tue 23/07/2024

Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice | reviews, news & interviews

Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice

Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice

Dynamic duel between DC superheroes doesn't know when to stop

Feelin' metaphysical, punk? Batman (Ben Affleck) and Superman (Henry Cavill) square off

Amazing, isn't it, how the good ol' comic book is inexorably swallowing the planet. With the Marvel empire running rampant through all media, DC Comics are racing to catch up with their DC Extended Universe. It debuted with Zack Snyder's Man of Steel in 2013, and continues here as Snyder returns to helm this bloated yarn of superheroes at loggerheads.

However, devotees of this same Snyder will perhaps find that it's his earlier film, 2009's Watchmen, that springs to mind here, with its story of a group of jaded, retired superheroes trapped in a satirical Cold War dystopia. In this new movie, Snyder brings us an older, embittered Batman/Bruce Wayne who resents the exalted status of the alien immigrant Superman (topical, huh?), while Superman, having been worshipped as a God-like saviour, now finds his motives and reputation under harsh scrutiny (the boys with Gal Gadot's Wonder Woman, below).

Screenwriters Chris Terrio and David S Goyer have worked hard to bring some contemporary relevance to the comic book legends. Thus we find Bruce Wayne (Ben Affleck) peripherally caught up in the titanic battle in Metropolis between Superman and General Zod from the previous movie, dragging himself through a 9/11-style apocalypse to try to save employees in his collapsing Wayne Enterprises skyscraper. As for Henry Cavill's lantern-jawed Superman, he becomes the target of a congressional investigation after having allegedly caused collateral casualties while rescuing Lois Lane from a bunch of Middle Eastern terrorists. When he eventually turns up to be quizzed by the politicians, poor old Soops even gets the blame for failing to spot a bomb that's been planted in the room.

Trying to fit such oft-repeated characters into a fresh framework is probably a noble ambition, but it has inevitable drawbacks. Even though Superman's costume now seems to be made from state-of-the art woven kevlar (or something vastly superior), a man in a cape and a skin-tight costume looks increasingly preposterous the more you try to slot him into the detailed, realistic world where everybody else lives. Likewise, the idea that Bruce Wayne seems able to command technological resources which far outstrip the combined efforts of Russia and the USA, and manages to do all this in the basement underneath the now not-so-stately Wayne Manor with the sole aid of venerable butler Alfred (a very droll Jeremy Irons), doesn't bear too much scrutiny.

Perhaps less computer-enhanced mega-chaos and a greater focus on character would have produced a better movie (though maybe Snyder and Warner Bros know more than I do), because Affleck's performance as the greying, disillusioned Wayne drops tantalising hints of a major dramatic performance fighting to get out, while Amy Adams squeezes some globules of emotion out of Lois Lane. Even the slab-like Cavill, who looks as if he's stepped out of a commercial for the WonderCore Smart Home Gym, occasionally manages a vague gesture towards a reflective hinterland (messianic Man of Steel, below).

There's a chucklesome turn by Laurence Fishburne as gruff Daily Planet editor Perry White, raging against the death of the newsprint business. Villain-wise, Jesse Eisenberg, with emo-nerd long hair and web-tycoon leisurewear, makes a spendid Lex Luthor, exuding tittering malevolence while constantly testing the boundaries of the autistic spectrum. In the end, all the movie's tangled byways (frequently hard to follow) lead back to Lex, who has a fiendish knack for ferreting out psychological weakness. For instance, he knows that Kryptonite can flatten Superman, but not nearly as thoroughly as a dastardly threat to kill his poor old mum (Diane Lane). 

But for Snyder, too much is never even barely adequate. Just when you think you're at the climax of the movie's ultimate super-struggle, you discover there's an even more climactic climax still to come, thanks to Lex having synthetically birthed some sort of nuclear-fuelled protean demon. Lex's Nietzschean aperçus, and a blatantly pietà-like tableau of the two superheros plus Lois Lane and the newly-introduced Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot), epitomise the arty and philosophical pretentions that seek to lift Batman v Superman out of the multiplex commonplace. They should have got Perry White to go through the script with his blue pencil.

Superman, having been worshipped as a God-like saviour, now finds his motives and reputation under harsh scrutiny


Editor Rating: 
Average: 2 (1 vote)

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Great review. This movie deserves all the poor reviews it's getting. Not only is it a colossal disappointment to fans, it's simply not a very good movie.

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