Batman V Superman Review

03.24.2016

[Warning plot spoilers]

The long wait it is finally over as two of the most iconic superheroes face off and appear together on screen for the first time ever.

‘Batman V Superman’ is a follow up to 2013’s standalone ‘Man of Steel’ and stars Henry Cavill as Superman and Ben Affleck as Batman, directed by Zack Snyder (‘300’ and ‘The Watchmen’). ‘Batman V Superman’ retains the bleak tone of its predecessor, without retelling the complete origin of Batman, there are a few nods to Christopher Nolan’s ‘Batman Begins’, as familiar scenes of Bruce Wayne’s family tragedy open the film. 

We’re introduced to an older battle hardened Batman who has been fighting Gotham’s crime for 20 years, bearing physical and mental scars. Set in the scenes of a burned out Wayne Manor which allude to a hard fought showdown long ago and a new lakeside Batcave.

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Batman really only has Alfred in his life (played by Jeremy Irons), who provides him both technical and moral support. Alfred also delivers a little bit of comedy through slightly bitter English humour, which although seldom is appreciated in what is essentially a dark and gritty movie.

Comic fans will be well aware of the nod to source material here as Frank Millar’s ‘The Dark Knight Returns’ forms the inspiration for this version of an older more vengeful Batman.

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Also the linking of Man of Steels third act; the Krytonian Terraforming spaceship and destruction of Metropolis, are clever nods and place Bruce Wayne directly in the destruction, racing in vain to save close friends as the Wayne Enterprises building is destroyed. This provides him with his first glimpse of Superman battling General Zod, planting the seed for revenge.

For all intents and purposes and despite being a follow up to ‘Man of Steel’ this is a Batman movie as Ben Affleck gets the lion’s share of the screen time and delivers the opening monologue. In the face of the controversial casting; Batfleck really sinks into the role and brings a raw physicality to Batman we haven’t seen before. I daresay he is a much richer character than Henry Cavill’s Superman, who is rather wooden, but isn’t really given much to do in film other than languish about and make several ‘superhero landings’.

Superman is conflicted between what is right and his love of Lois Lane (Amy Adams), which is becoming increasingly more dangerous as she seems to always be in harm’s way.

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The world (mostly seen through American eyes) debates whether it really needs a hero, let alone one that is all powerful/ god-like and doesn’t seem to answer to anyone. Lead by Senator Finch (played by Holly Hunt) the U.S Government toys with the idea of creating a powerful weaponized deterrent to neutralize Superman, should he go rogue.

We’re introduced to a younger version of Superman’s arch nemesis, namely Jessie Eisenberg’s Lex Luthor, who is eerily similar to his portrayal of Mark Zuckerberg in ‘the Social Network’ and also runs a start-up turned multibillion dollar company in Lexcorp. Lex is driven, successful and rich. But despite all this, is insanely jealous and obsessed with the godlike power that Superman possesses. Lex is the puppet master of the film, who among other things discovers Kryptonite and cleverly moves the pieces setting up a dramatic fight between Bats and Supes, giving both motivation to kill the other.

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Carefully manipulating Lex also manages to gain access to Kryptonian crash site remains and the cadaver of General Zod (Michael Shannon), left over from the ‘Man of Steel’ film, to conger up an otherworldly scientific nightmare, setting up the third act all-out battle and a not so secret entrance of Wonder Woman (played by Gal Gadot).

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This is by far the best of the cameos in the film (of which there are numerous) and despite limited dialogue Gal Gadot is by far one the biggest highlights of this film. When her theme music kicks in (thank you Hans Zimmer and Junkie XL) you hear the audience cheer.

There is a bit of surprise at the end of the film, but I won’t spoil that for you here. All-in-all it is an enjoyable film for the comic book fan, but maybe not so much for the casual viewer, who most of the films Easter eggs and sequel set up pieces will fly right past. This did make me hungry to see the standalone Wonder Woman film (which is due out in June 2017) and Justice League movie (which is a bit more of a wait for November 2017). The tone is rather bleak in colour palette, pacing slow and convoluted in places as Bruce Wayne has one particular lucid nightmare subplot that adds little to main plot of this film, but will link into the larger story arc of the above mentioned sequels. I think it is more enjoyable than Zack Snyder’s ‘Man of Steel’ and does cleverly lay the foundation for future films, posing interesting questions that build intrigue. It's far from a perfect film, but enjoyable for DC comic fans and action junkies alike. 

Reviewed by Gene Harris


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