Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016)

Review #1,282

Director:  Zack Snyder
Cast:   Ben Affleck, Henry Cavill, Amy Adams, Jesse Eisenberg, Jeremy Irons, Gal Gadot
Plot:  Fearing that the actions of Superman are left unchecked, Batman takes on the Man of Steel, while the world wrestles with what kind of a hero it really needs.

Genre:  Action / Adventure / Fantasy
Awards:  -
Runtime:  151min
Rating:  PG13 for intense sequences of violence and action throughout, and some sensuality.
Distributor:  Warner Bros

“That's how it starts.  The fever, the rage, the feeling of powerlessness that turns good men... cruel.”

The box-office success of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice may mean that the 'Justice League' movies now have ringing endorsement, but if DC Comics, Warner Brothers and director Zack Snyder are to continue on this downward trajectory, they might destroy the very thing they hold dearest. 

I think it is important not to conflate genuine curiosity with genuine embracement – moviegoers are flocking to the theaters because of the novelty of seeing two (even three) iconic DC superheroes sharing the same screen; it doesn't imply that they like what they see.  I suspect, like myself, they also desire an alternative to Marvel's marketing machine.  But the problem is not so much of competition or choice, but of legacy. 

There's not much plotting in Dawn of Justice to suggest a well thought out story, and the characters, particularly the introduction of a new Batman (Ben Affleck) and the long-awaited appearance of Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot) leave much to be desired. 

There are no shades of grey as Snyder throws nuance, subtlety and fun out of the window in this tone-deaf movie that takes its self-importance too seriously.  It is a loud and lumbering blockbuster, almost arrogant-like in its force-feeding of its own brand of heavy-handed entertainment.  Visually, you can't fault Snyder and co.  He has always been a confident visual artist, but not so much as a visual storyteller – Watchmen (2009) and Sucker Punch (2011) were some of his abominations. 

While Man of Steel (2013) had some semblance of emotional drama to go along with the spectacle, Dawn of Justice feels as if it is blatantly using half-baked 'dramatic' moments between characters (allies or villains) to remind us that their actions hold larger political, even philosophical, meanings. 

Why not have their actions primarily serve and anticipate reactions and consequences (this was the shrewd approach of Nolan's 'The Dark Knight' trilogy), rather than spectacularizing for the sake of it and trying to force out something meaningful?  Well, Captain America: Civil War (2016) can't come any sooner, can it?

Verdict:  A loud and lumbering blockbuster that is also tone-deaf, almost arrogant-like in its force-feeding of its own brand of heavy-handed entertainment. 


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