********* 5 out of 10 *********
Director: Zack Snyder
Actors: Henry Cavill, Ben Affleck, Jesse Eisenberg, Gal Gadot, Amy Adams
A blur of red-and-blue rushes across the screen striking a bulky black spot at the other end. The battle has begun, Superman versus Batman; the much hyped and much talked about face-off between the two greatest DC Comics’ superheroes. But by the time the year-long awaited battle had begun, I was too bored and exhausted by whatever Zack Snyder had shown in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice upto then, that it needed a bit of forced enthusiasm to pay attention to the fight happening on screen. The sequel to Man of Steel and the introduction to a long line-up of DC movies, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice has a crude outer structure of a good movie which needed to be patiently and perfectly chiseled to be brought out, which never happened.
The movie begins with a brief reflection on a young Bruce Wayne walking on the pavement happily with his parents when a tragedy strikes. The scene is beautifully shot, with Zack Snyder’s trademark style quite visible, even though I do not see the point in repeatedly going back in the past of Batman which is already well-known. This movie did not need that introduction. Unfortunately, that is probably the best sequence of the film. Next we see a sprinting Bruce Wayne trying to save his employees from the destructive battle in Metropolis between Superman and General Zod (that had occurred in Man of Steel), which ignites the first flames of his animosity with Superman. Should such a powerful being as Superman be allowed to operate on his own free well? Does the world need to enforce restrictions on him? Or is he the equivalent of God for us? Those were the kind of questions that the movie wanted to pose, a theme on which the plot was to be built, a good topic that could have pulled in Batman and Superman deeper into a philosophical battle as much as a physical one. If only they had tried harder.
The screenplay of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice falls flat, badly, atrociously. It is all the more difficult to accept that Oscar-winner Chris Terrio (Argo) and David Goyer (The Dark Knight trilogy) have written the screenplay for the movie. The plot not only fails to live upto the theme that the movie promises, but is also riddled with so many gaps that you might end up tearing your hair out. The scenes lack coherence, as each character seems to be busy with his or her thing, with no common goal in sight. Blame it on the editor, but do not forget the director. Zack Snyder, who could light up a movie with the way he captured shots in a stylish and classy manner, seems to have become overwhelmed with the magnitude of the movie he had to create that he has approached it in a textbook-fashion which hardly gives us memories worth cherishing, dialogues worth repeating, moments worth watching over and over again. The biggest drawback is the lack of development of the key characters such that their actions in the movie make little sense. Batman’s reasons to be pissed off with Superman seem to be a derivative of jealousy rather than the philosophical angle attempted. Superman, for most part of the movie is dismissive of Batman, which hardly creates the kind of friction needed in a movie with Batman v Superman in its title. Finally, when Superman does go into battle with Batman, the reason is so unoriginal that it is laughable. To reduce a matchup between these two giants to such lame-ass reasons is unforgivable!
It is Ben Affleck though who shines in this bleakish output created by Snyder. Affleck, whose casting was so wildly criticized, shows a maturity that an older Batman/Bruce Wayne would carry, without failing to bring out the anger that is still buried within him. It is a darker version of the Batman we know of, and despite a poor screenplay, Ben Affleck gives him more substance and character that I would love to see further grow in the hands of another director who knows what he is doing. Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman is another great addition to the DC world. She displays the arrogance that her character’s strengths give her, the maturity that her age brings, and a glimpse of the wisdom she carries. These two newcomers eclipse the older ones, Henry Cavill as Superman and Amy Adams as Lois Lane. Cavill is always a joy to watch on screen and he plays his part with utmost sincerity but so much more conflict could have been shown in that character which the writers hardly manage to scratch. Little is required of Amy Adams in this movie as compared to Man of Steel, which is another shame considering the bundle of talent that she is. Jeremy Irons makes for a smarter Alfred in the movies, a combination of sorts between the characters of Michael Caine and Morgan Freeman from Christopher Nolan’s trilogy. The biggest disappointment in the acting category though comes from Jesse Eisenberg as Lex Luthor who seemed as lost in his role as his character seemed lost in the movie. It is one of the worst depictions of a villain that you will ever see in a superhero movie of this size; what exactly is Lex Luthor’s grudge against Superman remains unclear throughout the film, and what does he really want is a mystery. Is he eccentric, is he a genius, is he a psycho, nothing is clear, and Jesse Eisenberg’s ridiculous acting makes it all the more impossible to understand the character. On the brighter side, there is a cameo scene with Kevin Costner which is one of the few good things about the movie, and that could have been played in a loop instead of having Eisenberg on screen.
The action sequences come quite late in the movie, and by that time all I was thinking was when I can leave the theatre. Nonetheless, the action is dramatic, loud and large in its scale as you would want in such a movie. The visual effects aren’t something to complain about, though the music by Hans Zimmer and Junkie XL isn’t their best. The dark shade of the movie is in contrast to the brighter colours seen in Man of Steel, but the change was required considering there was a Bat introduced. A few more introductions were made in the movie, hinting at the future Justice League film, which as of now is in Zack Snyder’s hands. I shudder at that thought because Snyder looks to be a shadow of his younger version who created the unforgettable 300. How will the journey of DC Comics fare on the big screen we will know from the box-office performance of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. But if the guys up at Warner Bros./DC want to create something equivalent to the Marvel universe in terms of cinematic quality, they have a long way to go!
For further reading: If you have seen the movie, jump over to this article from Vox titled “19 things that doesn’t make sense in this nonsensical movie“