Film Review: Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (Warner Bros. Pictures; 2016)

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Source: Warner Bros. Pictures

Contributor, Colm Smyth

Dawn of Justice will divide its audience in two. Not into Team Batman and Team Superman, but into those who loved it, and those who hated it. Dawn of Justice may just be the marmite of superhero movies.

While director Zack Snyder intended to create a film that pitted comic books’ two most iconic goliaths against one another, the premise falls somewhat flat. The antagonism is present between Batman (Ben Affleck) and Superman (Henry Cavill) during act one and halfway through act two, but for the remainder of the film, the title ‘Batman vs Superman’ becomes lost as the sparring superheroes agree to form an alliance to take down the new threat of Doomsday, created by Superman’s nemesis Lex Luthor (Jesse Eisenberg).

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Batman and Superman face off against Lex Luthor. Source: Warner Bros. Pictures

When Snyder produced 2013’s Man of Steel, many critics found it to be poorly paced and badly written. With this latest installment set in the DC universe, it seems as if Snyder isn’t so much set on telling a story of two complex characters with conflicting opinions on the concept of justice as he is attempting to fire back at critics, with a film that corrects many of the elements that made Man of Steel garner the negative ratings it did. Much of the disappointment comes from the third act, where the majority of the action takes place. The audience is thrown into a fantastic battle scene complete with explosions, laser beams and destruction . This provides the fantasy violence and brilliantly shows the superhuman abilities of these superheroes, but raises the bar so high that the film cannot outperform itself. The fantasy violence continues in the same vein for the remainder of the third act, but the ‘wow factor’ wears off.

While Dawn of Justice did have issues with pacing and characterisation (especially in the case of Batman) there were plenty of Easter eggs and hidden moments that would have any comic book fan craving for more. Though the film mainly focuses on Batman and Superman, we are given hints at the existence of a wider universe, with cameos from other members of the Justice League. We are even given a big clue that the events of Death in the Family have occurred in this timeline as a mournful Bruce Wayne passes a mounted Robin suit, speculated by many to have once belonged to Jason Todd, who was murdered by The Joker. Many fans have felt as though they have been cheated out of quality performances by a script that hints at these characters’ backgrounds and positions in this timeline, but never does anything with them.

Batman vs Superman: Dawn of Justice may have a lot to offer comic enthusiasts, but in terms of pacing and direction, it falls flat on many occasions. That’s not to say that the film was a failure altogether, as there are some cohesive and exciting scenes that keep it running (somewhat) smoothly.

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