Review: BATMAN V SUPERMAN: DAWN OF JUSTICE, Overburdened By Expectation And Obligation

Editor, Asia; Hong Kong, China (@Marshy00)
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Review: BATMAN V SUPERMAN: DAWN OF JUSTICE, Overburdened By Expectation And Obligation
DC Comics kick-starts its expanded cinematic universe by pitting its two greatest superheroes against one another in Zack Snyder’s hugely anticipated follow-up to 2013’s Man Of Steel.
 
With the Nolan/Bale Dark Knight trilogy looming large in the background, Ben Affleck dons the cowl to play a world-weary Bruce Wayne with 20 years of crimefighting already under his utility belt. Henry Cavill’s Superman, meanwhile, is facing a mixed reception from the people of Earth, with some singing his praises as a bona fide saviour, while others are growing increasingly wary of an extraterrestrial walking the Earth with god-like powers.
 
As its clunky title might suggest, Batman v Superman: Dawn Of Justice ultimately emerges as an unwieldy and overstuffed superhero throwdown that simply attempts to do too much with too many characters at a pace -- and volume -- that proves more exhausting than exhilarating.  
 
Following an opening credits sequence that again recounts the murder of Thomas and Martha Wayne, Bruce (Affleck) is seen witnessing the destruction of Metropolis at the hands of Superman (Cavill) and General Zod (Michael Shannon). He is determined to hold Supes accountable, while simultaneously, the vigilante activities of “the Gotham Bat” have piqued the interest of Daily Planet reporter Clark Kent.
 
Meanwhile, megalomaniac Lex Luthor (Jesse Eisenberg) has uncovered a meteorite made from kryptonite at the bottom of the Indian Ocean. After his plan to create a weoponised deterrent against Superman is rejected by Senator Finch (Holly Hunter), the unstable young tycoon orchestrates a more underhanded plan to arm himself against the Man of Steel.

batman_v_superman-poster-300.jpg

The first hour of Batman v Superman: Dawn Of Justice is a relentless onslaught of set-up and exposition, as Snyder and scriptwriters Chris Terrio (Argo) and David S. Goyer (Man Of Steel, the Dark Knight trilogy) get the audience up to speed. The global reaction to Superman’s antics, Lex Luthor’s plans for world domination and Lois Lane’s persistence for getting into trouble are all laid out, as well as forcefully wedging Batman and Alfred (Jeremy Irons) into the middle of everything. There are also glimpses of Gal Gadot’s slinky Diana Prince gliding along the periphery.
 
The problem is, it all feels very clumsy and heavy-handed, lacking the reverence for character and legacy that Snyder employed to such great effect in Man Of Steel, or the narrative and linguistic dexterity that made Joss Whedon’s The Avengers seem so effortlessly assembled. The entire film feels overburdened by expectation and obligation -- to be bigger, louder, and more iconic than what has come before it.
 
Individual elements do work. Ben Affleck certainly has the dramatic chops to make us believe Bruce Wayne would be overwhelmed by his distrust of Superman, while Jeremy Irons is a more playful, hands-on Alfred than we have seen in some time. Likewise, Gal Gadot fills the role of Wonder Woman perfectly. The script wisely resists trying to explain her identity or origin -- she has her own movie next year, after all -- and instead concentrates on introducing her as a proficient warrior while establishing her relationships with the two central protagonists.
 
Perhaps in part because the story chooses to demonise Superman and question his motives and necessity, Henry Cavill seems less confident in his role this time out. Likewise the scenes developing his relationship with Lois Lane feel awkward and repetitive, as time and again he is forced to profess his love or save her from peril. There are also a number of Bruce Wayne dream sequences in the first half of the film that border on the ridiculous -- while admittedly featuring some horrific imagery that may legitimately upset younger viewers.
 
