Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice Review (with and without spoilers)

The time has finally come to see two of the most established characters in comic book, even literature, history to clash on the big screen. After years of hype and harsh fandom scrutiny, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice has been served for theatrical consumption. It’s well documented that I’m a DC loyalist so you know my family and I were in line for the first Thursday night showing holding tickets we’d bought three weeks before.


Due to the nature of this movie, it’s difficult to review at length without spoilers. I’ll kick things off with a very short, yet spoiler-free, review of the film. After that I’ll venture into SpoilerTown. If you explore beyond my spoiler warnings then it’s your own damn fault. Until those warnings come, you can read the initial review without having anything to worry about.


Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice – Spoiler Free Review



Not the official poster – but Mondo never fails to be amazing!


If you haven’t seen the movie yet I must implore you to not go into the theater expecting The Avengers. Remember – Marvel had six full feature films leading into their first crossover event. DC/Warner Bros has made it clear they have a very different vision for their cinematic universe. To assume they’re all the same because of a comic book origin is downright ignorant of an all-too-often overlooked/underestimated art form. The only expectation you should have is to enjoy a cinematic spectacle that frequently serves as a proper homage to a rich character history and its printed highlights.


Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice is hardly the steaming pile of visual effects the critics are making it out to be. I’ve read thousands of pages containing the characters and left the theater feeling like they’d done right by these pillars of the comic medium. With that said…. the theatrical cut is two hours and thirty-three minutes long and feels like it. Oftentimes a movie of that length (or longer) flies by because you’re so engrossed in what’s happening, that the passage of time is relative. It was very difficult to get this involved thanks, in part, to the fact I was sitting next to my twitchy six year old daughter during the premiere. After a superbly executed first 15-20 minutes, the first half of the movie is largely setup. This was necessary to address Superman’s place in the world after Man of Steel while showing us a version of the Batman that is relatively unknown to the comic book uninitiated.


The last act quickly adjusts the pace all the way through to the finish. Action scenes are smaller in scope than those in Man of Steel without losing the gravity expected when a demigod clashes with the embodiment of justice. There are many instances where Snyder went overboard with the special effects to the point of distraction. However, enough separation exists in those moments to keep it from being a consistent bother. Casting is another highlight – I think Ben Affleck played the part of Batman AND Bruce Wayne perfectly. He should be applauded for pulling off such an unenviable feat. Henry Cavill played a great Superman before and continued to do so. Everything sets the stage for what is to come with Justice League and beyond.


So how was I feeling in the end? I very much enjoyed the film, however, I strongly feel there are multiple moments of fluff that could/should have been shaved to reduce the runtime. Several of the scenes, with terrific comic origins, enlivened the giddy fanboy in me. I’ll elaborate on those last two sentences in spoiler-ridden second portion below.


One thing’s for sure, I can’t wait to see what’s to come in the DC Cinematic Universe!


You’ve made it this far – shall we open the gates to SpoilerTown?




Alright…. Last warning!




Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice – Spoiler Filled Review


My spoiler-free review already summarized any general feelings I had towards the film. For this section I’ll just list bullet points for what I liked or didn’t like in a semi-logical order. I don’t have the attention span to touch on everything so here are some thoughts.


  • The Wayne Murder – this was easily the best depiction of Thomas and Martha’s murder outside of the comic book pages. There is nothing pleasant about Batman’s origin… why pretend it’s anything but traumatizing? Of all the times we’ve seen the event unfold in crime alley, I cannot recall it ever seeming so raw even it was shown through a dream sequence. Seeing the pearls scatter after a point blank execution was jarring. It was gritty and viscerally traumatizing scene that was absolutely necessary for Affleck’s Batman to exist. I also love the fact that Thomas Wayne tried to take the shooter down before getting hit; there were hints of the Flashpoint Batman there. How awesome would it be to see Jeffrey Dean Morgan play the trigger-happy alternate universe Batman?!
    • I could have done without the bats lifting wee-Bruce up like he was flying or something. It force fed us the thought of the transformative impact the death of his parents had for his future. Yes, I know it was a dream, but that little aspect made it kind of silly…


  • Zod’s Attack from the Streets – I liked Man of Steel so viewing the cataclysm of Superman’s fight with Zod from a different perspective was fantastic. Seeing the battle from Bruce’s viewpoint forced you into the xenophobic mindset that was required to appreciate the events in the first half as intended.
    • The only part of this scene I hated was how Bruce HAD TO CALL for his employees to evacuate. I mean, the dude answered the phone then looked out his window to see the destruction of the Kryptonian World Engine a few blocks away… why in the hell would you wait for the call? Wayne Enterprises must pay really, really well for that kind of job dedication.


