I remember walking out of the theatre after watching Batman V Superman: Dawn Of Justice with a conflicted feeling. Did I hate it? Did I love it? Perhaps a bit of both? At the end of the day, I simply settled with an “I was entertained” perspective. I knew that once the Director’s Cut was released, I would give it another view. My preference to review films once they hit home video is simple. Take away all the distractions and the hype of watching a blockbuster on the big screen and simply sit back and relax, enjoy the peace and quiet, and the HD movie itself. There truly is a difference. After taking a second look at Zack Snyder’s 188 minute Ultimate Edition, I can tell you that I appreciated and enjoyed it much more than last March at a crowded theatre with a crying baby behind me. Is it my favorite DC live action film? Not at all, this is not Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy to which those titles belong to. That said, there is a lot to like, some to love, and sadly, there are still some eye rolling moments that not even an extra 30 minutes of directors cut scenes could fix.
Let’s start with the love. I loved Wonder Woman. Actress Gal Gadot is a star in the making. She was a solid addition to the Fast n Furious franchise, but her portrayal as Diana Prince was fantastic. Her costume, her mysterious century’s old history, and her epic theme orchestra music all impressed. Huge nod to music composer, Hans Zimmerman. The score truly excited me as I watched with a grin as Wonder Woman stole the show in the film’s climax. She was worth the price alone. If one of Warner Bros. main missions was to sell fans on the upcoming cinematic DC franchise, then mission accomplished. I will be there for Wonder Woman’s solo film when it hits theatres on June 2, 2017. I have a DC fever, and the only prescription is more Wonder Woman.
I loved the film’s beginning introduction with the flashback from the Man Of Steel‘s climatic battle with General Zod from the eyes of Bruce Wayne. I immediately felt a connection and justified reason for the beginning seeds of Batman’s hatred for Superman. This opening sequence was actually done better in my humble opinion than the flashback battle scene from Avengers: Age Of Ultron. Of course, it is no secret I am a DC man, so naturally I loved it more.
Adding to my love factor for this film would also be Ben Affleck as The Dark Knight. There was a lot of concern when his casting was announced and he not only met, but exceeded expectations as far as I am concerned. Some of the film’s criticism was directly linked to just how dark and gritty Zack Snyder’s vision for the Caped Crusader turned out. My thoughts? Listen, Batman is the James Bond of super hero live action films. Just like 007, there have been many actors to drive the Batmobile. Each one adding their own style to the character. Anytime you have a franchise that spans decades, there will always be a different iteration to enjoy. If you want campy Adam West style Batman, then look no further than Joel Schumacher’s 1995 Batman Forever and 1997’s Batman and Robin. You want realistic? My man Christopher Nolan has you covered.
What makes Affleck’s Batman so fresh for me was the fact that this burnt out and bitter vigilante doesn’t mind killing Gotham scum in a nice explosion, gunshot or even a good Bat symbol branding of torture. We have never seen this Batman with rifle in hand on the big screen. His opening scene was dark, scary, and spectacular. Watching the fear in both the G.C.P.D. and the prisoned female victims at a mob hide out as Batman hangs from the ceiling was true to the core of Frank Millers take on the character in his famous graphic novel, The Dark Knight Returns. Watching him move and disappear in seconds as bullets fly was amazing. This was the Batman that nightmare legends are made of as Gotham City kids tell ghost stories over a good camp fire while roasting marsh mellows. I loved this Batman. Some may be tired of the dark mood of DC’s live action films. I say, give me more. This is the Batman I want. Can’t wait to see more of him in the upcoming Suicide Squad blockbuster later this summer. Also worth mentioning, two thumbs up for the new Batmobile design as well. Very cool looking and unique. A very nice addition to the live action cinematic Batmobile hall of fame.
Not to be lost in the films huge cast would be Alfred Pennyworth. Gold star for Jeremy Irons take on the famous butler. Again, was refreshing. Growing up reading Batman comics, Alfred was always more than just a butler or a computer wiz ally. In the 1980’s and 1990’s DC comic run, there were many times I would see Alfred putting on the mechanic hat as he would work on the Batmobile or other secret projects in the Batcave. Was honestly the first time I got to see this Alfred on the big screen and it definitely was a nice nod to source material for me that gave me a fun geek moment.
