Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016)
Directed by Zack Snyder
Written by Chris Terrio, David S. Goyer
Starring: Ben Affleck, Henry Cavill, Jesse Eisenberg, Amy Adams, Jeremy Irons
In the aftermath of Superman’s arrival there are many who question the safety of his presence. Convinced that his powers are dangerous, Batman begins to take action against Superman.
This highly anticipated film was released in 2016, adding another chapter to the DC Comics universe. The movie was directed by Zack Synder (Man of Steel) and written by Chris Terrio (Argo) and David S. Goyer (Batman Begins). The film includes Henry Cavill (The Man from U.N.C.L.E.) and Amy Adams (Sunshine Cleaning), both reprising their roles from Man of Steel. This movie also stars Ben Affleck (Gone Girl), Jesse Eisenberg (Zombieland), and Jeremy Irons (The Mission).
This story is a mixed bag of nice moments and complete chaos. The writing decides to return to familiar material before departing into a series of highs and lows. The lows come from a series of choices that leave the film often feeling uninspired and commercialized. The decision to introduce a number of characters not involved in this film really bogs down the pace. Additionally, the characters are incredibly one-dimensional. This translates directly into some of the major performances in the film. The best moments of the story are the action sequences late in the film. The dialogue in this one also suffers from a lack of consistency that mixes intensity with lines that felt far too cute to fit the tone of the film. There are small moments that work, but overall this one doesn’t hold up. Unfortunately, the writing fails far more often than it succeeds throughout this one.
The acting is clearly a reflection of the material in this one. The performances feel one-dimensional and lack any real emotional pull. Ben Affleck seemed to play with role with a one-note effort that rarely inspires any emotion from his character. (I should say characters since he handles Bruce Wayne and Batman with similar blandness.) The writing also never really provided him a chance to establish both sides of his character, which would’ve gone a long way to making this one work better.
Henry Cavill also lacked much material to work with in this one. Unlike Affleck, he had already established much of his role in the previous film. This time around he is good, but it’s nothing new. Amy Adams also seemed to bring a decent performance without offering anything new. The chemistry between Adams and Cavill also suffers in this one. The writing leaves their relationship feeling old and boring. Without the passion, these two play like an old married couple.
Jesse Eisenberg gives the most passionate performance in this one. Choosing to play it big, he brings out a flamboyant Lex Luthor that definitely stands out. His performance is clearly a committed one, and there are some fun moments with him in the film. Unfortunately, he also wasn’t provided the material necessary to bring out any thing great. (I had hoped for Ledger’s Joker, but this isn’t that.) Jeremy Irons also does a decent job in this one. Unfortunately, the role feels too small for his level of talent. Overall, the actors were dealt crummy hands and were only able to do so much to make this work.
So I’ve beat this one up pretty badly so far. How about the visuals? Well, that’s where this one does a lot of great things. The action sequences are really fun and intense throughout the film. The style of the visuals accentuates the edgy tone the filmmakers were going for. The digital effects also blend nicely into the movie. With the addition of good camera work, this one does a lot of good things visually. The editing is a different story. This film feels like a series of fast-slow-fast-slow moments. The momentum of the story never gets a chance to build due to the weakness of the editing. No doubt much of this is due to the writing as well. This film also suffers from a derivative score that is often more an annoying distraction than a nice accent. The work of Hans Zimmer and Junkie XL blends together about as much as I expected it to. Overall, the production work on this film is like the rest. The mix of good and bad tends to lean towards the bad.
If you’re a die-hard fan of the DC Comic world, this is one you might want to see. Otherwise, this movie doesn’t offer enough for anyone new to the world. If anything, fans of the comic book series that these stories are based on might find it worth checking out. I might also suggest this to anyone who really loved Man of Steel since it continues the story. Otherwise, this is one you might wait to see at home. I give this one 2.5 out of 5 stars.