The world is not ready for 'Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice'
Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice
3.5 out of 5 Stars
Director: Zack Snyder
Starring: Ben Affleck, Henry Cavill, Amy Adams, Gal Gadot
Genre: Action, Drama
Rated: PG - 13 for intense sequences of violence and action throughout, and some sensuality.
Recommended To: Fans of Frank Miller's dark take on superheroes.
Synopsis: Following the destructive events of "Man of Steel" that left the center of Metropolis in ruins, Batman, enraged by Superman's actions, sets out to put Krypton's son to rest.
Review (KUTV): Superheroes evolve with the times. Batman's evolution is easily tracked from Adam West on through Christian Bale and now Ben Affleck. Superman's evolution, at least cinematically, is less distinct as the only post-Christopher Reeve film, "Superman Returns," was more or less a tribute to Reeve's era. It's no real surprise that "Man of Steel" was greeted with an ample amount of criticism regarding its portrayal of Superman as a flawed young alien trying to find his place among humanity.
"Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice" is a reactionary film where director Zack Snyder and screenwriters Chris Terrio ("Argo") and David S. Goyer ("The Dark Knight") channel all the disgust and criticism from "Man of Steel" into an aged Batman. Batman's actions are guttural, not logical. He sees the carnage spread before him and looks for someone to blame. We expect better from Batman, but if you take a peek at this week's headlines it's not hard to see that Batman's reaction isn't all that different from what is going on around us. At its core, "Batman v Superman" is a chilling look at modern society and the dark path that we have put ourselves on. It is a cautionary tale that is more brooding and visceral than we've seen from a comic book movie. It is gutsy and no doubt will be more polarizing than its predecessor.
In the beginning the film feels incredibly disjointed as it introduces Batman through flashbacks and inserts him directly into the wave of destruction that is the end of "Man of Steel." For the next 30 minutes the audience is given random pieces of a much larger picture. Some of these pieces come together to help form a picture, some exist only to serve as misdirection and others point to subplots with dead ends.
It is as if Snyder, along with writers Goyer and Terrio, have taken a boat through a fun house attraction where their ideas are played out in a David Lynch film. Some events are real, others are hallucinatory. It quickly becomes a maze without an exit. The walls closing behind you, pushing you deeper in. At its center the riddle that is "Batman v Superman" is an incredibly dark place where the worst of men and gods is brought to the forefront. Superman is viewed less as a savior and more as an uncontrollable force that needs to be held in check.
In the middle of the nightmare is Holly Hunter's Senator Finch who calls for a public debate, a conversation to explore what, if any rules, should be placed upon Superman. Of course no one wants to talk and with Lex Luthor (Jesse Eisenberg) pulling at society's strings it doesn't take long for all hell to break loose.
Many of the puzzle pieces that Snyder, Goyer and Terrio have placed on the table come together in the film's final act as the movie becomes more coherent and focused. It is there that our heroes prove their worth.
The most exciting aspect of "Batman v Superman" is Gal Gadot's Wonder Woman.
It's just a shame that there isn't enough time to develop her character (or anyone else's really). Anyone who doubted her casting will be silenced by her performance. Affleck's Batman is a little more difficult to evaluate. His performance is solid, but the characterization isn't fully realized. We just don't spend enough time with him. Eisenberg's Luthor is dramatically different from anything we've seen on film. I can see how some might find his performance to be a little too manic, but I thought that it fit the film's tone.
If Christian Bale's Batman was the hero that Gotham deserved, then Cavill's Superman and Affleck's Batman are cautionary figures that reflect the destructive course that our society is taking. The world isn't ready for this Batman or this Superman and I hope we never are.
Fortunately "Batman v Superman" does offer a path away from the destruction. It comes at a cost, but all things do.
"Batman v Superman" is an incredibly dark film that is far removed from the colorful flash of Marvel's brand of film-making. It is flawed, but bold and risk taking. It will cause a passionate response and ultimately that's what art should do. You might hate it, but you will feel something.
Follow Ryan on Twitter for entertainment and movie news: @ryanMpainter
Extended "Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice" coverage:
'Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice:' The Heroes and their costumes
'Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice' Jesse Eisenberg and the art of manipulation
'Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice:' Henry Cavill's Superman is a work in progress
'Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice:' Ben Affleck praises the past, forges a new future
'Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice:' Consequence and Zack Snyder's uncompromising vision
'Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice:' Gal Gadot, a new kind of princess
'Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice:' Amy Adams, Lois Lane and the modern newsroom