unspecifiedDistributor : Freeman Entertainment

Name: Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice

Direction: Zack Snyder

Screenplay: Chris Terrio and David S. Goyder

By Flavius

Alright, so before I start, let me just say that this will be a long review, written from the perspective of a somewhat detached and honestly objective fan of comics, graphic novels and “con” culture in general. I was about to write “fan of DC” but in fact all who know me will tell you, I love Marvel and DC equally. I have never understood the need, to have the two separate universes clashing in a battle for supremacy. When I think of how far this goes, downgrading human interaction to real hate rants I am completely surprised. I do understand how passion for something can throw logic and purpose out the window, and engulf wisdom and rationality in emotion and loss of control. But whether Marvel or DC, or neither, super hero media has been a part of my childhood, it is a part of my adult life and I care very little for debates that put fans in conflict.

As I said, this will be a long review, so if you’re one of those that hate reading for more than 5 minutes consecutively, move along. In fact, here, just for you, I’ll throw the conclusion out right here: “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice” (hence BvS) is a breathtaking visual experience, a heart clenching narrative, tailored for the souls of true DC connoisseurs. It is nothing short of amazing, so just go and watch it.

Ok. If you’re still here I presume you’re in for the long haul. Good, we have a lot to talk about.

About direction and screenplay:

You have to understand that BvS is probably the most important DC film in the history of DC cinema. It is the pivotal narrative kick starting the DC cinematic universe. Yes “Man of Steel” was the start of it, but BvS opens the door for The Trinity, it lays the foundation for the Justice League. The amount of story substance that HAD to show up in this film, was enormous. Not in my wildest of dreams could I have imagined, that piling up the first appearance of Batman with his backstory, the first appearance of Wonder Woman with some of her backstory, the consequences of “Man of Steel”, socio-political debates, the quest for identity, the question of power versus innocence, the matter of justice versus vengeance and amidst all that, several gut wrenching Easter eggs to storylines that expand WAY beyond BvS, can be done in a viewer friendly way. Even putting it all into one phrase makes you want to slap yourself, imagine having to put that together into one coherent film. You might think I am about to justify failure, in fact I am merely trying to explain one of the reasons why the first reactions to this film are so enormously split between great and awful: Because BvS (like it or not) is just not a casual viewer friendly film. It caters to the DC “know it all’s” more than anyone else.

PHLd87y0zWRFOU_1_lFolks, this is Snyder we talk about. We all know that his visual style is so unique, the cadence of his storytelling approach is so uncommon, that he rarely directs anything non-controversial. This is not the first time he splits the audience in extremes. To me the reasons are obvious. Snyder has a thing for layers. He understands the complexity of these characters, he understands that their history is rich and he wants to bring as much of that on screen as possible and through any medium. Not just CGI, not just music, not just dialogue. I can throw at least that much criticism to this guy: he has no clue what “enough” means, nor does he seem to have an idea of how to balance artistic expression. It’s almost as if his love for the source material, is blinding his ability to direct cohesively. The way he molds light and screen texture to infuse each moment with character and gravitas, is a Snyder thing. The level of detail is breathtaking rather literally.

Now I don’t know who made it so that the rhythm and pace of this film is so broken. Maybe it was an inherent flaw. Maybe there simply was too much to be said. The extra 30 minutes we’re expecting to see in the director’s cut version, are an indication that many of the somewhat cluttered scenes have more to them than what finally made it to the screen. It’s hard to say if it was Snyder’s direction, or Chris Terrio and David S. Goyder’s script. I don’t know. But I will admit, there is simply too much to be taken in, in just one “night at the movies”. I just saw this film yesterday, but if someone asks me to put it all on paper, scene after scene I simply won’t be able to.

BVS-FP-0237-HRBatman’s visions and nightmares in mostly rapid or unordered succession, spiked by at least one completely “what the holy shit” cameo, are garnering an already overburdened scenography. Sure by the time the first punch between the two is thrown, you get it, the plot unfolds well, but the unceasing bombardment with information unrelated to BvS alone, coped with Snyder’s almost hallucinogenic visuals is just too much to take in. It literally breaks your attention span, or makes you feel like you just missed something. On the plus column, it adds immense depth and longevity to this film. I wonder how many times I will have to see it, before I pry out every detail.

