Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice – 3/5 – Movie Reviews by Ry!

BvSBatman v Superman: Dawn of Justice – 3/5 – The age of comic books has given us an eye into the world of the imagination.  It’s a world that strikes a chord for individuals who love to live dreams of being heroes in their own right.  When it comes to film, this type of genre has taken over the movie industry in recent years, giving us a whole new route when it comes to storytelling.  It has combined a unique eye of fantasy with themes of realism.  This has elevated the idea that comic books can become great stories.  This hasn’t always been the case.  For all great adaptations (Captain America: Winter Soldier) there have been some bad ones (Fantastic Four).  Batman v Superman is a film that plays to the heart of its comic book origins but in a sense falls into a trap of leveling the idea of storytelling for stylization.  For all the good the film provides, it lacks in various ways.  Batman v Superman is a film that engrosses you with some entertainment, but the lack of a true story gives you just an average experience.

Premise: In the aftermath of the destruction of Metropolis; one Hero (Batman) seeks out another (Superman) in a fight for the ages.  With all on the line, the dawning of a new world is upon us.  Justice will be served, together or against.

The acting is a mixture of great, good and bad.  In the main (and iconic) roles of the film, you have as followed:

Ben Affleck as Bruce Wayne/Batman

Henry Cavill as Clark Kent/Superman

Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman

Amy Adams as Lois Lane

Jesse Eisenberg as Lex Luthor

Jeremy Irons as Alfred

At the peak of this list is Ben Affleck as Bruce Wayne/Batman.  In all that can be said about the hesitation from fans; Affleck gives us the best Bruce Wayne/Batman on the big screen to date.  His gritty, visceral attitude as dark knight combined with the overall charisma and charm as Bruce Wayne carries the film.  No matter if it is his interactions with Superman, Wonder Woman or when he is taking out scum on the street; you can feel the brooding nature that is this harden person.  The dynamic of layering a ‘veteran’ persona with someone that finds strength in vigilance is ironically vibrant.  You are enraptured by Bruce’s purpose to fight, and his reasoning to challenge Superman.  There is subtlety in how he thinks, talks and fights.  This is a testament to the great acting skills of Affleck and his command of bringing a humanistic allure to an iconic character.  Outside of Ben Affleck as Bruce Wayne/Batman, you have some that do their best but don’t capture the screen like him.  When it comes to Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman and Henry Cavill as Clark Kent/Superman; they do a good job in creating an aura around the idea of what makes each of these characters ‘real’.  Their personalities on screen are closely aligned to the source material.  With the Omnipresent-like being that is Superman, Cavill does a good job in adding to the confliction in the character.  He struggles in being somewhat ‘god like’ but still has the belief to be hopeful because of human homestead.  The portrayal isn’t as deep as the previous film (Man of Steel); but it is enough to provide contrast to the opposite nature of Batman.  Wonder Woman is good, but there isn’t enough parlayed on screen as being a ‘strong’ character on screen.  Gadot does a good job in providing a likeness in her portrayal, but it isn’t enough to compare with the other two.  Even so, it is still memorable and a good start for the character’s introduction into this universe.  Jeremy Irons as Alfred is great as the butler and ‘word of wisdom’ like character for Bruce Wayne, and Amy Adams as Lois Lane does the same as the ‘love interest’ for Clark Kent.  These two go a little bit beyond the archetypes they are representing, but it isn’t enough to being nothing but plot point motives for the main characters.   For all the good character development found in most the leading casts, the downfall is found in the villain.  As Lex Luthor, Eisenberg gives us this unique, volatile but wacky like character who is business and tech smart.  He is a mixture of many likeness to a typical ‘evil company man’ with a little infusion of ‘comical genius’.  The thing that makes this character stand out in a bad way is that there is never a true sense of the villainy of the character.  Luthor has motives for his decisions and meddling, but there is no weight behind the person to provide real confliction.  For the genuine take that Eisenberg provides, it does come across as distracting and underwhelming.  The one bad element of this film cast of characters is the inclusion of a DC villain (near the end).  All you feel is a ‘forced like’ mantra just to create conflict.  It definitely distracts from all the other things going on; bringing the rest of the characters down to a generic standard.  For the rest of the secondary cast; it isn’t something worth noting.  They play your basic comic book characters to help flesh out the background of both cities and main cast.  There is some added flavor, but it is just enough to create a living world around these superheroes.

