Review: Jolly-cheered by fans upon early screenings, but immediately lambasted by critics as soon as review embargo was lifted, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice has taken a steep road to start. For a movie with a life-time burden, Batman v Superman (BvS) somehow ‘bites more than they can chew.’
Since the beginning, BvS has been projected as a multi-tasking story. Setting up the greatest superhero battle in history for a kick-starter of DC Extended Universe (counterpart of Marvel Cinematic Universe) is obviously the one. More, it was announced as a continuation of Zack Snyder’s ground-flatting Man of Steel (2013) with Batman 2.0, which is not Christopher Nolan’s. In addition, BvS also becomes a vault to contain and/or introduce other Justice League members before they unite in 2017.
As a foundation, BvS takes a penitentiary act of what Man of Steel has overdone—an over-the-top final battle which causes collateral damage and takes couples of innocence souls into casualty. A more mature Bruce Wayne (Ben Affleck) holds grudge towards the man who takes the lives of his men in Wayne Enterprise and levels his building; for that, he takes his Batman persona once more. Meanwhile, Clark Kent a.k.a Superman (Henry Cavill) must take the consequences of his deeds, which makes people doubt his presence as a savior or otherwise. To spice up, a third-party, Lex Luthor (Jesse Eisenberg) attempts to accelerate a clash between the hero since he has his own agenda.
BvS really is dense and pretentious—in terms of characters and conflicts; at some points, it becomes too dense even for the duration that clocks-in at 150 minutes. In short, BvS suffers from a series of complexity and ambition. First, it repeats a sin that forced Spider-Man to get rebooted TWICE: sin of being overstuffed. Second, Goyer and Terrio’s script seems to try hard to convey that the titular clash is not merely about power; both heroes are projected to be crossing in terms of ideology. However, Goyer and Terrio fail to string them up altogether; the script is troublesomely disjointed and convoluted—resulting in lacks of depth on the conflicts as it slowly blurs the motivation of each conflicting character.With messy editing and inconsistent pace which almost swallows up the first hour and half, two-third of BvS ends up being incoherent, indigestible, and less action-packed.
At certain points, BvS also suffers from unequal story-telling. Batman’s side is always written up more—in terms of quality and quantity—than Superman. Even, poor write-up for Lois Lane and Clark Kent is even making them less interesting than other characters like Lex Luthor and Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot). Affleck, despite of initial doubts, makes an interesting Batman—the one we never have seen before, with extra burdens on his back and a ruthless persona. Teaming up with Jeremy Irons as Alfred, Team Batman is sexier and more hardcore than they’ve ever been. Team Superman is a letdown with Cavill as the face. Meanwhile, Lex Luthor the third guy is pictured up as a more psychotic than Machiavellian; and Eisenberg is surprisingly the perfect guy. His quirkiness is even more menacing than his grand plan. Unfortunately, the script hinders Luthor from being a more intriguing puppet-master as he ends up being a nihilistic kind of villain, which only tries to be different from any superhero villain, especially Heath Ledger’s Joker.
Aside from the titular characters, Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman successfully steals the show from the boys. Her human persona, Diana Prince, remains mysterious for the whole duration; but when she first arrives as Wonder Woman during the final rampage, Gadot already proves that she’s worth than anything in BvS itself… and the original score for her, “Is She With You?” is already following us home.
One key-point to digest BvS to some favorable taste is: PATIENCE. Approximately 40 minutes left on the watch, BvS finally finds the good vibe. For whatever criticisms towards him, Zack Snyder is still one of the finest visual story-teller with his dark and gritty comic book realism. And this time, Snyder pays everything off with his cinematic Mark Millar-esque final rampage which clearly sums up what Lex Luthor addresses as “The greatest gladiator match in the history of the world. God versus man. Day versus night. Son of Krypton versus Bat of Gotham” with big additions from Wonder Woman and Superman’s deadliest foe, Doomsday.
One more point that sets BvS apart from other superhero movies by far is Batman’s fighting choreography, especially when he’s on his solo outing. We only see it twice—first during the Knightmare scene and the showdown to save Martha scene. Dynamic, brutal, and like we never seen before, Batman’s combat technique is more like gun-fu combined with bone-crunching CQC which reminds you to South East Asia martial art movies (The Raid, SPL, Ong Bak). With that, I’m so ready for a new Batman standalone.
As a movie bearing the name of two most popular superheroes in the world up on the title, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice might be a little overwhelming. Disjointed and convoluted plot might weigh the whole movie down with incoherence along the first 100 minutes,but if you’re patient enough, BvS is not as bad as what critics said. It might look silly sometimes, but the brutal rampage during the third act and what follows is astonishing. Plus some extra points if you like Ezra Miller, Jason Momoa, and Ray Fisher to make ways to Justice League.
Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016)
Action, Adventure, Fantasy, Adaptation Directed by: Zack Snyder Written by: Chris Terrio, David S. Goyer Starred by: Ben Affleck, Henry Cavill, Amy Adams, Jesse Eisenberg, Gal Gadot Runtime: 151 mins Rated PG-13