  • Batman – I love this portrayal of Batman. He’s as brutal as the crime he fights and it’s great. The influence of Frank Miller’s THE DARK KNIGHT RETURNS was prevalent in his look/feel. I can’t wait to see what else Affleck can do with the character in Suicide Squad and beyond.
    • The visual influence of Frank Miller’s work is obvious, but that’s where it stops. I wish they’d incorporated more of the classic moments from the story.


  • The “Knightmare” – It would have been nice if we hadn’t already seen a lot of this in the trailers. The visuals were cool along with the heavy-handed foreshadowing for Darkseid’s arrival. I really, really wish the first time we’d seen the omega symbol burned into the landscape was in the theater. Instead, thanks to an all-too-revealing advertising campaign, my reaction was less exuberant. Seeing the fiery columns in the background reminded me of the burning hellspores from Apokolips. What we little saw of the Parademons also looked pretty spot on. I’m sure we’ll get our fill in Justice League.
    • Batman + Guns = what the hell? Even for a dream sequence this is too far out of character.
    • My wife pointed this out – Remind you of anything?


  • Wonder Woman – Gal Gadot is fantastic as Diana Prince. I love that we get to see her both as the elegant Diana and the kickass Amazonian warrior. Everything from her visual style to the smirk she flashed in the heat of battle was very well done. I’ve read several interviews that criticize Zack Snyder for “not developing” her character or “underutilizing” her in the film… and those critics need to shut the hell up. Remember – she’s getting her own movie! There was no need to do anything other than tease her presence.


  • Lex Luthor – I get what Jesse Eisenberg was going for here. We’re all very familiar with the ‘Zuckerberg-type’ billionaires out there breaking the mold. It’s appropriate that the modern cinematic take is one that current generations believe is likely to exist in real life. Realism aside, I still found his portrayal on the annoying side. The unstable/crazy/daddy issues there are undeniable and significant to his behavior. I’m more curious to see how his character evolves if/when he’s included in future films.
    •  Did they ever say that no one had been able to access the crashed Kryptonian ship? When he used Zod’s fingertips to get in I was a little confused that no one had thought of doing that before then.
    • A little too much was left to the imagination in regards to Lex’s implied knowledge or contact with Darkseid.


  • Other Justice League Members – the movie’s cameo of the other heroes was a terribly kept secret leading up to the movie. As neat as it was to see them on the big screen, I really wish they’d left them out. Zack Snyder has never been a fan of leaving anything to the imagination; in this instance I believe it served as a detriment. BvS is one of those cases where hinting instead of outright showing could have been beneficial. When Batman is looking at the file with the logos for the heroes (nice job on those, Lex. I hope the heroes pay him royalties for the artwork), I think he should have clicked on Wonder Woman and left it at that. The mere existence was enough of a tease that certainly would have left me hungry for more. Not to mention the fact that shaving these scenes would have reduced the bloated runtime. In regards to Cyborg, how cool was it to see the Mother Box act up as it neared his mangled remains?
    • The part when “Future Flash” pops out of a disturbance to warn Bruce about Superman was wholly unnecessary. Not only that, but it looked so jarringly out of place that I thought it was Cyborg until going home and reading another review. They were clearly setting something up for the future at the expense of fluidity in the present story.


  • The Fight – the battle between Bats and Supes was fantastic. I’ve heard many complain about the special effects here but it didn’t bother me in the slightest. That moment when Batman realize Superman is a person with earthly connections was intense.
    • Again, the previews showed us too much of this conflict. Seeing the majority for the first time in the theater would have made it that much more thrilling.
    • They missed a major opportunity by skipping Batman’s “I’m the one who beat you” speech from DARK KNIGHT RETURNS. I bet they would have won a lot more fanboys over if they had worked it in while Batman had his foot on Superman’s chest.