I tell ya, forget popcorn and soda, don’t blink during BvS. Just don’t.

About CGI and visual effects:

An amazing vision translated into and amazing visual experience with a masterfully executed balance between practical effects, pyrotechnics and CGI. I loved it all. I even loved Doomsday. Sure it was not the most imaginative iteration of him and I wish he would have had more time to evolve, but it was menacing and visually powerful enough to convince. Aside from a few slips here and there, calling for a bit more post processing time, this will satisfy all of your nerdy geeky eye candy needs.

BVS-43036About acting:

By now you must have seen that even the most negative reactions, still praise Affleck’s Batman. For a good reason. I usually stray away from comparisons, given the diverse nature in which this character has been approached, from the early machine gun Burton era, to the late black ops Nolan one (let’s forget the nipples and butt cheeks era ever happened), I can’t help but feel like this is the best Batman we have ever had.

Yes, it borrows a lot from the dark and brooding Milleresque version, but the final result is more a sum of carefully selected different parts. The acting is solid, to the point where you have to ask yourself, how the hell he pulled it off. Not that Affleck is not a great actor, but he is so very transformed, it’s as if you’re watching his darker twin brother on screen. Both as Bruce Wayne and as Batman he just nails the part. Affleck understood the Batman mythos in a way nobody else did, his motivations, his bipolarity. I like how they left the borderline crazy aspect aside. Wayne’s inner struggle is under his control; the character never feels like he is about to lose it. His violence, his aggression is willfully conceived into a wrecking machine, meant not only for justice, but for torturing terror. His methods are extremely brutal and during many scenes, he does not seem to care about the value of life. I still don’t see why some critics say he is killing people. Yes, there are some really questionable action sequences, in which you can argue that the bad guys prolly ended up gravy, but it is arguable. Even so, for some reason the lack of the classic moral dilemma just had no negative impact on me. I loved every Batman screen time I got.

Henry Cavil’s Superman did leave a bit to be desired. Don’t get me wrong he still makes a great Kal-El and Snyder made some small efforts to humanize him, with all the intimacy between him and Lois, the pain and guilt and regret, the constant search for some form of balance between who he is and what he is expected to be. I guess if I’d have to nail it down to one phrase, I would say Snyder’s Superman is all about loneliness. Even when his allies or loved ones are near, he is still isolated into a figurative fortress of solitude. I did feel however that Cavil’s facial expressions went from grim to grimmer, that the tone of his script just didn’t allow for much variation in acting. He almost feels arrogant at times, clenching his jaw as he is adored, or expected or deified. It doesn’t help that he again drew the shorter straw of the dialogues.

BVS-20305About a third into the film, I still could not shake the feeling that Jesse Eisenberg’s take on Lex Luthor is just not my thing. Then the twists and turns of the plot unfolded, and suddenly I got it. His twitchy monologues, his erratic behavioral patterns, this is simply not the Lex we expected, certainly not what we could have wished for, but it’s a damn fine Lex after all. Not because of what he is in BvS, but because of what he becomes and will probably evolve into. I think Snyder might have just directed the most interesting Lex origin yet.

Gal Gadot’s Diana Prince is awesome. Partly due to a smart introduction of the character into the world, but also due to her good acting. She certainly teases a lot more depth to Wonder Woman, leaving us wanting to know more of Diana’s backstory, why she withdrew from the world and what made her return. There is enough mystery, strong feminism and fight in Gadot’s interpretation to ensure our beloved amazon will bode well on screen.

Batman-v-Superman-Movie-Picture-Still-Lex-Luthor-Jesse-EisenbergAmy Adams and her Lois Lane seems to get the most screen time out of all the secondary cast. Not the best of choices in my book. Adams is not off with her acting, but the script sometimes seems to lose track of her actions. More oft than not you find her in need of Supes and it’s an unexpected turn down damsel in distress effect. Again, I see no fault in her acting, her love for the man under the cape is well expressed as well as her unsettling almost relentless fear, that his physical invincibility can’t shield him from his inner philosophical debates. Of course Jeremy Irons makes for a great Alfred. The only thing I can ask, is maybe a bit more screen time but he will rightfully have it in the stand alone Batman film. For a film as dark and as heavy in tone as this one, Laurence Fishburne sure popped the laughter barrel with his interpretation of Perry White. He is the closest thing to a comic relief that BvS gets, marvelously accompanied by Alfred’s bachelor jokes.

wonderwomanh-1About soundtrack and sound effects:

Hans Zimmer and Junkie XL pack a punch. Enough to blow your eardrum.

