, and the movie slipped into a CGI fest reminiscent of Man of Steel, creating excessive destruction for the shits and giggles of doing so, repeating similar scenes and generally lacking an inventive conclusion to what promised to be a good movie. However, within there was good to draw from amongst the carnage.
Affleck’s Batman was fabulous to see; clearly the intent was to give the audience this hardened and grizzled Bruce Wayne, now older and tired due to the amount of time he has spent fighting crime. Aesthetically this batman was very cool, the suit looked great and it was clear Affleck worked hard to get in shape (the guy was fucking HUGE!!!). Obvious comparisons to the Batman created by Nolan and brought to life by Christian Bale in the most recent reincarnation of Batman can be made, but I refrain from doing so for some reasons. The two Batmen are very different; they have different characters, with Affleck’s Batman being most similar to the Batman seen in Dark Knight Rises: the older and scarred Bruce Wayne. But the movies give both Batmen different problems and although both attempt to portray a realistic Batman, there is clearly an element of the unbelievable with the involvement of Superman and other such characters and events, which Nolan was careful to avoid in his adaption. Bale’s Batman is written very differently too as he encompasses the journey of Batman, where as Affleck’s is centred very much on this end stage in Batman’s career. Affleck’s appearance in the movie contributes to the character, with slightly greying hair and a worn out look in his eyes, he approaches problems with two options, either as Bruce Wayne or “The Bat”. There is a very definite distinction between the two, again suggesting perhaps that time has taken its toll and it has become necessary for Bruce to see the Batman identity in this way so as to avoid overlap with his life outside of crime and fighting. Ben Affleck’s Batman is a fresh take on the character and it gives me much hope and excitement about potential future films that may be made involving him.
Along with Affleck’s strong performance was the incredible job done by Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman. The wait for a female superhero finally over, and boy, did Gadot knock this out of the park. Her scenes with Wayne were very interesting and the two actors seemed to connect and gave a very convincing performance that made the majority of the movie a pleasure to watch. Without wishing to give too much away, of course, but Gal Gadot’s performance was magical. She suited the character down to the ground, emitting power with her mere presence in scenes and again, as with Batman, the costume design was on point giving this Amazonian warrior complete dominance on the screen, and it is only a shame that she features relatively little overall. Gadot’s heroin is a relief from the male dominance held on the super hero world and this in particular (though obviously the pure badassness of the character contributes significantly also) makes this another super hero to be extremely excited for the upcoming movie and the future involvement of Wonder Woman in DC’s cinematic unverse.
The main fault with the movie lies with the involvement of Superman (despite him being a title character…hear me out just one sec), not to any particular fault of Henry Cavill, who played Clark Kent and the Kryptonian hero well. As with Man of Steel (a movie I dislike for its lack of story and attempts to cover this up with repetitive and unnecessary CGI destruction), there seems to be the idea that a Superman movie must involve massively excessive CGI effects, resulting in giant slug fests that level cities and destroy buildings without a concern for consequence. What made the Batman-Wonder Woman first half of the movie good was that there was story, with not pure madness and carnage from the outset; both characters act detective outside of their super hero guise and this gives time to digest and appreciate the action sequences when they come along. You would have thought that Clark Kent, an investigative journalist, would have the potential to do something similar, instead he spends most of his time on trivial tasks that leave the character without depth and he seems out of place in the movie as both other protagonists develop the plot towards its conclusion, where as Superman just breaks things.
Some quick side-notes: The soundtrack for this movie was great, Wonder Woman’s music was sublime, completely fitting the character and adding to the epic shadow her formidable presence already casts.
The actual showdown between Batman and Superman is done very well, not excessively destructive and very interesting to see how the characters react to the presence of one another (one of the many things that drives Bruce Wayne to the edge is this Super Human presence).
And finally I would say the movie was, for the most part, Aesthetically pleasing, well shot, and for this Zach Snyder deserves credit (amongst many others).
In conclusion I would say that this movie is worth a watch if you are a fan of the genre, perhaps even if not. It provides a platform for the future of DC’s movies and introduces some very interesting characters. Once again it feels, as with Man of Steel, that overuse of CGI ruined what could have been a solid film, along with some dubious decisions by characters and a fairly ludicrous (even for a comic book movie…IKR?!) conclusion. 5.6/10