Finally. After so many years of fans rooting for comic book’s greatest superheroes to slug it out against each other in a film, we finally get our wish. Zack Snyder’s Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice is finally here, a film that not only purports to begin from where Man of Steel ended but, also aims to set the platform for the Justice League series. Is it worth the hype? Read on to find out.
The new film from the DC universe begins with an accelerated version of Batman’s origin story, followed by the mayhem Zod and Superman wrecked towards the end of Man of Steel. Cut to a grizzly Ben Affleck with anger issues and a sing-song Jesse Eisenberg and, Zack Snyder’s Dawn of Justice moves on to establish an earth-leveling conflict between its protagonists. Now, that’s a simple story told even simpler.
WOOS: The biggest gladiator match in the history of comic books. Need I say more? Batman and Superman are two of the world’s most iconic superheroes and a matchup between them is worth waiting for. Watching them slug it out on screen in enough to have you cheering in your seats. And yes, I know that in a logical universe, Superman would pummel Batman to death (To be fair, in a logical universe, Superman may not even exist) but, it’s still fairly fun to watch.
The best thing I found about Man of Steel was the aesthetic Snyder brought to most of his shots on screen. When he is not depending wholly on CGI and VFX, Snyder brings to screen some wonderful visuals, especially those opening scenes which play out like a sad ballad. Thumbs up to Hans Zimmer’s great score.
MEHS: Sadly, Snyder has not only brought his distinct visual style to Dawn of Justice, but he has also retained his inability to tell a story on-screen. He has at his disposal comic book’s greatest characters and yet, when he translates them onto film, they turn out to be distinctly narcissistic and pig-headed shadows of their comic book versions. There is also that veneer of sadism (Especially in case of Batman), that I found myself being uncomfortable with. There is no original story to speak of too. Instead, Snyder, Goyer and Oscar-winner Terrio rely on film clichés to narrate an uninspiring film.
I really wanted to warm up to Cavill as Superman. However, I’m still not up for it. He looks and walks and fights the part. But sadly, all he does is scowl, grimace and scowl some more. There is none of that charming humour that Christopher Reeves brought to this part, especially as Clark Kent. Affleck does better, partly because his character has a more tangible motivation. But, I hate his new, bulked-up suit as well as the new, ugly Batmobile (One five-minute fight and your suit gets all scratched up and torn to pieces? Call Tony Stark, Bruce).
Jesse Eisenberg as Lex Luther is one of those casting calls which you would hope worked better on screen than on paper. And for a time, it works. There are small flourishes of Nicholson, Carrey and Depp thrown in for good measure, and Eisenberg hams it up with flair. And yet, his dialogues get annoying pretty soon and the loon gets too loony for anyone’s taste. Then there is Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman, a casting handicapped by the fact that there isn’t much of her. Shame though, because she sure makes a decent Wonder Woman. Finally, Amy Adams as Lois Lane has nothing much to do except act as Superman’s very own Bat signal.
As I noted before, Snyder relies a lot on CGI and VFX and like the climactic fight of Man of Steel, the final battle scenes are a chaos of colour, flash and bang as Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman fight Doomsday (Looked like a love-child of the Hulk and an Uruk-Hai). And although it is entertaining, it is nowhere as good as you expect.
Another complaint I have with Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice is the fact it tries to do too much in one film. It raises some pertinent questions early on, and all the religious allegory is intriguing but, it never goes further than that. And yes, I know the motivation behind them. With the success of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, it is only natural to see DC try to expand its cinemaverse to more success. But, whereas Marvel laid the platform for each of its characters with standalone films and a heady headstart, DC tries to rush all it in. Which is why, by the time we want to cheer for the Flash or Aqua Man, they are gone before you finish blinking. In the end, all DC has is a broth with anything and everything but, with no flavour.
VERDICT: Imagine finally getting a reservation at a restaurant you have been waiting for months to get into. Now imagine yourself sitting there at your table with bated breath while the maître d’ brings you the menu and finally, serves before you the dish you have salivated over for months. How would you feel if I told you the chicken was undercooked, overstuffed, tasted alright and yet, and had gravy that had the consistency of water? Pretty disappointed, right? Sums up Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.
I really wanted to like Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice. I really did. And yet, Dawn of Justice leaves me cold and dry. This is exactly what happens when you give the job to a director who doesn’t have what it takes to make a comic book movie. After all, not everyone is Joss Whedon. Dawn of Justice is neither the movie we need, nor the one we deserve. But, it’s probably the movie we’ll take.
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