“Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice” review

By Jeff Boudreaux


     The Dark Knight meets the Man of Steel in “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice,” what is likely the single-most anticipated film based on comic book superheroes in history. Casual fans, hardcore fans, geeks and even grandmas waited a long time for this motion picture to become a reality. The first step was an ingenious marketing campaign (one that actually began as a visual in a post-apocalyptic Times Square in 2007’s “I Am Legend”). Coming off the heels of an extremely successful Batman trilogy directed by Christopher Nolan, as well as a well-received Superman reboot in 2013, Warner Bros. and DC chose “Man of Steel” director Zack Snyder to take the reins of arguably the two most important superheroes in history (sorry Marvel fans).


     If you’re anything like me, you’re probably wondering why these two would be pitted against each other in the first place. Growing up on reruns of Hanna-Barbera’s “Superfriends,” I knew that these guys were supposed to be buddies, so whatever DC was planning on doing with this film and these beloved icons, I consigned myself to simply hoping that they get it right. And they actually succeeded, although that success was mostly relegated to the last 45 minutes of the film!


     Picking up in the aftermath of the climactic battle between Superman (Henry Cavill) and General Zod (Michael Shannon) at the end of “Man of Steel,” Bruce Wayne (Ben Affleck) and most of Congress now view Superman as a threat (because no one can accept the fact that there is sometimes a thing known as collateral damage). Amid the protesters and their signs of “Go Home Alien,” a millionaire researcher known as Lex Luthor (Jesse Eisenberg in full manic-depressive mode) channels his own vendetta against the man from Krypton, and before you know it, Superman faces the biggest challenge of his life.


     Gearing up for the comic book equivalent of Celebrity Deathmatch, Batman attempts to use Superman’s weakness (yes, Kryptonite) against him. And planning for all-out “Doomsday,” Lex Luthor finds Superman’s weaknesses, his demons, and even remnants of an old foe, to bring Clark Kent’s heroic alter-ego down to size. How will the lovely Diana Prince (Gal Gadot) figure into all of this turmoil? And does Lois Lane (Amy Adams) really hold the key to whatever The Flash (Ezra Miller) was rambling about in Batman’s dream sequence?!


     Say what you like about this film, but one conclusion that I have certifiably arrived at, is the fact that “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice” warrants repeated viewings. That’s right, several of them. Unfortunately, that would involve sitting through that slow first half, and pondering through the extremely convoluted middle, before you can actually relax and enjoy the wonderful last hour. And who am I kidding? You’ve seen the previews. Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot) blasts the two titular heroes off of the screen, plain and simple. Thankfully, she is on their side and I for one, cannot wait for the ramifications of this film to be played out in next year’s “Justice League,” much less her own solo outing that predates it by several months.


     One thing is for sure, and that is the internet can relax and breathe a collective sigh of relief at Affleck and Gadot making their respective debuts as these two iconic superheroes. Both of these actors did an amazing job, proving why they were chosen and why they will keep the roles for the foreseeable future. Some good fight scenes during the last hour impressed me, yet I can’t help but feel that this film underscored Superman’s strength and ability. Kudos are in order to co-writers David S. Goyer (no stranger to superhero movies, including work for both DC and Marvel) and Chris Terrio (“Argo”), for incorporating the most important comic book storyline in the last 25 years into a film where we (I, at least) were least expecting it.


     This is the first installment in the DC multiverse (Warners’ answer to Marvel Studios’ MCU), and from this moment on there will be lots of talk and speculation, some good and some bad. However you view the success of this film (or whether or not this is a disappointment), it is undoubtedly a motion picture landmark, and has instigated a whole slew of films between now and 2020, the next being “Suicide Squad” in August. My advice is to enjoy the film for what it is, and disregard what it’s not (just please pay special attention to the dream sequences). A film of this magnitude will never be able to please everybody, but it’s overall importance in the annals of film and fandom will make up for any shortcomings within.

** (two out of four stars)

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