The direction becomes amalgamation of too many ideas.  You find that they are pulling from a script that only wants to create a story around the ideas of building a universe.  When a director focuses on elements of the ‘overall’; it drowns out the specifics in what is happening ‘now’.   Basically, the film has no real coherent story.  The lacking of an element of basic storytelling creates situations where all three acts turn into a mesh of random characterized ‘plot threads’ just weaving around for one specific point to another.  There is that ‘emphasis’ on the DC universe that creates a ‘lack thereof’ feeling that adds a sense of misrepresentation of some scenarios and situations.  This kills the vast viewing experience for a lot of its running time.  With that being said, this is the breakdown of each act:

First act – Reintroduction to previous characters while introducing new ones.  A general ‘setup’ of the ‘Batman v Superman’ plotline.  A lead-in with random scenes threaded together to create a semblance of ‘reasons’ for both sides of the conflict.

Second act – A mixture of the ‘BvS’ plotline with other sub-plotlines dealing with Gotham, Metropolis and Lois Lane.  Convolution occurs with interactive ‘action scenes’; expositional background information and ‘villainous’ mysteries.  A plunge forward with sequences unexplained because of bad editing.

Third act – ‘Over-the-Top’ action mixed with dramatized fight scenes.   Refocused (flip script) on ‘coming together for a common enemy’ thread. Use of shaky cam and visual noise leading into a lethargic climax.   Epilogue is a prelude of cliché ‘something bigger’ cliffhanger.

This is the basic film breakdown.  It never deviates from creating something that is the ‘everyday’ generic comic book film.  You have a literal sense of ‘where things are’, ‘how things evolve’ and ‘where they will lead’ without real contextual substance.  Even when the film provides correlation between the ‘BvS’ plotline and the other subplots; it never really gives you a sense of total focus.  Scenes come and go without any explanation, and the terrible editing only makes you wonder more questions than answers.  Even when the troubling sense is felt through these technical aspects of storytelling, you do see strength in the theme.  This comes out when the stark focus is on the crux of the whole ‘Batman v Superman’ dynamic.  There clashing of ideology creates the allure of what can be defined as a ‘hero’.  This ideology evolves the ideas of strength, flaw and fear within both the main characters.  You see them build up the tension through interactions that are physical, mental and personal.  The mantra helps build the ‘schism’ of these two individuals, leading up to an epic confrontation that quietly lives up as a faithful translation of their fights from the comics.  It is culmination of Batman’s ‘vigilante’ methods with Superman’s ‘Heroic’ tales.    As mentioned, there are a lot of subplots that create a feeling of messy direction, but it is the ‘BvS’ that keeps the film entertaining.  Once it gets into the third act, it all goes downhill.   The ‘climatic’ battle is nothing more than the ‘hero rise/villain fall’ scenario; one that sheds the light of putting style over substance.  That downhill doesn’t bring the whole experience down, but it shows a lacking of trying to cap off the buildup of these two iconic characters.   With the epilogue, it just becomes a building block for something bigger down the road.

The visuals can be positioned as psychotic.  What I mean is that there are times when the cinematography captures the purity of the emotional tone of the film.  From the ‘object-like focus’ method to the ‘panorama’ views to create ominous settings; you get a sense of realistic bravado.  This helps add to the tonal sides clashing between Batman and Superman.  The gritty fight scenes to the ‘miracles’ performances; it helps flesh out the BvS plotline.  On the opposite side, the film does end up using a lot of CGI.  The fabricated creation drowns out a lot of the realism that is built throughout the great use of cinematography, forcing out the believable from the fanatical.  There is also the terrible use of ‘shaky cam’ to manufacture fighting and action.  This causes a blinding sensation that keeps you from knowing what is actually happening.  The score is one that stands out as very specific to the characters.  Depending on which scene; you get an overall feeling of what is going on through the music.  From brooding to enlightenment; there is array of emotions that happen throughout.  Even when you get the ‘surrounding’ of typical orchestra, it still providers girth to a somewhat endurance of a ride.

Batman v Superman is a film that had a lot of expectation from many in the comic book community.  From all that is great in this film (Batman, BvS plotline) there is a counter of terrible things to be had (Lack of Plot, editing, Lex Luthor and the Third Act).   For all that can be said, this is an average experience.   For any fan of DC or someone that enjoys comic book films, I recommend this at most a Matinee.  I don’t believe this is worth the full price, but if you have been waiting for this fight, go for it.  It is still Batman fighting Superman; who wouldn’t love that?

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