Jesse Eisenberg wholly commits to a very peculiar take on Lex Luthor, but despite his enthusiasm, the script does the character no favours. Everything that spews from his ADHD-adled lips is either an awkward riddle or hokey fortune cookie mantra. Some may argue this social ineptitude is a quirk of his character, but really it’s just bad writing. What it certainly does do is fail to make the character in any way intimidating.
 
When the film gets to the action, particularly when Batman and Superman eventually go toe-to-toe, Snyder seems much more comfortable and everything falls into place. The climactic duel -- shot and presented in IMAX -- looks spectacular, regardless of how you feel a “real life” encounter between the pair would unfold. Similarly, when the heroic trio inevitably unite against Luthor’s abominable creation, Doomsday, Snyder handles the exploded scale with confidence, exploring how Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman work as a team to winning effect.
 
There’s just too much of everything else. It seems like 153 minutes would be plenty of time to get the job done, but in its efforts to ensure secondary characters like the staff of the Daily Planet, the Senate Committee and Callan Mulvey’s instantly forgettable Russian terrorist get their allotted screentime, other moments are rushed or fumbled. Of particular concern is a crucial scene in which our principals learn of the existence of other “meta humans” -- a sequence of vital importance to DC’s plans for franchise expansion -- which is staged so underwhelmingly, it will do nothing to stoke the fires of anticipation under the fanboy hordes.
 
At the end of The Dark Knight Rises, despite knowing deep down that it was the end of the road for this particular incarnation, the film nevertheless left its audience with a sense of breathless excitement for what could happen next. At the end of Batman v Superman: Dawn Of Justice, Snyder lines up a series of teases for how the Justice League may eventually unite, but as the screen goes black, it does so with a sense, not of excitement, but of apprehension for the daunting task ahead.
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BatmanBatman V Superman: Dawn Of JusticeBen AffleckDC ComicsGal GadotHenry CavillSupermanZack Snyder

More about Batman vs Superman

IndependentGeorgeMarch 22, 2016 6:01 PM

So glad that the movie about Superman, a metaphor for the greatness and moral beauty of humanity, is predicated on how many people he has murdered.

Zero LastimosaMarch 22, 2016 7:27 PM

Plan for this film: Drinking for the 1st hour of "setup" and then drunkenly enjoying the action smack down at the end......if I don't fall asleep first.

DragonSpikeXIII .March 22, 2016 7:57 PM

This movie is the biggest case (400mil+++) of "Me too!" in blockbuster cinema.
Nonetheless, I'm watching it tomorrow and I expect to be thoroughly entertained by the sheer spectacle it has to offer.

God of JoyMarch 22, 2016 8:33 PM

I'm watching it for wonder woman. Expectations adjusted, thank you James for braving it before the rest of us.

baldurMarch 23, 2016 2:20 AM

I don't think we watched the same movie. It's one amazing ride and everything was absolutely great much better then the stuff that has been spit out by Marvel (well Ant-Man was interesting).

The argument of Superman being a metaphor for moral beauty of humanity is a sign of how delusional people are and how misunderstood Superman is because everyone is basing their image of Superman from Christopher Reeves take on the titular character.

You need to let that character go and die, this movie is way ahead of its time.

Clunky and bad writing, what on earth are you talking about. The dialog was the best part of this movie. I do not want to spoil things but Lex Luthor was amazing, you just did not accept Jesse.

I am looking forward to watch it again on IMAX tomorrow, guys this is an amazing start to a beautiful, new and different world.

Also what is this talk about forming expectations for a superhero movie? Selfish bullshit.

marshy00March 23, 2016 3:27 AM

Yup, we clearly watched different movies. Yours sounds way better. I'll have a word with WB and see if they can screen that one instead. What we were shown last night stunk.

baldurMarch 23, 2016 6:01 AM

Twitch has fallen from their glory days into a pitch black site full of pretentious reviews made of bullshit.

You are watching every movie with an already defined set of mind while praising awful movies.

WB succeed in making Superman a vulnerable figure of controversy not just in the movie world but real life also. Zach managed to put a comic book Batman into a movie and make him function (No more Nolan/Bale bullshit). Wonder woman was a real female super heroine with strength.

