The long-awaited gladiator match to end all fights, the Dark Knight versus the Man of Steel, has arrived on the big screen. Last night Geek Syndicate sat down to watch the film at a special screening presented in 70mm with on stage introductions by Zack Synder and Henry Cavil, but was this a great start to a great movie or wishful thinking of something that could have been great.
Fearing the actions of a god-like Super Hero left unchecked, Gotham City’s own formidable, forceful vigilante takes on Metropolis’s most revered, modern-day savior, while the world wrestles with what sort of hero it really needs. And with Batman and Superman at war with one another, a new threat quickly arises, putting mankind in greater danger than it’s ever known before.
DC and Warner Bros show their greatest hand with Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice and present to the world what their shared universe will look like. The premise is simple enough, in the first film Man of Steel we are introduced to a world where aliens exist and people with godlike powers can cause untold damage to the planet. This film picks up at the end of the first film where Bruce Wayne is in the middle of the destruction of Metropolis and sees first hand the damage caused by Superman and Zod. It is here that he vows to take down Superman if he becomes a threat.
This is where the film starts to go wrong. Batman is a shrewd guy, he has been fighting crime by himself all these years and he would have seen the good that Superman has been doing, yet he still sees him as a threat to be taken down. Why would you not want to team up first and take the bad guys down?
Anyway before I get ahead of myself lets talk about the cast.
Henry Cavil is back as Superman and once again manages to deliver a deadpan performance as the Man of Steel. There is nothing wrong here but the man needs to lighten up a bit. I thought Batman was the grumpy one. To be fair Kal El is facing tough times when half the planet fear him and the other half love him and he is struggling to still find his place here on Earth.
Ben Affleck joins the franchise as Bruce Wayne or Batman, and he really brings it here. I love his take on both Bruce and the Dark Knight but boy is he angry. As Bruce he seems distant and haunted which is true to the role but not really the character. Bruce Wayne is a billionaire playboy not a brooding rich man. On the flip side his Batman is one of the best I have seen in years. For me it was the eyes behind the mask. For the first time I could actually read emotions on Batman’s. Overall a welcome take on the caped crusader and I cannot wait to see the solo film.
Lex Luthor comes in the form of Jesse Eisenberg as spoiled young rich kid with a daddy complex. This is not the Lex I want or deserve. Most of the times you cannot tell what he is saying or doing, which takes away from the fact that actually he is pretty clever and crazy. Rumour has it that he may originally have been destined to play the Riddler which would have been pretty perfect to me. Although there is hope at the end that if Lex ever appears again he could be a very real threat to the world.
Gal Gadot got a lot of bad comments when she was announced as Wonder Woman but there is no question that she is the best part about this film by a mile. Her Wonder Woman made the film for me, I smiled every time she was on-screen in her warrior attire and, before you ask, not because of the outfit but because she kicked total ass. I cannot wait to see more of her in the solo movie coming out next year.
Other supporting cast members were on good form but not necessarily entertaining. Amy Adams was OK as Lois Lane and once again they try to show she is a serious and fearless reporter but still comes across as a damsel in distress. Diane Lane was excellent as ever as the human mother of Superman. Laurence Fishburne had a few nice lines as Perry White and Holly Hunter seemed a bit wasted in her Senator role. Jeremy Irons was pretty damn good as Bruce Wayne’s butler Alfred and I loved the interaction between him and Bruce.
The effects of the film were a mix between OK and great, especially when you think how much this film actually cost. The hardest part to get right was Doomsday and the interaction between him and the trinity of Supes, Bats and Wonder Woman. It seemed a bit cartoonist at times but on the flip side when it looked good it was great. Also on offer were the expected destruction of buildings which got a lot of criticism in the first film but in this one was mainly confined to industrial areas.
The practical effects for the Batmobile and Batwing were very impressive with the former being a sweet ride. This is a Batmobile for a broken and evil city like Gotham. It takes no prisoners and makes statements with force.
Heading back to the plot of the film. I understand that a film that has to show Batman and Superman fight and eventually join forces has a lot to do in a short space of time. But even in two and a half hours it still feels rushed and jumbled and all over the place. I know the plan is to release a 3 hour version on DVD but somehow I wished they had done that now as it may have paced the film out better. There were huge jumps in plot and leaps of faith so big that you would need a trampoline to jump over. Having to believe that a human can just take over something Kryptonian that easily is pretty absurd based on the security measures shown in the first film. This to me shows a lack or originality in the script process.
There were also far too many dream sequences in the film which detracts from the pace and for me slows down the narrative. Some were good, some were just confusing and they just feel like a chance for Director Snyder to indulge in some visuals in his usual style.
One other thing that did not sit right with me was that somehow in this film Gotham and Metropolis are right next door to each other and I do not mean a flight away, I mean that you can actually see the rooftops of the other city across the bay. This just made no sense at all and for me was cheap.
The music for the film was one of the best things with the Man of Steel theme coming through strong but the Batman theme was not that memorable based on first viewing, so I will have to have another listen to see just how prominent it actually was.
Overall Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice is a flawed film that has so much potential but fell short on delivery and promise, but not all is lost as the ending actually gives a sense of hope that I am pretty excited for. So bring on Wonder Woman and lets hope the rest of the Justice League’s cast are treated better than they may have been in this film…