Tuesday 26 April 2016

Movie Review - Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice

In 2013, Man of Steel began as not only a reboot of the Superman franchise but also the first in DC's shared universe to compete with the Marvel equivalent that began with Iron Man in 2008. Three years on, the sequel has arrived - or, at least what originally seemed to be a sequel, and what has now been malformed into some sort of confused, not quite Justice League film; seemingly an overly keen attempt to pump this franchise out as soon as possible. The end result simply proves that rushing such things never leads to good results.

Following on from the chaos caused in Metropolis after Superman and General Zod's rivalry, eccentric billionaire Bruce Wayne (Ben Affleck) dons his Batman alter ego to fight crime in Gotham City whilst also drafting a plan to bring Superman to justice, feeling his powers cause danger to society after witnessing the lives lost at his hands during his destructive battles. Meanwhile, Superman, and by extension his alter ego Clark Kent, faces trouble with coping how the public see him - some as a hero, some as a villain, with the latter strongly influenced by sociopath Lex Luthor (Jesse Eisenberg), who has some sinister plans fuelled by his obsession to bring Superman down once and for all.

I find it hard to summarise the plot as it really is a complete mess from start to finish, with little to no redeeming factors. The pacing is ungodly sluggish and the tone unbearably dull; director Zack Snyder and writers Chris Terrio and David S. Goyer have sucked all of the fun from the source material and transformed it into something extremely depressing, slow moving, and dramatically uneven. The characters simply share no compelling chemistry, and the titular rivalry is completely uninteresting - the motivations are seldom explored in any true detail and so watching them duke it out is less than satisfying because it simply makes no true sense. Their battle is equally contrived and super brief, and ends on an abrupt note with their character arcs completely changing on the spot with no definitive, believable reason. As for Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot) whizzing in out of nowhere - well, her presence, as well the majority of the film itself if I'm honest, serves as naught but a lame cocktease for the Justice League movie and seriously damages the pacing and focus that the film already struggles with.

The climax itself is so ridiculous that it's evident the writers took little time and effort into deriving a compelling tale from a great premise, instead settling for some stereotypical fight scenes mixed with a number of other random conversations that come and go sporadically, many of which bare little significance. Action wise, it's nothing special, as we've seen it all before - huge explosions, over the top punches, characters smashing through walls; and it's all so noisy and overlong that it loses any of what little charm it had extremely quickly. To its credit, the acting isn't so bad, with Ben Affleck delivering a respectable performance considering his limited material, and Eisenberg particularly impressing when it comes to capturing Lex Luthor's sociopathic, manipulative, intelligent nature. On a tragic flipside, Henry Cavill is extremely bland, most likely due to how poorly written Superman is throughout the film; it seems he had no real way of escaping the outcome of a mediocre performance, but it equally doesn't seem like he put a whole lot of effort into it either. Overall, it's as bad as the trailers convinced me it'd be, and I certainly have no interest in future instalments.