‘Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice’ Review

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Director: Zack Snyder

Writers: Chris Terrio and David S. Goyer

Cast: Ben Affleck, Henry Cavill, Amy Adams, Jessie Eisenberg, Diane Lane, Laurence Fishburne, Jeremy Irons, Gal Gadot, Scoot McNairy, Callan Mulvey, Tao Okamoto, and Holly Hunter

Synopsis: Fearing the actions of Superman are left unchecked, Batman takes on Superman, while the world wrestles with what kind of hero it really needs. With Batman and Superman fighting each other, a new threat, Doomsday, is created by Lex Luthor. It’s up to Superman and Batman to set aside their differences along with Wonder Woman to stop Lex Luthor and Doomsday from destroying Metropolis.

 

 

*Reviewer Note: This will be a spoiler free review.*

*Reviewer Note 2: There is no end-credits scene.*

*Reviewer Note 3: There will be a spoiler discussion released later this week*

 

 

The DC Comics Cinematic Shared Universe is alive! While arguably Man of Steel started this new gritty version of an interconnected universe, but Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice is the true start to their shared universe that will lead to Justice League movies. Whether you liked the movie or not, Dawn of Justice does something that many thought they would never see: Batman and Superman on the big screen together. However, is it any good? Are the negative reviews justified? Well, sadly yes, for the most part.

Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice begins by giving us a look at the new Bruce Wayne (Affleck). We get a brand new, and beautifully done, retelling of Bruce’s parents getting gunned down. But, we skip ahead in time and see him trying to get to a Wayne Enterprises building in Metropolis during the battle between Superman (Cavill) and Zod (Michael Shannon) from Man of Steel. As Bruce stands in the wreckage of what was Wayne Enterprises, he sees Superman and Zod fighting off in the distance and his facial expression says it all. He’s powerless at that moment, and wants to get back in the fight.

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We skip ahead in time a little more, as some LexCorp employers find something in the wreckage of one of the fallen Kryptonian ships that could help them fight Superman – if it ever comes to it – a rock of Kryptonite. The Kryptonite of course goes directly to Lex Luthor (Eisenberg), who might also have his own plans for it.

While all this is going on, Senator Finch (Hunter) leads a hearing against Superman and his actions. The brunt of it being that Superman should be accountable for his actions and whether or not he should be put in check. It’s not completely out there, as seen in Man of Steel, but also given the fact that Superman can if he wanted to – as Bruce says at one point – bring everything to the ground. This is what starts also sparks Bruce to don back the suit and become Batman again. If no one else is going to put Superman in check, Batman will. What follows is an eventual fight between our two heroes and the eventual team up with Diana Prince aka Wonder Woman (Gadot) to fight off a creation of Luthor’s doing; Doomsday.

Alright, let’s start off by saying this, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice is not the perfect movie. However, it’s not a terrible movie either. There are some parts that standout, some that are underdeveloped, some that don’t even make sense or are too ambiguous, and others that just don’t really work – like all movies. But, when it comes to BvS, it’s a little more true. The main thing about the film is that it’s too busy, and with it being too busy, it’s a bit of a mess. I hate to say it, but it suffers a tiny bit from The Amazing Spider-Man 2-syndrome. There’s a point in the movie where it introduces the bigger world, which I’m sure everyone knows – and given the title – where this is leading. But while the introducing the grander world, it comes off underwhelming. Sure I was excited to see the universe expand, but the way it was handled left something to be desired – at least for me.

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Thankfully, the film only spends a handful of minutes on expanding itself and keeps the focus on Bruce Wayne and Clark Kent/Superman. The film takes its time for us to get to know them as much as possible. Although they could have been more developed and given just a tad bit more depth, you know where each of them stand. All Superman does is try to help everyone, but because of what he and Zod did when they battle, he’s still considered dangerous – as he should be in reality – and Bruce aka Batman sees him the same way, and has his own way of bringing justice to Gotham as The Batman. This leads to Clark thinking Batman is a ruthless vigilante that has to be stopped, and Superman might be the only way to do it.

