Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice

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After Man of Steel, I wasn’t really chomping to see this follow-up, so it has taken a while to get around to this viewing. I have to admit, it wasn’t as crushingly stoic as I’d feared… there were at least two moment of humor right near the end.

OK, that was snide. But, yes, Zack Snyder (Sucker Punch) really needs to get a little further out of his head to recognize how intense and plodding the realization of his visions tend to be. Even Shakespeare had clowns in his tragedies to help balance the story and to provide a place from which to fall back into the depths of the horror. Snyder has tremendous vision and interesting ways to tell stories, but the stories themselves all need a bit more humanization.

What BvS should have been is about consequences. The previous story left thousands dead and no one even blinked at the time. And while that is a theme, the movie really exists to set up Justice League next year. Frankly, that’s a lousy reason for a 2. 5 hour movie that has trouble standing on its own. And it does have trouble, from the beginning that rehashes Batman’s origins (yet again), to the absurdity of Lex Luthor as L’Enfant terrible rather than as a twisted genius. Jesse Eisenberg (American Ultra) did what he could, and probably a bit more than he should have, with the setup, but it just wasn’t credible. And while I understand setting up Wayne’s obsession (if not its real purpose with his Mother), how many times do we have to revisit that alley?

On the other hand, as a platform to introduce the very promising Gal Godot (Furious 7) as Wonder Woman, it succeeds nicely. Jeremy Irons (High-Rise) also came out of of this well, his Albert carrying both gravitas and jaded age delightfully. Holly Hunter (Top of the Lake) probably had the most complex role of the cast, and one of the least well written. She managed to navigate through the unfocused purpose of her character to make her important moment really hit home. And Amy Adams (Big Eyes) added more than what was in her pages. She had the advantage of the previous movie to leverage, but that didn’t likely make it easier.

The rest of the cast are all sufficient to the purpose, but nothing spectacular, though there were some game attempts from Lawrence Fishburne (Rudderless) and Scoot McNairy (Non-Stop).  You may have noticed I haven’t even mentioned Henry Cavill (The Man from U.N.C.L.E.) or Ben Affleck (Gone Girl) yet. That’s because they existed solely to push along the plot. I didn’t care about their inner struggles (if there were any) and I am embarrassed for all involved around how their conflict ended.

I’m clearly more a Marvel kinda guy than a DC, so take all this with that filter when talking character and story. But on a purely execution level, while pretty, this is not a great film. It is a necessary bridge to what is coming, but it was a long bridge over very troubled waters and through a heavy mist of self-congratulation and self-flagellation.

Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice

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