BATMAN V SUPERMAN: DAWN OF JUSTICE REVIEW

WARNING:  MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS!

04/01/2016

by Fernando Lyons

For years, comic book fans have dreamt of a movie that included the two most popular comic book characters in history, Batman and Superman.  These fans have also wondered who would win if these two ever battled each other.  This latter scenario has actually taken place many times in the comics, with each hero chalking up victories.  Now comic book fans finally get to see both scenarios played out, as Batman v Superman:  Dawn of Justice (BvS) has hit theaters.

 

This movie takes place after the events of Man of Steel, but because the spotlight did not focus primarily on Superman (Henry Cavill), I stop short of calling it a direct sequel.   The movie starts with yet another telling of Batman's origin story.  Batman's tragic origin story has been shown on several occasions in the movies and on television, so we all know what happens at this point.  This opening scene was completely unnecessary in my opinion.  This screen time could have been used to tell the origin story of another one of the classic comic book characters that was introduced in this movie.  

 

The movie then picks up with an adult Bruce Wayne (Ben Affleck) rushing into Metropolis to save his Wayne Enterprise employees, who are all inexplicably at their workstations while the city around them is being destroyed by the Kryptonians.  Being a dedicated employee is one thing, but when every building around you is collapsing, and the alien ship causing the destruction is headed in your direction, don't wait for the boss' permission to leave!  Now, lets address the big elephant in the room, Ben Affleck's Batman.  The internet almost exploded when Ben Affleck was cast as one of comic books' most iconic heroes, especially after he basically massacred Marvel Comic's Daredevil character in his last superhero role.  Admittedly, I initially was not fond of the casting decision, but after seeing this movie, I can honestly say that Ben Affleck won me over.  His Batman portrayal was probably the best of all time.  He not only physically represents the character better than than any actor before him, but his acting chops allowed him to perfectly capture the dark and brooding, yet charismatic character from the comic books.  He is definitely my favorite movie Batman, and I hope to see him in a future standalone Batman film.  That being said, I also initially had a problem with one of the movies' other casting decisions.  That was the decision to cast Jesse Eisenberg as one of the most iconic comic book villains of all time, Lex Luthor.  Unfortunately, Jesse Eisenberg fell way short of winning me over.  Not only does Eisenberg not have the physical stature or personality to represent Lex Luthor, but I absolutely hated his performance.  His dialogue was horrible, his quirky mannerisms were annoying, and listening to his high pitched voice delivering bad lines was like listening to nails against a chalkboard.    

 

Also annoying were the random and frequent dream sequences.  Every few minutes there seemed to be a dream sequence.  If you are familiar with the multiple comic book storylines that this movie was based off of, then the sequences make sense, but if not, then you will most likely be lost and confused.  Heck, I have been a comics collector for most of my life, and some of the sequences still confused me.  I think that director Zack Snyder used the dream sequences to attempt to build a DC Comics cinematic universe, and set up the Justice League movie.  What he should have done to create a DC Comics cinematic universe was taken a cue from comics competitor Marvel Comics.  Marvel Studios had the right idea, when they used post-credit scenes and multiple solo superhero films, like Iron Man, The Incredible Hulk, Thor, and Captain America, to create a Marvel Cinematic Universe, and set up The Avengers movie.  The problem is that Snyder tried to accomplish all of this in one movie, which seemed rushed, and threw the whole pacing of the BvS movie off.  On a positive note, the advantage of throwing everything into one movie is that there were some nice Easter Eggs throughout the movie.  Look for the Robin costume in the Bat-Cave for a nice clue into Robin's fate.  Also, the omega symbol and Parademons were included in a future dream sequence, eluding to a coming of a big time threat "from the stars".

 

If only for brief moments, it was still great to finally see the other members of the Justice League for the first time in this movie.  Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot) was the only new character to receive significant screen time.  While her background and motivation could have been more fleshed out, she was one of the movie's bright spots.  She really shined in the action sequences, showing movie goers the power and ferocity of the amazonian warrior.  The actual fight between Batman and Superman was based on the events of the classic Dark Knight Returns graphic novel, where Batman wore a bulky armor to face Superman.  The fight was entertaining and pretty much lived up to the hype, but the most fascinating part to me was its conclusion.  After all of these years of reading coming books, it wasn't until the end of that fight that I realized that Bruce Wayne's and Clark Kent's mothers were both named Martha.  There were a couple of action sequences with Batman where you finally get to see the Dark Knight fight and move like he does in the comics or animated features.  The Batman in BvS is not the stiff robotic guy in the silicon suit from previous Batman movies.  The final fight had Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman team up to take on Doomsday, who was repurposed by Lex Luthor from General Zod's corpse.  The fight scene was great, even though the special effects were inconsistent.  At this point of the movie, the storyline moves from the Dark Knight Returns to The Death of Superman.  I don't want to be accused of spoiling the whole movie, so I won't tell you if the movie has the ending as the comic book story.  

 

Batman v Superman is a very entertaining and action-packed movie featuring the two most iconic fictional characters in history, so it will undoubtedly perform well in the box office.  The billion dollar question is whether it is worth your money.  While I feel that the movie is all over the place at times, and most of the negative criticism surrounding this movie is warranted, I do feel it is still worth seeing if you are a comic book fan.  If you are not a comic book fan, you can enjoy the movie if you don't put too much thought into it.  Suspend belief, and try not to make too much sense out of some things that are happening onscreen.  Simply take the movie for what it is, and you will enjoy it. 

Bottom Line:

+ Affleck's Batman, Wonder Woman, Easter Eggs, Great Action Sequences

- Jesse Eisenberg's Performance,  Dream Sequences, Bad Pacing, Too Many Unexplained Events, Inconsistent Special  Effects