Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016) – Review

Do you remember when comic book based movies were fun? I’d site Bryan Singer’s first X-Men movie as the beginning of this new age of superhero movies as before that good comic based movies were few and far between; we had Donner’s Superman films in the 70s and Tim Burton’s Batman films in the 80s, but since the year 2000 we’ve had slew of good to excellent films from this genre. Sure not all of them have been good, but overall us comic geeks have been fairly happy. Now the point I’m trying to make is that even the bad ones had a sense of fun, and that is what is sorely missing in this latest DC venture from Warner Bros.

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Zack Snyder’s Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice is the second installment of the DC Extended Universe that began with Snyder’s Man of Steel, and this film follows right on its heels, taking us all on a dark journey to Gritty Town. The movie begins eighteen months after the destructive battle of Metropolis, the one that left thousands dead, and has caused many to be a little concerned with this being of godlike powers and no accountability. At the forefront of this is Senator June Finch (Holly Hunter) who convenes hearings to discuss the controversial aspects of Superman (Henry Cavill), but then there is Lex Luthor (Jesse Eisenberg), who is a bit more hands on with his concerns, and has managed to procure some kryptonite.  He wants the Senator’s help in getting an import license so he can bring it stateside.

So super genius Lex Luthor needs help to get stuff through customs? *sigh*

jesse_eisenberg_72582Lex Luthor, criminal mastermind or manic pixie twit?

This version of Lex did not work for me at all. He was just so over-the-top and silly that I couldn’t take him serioulsy as a viable threat to Superman, but then again this film is all about Batman vs Superman not Superman vs Lex Luthor, and boy does Bruce Wayne (Ben Affleck) really hate Superman. Bruce lays the blame for the thousands dead from Superman’s battle with Zod (Michael Shannon) right at the Kryptonian’s feet, and rightly so, but he really takes it to an extreme. He tells Alfred (Jeremey Irons) that if there is even a one percent chance of Superman going evil he must be put down.

batman-v-superman-dawn-of-justice-ben-affleckHe has the power to wipe out the entire human race. I have to destroy him.

I’d say this is out of character for Batman but in this DC Extended Universe heroes kill people willy-nilly. Batman is even seen using a gun to blow several people away (this is certainly something that will piss off many Batman fans), and if Lois Lane (Amy Adams) is ever in danger Superman will take…you…out. What’s bizarre is that Batman’s hard-on for killing Superman isn’t even the reason for the title fight (which is something we have to wait two hours for), Lex is of course behind it all, and it is such a contrived moment that both the “heroes” come across as complete idiots. The 1976 DC/Marvel cross-over “Superman vs Spider-man” gave a better excuse for why Superman would fight a fellow hero.

Batman-v-Superman-Dawn-of-Justice-Official-Final-Trailer-7“I’ve got this cool armor, it’d be a shame not to use it.”

Now if you saw that spoilerific trailer you know that Batman and Superman eventually team-up to fight Doomsday, but what you don’t know is how awful this fight is. Doomsday looks like a poorly rendered cave troll who occasionally explodes with Godzilla like energy blasts, and Batman becomes a fifth wheel for the finale. Who steps up to help is of course Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot), and she is the one ray of sunshine in this whole dreary mess. If one good thing came out of this grim and depressing movie is that I’m really looking forward to the Wonder Woman movie.

batmanvsuperman-trailer-wonder-woman“Step aside boys, a real hero has arrived.”

The tone really is the problem with this movie; it’s as if Zack Snyder was thinking, “Mister Nolan, you call your Batman dark and gritty? Well I’m going to suck every iota of colour and joy out of mine.” And it’s not only the films colour palette that is grim and dismal as once again we question poor Clark Kent’s Kansas upbringing. In Man of Steel we got Jonathon Kent (Kevin Costner) telling young Clark that his secret is more important than the lives of a busload of children, and this time out we get Martha Kent (Diane Lane) telling her son, “Be their hero, Clark. Be their angel, be their monument, be anything they need you to be… or be none of it. You don’t owe this world a thing. You never did.”

What the hell does that even mean? Clark may have been born on another planet but Earth is his home, which is like telling an immigrant to the United States that they owe no allegiance to their new home, and in these most trying times I don’t think this is a message filmmakers should be touting.  Or at least not in a comic book movie.

And for almost the entire duration of this film that is exactly what Superman does, he shows no sense of duty to his fellow man, sure he saves the occasional cat from a tree but he’s only doing that stuff because he thinks his dad wanted him to (though from his dad’s “pep talks” from the previous film I’m not sure where he got that idea), and really if it wasn’t for Lois he’d have told the whole world to fuck off by now.

_1457128330Yep, that’s murder in his eyes.

This movie is two and a half hours long and that an extended “R” rated cut is due on Bluray terrifies me as this film is more heavily padded than Affleck’s Batsuit. Lois Lane spends much of her screen time running around trying to prove that Superman wasn’t responsible for the death of a bunch of terrorists, and her proof is a bullet that not even the Pentagon can identify. My question is, “If these terrorists were killed by bullets who in the fuck would think Superman killed them?” Sure, this Superman has been known to kill, but when the person in question can incinerate an enemy with just a look why the hell would you think he’d be using a gun? That’s totally Batman’s thing.

Note: The movie actually opens up with Batman’s origin story because once again Zack Snyder is under the impression that there are still people out who don’t know it, and seeing young Bruce’s parents’ gunned downed only highlights how stupid it is to see him use a gun later.

breakdown-of-the-new-batman-v-superman-trailer-737637“Bruce, weren’t your parents killed by one of those things?”

As I’ve mentioned this is all part of the DC Extended Universe and this movie really should have been called Batman v Superman: Dawn of the Justice League as along with Wonder Woman’s appearance we get peaks at The Flash, Aquaman and Cyborg. Warner Bros and DC’s desire to catch up with Marvel and Disney is quite apparent and also quite sad because they are really going about it the wrong way. Say what you want about the Marvel films but dark and depressing are not adjectives one associates with them. Now Captain America: Civil War does look like Marvel is heading down a darker path, but they’ve earned it, they built up a great collection of heroes and now they can have fun shaking things up. With Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice Zack Snyder and friends have brought us the last act of Casey at the Bat without the proper set upThere will be no joy in Muddville.

Final Notes:

  • This Batmobile makes the Tumbler look like a Pinto
  • Though moronically contrived the fight between Batman and Superman is pretty badass.
  • Perry White assigns Clark an article on a football game. Why would he do this? Kent isn’t a sports columnist.
  • Krptonians have the worst security measures. Three films have shown Lex easily accessing their tech.
  • Why would criminals branded by Batman be killed by fellow prisoners? Wouldn’t they form a club instead?
  • Two separate newscasters state how there are “No innocent bystanders” around during the big fight. Well that’s a relief.
  • People in life threatening situations have mad art skills.

superman save us

Mike Brooks

Mike Brooks

Film grad who spends most his time trying to catch up on his "To Watch" pile of movies.