With that ideology for both men, it was bound the two would eventually butt heads. Of course, the two do fight in this, but it takes a long while to get there. When it finally does happen, it’s pretty rough-and-tumble. It’s a bit more brutal than I thought it would be, but I kind of wish it was longer. The movie is long itself, something I try not to be nit-picky about, but BvS could have used some more time on the cutting room floor. Anyway, back to the fight, I think there is enough there for fans, and casual fans, to get a kick out of it. However, the way the fight ends is bound to leave some people, in the most hardcore comic book fan, a bit disappointed and unsatisfied.

However, when it comes to seeing Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman team up at the end against Doomsday, no matter if you’re a fan or not, seeing them together is so great. I won’t mention anything from the fight with Doomsday in the review, but to say it gives us a nice preview at what could come with future films.

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So let’s talk a little more on the cast, more specifically the new cast members. Ben Affleck’s Batman is fantastic. He’s a much more brutal Batman than we’ve had on the big screen – his solo fight scene is incredible – but it makes sense for the world the film is set in. He’s a Bruce Wayne that has been doing the hero thing for a while, and he has potentially finally met his match. Everyone complained when Affleck was casted and now many are saying he nailed it. I was always behind Affleck and, yes, he does nail Batman down here. Helping him along the way is his trusted butler Alfred, played by the great Jeremy Irons. Irons’ Alfred is more of a partner-in-crime here as he helps him when the situation calls for it, and knocks on Master Wayne when he can.

Gal Gadot as Diana Prince aka Wonder Woman is a great addition to the film. Like Affleck, Gadot’s casting was criticized, even to the point of people saying she wasn’t right because she didn’t have bigger breasts, which is one of the stupidest things I read online when it broke out. And, like Affleck, Gadot is being praised, by many, for her work in the film. Seeing her fully embrace Wonder Woman character is a sight to really see. I know because I’ve seen the movie twice and when she appears in her Wonder Woman costume at the end to help fight Doomsday, both theaters loudly applauded.

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Holly Hunter’s Senator Finch character only appears in the first half of the movie and while her character plays a bit of an antagonist to Superman, you know what she’s doing is for the “greater good.” Scoot McNairy also pops in as someone who was affected by the events in Man of Steel, although Hunter and McNairy, who are great actors, are kind of wasted here in their small roles. Callan Mulvey also appears as a secondary villain, who comic book fans will know more of, but doesn’t really do too much to standout.

Finally, Jesse Eisenberg’s Lex Luthor. You want to talk about being audiences being split on something; Eisenberg’s Luthor is going to be one of them for sure. I, unfortunately, had a kneejerk reaction when Eisenberg was casted, but I knew that Eisenberg probably had what it took to play Luthor. Well, he played of version of Luthor alright. I appreciated that Zack Snyder was going for a new iteration of Luthor, but this new version came off as annoying and a bit unhinged. This is fine for a character if you’re taking him a certain direction, but that wasn’t the case with this Lex Luthor. Something about this Lex just didn’t click with me and his motivations are a bit murky at best. Eisenberg is a find actor, so maybe it was just the script or how Snyder told him to play it, but I wasn’t sold on Luthor.

All in all, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice has a lot of things going against it. Some things are even bought up that are never fully developed or are left with unsatisfying conclusions. Is that hard to say as a fan that’s been waiting to see two of the biggest superheroes on the big screen together? Hell yes it is. However, despite all of that, there are some great things about the film. Look, might be weird considering this is a review – not that I’m getting paid to do these reviews – but don’t listen to the reviewer out there. If you want to listen to the guy or gal that already saw the movie and you trust their opinions on movies, then okay, but if you had intentions to go watch the movie, than watch it. Some movies are review-proof whether their good or not (I’M LOOKING AT YOU TRANSFORMERS).

