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Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016) – Human and Alien Square Off


Somewhere an unwritten memorandum must be written that 2016 is the year to twist everything we love about our noble superheroes and upset the balance. Pitting good guy vs. good guy thereby forcing loyal fans to pick sides (though despite our passionate “feels,” we still get along smashingly), was the new normal of iconic comic book fandoms. DC Comics was among the first to unveil this story arc. Herein things are about to get dicey. 

Nearly two years ago, Superman was embroiled in a devastating battle that wreaked havoc on the city. The ensuing result leads some to question whether or not Superman’s “Savior” is needed, wanted or even good. By day, Superman hides who he really is as the socially-awkward Clark Kent (Henry Cavill). As a normal guy, Clark works at the Daily Planet and has fallen head over heels for intrepid reporter Lois Lane (Amy Adams). Lois is only just now realizing what her love for Superman may cause. While chasing a story in a foreign country, Lois finds herself in trouble which beckons the arrival of Superman… and the destruction of a small desert village.  

Back in the States, chaos reigns. Senate hearings are organized and the media crucifies Superman. One such person seeking revenge is Bruce Wayne (Ben Affleck). Eighteen months ago, one of his companies was destroyed during Superman’s latest battle, and Bruce blames Superman for the destructive and loss of thousands. Now, masquerading as Batman, Bruce sets about planning how best to exact his revenge little realizing a greater force seeks to destroy him and Superman.  

This means something. - Lois

It did on my world. My world doesn't exist anymore. - Superman

To say Zack Snyder has a unique vision for his productions would be understating his style. Though he helmed Man of Steel, his idiosyncrasies seemed on great display in effect hampering what otherwise might have been an intriguing experience. As I sat through this film, having seen it was Snyder behind the camera I didn’t remember that it was he who also captained the aforementioned Man of Steel. But no matter the shared director, I cannot help but feel like this DC Comics adaptation was (production) “worse” than its predecessor, and missed so many marks.

Just a few of the quibbles I have with this as a production are the following things. Its length should have been shortened (it tried to be “too much” – lead in, sequel, emotional battle – in too cramped a cinematic space) and the method of storytelling does nothing for this. We are pulled in and out of dream sequences, and even within the “surface” dream, another dream is embedded. This tug of war is more confusing than visually stimulating. I know its purpose is probably to offer insight into the character’s frame of mind, but overall, it doesn’t work that way. Another big theme I took some issue with was Clark pitched as a savior.  

The legend of Superman is largely allegorical and always has been. While I can appreciate this and understand it being likened as such, this script oversteps. Much as I adore Clark Kent and his do-good alter ego, the blatant visuals were too much in my opinion. Heroes are imperfect like everyone else, and while they are often held to a higher standard, they aren't a god. That said, with all that in the open, there was plenty to love.  I loved the evolving romance between Clark and Lois (haters gonna’ hate) and I love(loveloved) the mysterious introduction to the icon, Wonder Woman.

Beyond that, I think what I like best about this reboot is the cast. Everyone brings their a-game. This is true of returning cast members with the likes of Diane Lane, Adams and Cavill to newbies Gal Gadot, Jeremy Irons (brilliant Alfred!) and Jesse Eissenberg (can we say creepy). What’s so interesting about this adaptation is that everyone is a kind of “tortured” soul whereas prior versions give us a lighter view of the iconic monikers. Remarks have been hinted that Superman will be a darker incarnation come the next DC installment and my response would be something akin to asking, “How can he be any darker!?” 

The serious nature of the story and atmosphere of the film leaves little to no room for laughter, but what is there is pointed, well-delivered zingers. (Most notable when the three heroes finally come together, shedding all their pretenses and work together.) As the story works towards its pinnacle, tears are inevitable, but with the promise of 2017’s Justice League in our near future, we have to hope good things are to come for DC Comics at the box office.  
Photos: Warner Brothers

4 comments

  1. I kid you not, I saw this review and said "OMG!!" because I was so excited to read your thoughts on this movie! Wow, you could not have written a more perfect review. I 100% agree with everything you said...I had many of the same quibbles but loved the cast so much. I'm definitely one of those people who thinks about what I'm watching, but at the same time I'm capable of quickly dismissing them for the sake of (sometimes mindless) entertainment. It's probably the reason why I pretty much like all the movies I watch. :P

    Seriously excited for Wonder Woman!! And I'm definitely a fan of Lois and Clark too.

    High five to yet another awesome movie review, Rissi!

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    1. The cast is a BIG selling point for me on this one, Bekah. I adore Lois (Amy) and Clark (Henry) together despite the controversy surrounding this casting with Man of Steel. They play off each other really well and I love that there's is a "quieter" romance. Sometimes less drama is best. :)

      *high five* I'm exactly like you. I think reviewing has "forced" me to think a bit more about what I'm watching, but I am always (first and foremost) happy to be entertained. I like 99% of the movies I see too - even those everyone else thinks are awful (looking at you, critics). ;)

      Wonder Woman's intro in this is fabulous. I'm excited for her solo movie (plus, *ahem* Chris Pine) and of course, the reuniting of these characters in Justice League. :)

      PS: apologies for the delay in replying to these comments: I don't know HOW the time escapes me!

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  2. Your thoughts on those dream sequences were spot on. They were more jolting than anything and I didn't even think they really fit with the story. And since when did Batman become a lunatic? I also had issues with Lex who I felt came across more of a Joker persona than who Lex Luther should be. And yes, I don't think Superman could get any darker and if so, I don't know if I could continue with this one. I love Man of Steel because it's story was so strong and the good was balanced against the evil. Here it felt out of balance.

    Having said all that... I still loved Lois Lane, Wonder Woman, and Superman, and Ben Affleck did better than I thought he would as Batman although still not my favorite. I'm hoping the next movie will be much improved - at least up to Man of Steel's level, with a much better story and a smoother cinematography experience.

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    1. Hey, Tressa, thanks so much for sharing your thoughts! I really enjoyed reading them.

      Dreams: YES! They were so... strange and didn't flow well with the production.
      Batman: Now you mention it, that's so true. Bale's Bruce is more of an ideal character study or he was in Batman Begins. (I still have to watch the other two.)
      Lex: I would agree although I've not met the Joker persona in any adaptation, from what I've read of him, that seems very true.
      Superman: Out of balance is spot on. *sigh* I'm worried about where Snyder is taking these characters.

      Ditto on all you say, friend. I'm hopeful Justice League will enjoy significant improvement. So sad to see all this potential wasted.

      Lois, Superman and Wonder Woman were my favorites. :)

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