Saturday, December 03, 2016

Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice



Based on the characters from DC Comics, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice is about two superheroes who both go into conflict with each other unaware that a mogul is stirring the pot from underneath to get them to kill each other. Directed by Zack Snyder and screenplay by David S. Goyer and Chris Terrio, the film is a sequel to 2013’s Man of Steel where Superman copes with being a polarizing figure in the world with Batman being uneasy with Superman’s action from that film as Superman/Clark Kent/Kal-El is once again played by Henry Cavill and Batman/Bruce Wayne is played by Ben Affleck. Also starring Amy Adams, Jesse Eisenberg, Laurence Fishburne, Diane Lane, Jeremy Irons, Holly Hunter, and Gal Gadot as Diana Prince/Wonder Woman. Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice is an enthralling but messy film from Zack Snyder.

The film revolves around a growing conflict between two superheroes who both want to do good but have different ideas of what to do with it as they would eventually have a showdown unaware that a mogul is trying to get them to fight each other for his own gain. It’s a film that plays into not just actions but also its consequences where it begins with the climatic showdown between Superman and Zod at Gotham from Man of Steel but it is seen from the perspective of Bruce Wayne who would watch thousands of innocent people killed including some of his employees at a building he owns with one of them losing his legs. Superman not only copes with being a polarizing figure trying to do good though innocent people would be killed in these attempts as members of the United States government want to question his intentions. Still, Clark Kent would question the intentions of Batman who had been doing vigilante work on his own brand of justice where even the people of Gotham are afraid of him.

The film’s screenplay by David S. Goyer and Chris Terrio definitely play not into this conflict between these two men but also questioning themselves where Wayne and several others aren’t sure if Superman is really trying to do good as there are those who are also willing to discredit Superman. The one person that is doing that and more as well as stirring the pot between Batman and Superman is this mogul in Lex Luthor (Jesse Eisenberg). While Wayne’s longtime butler Alfred Pennyworth (Jeremy Irons) believe that Superman isn’t the enemy and Kent’s adoptive mother Martha (Diane Lane) tries to assure her son to do good no matter all of the bad that is happening. Even Kent’s girlfriend/fellow journalist Lois Lane (Amy Adams) tries to assure Clark that he is doing good while she would do her own investigation into a bullet shell she found in Africa during an assignment that went wrong where Superman saved her but he would be accused of killing several people.

While the film’s script does establish the characters including their motivation as well as their own suspicions. The narrative however is a total mess due to the fact that there is so much that is going on as well as a lot of exposition of how Luthor views the world and this subplot that relates to these other individuals with superpowers that Wayne would learn. One of which would reveal to be Wonder Woman who would be integral to the film’s climax as she brings some weight into unveiling the truth of what is happening and who is the real enemy. Yet, the journey for Wonder Woman to be involved is a clunky one in the script as other aspects that relate to the suspicion Wayne and Kent have toward each other as well as the government’s suspicion on Superman aren’t fully realized.

Zack Snyder’s direction definitely has a lot of stylistic elements not just in the conventional aspects of bombastic action films but it does have moments where he does break away from the action. Shot on various locations in Detroit, Chicago, and parts of New Mexico as Africa, the film does play into a world that is uncertain about what is going to happen with Superman being seen as a savior for some but others see him as a false idol. Snyder does use a lot of wide shots to establish some of the locations as well as some medium shots to play into the vastness of the crowds along with some of the conversations. There are some close-ups where Snyder does play into some of the intrigue such as a meeting between Wayne and Diana Prince at a museum where the former is intrigued by the latter. It’s among one of the highlights of the film that shows Snyder just restraining himself a bit as well in his slow-motion action scenes.

The direction does have moment that feature moments that are surreal such as a few dream sequences of what Wayne is dealing with as it relates to the death of his parents and the idea of Superman as a threat. There are moments that drive the story such as Superman attending the U.S. Senate Committee in the hope that he can announce his intentions which would lead to a key plot point in the film. It’s just that Snyder tends to draw things out while also trying to find time to introduce other characters that is to be part of something bigger. It is part of the reason for the film’s uneven tone where there is this story about Superman going against Batman but also wanting to tell the story of these two men working together for something good. The film’s climax where the two team up with Wonder Woman to face a monster called Doomsday is quite thrilling but it is followed by a more drawn-out ending that goes a little overboard. Overall, Snyder does create an exhilarating yet flawed film about two superheroes being manipulated by a tyrannical mogul who wants them both dead by killing each other.