Now on to Henry Cavill as Superman. I really do enjoy his take on the Man Of Steel. Just like Affleck, he is a fresh take on the character and he is a damn good actor as well. I have always been a fan of his going back to Showtime’s The Tudors, series. Again, huge nod of approval to music composer, Hans Zimmerman. I am really digging Superman’s theme music when he is on-screen. His love for Lois Lane (Amy Adams) feels more genuine than we have seen from past film iterations. Cavill brings a lot of raw emotion to the character that I appreciate. Watching him turn from calmness to pure Dragon Ball Z Super Saiyan rage when shown pictures of his kidnapped mother was authentic to me. As I said before in my Man Of Steel review, this is a realistic take on the character. Not a cookie cutter super hero. This is an alien from an extinct planet who is just trying to do the right thing. That is all, and I love that about Snyder’s Superman. If you liked him in Man Of Steel, then there is more to enjoy in Dawn Of Justice.
Snyder’s pacing and plot head scratchers aside, I will give the man this–he knows how to capture the perfect shot. There are countless scenes that feel as if they were taken right out of a comic. The opening scene where the director takes focus on the hand gun and Martha Wayne’s pearl necklace moments before being gunned down, Superman landing from the sky as he rescues a NASA rocket crew, or the epic shot of Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman standing side by side are just a few of the many poster worthy shots.
The quick video teasers of The Flash, Cyborg, and Aquaman were solid. Being a fan of the CW Flash series, this new Flash has his work cut out for him to truly win fans over. Cyborg remains a question mark for me. Not sure where I stand. I get a “this is going to be really good or really bad feeling”. The highlight and most promising for me would be hands down, the Aquaman teaser. July 27th, 2018 is going to be a long wait when the film launches.
Now to the bad. Where to start. The plot was a bit hard to follow, even at home with an extra 30 minutes of footage. Now I am not saying it is a complete and confusing mess. Just not as cohesive as say, Nolan’s Batman trilogy. I have watched this film three times and I am still putting the pieces together. Why did Luthor have photos and secret footage of the soon to be assembled but still secret Justice League again? I don’t recall that ever being explained, but hey, this is Luthor here. The guy has money and power, so I’ll just roll with it. Also, blink and you might miss it, but when did Jimmy from The Daily Planet become a C.I.A agent that lasted for just one scene? When you need to watch a film for a fourth time just to continue to piece the plot together, that is not a good thing.
Speaking of Lex Luthor, or should I just say junior? I completely missed this in the theatre thanks to a nine-year old spilling his cherry Icee on me, but was interesting to learn that this is not the Lex Luthor we all know and fear. This is his snobby nosed kid. That really put things in perspective for me the second go around. There was just something about Jesse Eisenberg‘s portrayal that just felt off when I watched him on the big screen. Was if Eisenberg had auditioned for the role of the Joker and Warner Bros offered him the role of Luthor instead. He wasn’t awful. I just felt as if he was trying too hard to be the “crazy” villain and not the strategic and ruthless mastermind persona of the Lex Luthor we have seen and loved over the years. Understandably I can’t praise Zack Snyder for giving us fresh takes on Batman and Superman on one hand, and then complain with the other when the subject of Eisenberg’s Lex Luthor comes up, and yet…here I am doing just that. What can I say, he wasn’t my favorite character in the film. His final scene didn’t do the character any favors either. I am still trying to erase his dripping nose snot out of my brain.
As for the rest of the film? Action was well paced for the most part. There are some scenes that do drag on a bit here and there, but no film is truly perfect in that regard. The fight choreography was very well done from Batman’s kick ass scene fighting and killing mercenaries in an alternate universe with evil Superman to the big battle with Doomsday. There was some popular criticism on the CGI of Doomsday that I would like to touch on. I don’t think it was as bad as people claimed. He’s big, scary, and ugly. What more do you want. I didn’t mind the films climatic conclusion after the story arc of the graphic novel either. For spoiler reasons, I won’t go any further on that topic, but I will say I wasn’t too upset over it and thought it was acceptable to stay true to the source material for the most part, Doomsday’s origin story aside. The main event fight card of Batman V Superman was both short and sweet. I think the motive for Superman and Batman engaging in the fight was more than solid. However, I think the moments right before the real fight began could have used a bit more logic and reasoning. For some reason, Superman went from logically trying to explain his situation to Batman with urgency to just deciding to throw him around like a rag doll. That said, the fight itself was satisfying.
All in all it was a fun and yet dark film with some pacing and plot issues, and for the most part an entertaining three hours. Was cool to see the Gotham versus Metropolis football game in the Director’s Cut as well. Affleck, Cavill, and Gadot have a lot of screen chemistry together that I believe will only get better as the DC cinematic machine truly kicks into high gear over the next few years. This film by all rights, probably deserves a lower score, but ultimately there are too many epic action sequences and epic moments that far outweigh the bad.
I give Batman v Superman: Dawn Of Justice 3 out of 4 stars.