Everyone reading comics out there and everyone following Batman, Superman and Wonder woman will cherish and respect what WB and Zach Snyder accomplished and these shit link bate reviews just scream of attention because this site is slowly dissolving and eating itself.

marshy00March 23, 2016 6:19 AM

Frankly I'm surprised you come to Twitch to read about comic book movies, but we thank you for your patronage nonetheless. Also, if you don't like the Nolan movies or the Marvel movies (with the exception of Ant-Man) then it must be a difficult time for you right now and I applaud your stamina and perseverance.

baldurMarch 23, 2016 7:31 AM

You misunderstood. Nolans Batman was never part of DC world this is why it's bullshit. It was part of Batmans own world. It's good, I like it for what it is but Bale was the problem imho still I accepted him and the movies. But that movie has no room for comicbook lovers.

If I want sweet candy and pat on my back I'll watch Marvel movies, just look at the ratings of those movies above 60% on Thor - Rottentomatoes, WTF? really? Bunch of overpowered heroes that crank jokes and kill people around them. Relaxing shit indeed.

If I want to see something that requires more then one viewing to settle while using your brain and not emotions or nostalgia I'll go with DC. They are not afraid to go into dark places :)

I come to Twitch because I love Twitch and I don't understand why are you going with the usual trend of hating something because everyone is hating it, just take a look at the bashing on the web and raging everywhere. This movie is clearly not awful and it is impossible to comprehend the emotional backslash of people or criticism of something that you do not understand while on the other hand praising something that you do not understand just because it is funny and kid friendly and so colorful (DC and Marvel). If you are a professional you handle things professionally and not emotionally.

Remove yourself and watch it for what it is with a clear head to all people out there because it would be nice to see a world that has different approaches to similar subjects.

Also do not be afraid to watch a movie two times if things are unclear.

BOMarch 23, 2016 9:30 AM

Don’t believe the hype. E v Lee is the real deal battle of the superheroes. That’s right, Elvis versus Liberace.
https://www.facebook.com/photo...

marshy00March 23, 2016 9:48 AM

If you look at the publication time of this review, you'll see it aligns with the global embargo set by WB. As a result I was unable to read and copy any other reviews before I was required to submit my own. I disliked this movie without anyone else telling me to. I suggest you stop telling me to do the same - that is, discard my own opinion in favour of yours - and accept the fact that our opinions on this matter differ. Or, heaven forbid, even the possibly that it is you, and not me, who is wrong.

baldurMarch 23, 2016 12:02 PM

This is not about who is right and wrong just about judging fairly like everyone does with Marvel and even gives them credit while skipping over bad things like they don't even exist.

marshy00March 23, 2016 12:25 PM

Glad we cleared that up.

baldurMarch 23, 2016 12:47 PM

Nothing is cleared up. We live in confusing times.

george bushMarch 23, 2016 12:56 PM

Maybe if you hold your breathe long enough the movie reviewer will change his mind and review to align with your mandated reception of the movie you were conditioned with multimillion dollar marketing/propaganda to love no matter what?
This incarnation of Lex Luther alone is reason enough to skip it. Nobody seems to want to get that character right because if they do they show a big powerful white guy who takes the world because he can. Instead we get Kevin Spacey and Jesse Eisenberg? Ya good choices. Real demigods there: a whiny, aged homosexual who trolls parks for penises and a whiny, overrated jewish kid doing some weird amalgamation of tech startup asshats who he probably actually knows as an actor.
Oh and of course Wonder Woman. She is what is really important.
Though based on the actresses arms she doesn't have the strength to lift a spoon full of soup to her mouth let alone a sword let alone be Wonder Woman.
But setting that aside the reviewer makes good points about the usual short comings of comic book movies: they dwell on setup in order to off set the lack of story and then dissolve into basically an animated movie because its all a CGI fight scene.
I'm not expecting much. Goyer managed to top out with the first Blade.
If Nolan made this I'd be excited. But come on....Zach Snyder?
He should go back to making music videos. Or at least hire better writers and then stay away from the script.