Character themes are great. The musical pitfalls and slow, dark, almost prophetic percussions of Batman theme, Superman’s bombastic crescendos, Wonder Woman and her oriental arrangements. Situational music fits well with the action on screen, though it sometimes becomes overly dramatic and obvious. Wagnerian abyss like string phrases doom and boom behind every major scene. There were moments when I longed for a bit of silence, or a bit of subtlety. It’s not the sound but the absence of it that was not well balanced. If you pitch all of the above against an already content rich screenplay and a megalomaniac directorial effort, it is just too much. Too many details, too many sounds, too many implications and nods to too many side narratives or future installments of the DC cinematic universe crammed up into one single film.

About early reactions and early reviews:

By now you know, BvS at least from a critical reception standpoint is not what we wanted. In fact, there are huge chances that this will be Snyder’s last DC film. And while my review I hope has already stated the pros and the cons, the negativity and backlash is truly undeserved.

Undeserved but not illogical.

You see, some of BvS’ best traits are also its biggest flaws commercially and critically. BvS comes historically at the worst possible time for the dark, gritty, serious, heavy, layered and clustered, gravitas imbued comic book symphony it is. While I cannot believe that any true fan of the DC universe will dismiss this film, I do understand how a big part of the audience might. For years now, superhero movie fans have been educated into the Marvel dominated cinematic scene. While Marvel has developed lengthy cinematic phases, it used a specific MO and tailored the genre into a very clearly defined set of expectations. Superhero movies MUST BE fun, you MUST be able to see them with your kids and have a blast. You MUST laugh out loud at least a few times. The Marvel spirit while absolutely beautiful in itself, is just something completely different from what DC is doing.

Also Snyder’s bombastic, darkly toned visual style and artistic method are though pills to swallow. It takes a bit of getting used to, let’s face it. Critics and genre movie goers alike are shocked to find themselves caught into a one hour long socio-political, philosophical debate, with deep roots into DC lore, with a dark arguably pedestrian tone (compared to the Marvel shablingbling). Of course they shy away from it and kids come out piss scared. This is not your typical run for the mill superhero movie. This is not made for kids, unless they are hyper intelligent 7-8 year olds who eat comics like “The Dark Knight Returns” for breakfast and can recognize a space time continuum disruption instantly. In fact, anything less than a knowledgeable DC fan, will miss around 20% of this movie. While me and my friends were getting goosebumps, cheering and applauding, most of the IMAX theatre barely reacted at all.

The promo campaign, trailer releases and teases have been a complete disaster. You remember the backlash of the most recent Doomsday revealing trailer right? Well bad news buster. Your fears were correct. It WAS too much. Too many dialogues and scenes I wish I would have discovered in the theatre. Stay tuned, they are making the same mistake with Suicide Squad now, to the point where fans actually reacted asking them to stop.

batmanvsupermanheaderDa word from F, is “Batman V. Superman” a must see?

Absolutely.

This is an amazing DC feast. If you are a DC fan you will be spoiled. It’s not the perfect movie, but it certainly is not deserving of many of the reviews it gets. Some lack of balance in the rhythm and pace, maybe a bit too much information to deal with for just one film, sometimes the soundtrack exceeds your eardrum capacity, but none of these small mistakes can deny this movie its seal of awesomeness. I can’t wait to see it again, so I can dissect some of the many moments that sucker punched me and relieve this gorgeous visual montagne ruse. Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice” is a breathtaking visual experience, a heart clenching narrative, tailored for the souls of true DC connoisseurs. It is nothing short of amazing, so just go and watch it. Right now. Go.

And Affleck. Oh man, this Batman will have you hold on to your seat.

Trailer 1:

Final Trailer:

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