  • Doomsday – one of the deadliest characters in DC history ended up being the weakest part of the entire movie. At first he looked ridiculously like the Hulk with downs. His evolution after each substantial injury help a bit but it was still way off. Couldn’t the movie had culminated in Lex turning Batman AND Wonder Woman against Superman without Doomsday? I think they could have done it.


  • The Death of Superman – I was not expecting them to loop this in and couldn’t have been happier to legitimately be surprised! In the book, DEATH OF SUPERMAN, the battle between Doomsday and Superman is spectacular. Each punch they throw hits with enough force to break surrounding windows. As cool as it would have been to see this battle truly brought to life (the animated film Superman: Doomsday didn’t quite get it right either), I think the way they adapted it for BvS was appropriate for both the stage that has been set and for what’s to come. The funerary sequence was particularly good and true to the source. Amidst the tragedy of his “death”, it was nice to see the public embrace him as the hero he truly is, rather than the feared legend they made him out to be in the first act.
    • It’s good they showed that split second of the soil rising from his casket. Not everyone is familiar with the cluster fuck of a comic book volume that is THE RETURN OF SUPERMAN. Seeing this served as a quick dose of hope to carry the audience through the long gap before resolution.


  • No after credits scene – why are so many people bitching about this? DC IS NOT MARVEL!


  • The Score – Hans Zimmer and Junkie XL nailed it. Both are insanely talented and perfectly assigned to score the separate characters. I’m strongly considering buying a copy!


So here we are! Thanks for making it through this erratic thought process as I continue to digest my viewing of the long awaited film. I pondered my rating of it for a while and think I’ve come up with a solid score… my rating of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice is 7 out of 10.


7 out of 10


I don’t see myself going again while it’s in the theater but I will definitely buy the Blu Ray the day it’s released. What did you think?



LEGO Star Wars: Carbon-Freezing Chamber

March 1st was a release date for many of LEGO’s Spring line here in the States. As per usual, Star Wars had a very notable presence in this release wave. I was thrilled to see a renewed focus on recreating some of the most recognizable scenes for Star Wars lore in LEGO form. Moreover, I was even more excited to see that several of these sets were reasonably priced compared to many of the other high-ticket (and high brick count) releases leading up to now.


One set in particular caught my eye. I scoured the Richmond, VA area Target stores looking for this prized addition! It felt like I checked or rechecked a new store every other day only to be disappointed at their delayed receive to shelf time frame. Over the weekend I hit the jackpot, finally, and found my prize – the Carbon-Freezing Chamber!!


I giggled with geeky delight when I first saw the images of this set! The living room of my house is Star Wars themed (my hot wife’s idea, believe it or not). We have paintings of a zombified Storm Trooper, Vader, and Boba Fett. Our curtains have a stylish yet subtle Death Star print. The crown jewel is definitely our full-sized Han Solo in carbonite rug. My point behind revealing all of this, is that recreating the freezing chamber scene, one of the most famous scenes of the saga, is an opportunity that simply cannot be passed up.


LEGO Star Wars: Carbon-Freezing Chamber #75137




I’ll start with the minifigures because they are utterly fantastic! First is a new mold – the Ugnaught. I can’t say this is a character I’d ever sought as a minifigure. These weird little aliens were at the controls when Han Solo was lowered into the steamy chamber. Even though I never thought enough about him to want a minifigure, that doesn’t mean he hasn’t found a place in my collection of obscure characters in the imaginative plethora that is Star Wars.




Next up is one of my obvious top favorites, Boba Fett. This print is very similar to the desert skiff Boba. There is a bit more definition in the coloring giving the bounty hunter a cleaner look and his fabric cloak is cut to better emulate the pose he took in this famous scene. Mandalore’s finest hasn’t appeared in that many sets (even fewer priced below $30) so he’s a perfect component of the Carbon-Freezing Chamber.




Han Solo in his glory days – it doesn’t get much better! I didn’t have Han in this outfit before now so I was thrilled to have him. His facial expressions are particularly well done here. Best of all – A LEGO VERSION OF HIM FROZEN! This piece alone is worth the cost of the entire set. The way it’s designed to allow the normal figure to step into, and securely remain in, the slab is brilliant.



Minifigures aside, the actual build was equally entertaining. It’s pieced together in an almost modular way that connects into a way that forms appropriately curved platform. My single complaint is that the stairs are two pre-built pieces. Had they made it something you had to build from scratch then there’s a chance the end product wouldn’t have looked as flawless but it still threw me off. They did make up for this a bit by having every orange translucent piece separate (see the previous picture of Boba Fett for a closer look).