Cinematographer Larry Fong does excellent work with the film‘s stylish cinematography with its usage of de-saturated colors and some low-key grainy camera work for some of the nighttime interiors as well as the usage of blue and sepia for some of the daytime exteriors. Editor David Brenner does nice work with the editing as it does go into the typical fast-cutting style that is expected in action films though it does allow each scene to establish what is going on while it also has some stylish jump-cuts. Production designer Patrick Tatapoulos, with set decorator Carolyn “Cal” Loucks and supervising art director Troy Sizemore, does brilliant work with the look of the Luthor estate as well as the home and land of Bruce Wayne along with the secret room where he does his own investigation with Alfred. Costume designer Michael Wilkinson does fantastic work with the design of the costumes that Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman wear as well as those gorgeous dresses that Prince wears in social gatherings.

Visual effects supervisor John “D.J.“ Des Jardin does amazing work with the visual effects as it play into some of the design of the cities and the powers of Superman as well as in the look of the monster that is Doomsday. Sound designers Chuck Michael and Jussi Tegelman, with sound editor Scott Hecker, do superb work with the sound with the layer of sound effects and the way Doomsday sound along with how some of the locations are presented with the sound. The film’s music by Tom Holkenberg aka Junkie XL and Hans Zimmer is wonderful for its mixture of bombastic orchestral score provided by Zimmer with some of Holkenberg‘s approach to rock and electronic power as it has some amazing themes including the one for Wonder Woman‘s arrival.

The casting by Jo Edna Boldin, Kristy Carlson, and Lora Kennedy is great as it feature some notable small role and appearances from news reporters Soledad O’Brien, Anderson Cooper, and Charlie Rose as themselves along with the famed astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson as himself. Other small roles from Jeffrey Dean Morgan and Lauren Cohan as Bruce’s parents in the flashback scene of their murder, Michael Cassidy as the young Bruce, Mark Edward Taylor as an executive at Wayne Enterprises who would be killed in the film’s opening sequence, Christina Wren and Harry Lennix in their respective roles as Major Farris and Secretary Swanwick who are among the few that believe that Superman was set-up in Africa, Kevin Costner in a cameo appearance as Clark’s adoptive father Jonathan Kent, and Robin Atkin Downes as performance-capture model of the monster that is Doomsday.

Other noteworthy small roles include Scoot McNairy as a former Wayne Enterprises employee Wallace Keefe who has a legit grudge towards Superman, Tao Okamoto as Luthor’s assistant Mercy Graves, and Callan Mulvey as the Russian terrorist Anatoli Knyazev whom Wayne suspects to have some affiliation with Luthor as he would also be involved in setting up Superman for an incident in Africa. Holly Hunter is terrific as Senator June Finch as a woman that wants to question Superman to see if his intentions are good while becoming uneasy about Luthor and his obsession towards Superman. Diane Lane is fantastic as Martha Kent as Clark’s adoptive mother who tries to assure her son about his role in the world as she would also become a key factor in the climax into what Superman has to fight for.

Laurence Fishburne is superb as Daily Planet editor-in-chief Perry White who is frustrated with Kent’s frequent absences and the compromises he had to make to keep his paper afloat. Jeremy Irons is excellent as Alfred Pennyworth as Wayne’s longtime butler/guardian who is kind of the conscience of sorts while getting to say some funny lines as well as have Wayne see reason about what Superman is doing. Amy Adams is amazing as Lois Lane as Kent’s colleague/lover who is trying to see what really happened in Africa as well as try to help Kent see that he is someone trying to do good. Jesse Eisenberg is brilliant as Lex Luthor as a mogul who despises Superman and will do anything to destroy him where Eisenberg has this darkly-comic approach to the character that is quite offbeat but fun to watch.

