A Reel Life film section

Issue: Summer 2015-6

Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016) movie review

Battle of the Titans



movie poster, Batman v Superman Dawn of Justice, Festivale film review; 350x511

Movie poster, Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice

Fearing the actions of Superman are left unchecked, Batman takes on Superman, while the world wrestles with what kind of a hero it really needs.

Hmm. Batman moves to Metropolis, or is Gotham City across the bay from Metropolis? There was a passing comment in the beginning of this movie that set up Batman and Superman being in the same city, at the same parties, and here's the rub. If we say that there are character-driven scenes and story-driven scenes, and action-driven scenes and special effects-driven scenes, then Batman vs Superman races through the first two to get to the second two.

Richard Hryckiewicz and I want to the preview screening. He has read a lot of the comics/graphic novels and I have not. For me, the film pushed past the exposition too fast. There is an assumption that the audience knows key pieces of the Batman and Superman canons, and that the film-makers can therefore play with the concepts and the audience will be able to follow along, and perhaps appreciate the interpretations.

Too often I was watching an action/special effect sequence and wondering - why is this happening? In the director's commentary for Stargate director Roland Emmerich recounts how the studio tried to cut some of the best character-interaction scenes. Was that the case here?

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Affleck and Cavill in Superman v Batman: Dawn of Justice. Courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures/ TM & © DC Comics

Yes, I'm sure there are people who only want sensation - noise, explosions, loud music, explosions and crunching, bleeding flesh. But for the rest of us, we need to know the characters and their motivations to relate to them, and to be involved in their outcomes. To care. Although Batman vs Superman did have some scenes to 'explain' the setup and character motivations, they tended to get lost in the general mayhem.

movie still, Wonder Woman in Batman v Superman Dawn of Justice, Festivale film review; 599x251

Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. Courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures/ TM & © DC Comics

This version of the Batman / Superman / Justice League of America D.C. Comics universe has an older Batman and a disheartened Superman. The world is divided over how they feel about superheroes, high-tech vigilantes and meta-humans. Is it for the government to decide how and when they should act? Would the government reflect what the people want? Is it an Ayn Rand situation where those who can and would act should be allowed to do so untrammelled?

Holly Hunter as the junior senator (Finch) from Kentucky is the most interesting character in the film. She is faced with Alexander (Lex) Luthor (Jesse Eisenberg) whispering in her ear, and the complex questions of what is best for a nation. While Batman (Ben Affleck) struggles with bitterness and Superman (Henry Cavill) balances the love of a good woman (a good, strong, intelligent Lois Lane played by Amy Adams) with the suspicion and damnation of authorities and others, Senator Finch on the investigation committee must take the broader, fairer, view.

Some very good actors play supporting roles in Batman vs Superman. Gal Gadot is Wonder Woman, Laurence Fishburne is Perry White, and Jeremy Irons gets to play a multi-talented Alfred. Diane Lane as Martha Kent spends the film with various worried expressions on her face, but she gets the best (to my mind) line. Kevin Costner as Jonathan Kent plays a role almost as small as the one he played in The Big Chill.

Despite the length of the film, there are too many key characters in the universe for some to do more than walk through. For the cognoscenti this film seems to be a setup for a new series of superhero films. On the bright side, we could look forward to a decent female superhero film, something Hollywood and the studio 'content' machine has trouble with.

This film is worth a watch or two. It is a darker vision for a darker time. In a world where the governments pass scary laws to 'protect' their interests in the name of security, where in the U.S. more people are killed by toddlers with guns than by terrorists (!), we need to question who should have weapons, who we should trust to protect us, and what powers they should be given. When the dust settles and the screen fades to black, perhaps that is the question we should take away with us from this latest interpretation of superhero mythologies.

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by Ali Kayn
Australian release 24 Mar 2016
For credits and official site details, see below
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Just the facts:

Title: Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016)
Written by: Chris Terrio and David S. Goyer(scr)
Batman created by Bob Kane and Bill Finger
Superman created by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster
Directed by: Zack Snyder
Running time: mins

The Players: Ben Affleck, Henry Cavill, Amy Adams, Jeremy Irons, Holly Hunter, Diane Lane, Laurence Fishburne

Official website:
IMDb entry

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