Zach Snyder’s Batman Versus Superman Dawn of Justice is perhaps the most anticipated film of 2016. It marks DC’s first proper fore into the Cinematic Universe structure that Marvel has used to dominate the box office for the last few years. Can DC wrestle that dominance away with their two most popular characters? The short answer, is no.
Summarising the plot is tricky as there is just too much of it but I will give it a go. Eighteen months after witnessing the destruction of metropolis during Superman’s fight with General Zod the whole world is divided on how to treat this all powerful being; the Man of Steel (Henry Cavil) himself is uncertain about his role in the world. Bruce Wayne, AKA Batman (Ben Affleck), has been tracking reports that someone wants to bring radioactive material into Gotham, all the while being suspicious of the last son of Krypton. Meanwhile Lex Luther (Jessie Eisenberg) is making shady government deals and experimenting with Kryptonian technology and the remains of Zod. Meanwhile conspiracies and mysterious figures abound.
I may not be an expert on comic books but I know that the characters are Lex Luther, Batman and Superman in name only. Luthor is boiled down to a psychotic crazy person, instead of one of the most influential, and intelligent members of the DC Rogues Gallery. Batman kills, which is something that Batman would never do. Indeed many story lines revolve around Batman’s set of ethics; whether it is right to kill the Joker to save thousands. Thus with the major players acting so strangely “out of character” as it were it alienates you from the film questioning why events are taking place.
Batman Vs. Superman is mired in plot and exposition as the film acts as a sequel to Man of Steel, a Batman reboot, introduction to Wonder Woman and set up for DC’s upcoming Justice League Part 1 and their other announced films. Thus the sheer amount of things that it has to do leaves them all unsatisfying. The major feeling you get from the film is that it was rushed. While it is unfair to compare the DC Cinematic Universe with that of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, it is hard not to; DC are clearly rushing to catch up with Marvel but in their haste they don’t stop to think whether they should.
Finally my major problem with DC’s superhero films in general is that of tone. I may have
a controversial opinion but in my mind Christopher Nolan ruined DC’s superhero films. Now I am not saying that the Dark Knight trilogy is bad, it fits as a stand-alone set of Batman films. However DC have seen how popular they are and transposed the tone of a gritty, conflicted realistic, superhero to an alien and mythological character, leaving them samey one note and boring. The colour scheme is grey and depressing and Snyder gives every little detail the same amount of importance through close up, slow motion, silence or the great booming score. It leaves the audience feeling confused, tired and alienated, because it is just so much of the same.
Batman Vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice will make its money, not because it is good, but because people will want to see how bad it is. I went in thinking that I was going to be entertained by a train wreck, but I left the theatre feeling depressed and tired. What the film represents is the antithesis of the marvel, it is not fun, it is an obligation.
(You can also read this review and a whole lot of other reviews and articles on The Norwich Film Festival Blog, click to peruse some great film making advise and film related content)
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