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It’s hard not to be begrudgingly cynical about the comic book movie machine that created Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. Director Zack Snyder (300; Watchmen) on the surface has made a movie with the characters we know as Superman and Batman, but there is nothing underneath the capes and cowls. It would be nice, if there was a moment of dialogue that allowed us to care about the heroes that we look up to on the big screen. Written by Chris Terrio and David Goyer, there’s a clunkiness streaking through the narrative. It is a bloated collection of events, sucking the joy out of any fun to be had with this movie and leaving me longing to watch Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy again. 


Following up from 2013’s Man of Steel, we begin with Bruce Wayne (Ben Affleck) running to the aid of the people trapped in the crossfires of Superman and General Zod’s Kryptonian battle, which saved the planet from it’s demise, but took the lives of many innocent people left in the rubble. The debate between Superman being a savior or a danger to the world is periodically questioned, if only enough to give the film a reason as to why the caped crusader would have a beef with Clark Kent (Henry Cavill) in the first place. 


Before anyone stepped onto a movie set, a roar of disappointment was sounded with the casting of Affleck. The Argo director is the lone bright light here, while the movie stays shrouded in glum darkness. Now, if you haven’t been awake for any of the Batman movies of past, Bruce witnessed his parents death in front of him, and Snyder (for some reason) shows it again, only this time in slow motion, which is one of the many examples of “things you could have cut from an already exhausting 2 hour and thirty minute movie.” The tone of the film is constant throughout, never rising above dire. Bruce is haunted by confusing bat dreams, while Alfred (Jeremy Irons) helps him with his bat gear, spitting out melodramatic lines about “FEAR” and “EVIL”. This leaves little room or focus on Superman, who spends all of his time saving Lois, as Amy Adams is reduced to constant damsel. For once, I would like Cavill to have a chance to actually portray his Superman.  

The bad guy is Lex Luthor, played by a miscast Jesse Eisenberg, whose megalomaniac has the look of a Google bro-tech-wiz, who never shows mental stability to be trusted. His characters rise is preposterous. We never truly know what LexCorp’s business is, while a senator willingly gives him control of a found rock of kryptonite, the spaceship from Zod, and his human remains without any argument. The performance is a combination of Heath Ledger’s Joker and Jim Carrey’s Riddler, without any of the motive. His big plan is as reckless as a baby with a loaded gun. Every conversation involves him quoting about Greek Gods, “Black vs. Blue”, or a chance to tell clueless Senator Finch (Holly Hunter) that “Demons come from the sky, not below.” When Luthor monologues to Superman, I was wishing he would shut him up with his laser beam eyes.   


At no point does Snyder’s film feel like anything more than a set up for more DC universe movies. Even the build up to the films title battle lasts a whole five minutes and left me wondering, how and why did we get here? The appearance of Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot) is intriguing, only because it is a change of pace from Batman’s tortured soul and Superman’s search for nothing.  


The failure of this film is the script. If you are a fan of movies being a platform for our favorite heroes to exist, then yes, this could be a movie you enjoy. Unfortunately, BvS is overcrowded with characters, while unwilling to care about developing the characters themselves. The score by Junkie XL and Hans Zimmer hammers on with GWOONG! noises, while Snyder’s style is hitting the check points to build a Justice League, not about constructing an actual story. The plot even pauses in the action to allow Wonder Woman to open a zip file of videos of the other Justice League characters to come. Oh, and remember how Bruce Wayne cared about the destruction left in Man of Steel? That becomes a hypocritical after thought as he partakes in the movies final Sucker Punch destructo-thon battle, between late arrival bad guy Doomsday and the DC trio. 


On the surface, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice is not a terrible movie, certainly not the worst. I mean, the performances are there and the characters are in place, but it’s not good. It is disjointed, a joyless story, that has audiences watching a movie that would look better in their own imaginations. Maybe they should bring back Christopher Nolan. 


2 Stars. 


Written by: Leo Brady 


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