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‘Batman vs. superman’

April 1, 2016

CALEB DANIEL

Managing Editor| csd@latech.edu

 

Warner Bros.

Warner Bros.

 

When watching superhero movies, people generally want to see one of two things: classic, simple “beat up the bad guys” fun, or edgy, thought-provoking real-world struggles.

 

 

The best comic-book films find ways to incorporate both the old-fashioned fun and the deeper questions in an equally gratifying manner. Zack Snyder’s “Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice” takes two-and-a-half hours to deliver on neither of those elements.

 

 

As the name implies, “Batman v. Superman” revolves around the growing animosity between two of the world’s most popular heroes. The two inevitably clash, with Wonder Woman and the monstrous Doomsday joining in for good measure.

 

 

Like Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy, Snyder clearly wanted to lean toward the difficult, morally gray side of comic-book storytelling. However, Snyder’s attempt lacks the cohesion and direction that helped the Dark Knight series thrive in this area.

 

 

The central dilemma of this story line is the godlike power of Superman (Henry Cavill) and his place in the world of men.

 

 

While there is plenty of talk about the “Superman controversy” during the film’s annoyingly long buildup, no clear thought process emerges. It’s like the writers just took a bunch of scenes and quotes that say, “Look at me, I’m so deep,” and randomly scattered them throughout the script. Not only are the core themes very non-cohesive and loosely defined, but the twists and turns of the plot are unnecessarily distracting from what good moments the story has.

 

 

From reality-bending, “Inception”-esque dream sequences, to ill-timed superhero cameos, to nuclear explosions with absolutely no purpose, the viewer is increasingly hard pressed to even discern what’s really going on, much less to focus on the real issues.

 

 

More than anything else, this film’s purpose was to catapult a series of DC-comics movies culminating in a superhero get-together called the Justice League. “Dawn of Justice” tried to do too much of that setup in one story.

 

 

Ben Affleck’s Batman, who I actually somewhat enjoyed, is severely underdeveloped here, but not compared to Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman, who randomly appears to help save the day with no explanation offered.

 

 

In the midst of trying and failing to make deep moral points, Snyder does little to sate superhero fans’ desires for an old-fashioned good time.

 

 

The story slowly escalates for more than 90 minutes before the promised gladiator match actually begins, and even then the action is disappointing.

 

 

The final fight with Doomsday encompasses everything Marvel fans hate about DC. All we see are stylized, over-the-top shots of godlike, invulnerable figures beating at each other with seemingly no effect. After all the buildup, the end product was not that fun.

 

 

The film was not without its redeeming qualities. Despite portraying an unorthodox and almost Joker-like Lex Luthor, Jesse Eisenberg delivers his role in convincing and occasionally hilarious fashion. Supporting characters like Jeremy Irons’ Alfred and Holly Hunter’s Senator Finch did what they could to salvage the film’s enjoyment.

 

 

If the studio can get its act together and work its way to the Justice League, I will still be around to see it. From here on out though, I’m lowering my expectations.

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