The playability factor here is tremendously high. Clever mechanisms are built in for an elevator and for the platform Han stands on to be tipped back. Once tipped back it can be rotated using the same mechanism so he returns to the upright position in his famous frozen form. The control panel for the Ugnaught is thankfully printed rather than decal-applied because I despise decals!



Here’s the rotating mechanism mid-turn.


Presentation is everything and this set nails it. Maintaining a LEGO collection can be frustrating due to the amount of space fully constructed sets take up. This concern often is the deciding factor in whether or not I buy a set. Minifigures are easy thanks to their low profile but full sets can take up a heck of a lot of space. With that said, I will be keeping this set intact on my shelf. Even fully constructed, the Carbon-Freezing chamber doesn’t occupy an inconvenient area. It’s made like a podium to present its faithful representation of the movie I love.


The awesome design and perfect minifigures are made even better by the fact that it’s priced at $24.99 (in most stores). I hope LEGO continues to put out sets at that price point that depict scenes as perfectly as the $100.00 and up sets. My next target is the Escape Pod #75136 which is set at the same level.


My rating of LEGO Star Wars: Carbon-Freezing Chamber #75137 is a perfect 10 out of 10.


10 out of 10


If you’re a collector and having found this one yet then it’s worth searching for. If you’re reading this as a Star Wars fan who hasn’t really dabbled in LEGO, this set could be the one that hooks you!

LEGO BvS: Clash of the Heroes Set Review

2016 should be an excellent year for DC Comics fans! A major event in that excellent year hits in less than a month with the release Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. This month I’m planning on focusing my reviews on DC Comics items to celebrate. What better way is there to kick things off than with LEGO?


LEGO Batman v Superman: Clash of the Heroes #76044




LEGO nuts everywhere knew that the coming of a new movie meant some long overdue new DC Super Hero sets would be on the way. Set #76044 – ‘Clash of the Heroes’ was the first to catch my eye. With a fairly low price point of $12.99, it is an easy addition to any collection. I’ll split the review into three segments: each minifigure separately then the set itself.




The minifigures alone make this well worth the cost!


2016-03-03 21.19.13


Superman is a definite upgrade from the old Man of Steel sets. His cape is made of flexible fabric that is textured in the way it actually looks in the movie. Prior versions had the normal LEGO rigid fabric/paper feeling material that takes away from some of the visual appeal. The only downside to this with Superman is how visible the fabric is between the head piece and torso (which is normal, but bugs me nonetheless). I’d love to see LEGO find a way to cut the fabric in a way that makes it less noticeable in that respect. Supes also has a slightly different hairstyle that may not follow the traditional jerry curl, but does match the mindset of a character evolution between films.




Batman is the real treat in this little set. LEGO did a great job translating his menacing battle armor into tiny minifigure form. The cape is fabric like Superman’s, however, the ends are concealed by his armor making a more streamlined integration to the overall look. I also like how the armor has a spot for a batarang or grappling hook to attach; most other Batman figures are limited to what his little hooked hands can carry. Let’s talk about the coolest feature – his eyes glow! Unfortunately, so does his mouth…. When I took the above picture I had to cover up his mouth with a piece of gum to block the light I used to get the eyes glowing. This is a minor complaint, yet, I can’t help but think LEGO could have easily limited the glow in the dark printing to just the eyes. Nitpicking aside, Batman looks absolutely kick ass.


2016-03-03 21.14.03


The set isn’t anything special. That’s unfortunate because there is an obvious attempt to add some playability. I wish LEGO had focused on making the set a more functional base for the figures that would be display worthy. Regardless, it’s awesome having a LEGO version of the bat signal. This piece is pretty much the only redeeming quality of features outside of the minifigs. My plan is to scrap the main set in favor of using the bat signal and figures in a more shelf-worthy arrangement.


Even though the rest of the set brings down the total score a couple points, overall Clash of the Heroes is definitely worth picking up. I’d probably pay  $7-$10 for each figure separately. Having the whole thing be $12.99 is a steal.


My rating for LEGO Batman v Superman: Clash of the Heroes is 7.5 out of 10.


7 out of 10Half a star.png