YojimboMarch 23, 2016 1:54 PM

"Though based on the actresses arms she doesn't have the strength to lift a spoon full of soup to her mouth let alone a sword let alone be Wonder Woman."

Gal Gadot did two years of national service in the IDF as a combat instructor kind of puts your Texas Air National Guard service in the shade georgie boy.
I know who I would trust more to handle a sword and it ain't you sir.

ManateeAdvocateMarch 23, 2016 2:16 PM

No surprise. I'll likely pick it up during some insane Amazon sale someday. I'm certainly in no rush to see this, but still slightly curious. My interest in this fizzled immediately once Lex Luthor's actor was revealed. That is not Lex Luthor. Gal Gadot and Doomsday were the final nails. A damn shame really.

ManateeAdvocateMarch 23, 2016 2:18 PM

"Goyer managed to top out with the first Blade."

Bingo.

baldurMarch 23, 2016 2:29 PM

The avatar fits you.

baldurMarch 23, 2016 2:31 PM

An amazonian daughter of Zeus is supposed to have huge muscle arms and breasts so that it fits male sexual fantasies while speaking perfect American ;)

J HurtadoMarch 23, 2016 3:09 PM

I LOVE LAMP

BtoFuMarch 23, 2016 4:07 PM

Is this one also full of Snyder's 'comic panel effect' slow-mo? He's certainly not the only one to employ it so gratuitously - to ensure the audience really understands when someone is being punched in the face - but shit if I just can't stand it softening up the inertia of his videogame violence.

The review seems to align with what would have been my main concern had I any real interest in seeing this. With how long its taken DC to play catch up, I can only imagine the film is crudely stacked with elements that are supposed to do the work of what, 8-10 films in the space of 2 - Man of Steel and now BatSoup. Perhaps I'm being unfair and it's more like 6 films. It just depends how many Justice League and related iterations they have lined up. Plenty I'm sure?

Dave BaxterMarch 23, 2016 4:25 PM

Antman was by far the worst Marvel movie to date, far as I'm concerned. So yeah, we all do watch "different movies", in a sense.

"Judging fairly" means judging based on what we've already seen PLUS what we have in front of us. Marvel has a lot of goodwill because they've done so well with characters we can hardly believe are being handled so well. We still give them shit when they screw up (Iron Man 2 was universally panned, and rightfully so, it was a stumble). With DC, they don't have a terribly amazing track record leading to this film, and it's Snyder returning to the fairly shakily-received MAN OF STEEL universe. Of course we're not just judging it like it's a Marvel movie, why would we? We're judging it like a Snyder Superman film taken to the Nth level with Batman in it. I'm sure it has some good bits. But for those of us who didn't like Man of Steel, it's probably just more of that, x10.

baldurMarch 23, 2016 4:50 PM

Yeah judging fairly, Iron Man 2 is 72% fresh and Iron Man 3 79% on RT while MoS is down and BvS is getting the same treatment, word by word.

DC has balls, they don't play things safely and to put BvS in the range of the new Fantastic 4 is absolutely ridiculous.

Marvel is fast food McDonalds chain of bullshit entertainment that no one wants to judge honestly and only sees the good things while no one wants to talk about the good things DC did.

Lets hope they break the box office and continue with these because there are people that want to see these movies continue. If you do not like MoS why come and watch this movie, did you honestly expect something else?

