“Batman v Superman: Dawn Of Justice” Review
  Vedesh Nath
April 2016

Release Date: 25th March 2016

Cinemas: Movie Towne (Port of Spain, Chaguanas, Tobago), Caribbean Cinemas (Trincity, San Fernando), Digicel IMAX (Port of Spain), Empire (San Fernando), National (San Fernando)

Main Cast: Henry Cavill, Ben Affleck, Amy Adams, Jesse Eisenberg, Diane Lane, Laurence Fishburne, Holly Hunter, Jason Momoa, Gal Gadot, Jeremy Irons

Genre: Action, Adventure, Science Fiction, Fantasy

Rating: PG – contains Violent Action Sequences

Running Time: 151 mins.

Hollywood continues with its procession of releasing a profusion of superhero films, some proving themselves to be worthy whilst others faltering.

Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice serves as the second instalment to theMan of Steel film released three years ago and the first formal chapter in the Justice League series. The film is directed by Zack Snyder, whose best films to date are undoubtedly Dawn of the Dead and 300. Mastermind Christopher Nolan (The Dark Knight trilogy, Inception, Interstellar) was one of the main producers for this film while David Goyer (who co-wrote Nolan’s Dark Knightseries) and Chris Terrio (Argo) wrote the screenplay. Now with such a prolific creative team, Batman v Superman should surely be a winner, right? Well, let’s dissect.


Rotting leaves find their resting place as they fall to the Earth as a young Bruce Wayne is seen scurrying through a graveyard in tears, with the image of his murdered parents lying on a cold sidewalk embedded in his head. This is the image which haunts an aged Bruce Wayne (Ben Affleck), secretly Batman – the sole superhero who continues to save the city of Gotham from decaying with crooks. Though he is successful in his fights, he blames the famous Superman (Henry Cavill), who is plastered across the front page of the Daily Planet newspaper every day, for the rise in crime.

While Batman hates Superman, Superman in return hates Batman. Superman – who keeps his identity a secret disguised as the nerdy reporter Clark Kent – becomes envious of Batman, with the idea of Batman as a hero instead of him, and promises to prove Batman to be a vigilante.  Whilst the two heroes are busy pointing fingers at each other, Lex Luthor (Jesse Eisenberg) successfully accomplishes a series of terrorists attack. He bombs the U.S.  Capitol and kidnaps both Superman’s girlfriend Lois Lane (Amy Adams) and his mother Martha Kent (Diane Lane) simultaneously. Though Superman saves his muse, Lois, he is unable to find his mother. Luthor tells Superman that the only way his mother will be released is if he kills Batman, forcing Superman to go in a face-off with Batman  as it is the only way to safeguard his mother’s release.  Whilst the two heroes fight in their first big screen battle, Luthor unleashes his man-made monster Doomsday to wreak havoc in the city, forcing Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot) to come out of hiding.


Now, if you look at the structure of the plot, you would see that it by-passes the norms of story-telling. Traditional story-telling should begin with an exposition (meaning a crisis is revealed at the very beginning of the film), followed by a rising action (whereby a series of events create the film’s catharsis or peak point), then a climax or solution to the exposition that leads to a falling action and denouement. The film overlooks these values  and jumps right into a series of fight scenes where there is never any real conclusion or denouement. The film seems like nothing but an elongated catharsis that becomes dreary after the first half-hour. Furthermore, seeing that the film doesn’t have a conventional introduction, the only way the film could be enjoyed is if patrons have a knowledge of the comic book characters and storylines prior to seeing the movie. It makes you wonder if this film was made merely for the creators’ personal fetish with comic books and meant to be seen only by fellow comic book fans.

Although eyebrows went up when the news of him playing Batman first came out, Ben Affleck continues to prove himself as a good actor – making the best of whatever is thrown his way. In a recent interview, Sally Field speaks of her character in the last Spiderman film with abhorrence saying, “It’s hard to find a three-dimensional character in it. You work at it as much as you can, but you can’t put ten pounds of sh*t into a five pound bag.” Affleck, though given a three pound bag, manages to fill it with adequacy. You have to admit though - this film is a step-down for Affleck. It doesn’t sum up to anything close to Argo or Gone Girl. Henry Cavill is yet to convince as a good actor – mainly because he hasn’t been given any substantial roles just yet. Though he satisfies as Superman, his success as an actor still relies on his good looks.


Jesse Eisenberg and Gal Gadot manage to steal the show from acting heavyweights Amy Adams and Laurence Fishburne – though Eisenberg’s triumph relies on his technique as an actor while Gadot’s on her character. Eisenberg, who has been nominated for an Academy Award for his portrayal of Facebook founder Mark Zuckenberg in The Social Network, undoubtedly gives the best performance in the film. He masterfully plays the orphan chasing a dream merely to prove himself worthy to the world, making you feel his pain. He draws you in, bit by bit, changing rhythm and beat in his dialogue to reveal the darkness he carries inside him. He plays the monster humanely. Gadot also gives a solid performance, though her role in this first instalment wasn’t as large as anticipated. She brings back Wonder Woman with such ease that it makes you remember Lynda Carter. She gives you the hero you wanted to see all along, that both Batman and Superman failed to supply.


Now Hollywood has had a history of superhero films stemming back to the 1920s starting with the silent film The Mask of Zorro. Throughout history, the films not only contained wit, but proved to be moralistically enriching in that they taught the average Joe on the street what it meant to be a hero. Here, we have Zack Snyder and a crew creating a film where acts of violence are executed without reason or solution. In an already harsh world, we need resolutions and not just a mirror – it is what cinema and theatre should be. Though I hope the Justice League series will improve with the upcoming films, the outlook would seem to be a bit dismal once Snyder is involved.


Overall Rating: 4/10



By: Vedesh Nath | COLUMNS-REVIEWS | April 2016

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