In the role of Diana Prince/Wonder Woman, Gal Gadot is phenomenal as the Amazonian warrior who disguises herself as an antiques dealer who doesn’t appear much but her scenes do provide some importance while showing what she can do when she is Wonder Woman when she joins the fight against Doomsday as she steals the show. Henry Cavill is marvelous as Clark Kent/Kal-El/Superman as someone who is struggling with his role as a superhero while dealing with its consequences and expectations where he also finds himself in conflict with Batman over different ideas of doing good. Finally, there’s Ben Affleck in a remarkable performance as Bruce Wayne/Batman as a vigilante who brings fear to his enemies as he wonders if Superman is really on Earth to bring chaos as well as have suspicion towards Luthor where he makes a discovery about others who might join in the fight for good where Affleck really brings in the sense of ingenuity and awesomeness that is Batman.

Despite its flaws due to a messy script and some drawn-out storylines including its ending, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice is still a terrific film from Zack Snyder. Featuring a great cast, a fantastic score, dazzling visual effects, and an intriguing yet flawed premise, it is a superhero film that is exciting while setting the stage for something bigger to come. In the end, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice is a stellar film from Zack Snyder.

Zack Snyder Films: (Dawn of the Dead (2004 film)) - 300 - Watchmen - (Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga’Hoole) - Sucker Punch - Man of Steel - (Justice League)

DC Extended Universe: (Suicide Squad) - (Wonder Woman)

Batman Films: (Batman (1966 film)) - Batman (1989 film) - Batman Returns - Batman Forever - Batman & Robin - Batman Begins - The Dark Knight - The Dark Knight Rises

Superman Films: (Superman) - (Superman II) - (Superman III) - (Superman IV: The Quest for Peace) - (Superman Returns) - (Superman II: The Richard Donner’s Cut)

© thevoid99 2016

7 comments:

ruth said...

I thought the dream sequences were so annoying to me, and that 'Martha' twist is just plain dumb and lazy. I can't say I didn't enjoy the movie at all, but it's far from being terrific for me.

thevoid99 said...

I'm with you a bit on the dream sequences as it is a little overboard while I didn't the whole "Martha" thing was a twist since both Bruce and Clark have moms with the same name as we didn't need to be reminded of that. I still liked it though it is flawed.

Brittani Burnham said...

This was messy, but not as awful as it could've been, I guess? lol. I think you liked it a bit more than I did. It's hard for me to get behind Cavill because it's like watching a cardboard cut out act. I wish Eisenberg would've lost the twitchiness. I wanted to like him as Luther, and I think buried under those weird quirks he could've given a great performance. But he was too much like The Riddler or the Joker than Lex Luther.

keith71_98 said...

THANK YOU! This became a fashionable punching bag when it was first released but I had a ton of fun with it. Sure there are some flaws and in many way it speaks heavily to the fans of the comics, but I thought the harsh criticisms were a bit unfounded. Just my take though. Many disagreed with my review of it.

thevoid99 said...

@Brittani-I think some of the criticism went a little overboard though it is still a flawed film. I do like Henry Cavill and thought he was good but I agree that he should really be more engaging and light-hearted like Christopher Reeve was.

@keith71_98-I don't really understand the hate towards this film either as I thought it was good. I had fun watching it and I didn't mind that it was flawed. I just hope DC Films could do better with their upcoming slate of films.

Wendell Ottley said...

I'm sorry, but I'm on the other side of the fence on this one. I hated this movie. I went into the theater wanting really badly to like it, but it just drained all of the enthusiasm from me. It was so convoluted, and needlessly brooding, the whole thing seemed off. I thought Eisenberg was horrible as Lex. He was all physical ticks and fake lunacy. I couldn't take him serious for one second. Finally, the whole Martha thing. Ugh.

thevoid99 said...

@Wendell-I can understand why you didn't like it and it's cool. I know Jesse Eisenberg isn't for everyone but I kind of thought he was a bit refreshing as Luthor. Sure, he's not Gene Hackman or Kevin Spacey but I did have fun. The "Martha" thing was kind of dumb.