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Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice

Is it a disaster, or are there redeemable qualities to it?

This movie has easily been one of the most highly anticipated films in recent memory, but accompanying the hype has been a mammoth shadow of anxiety and cautious optimism. With Zack Snyder having returned as the director, frequent release delays and trailers stinking of superhero cliches, is BvS the disaster it seems to be, or are there redeemable qualities to it?

BvS takes place right after Man of Steel, where many people, especially Bruce Wayne, see Superman as a grave threat. Superman is also targeted by eccentric entrepreneur Lex Luthor, who has devious plans of his own. There’s little point in chronicling the rest of the story, because most of it is revealed (or rather, spoiled) by the trailers. While the dialogue and action sequences are passable, the plot is lacking in many essential ingredients that make a good narrative, such as character development, change of state, mystery and suspense, and clear themes. 

Many of the story’s problems are precipitated by both Zack Snyder’s direction and the editing of BvS. Why Zack Snyder likes to make movies that are way past the two hour mark remains a mystery to me, but the 2 hour 31 minute runtime is not the only reason why BvS is an exhausting film to watch. The segmentation between various scenes is quite messy and disjunctive, the final battle is poorly edited, and the climax ends with a depressive aftertaste not dissimilar from Man of Steel’s. I might also mention that BvS is a solid graduate of the The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King school of having way too many endings.

I don’t know whether to think of Zack Snyder as a lovechild or a copycat of Michael Bay and J.J. Abrams. Not only are there are a lot of explosions, slow-motion shots and military scenes (Bayisms), but there is a shit-tonne of lens flares and shaky cam shots (J.J. traits). Some of the CGI, especially towards the end, is nauseating and overpowering, and it’s a shame that Snyder doesn’t take advantage of his style and skills in visuals for BvS. However, he does display respect towards the DC universe, with several tie-ins to the Justice League that made me want to brush up my knowledge of comics. That being said, I’m still worried Snyder is helming Parts 1 and 2 to The Justice League.

Now I’ve done my best to get all the negatives out of the way, let’s discuss the pros of BvS. First of all, Ben Affleck ROCKS as both Batman and Bruce Wayne, nailing every part of his character to perfection. Giving Christian Bale a run for his money, Affleck’s Batman is probably the darkest incarnation of the dark knight I’ve seen so far, even breaking two of Batman’s core rules (no guns and no killing). By the way, Affleck’s physique without the suit on (there is a shirtless scene, ladies!) will make every guy want to hit the gym and bulk up.

Jeremy Irons and Gal Gadot are brilliant in their roles of Alfred Pennyworth and Wonder Woman respectively, brief as they may be. It’s a shame Snyder and the writers can’t write scenes as interesting as these for Henry Cavill and Amy Adams.

However, the weakest character and performance in BvS without a doubt is Lex Luthor, played by Jesse Eisenberg, who borrows extensively from his performance in The Social Network. Here is a quote from my friend Henry Andrew Turner on my reaction to Lex Luthor during the movie - “if I had a dollar for the number of times I wanted shoot myself in the dick every time Jesse Eisenberg appeared on screen, I would have enough money to get my ticket back.” 

While Batman v Superman is ridden with flaws, it is by no means a Fantastic Four-type abomination. Is it worth a 28% score on Rotten Tomatoes? I don’t think so. Is it worth your money and time to go see it in the theatre? I don’t think so, either. Whether the upcoming barrage of DC (and Marvel) films will be a dawn of justice remains an unanswered question, but the answer is likely to be a resounding ‘no’.

Score - 56%

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