Last night I attended a screening of Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice; it was good, go see it. Now that I got that out of the way, time for the full review; it’s important to understand that Batman V Superman is nothing like the Marvel Cinematic Universe films (Iron Man, Captain America, Avengers, etc.) and it isn’t supposed to be. Marvel Comics and DC Comics are very different in overall tone and style, I personally adore both but that difference in style is why so many comic fans argue over which one is better. I could go on about the intricacies of comics but there’s not enough time, suffice it to say if you go into this movie expecting something similar to the Avengers you’re going to have a bad time.
Part of the greater concept behind Batman and Superman’s clash not just physically but ideologically is very much a philosophical concept; Batman is a pessimist, a reminder of the grim reality of the world and while he constantly strives to improve things he’s pretty much accepted that he can’t make any genuine change in the world. Superman is an optimist, so caught up in that 1950’s concept of truth and justice that he becomes almost naïve in understanding human beings. It makes sense then that the two characters would be diametrically opposed to one another even without a reason for direct conflict. That’s what this film captures perfectly, the actual physical confrontation between the two is relatively brief but the way the film builds up to that point is done so well that you genuinely care when it happens and about the outcome. One of the biggest risks in making a film that centres itself on a “clash of champions” is that you can end up with a movie that is literally just a two hour fight scene and thankfully that isn’t the case here.
Ben Affleck’s performance as the older, more cynical Bruce Wayne is fantastically done; he’s able to capture a version of the character that so far has only ever been pulled off in the comic and animated depictions of Batman. Affleck brings a certain style and charisma that so far has been lacking from previous live-action adaptations, in fact keeping the Bat separate from the Bruce is something no one’s every really achieved before which is why this performance was so good. On top of that it’s great to finally see a Batman who fights like an actual person, the choreography borrows somewhat from the likes of the Netflix Daredevil series and more typical martial arts action, with Batman fighting two guys at once and actually having difficulty instead of the “Bat vs 10 guys” ridiculousness of The Dark Knight trilogy. A more realistic Bruce and a more realistic Batman was a fantastic idea and it serves the film exceptionally well.
Henry Cavill is markedly improved from Man Of Steel, this time playing a less of a boy scout/meets 80’s action hero and more of a mournful and cautious character confused about the direction he should take. Superman’s opposition to the Batman is crafted perfectly with Superman’s opposition being derived from his view of Batman as little more than a common thug. To Superman, Batman is a violent vigilante who breaks the law to get his own way, conversely Batman is haunted by the idea that Superman could wake up one morning and end humanity in a single motion. The contrast between the two is fantastic and helps build to the titular battle fans so eagerly await.
Rounding out the performance by the two leads is Jesse Eisenberg’s Lex Luthor Jr. Eisenberg’s Luthor is genuinely disturbing, while similar to his portrayal of Mark Zuckerberg in The Social Network, Luthor has a greater depth and he manages to be funny, cringe inducing and genuinely scary all at the same time. It’s this multi-faceted performance that Eisenberg steal the show at various points in the film and is also a great contrast to the classic “evil” cinematic villain, Luthor isn’t the Ersnt Stavro Blofeld archetype of a man sitting in a chair, patting his cat and cackling to himself at how evil he is and thank god for that. It is unfortunate that Lex wasn’t given a background in the films predecessor as it would’ve given the film more time to let him breathe instead of a slight rush at presenting him as a villain, but taken on face value his performance is still excellent.
Cinematically the film is absolutely brilliant; the composition and editing of the picture is possibly the best in the superhero meta-genre so far. Zack Snyder has always been a mast of visual filmmaking (Watchmen, Sucker Punch) and he continues this trend throughout BvS. Affleck’s Batsuit is easily the best and most accurate looking version ever put to screen, Superman’s outfit has been brightened showing off the red, blue and yellow colour scheme, something which had been lacking in Man of Steel. The new batmobile and batwing are easily the best designs so far, in particular the chase sequence involving the new batmobile is far better than the ridiculousness of Nolan’s “bat-tank”. Costume and set design as a whole is absolutely fantastic and should be looked at as a benchmark for this kind of film, also special mention; The Armoured Batsuit is absolutely incredible it is one of the most beautiful designs I’ve seen in a film ever.
With all that said this isn’t a perfect film; Amy Adams is still without a doubt the worst Lois Lane ever; Adams has absolutely no chemistry with Cavill and it’s very unfortunate because she’s not a bad actress, just a bad fit for this particular film. The relationship between Clark and Lois just doesn’t feel natural and I found myself struggling to care about her presence in the film. Gal Gadot pulled off Wonder Woman relatively well, however her limited screen time made it difficult to understand why she was there beyond showing up for the final major battle and to push the film in the direction of next year Wonder Woman solo film and the upcoming Justice League. Laurence Fishburne’s portrayal of Daily Planet editor Perry White is still pretty bad; he’s better than he was in Man of Steel but he’s still giving a very average performance and seems to only exist to be a dick to Clark. It’s almost as if they were trying to go for a J. Jonah Jameson type character, except Jameson works because he’s a dick to everyone in a ridiculously over the top manner, White being a dick to just Clark in a very direct and cold manner makes him seem more like a bully.
I am quite interested in the director’s cut being released later this year due to it reportedly having an extra 25 minutes of content that was deemed “too violent” which is very intriguing to me. Anyway; go see this film, just don’t go in expecting a film similar to Age of Ultron or Ant-man, those are amazing films by the way, just understand that simply being a comic book movie doesn’t inherently mean it’ll be the same style you’re used to seeing and there’s nothing wrong with that, frankly we should be welcoming new methods of film making to ensure the genre never goes stale.
Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice gets 8.3/10.