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Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice won’t be for everyone. Yes, it’s a bit tad long, even for a guy that doesn’t like thinking about films runtime, and it has some pacing and timing issues. However, the new players to it all in Ben Affleck, Gal Gadot and Jeremy Irons are great. There is also some interesting and nice twists to see that they put in, but I don’t know how that will come across to everyday movie fans. Is this a good sign for the Justice League movies? Who knows, and some are already saying probably not, but you know what? We’re going to watch it anyway. And a lot fans are liking the film. So, what’s more important, critics or fans?

 

Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice

3.5 out of 5

‘The Wolverine’ Review

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Dir: James Mangold (Walk the Line, 3:10 to Yuma)

Cast: Hugh Jackman, Tao Okamoto, Rila Fukushima, Hiroyuki Sanada, Hal Yamanouchi, Svetlana Khodchenkova, Will Yun Lee and Famke Janssen

Synopsis: Summoned to Japan by an old acquaintance, Wolverine becomes embroiled in a conflict that forces him to confront his own demons.

 

*Review Note: This is a non-spoiler review as always. But, I do have to say this…Stay for the credits scene, I won’t say what it’s about but it is a great scene.”

 

While some people say this is better than Origins: Wolverine, it really isn’t saying much since Origins, although having some moments wasn’t a good movie. But, it looks like the commercials are right. This is the Wolverine movie we’ve wanted, for the most part.

Jackman once again goes full in, embracing the character that fans fell in love with in the pages of the X-Men comics or the movies if that was your first encounter with him. But, you also have to give credit to James Mangold and his screenwriters smartly avoid the clutter of mutants, like Origins, and just make the movie about Logan. The movie is inspired by the famous Japan story-arc in the comics but is also a continuation of the X-Men film series serving as a some-what sequel to The Last Stand but is a separate adventure as well.

When we first meet him here, Logan is living like a hermit in the Canadian wild. He is also still mourning the loss of Jean Grey (Janssen) that comes to him at times in a dream-like environment asking the question that Wolverine deals with “Why keep going?” After an encounter in a bar he meets the mysterious Yukio (Fukushima) who is there to bring Logan to Japan to say good-bye to Yashida (Yamanouchi) a man he saved during World War II. Reluctantly he accepts and soon discovers that the man wants to offer Logan an end to his immortality in return for saving his life that day. Of course Logan finds out nothing is what it really seems.

Logan eventually finds out that his healing factor is affected after being poisoned by mutant Viper (Khodchenkova) when he starts to protect Yashida’s granddaughter Mariko (Okamoto). After that we get introduced to the other characters in Mariko’s father and Yashida’s son Shingen (Sanada) and Harada (Yun Lee) who is under orders to also protect Mariko.

Like I stated before the movie is inspired from the classic Chris Claremont/Frank Miller Japan storyline from the comics. However, it does take some liberties which are welcome. Maiko isn’t necessarily a damsel-in-distress and Yukio has a bit more meat to her character. It should be noted that this is the first film for both actress’ and they did a good job with such big characters. Khodchenkova’s Viper is maybe a bit too cartoony when it comes to being a villain but considering she isn’t the main villain it’s a bit okay.

However, despite all this the movie doesn’t really become a “comic-book” movie until the third act. Not saying it’s a bad thing either. The movie sets up Logan as a haunted character dealing with this “curse” and what the effects are to that and what happens when it goes away but it also tries to play Logan as a legend in some sense. This is probably makes the movie better and puts it ahead of Origins (although again not saying much). The movie isn’t worried about connecting it back to the X-Men movies (with the expectation of Jean) or about the fate of the world, it’s only concern is Logan and his story which is fantastic to watch.

The action is also stepped up and although they are spaced apart every sequence has a something on the line. People are talking about the bullet train sequence (I had my doubts about it in the beginning) which is pretty cool and maybe to some a bit cartoonish but it still works. Also for those wanting blood on the claws you can finally put that aside.

All in all, The Wolverine has finally given us a movie where we see the Wolverine that we all love. Jackman has truly made the character his own in every way and I feel for the person who has to take over after Jackman leaves. Filled with action, humor, and a love story The Wolverine is what I hope for in future installments.

 

The Wolverine

4.5 out of 5