ToryKMarch 23, 2016 7:07 PM

...What the fuck is going on here? Re: Marvel movies - People like them because they're consistent. They're consistently entertaining and they're consistent in tone and continuity. And I don't mean entertaining in the Michael Bay sense (easy, obvious knock, I'm sorry). I think more than anyone, Marvel's upholding the tradition Spielberg and Lucas started - get my ass in a theater, let me enjoy myself, make me care, and don't insult me. I don't know that the impact is the same, but the feeling I get watching them certainly is. And that can't be a bad thing. As for this, I'm gonna approach it with some skepticism. Not because I was told to, but because the only example I have to drawn on was flimsy. I'm paying for a ticket, and only an idiot goes into something they pay for wanting to hate it. I think only an idiot goes into anything that's going to take a significant amount of time to experience wanting to hate it. That's just silly. I hope I like it more than Mr. Marsh, but I imagine I'll have a similar reaction. But shit, man, maybe I was brainwashed into doing so...

oblivious247March 23, 2016 9:12 PM

At least Marvel stay true to their characters. The folks at DC are clearly ashamed to be making comic book movies. Making Superman all grimdark all the time demonstrates a complete lack of understanding of the character (and his entire dynamic with Batman). For the majority of his publishing history, he has always been much closer to Captain America in tone than Batman. And please Man of Steel is not the incredibly thought provoking film you make it out to be.

I clearly didn't like Man of Steel. But I"ll go to Batman v Superman Why? Cuz maybe, just maybe, it'll finally be the one where they bring the comics I love to life. Maybe. But probably not.

Dave BaxterMarch 23, 2016 9:27 PM

Iron Man 2 has the lowest rating of any Marvel Studios movie with the exception of Thor 2 (another properly mocked movie). All the Batman's scored much higher than these. Only Snyders Man of Steel and SvB have been treated worse. It's not "DC", DC does just fine with other film makers and their TV is trashing Marvel by comparison.

But DC has "balls"? Please. Marvel became the biggest thing ever by making freaking Iron Man for under a 100 million bucks. DC is officially launching with a 250M gimmick crossover. I give the chutzpah and balls trophy to Marvel there.

curtvileMarch 24, 2016 8:54 AM

Having seen it yesterday there are few points I disagree with the reviewer. True there were many moving parts and as a whole it would have improved on condensing. And while the story was "forced" there are things that shone throughout. Ben Affleck IS Batman, like he is supposed to be in the comics. I dig the Nolan Bale Batman but it pales in comparison.

Gal Gadot is awesome as Wonder Woman. It is worth seeing for these too alone.
Everyone seems to hate Eisenberg as Luthor and fails to see this Luthor has more in common with Kayser Soze from Usual Suspects.
He only seems insecure and ADHD but his actions are far different.
And some of the writing is brilliant, were it in a not comicbook movie it would be lauded for it's poignancy. True that some parts of it are subpar and let explosions do the talking.

And let us be frank: if you have not read the comics it is based on...there is no point seeing this. It is serious and when it stay 1:1 on the comics it shines the "fixes" to make it more "movielike" are the downfall it has.

Cavill had grown to more stable Superman and his character learned the lessons from Man of Steel.

Still: not a perfect movie, yet I feel far superior than review let's to understand. Reviewers are people who have seen loads of movies and have varying tastes, granted.

I liked this, I liked Carol, Hail Ceasar! was awesome and so was Mad Max Fury Road. Which is best of them? that is a question a retard asks and I do not mean a disabled person but someone who needs to grow a self-esteem and a brain.

Psychonaut23March 26, 2016 12:46 PM

I especially loved the not dream but inter dimensional communication from Azrael. This movie was devoted to D.C. lore and maybe that is not a big thing but in the whole palpable war of awesome I.P. that Marvel Fox and Marvel Disney posit against D.C. it is cool to see them steep deep into this mythology. Let the other movies roll out, there are far worse movies to rail on than this one.

Jerry SköldMarch 27, 2016 8:38 AM

Azrael? I saw the Flash.

Psychonaut23March 27, 2016 11:30 AM

It was in the part following one of Bruce's dream sequences and Azrael was excitedly telling him about Lois Lane and other things. Azrael was caught up in a distorted dimensional static.

ToryKMarch 27, 2016 12:17 PM

No, that was definitely Ezra Miller's Flash.

Psychonaut23March 27, 2016 12:37 PM

Yeah...been researching it. I think it would have been more interesting if it had been Azrael.