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

 

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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?

 

spoilertown

 

Alright…. Last warning!

 

giphy

 

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?

 

 

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