Because of all the negative reviews I was a bit reluctant to see “Batman V Superman: Dawn Of Justice,” but thankfully the movie turned out to be much better than the negative reviews. For people who enjoy non-stop action wrapped inside a super hero movie Batman V Superman is clearly worth the price of admission.
The movie starts with the city-destroying battle from the end of Man of Steel, but rather than concentrate on the Superman vs. General Zod battle, it showcases what is happening to the people and buildings on the street below, one of which is Bruce Wayne who is trying to save his staff in the Metropolis office of Wayne Enterprises (in this universe Gotham and Metropolis seem to be across the bay from each other). Interposed with this action is the story of the murder of Bruce Wayne’s parents, not as an origin story (thankfully), but in short clips as part of a Wayne nightmare which is necessary to explain Batman’s actions later in the film.
Most of the world considers Superman (played again by Henry Cavill who wore the red cape in Man of Steel) a hero for winning his fight against the evil Kryptonian Zod, there is an element of the public beginning to turn on the hero. Especially after another scene where Superman rescues his live-in girlfriend Lois Lane from international terrorists which also results in collateral damage. Here is a man with ultimate power, and sometimes that power accidentally kills humans. They worry that one day Superman will decide he is a God and will take over the world.
This sets up the next two key characters, spoiled rich kid Lex Luthor, played disappointingly by Jesse Eisenberg who seems more like the Joker without the makeup, and sullen dark night Bruce Wayne/ Batman played for the first time by Ben Affleck. Despite all the people who angrily protested his casting Affleck delivers the best movie Batman since the second Michael Keaton Batman movie. This is the darkest of the Dark Knights and there is no disconnect with Bruce Wayne. As the hero’s alter-ego Ben Affleck is desperately trying to hold in the anger which is released only when he dons the Batman suit (which thankfully does not have bat-nipples).
Batman v Superman portrays Batman and Lex Luthor as two sides of the same coin, they resent the collateral damage caused by the son of Krypton and worry that he will try and take over the world. Both decide that the only solution is to humble Superman, break his will, and then kill him. Batman’s desire to kill Superman breaks one of his rules which is not to deliberately kill another. But this is a different darker Batman who not only broods but is tortured by nightmares that hint at future plot points and explain why he is so angry most of the time.
Amy Adams’s Lois Lane gets plenty of screen time running a parallel investigation trying to prove that the collateral damage which occurred when she was rescued by superman was not his fault. Throughout it all we see the strong unafraid reporter who is deeply in love with Clark/Superman.
Jeremy Irons is a great Alfred. He plays the butler as a frustrated “parent” who raised Bruce Wayne since the death of his parents but now that the child is an adult he can no longer control, only advise. Not only is Alfred the technical geek behind the Caped Crusader, but he is the parent trying to keep the adult superhero from going to far, and when he does go over the line, he is the one worrying about the superhero’s fate.
Batman is not the only brooder in the film, carrying over from Man of Steel, Superman is consumed by what it means to be a super hero, why he is under-appreciated, and would his late father be proud. Just as Batman and Luthor are worried about Superman, the man of steel is worried about Batman who is vigilante who has long since gone over the top (indeed he has begun to brand criminals with a bat symbol, much to Alfred’s chagrin).
At a party thrown by Lex Luthor where Wayne is invited and Clark Kent goes to cover (Wayne is trying to get information fromLexCorp’s mainframe) we meet Diana Prince antiques dealer who is the secret identity of Wonder Woman. Gal Gadot steals this film. She is the only superhero who acts like a superhero. While Batman and Superman are brooding and unsure, Wonder Woman is confident (and beautiful). Unlike the two male superheroes Gadot’s Prince is able to put emotions aside to concentrate on saving the world, and when the three are fighting together Wonder Woman seems like the leader. Like Ben Affleck there was concern about the casting of Gadot (most of it surround her lack of Linda Carter-sized breasts), Gadot pulls off the Amazon incredibly well making this movie geek wishing they move up the solo Wonder Woman film to next week.
The last hour of the film is almost non stop fighting Batman V. Superman, then Batman & Superman & Wonder Woman vs. the destroyer. I am afraid to tell more as not to spoil the movie for you. There are two cameos of the Flash and one by Aquaman which are there more to set up the Justice League movie and does little to move the plot along.
One of the criticisms of the movie is the lack of comic relief which is true there is very little relief in the film. However in this film any more would be out of place based on the constant anger of Wayne, the meloncholy of Superman, and the “all business attitude” of Wonder Woman.
In the end it is true that this is not the greatest superhero movie ever made. And it does have flaws the two biggest are Jesse Eisenberg’s Lex Luthor, and the fact that the movies end is about 90 seconds too long (you have to see the movie to understand), but when considering the entire 2 and a half hour package if you go to this superhero movie you will leave the theater happy you went.