Reviews and entertainment articles by Dave Simpson
The superhero showdown the world has been waiting for has arrived as the two titans of the DC universe come face to face on the big screen at last. Yes, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice has finally descended upon cinemas and while it may not be the masterpiece many had hoped it would be, it’s far from being a disaster.
Zack Snyder’s comic book epic undoubtedly has its issues, but there are plenty of positives to go along with the negatives. For starters, it’s fairly well paced for its length. It definitely doesn’t feel as if it’s two and a half hours long. The plot isn’t as incoherent as it could have been for a movie of its magnitude either. It’s undeniably convoluted and loaded with unnecessary narrative threads, but it’s certainly not nonsensical.
Both heroes’ motives are made clear and credible. It’s easy to appreciate each of their perspectives and neither character comes across as being morally superior to the other. The backstory as to why Batman bears a grudge against Superman actually results in one of the movie’s strongest sequences, tying Bruce Wayne into the end of Man of Steel in a clever way. This also helps examine the fallout from the fight with Zod, which is well addressed in the story.
Some viewers may be disappointed that the “versus” of the title initially involves more of an ideological clash than an all out brawl, but I found the fact that the characters’ mutual disdain is conveyed just as effectively philosophically as it is physically to be rather intriguing. That’s not to say that the film is in any way lacking in the action department though.
Love it or hate it, there’s no denying that Dawn of Justice goes all out with its set-pieces. Admittedly the climactic battle does feel like it belongs in another movie and the resolution to the titular heroes’ inevitable face-off seems a little sudden and contrived, but the execution and aesthetic of these scenes make amends for their narrative anomalies.
The ending is also surprisingly poignant, leaving an unexpectedly powerful emotional impression. And while some of the key characters could have done with more development, the cast does an admirable job with what they’re given.
Batman is inserted fairly flawlessly into the world of Man of Steel, with Ben Affleck being believable as a battle-hardened Bruce Wayne. He endows the entrepreneur with a war-weary yet righteous demeanour that works well within the context of the story.
Henry Cavill gives an adept performance as both Superman and Clark Kent, despite his everyday identity not being explored as much as his superhero side. The English actor is intense when he has to be, but not at the expense of the character’s humanity, so to speak.
Gal Gadot is great as Wonder Woman. One could contend that Diana Prince didn’t need to be in this movie, and there is merit to that argument, but the scenes in which DC’s holy trinity appear together are so exhilarating that any contrivances to include her character can be forgiven. Her presence also succeeds in inciting excitement for her upcoming solo movie.
Lois Lane is more essential to the story than one might expect going in. Her relationship with Clark would have benefited from further fleshing out, but Amy Adams is likable in the role.
Opinions on Jesse Eisenberg’s portrayal of Lex Luthor are sure to be divisive. His eccentric take on the iconic antagonist is certainly unique. While his approach seems awkward at first, his maniacal mannerisms slowly start to work for the narrative. The only major issue is that the rationale behind his unhinged behaviour is left unclear.
Jeremey Irons isn’t given much of a chance to prove himself as Bruce Wayne’s ever reliable butler/enabler Alfred Pennyworth, despite coming across as capable. Of the rest of the cast, Diane Lane and Laurence Fishburne don’t have a lot to do as Martha Kent and Perry White, respectively. The former is little more than a plot device, while the latter seems as if he’s only there for the sake of having another familiar face from Man of Steel. Unfortunately these three actors are victims of a script that’s so jam-packed, it’s bursting at the seams.
For better or worse, what DC have delivered is essentially a Batman versus Superman movie mashed together with a Doomsday movie. It’s overly concerned with set-up and it should have been more streamlined, but there are pros to counteract a lot of the cons. The action is invigorating, the momentum remains rapid all the way through and a genuine effort is made to split the spotlight evenly between both Batman and Superman. While that may not completely pardon its problems, it does mean Dawn of Justice manages to be an entertaining film that’s worth taking the time to investigate.
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