Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice – A Movie Review

I should explicitly state from the beginning that I am an unabashed Batman fanatic.  I discovered him at the age of three and have loved every incarnation of him during the past thirty-six years.  Furthermore, I’ve always leaned toward DC Comics, home of Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Flash, etc.

With all that being said, I am certainly bias.  Therefore, it comes as no surprise that I loved Batman v Superman.  I am, after all, a fan boy.  I also want to make it clear that I’m going to work hard to convince you to see this film and ignore the misguided negative reviews it’s apparently received.

I say “apparently” because I’ve read no reviews of the film at all.  I wanted to go in open-minded.  I’ve heard it’s gotten bad reviews, but everyone I’ve personally spoken with, and watched it with, loved it.  So, apparently, someone out there isn’t a fan.

First of all, it’s a visually stunning movie.  Like with  Man of Steel, director Snyder is showing you the characters in all their glory.  Batman looks like he stepped right out of a comic book and uses brutal physicality.  Wonder Woman is portrayed as the intelligent warrior we all know her to be.  Superman does the things only Superman can do.  Snyder knows these characters and shows us what we want to see from them.

I found myself surprised by the acting in the film as well.  Affleck nailed Bruce Wayne.  He’s got the intensity, the size, and the anger, but he also shows us the kindness and compassion we know Batman has deep down.  Irons’ Alfred is a delight and unlike any other film adaptation of the character – he’s no longer just the butler.  Amy Adams plays an identifiable, respectable, capable Lois Lane worthy of being called a hero as well.  Gal Gadot captured the enigma that is Wonder Woman – I can’t wait to see more!  Diane Lane provides a very necessary Martha Kent whom grounds the movie amidst all the spectacle. Holly Hunter also delivers a lower profile but instrumental role that had to be performed subtly.  Laurence Fishburne is always great and gets some of the best lines in the film.  Henry Cavill had the unenviable task of playing Superman.

Though no one will every capture the charisma of Christopher Reeve, Cavill is giving us a conflicted, pained Superman – a Superman that is probably closer to what would really happen in the real world.  He can’t be everything to everyone, and Cavill works hard to show us that nuanced inner turmoil.  I believe Superman is a nearly impossible role because he’s such an international icon.  Cavill will never make everyone happy – but that’s not on him.  I think he lived up to the story and the script, and, in the end, he gives us a very heroic Superman.  His Clark Kent/Superman is very much a partnership with Lois Lane, and Cavill shines when he’s with Amy Adams.

But Jesse Eisenberg clearly got to have the most fun in this film.  His Lex Luthor is also unlike any other depiction we’ve seen.  Quirky, twitchy, weird, and creepy, Eisenberg made me squirm in my seat.  His Lex Luthor is not a savvy businessman, he’s not an elegant speaker, he’s not charming, he’s not even charismatic – he’s just disturbing.  I liked this iteration of the character very much.

Honestly, in my opinion, Snyder’s strengths do not rest in directing actors or conveying story, but due to the sheer caliber of actors he worked with, they all shined in their own unique way.  I think the fact that so many well-regarded actors joined this film confirms the faith they had in the plot and Snyder’s vision.

So let’s talk about the story.  For a film titled Batman v Superman, it has far more story than I ever expected.  It plays heavily off of Man of Steel’s greatest failure – Superman’s apathy toward the destruction of Metropolis.  (The visual of Superman kissing Lois Lane with human ash floating around them will never leave me.)  This destruction fuels Batman’s distrust of Superman, which is totally consistent with the character.  It sets up the very concept of the film and provides motivation.  Of course, as all great comic book stories must, the two heroes slug it out, but, again, as all great comic book stories do, they eventually make their peace with one another.  Was there ever any doubt?  I personally loved the reason they make amends – I thought it was a brilliant bridge between the two characters.  And, of course, now that the heroes are pals, they have to come together to defeat a common foe.

This is a very simplified version of the plot.  The movie takes its time establishing character, setting up the conflict, providing lots of motivation for everyone involved, and, thankfully, doesn’t rush the ending.  Does this make for a long movie?  Absolutely, but it didn’t feel long at all.  I thought it went by really quickly.  I was never bored, the multi-faceted story kept me engaged, and I didn’t once look at my phone to check the time or notifications.

You also had to keep on your toes because the film constantly offered little hints of things to come.  For a fan who’s followed DC Comics for over thirty years, these hints were a delight.  The DC Universe is a very big place, it’s not even confined to one plane of existence, and Batman v Superman definitely laid the groundwork for many characters and concepts to come.  Best of all, it gave the heroes a good reason to stick together at the movie’s end – it provided them both motivation and inspiration.

Is this the greatest movie ever made?  Of course not, but it lived up to its title, it depicted the characters they way I wanted, it provided far more story then I ever anticipated, the actors known for acting well did just that, it flew by despite its running time, the visuals were mesmerizing, and the comic book nerd in me delighted at the little hints of things to come.

The negative reviews are wrong.  This film will satisfy.

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