Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice Review

Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice movie posterSynopsis
After the devastation of Metropolis, most of the world sees Superman (Henry Cavill) as a savior. Unsure of Superman’s intentions, Bruce Wayne (Ben Affleck), aka Batman, looks for a way to defeat the seemingly invincible hero. Meanwhile, Lex Luthor (Jesse Eisenberg) concocts a plan of his own to bring down the man of steel.

Review
The two main characters of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice are very polarizing for me. On one hand, Batman is one one of my favorite DC heroes and I grew up with Batman: The Animated Series. On the other hand, Superman is one of my least favorite superheroes and I wasn’t a huge fan of Man of Steel. However, being the superhero fan I am, I wasn’t going to let this one pass by, especially with it being the major kickoff to the DC Extended Universe (DCEU).

When Ben Affleck was first announced as playing Bruce Wayne, there was a lot of backlash. I wanted to wait and see for myself before making any judgments. I thought he did a good job as an older, jaded Bruce Wayne. He really had that grizzled characteristic to him that I would expect from someone who has been fighting crime for twenty years. Jeremy Irons also made for a great Alfred. I want to see more of him in the future because I think with some more screen time, he might rival Michael Cain’s Alfred.

Despite this move being titled Batman v Superman, Gal Gadot stole every scene she was in. She also received a lot of criticism when she was cast as Wonder Woman. Gadot could not have been more perfect. She had the poise, she had the attitude, and she had Wonder Woman’s character down. I’m more excited now for Wonder Woman because I want to see more of what Gadot can do with the role.

As the title suggests, this movie is about both Batman and Superman. The movie does a fine job of balancing these two characters. Although, Batman does seem to get a little more time. This makes sense since this is his first appearance in the DCEU, whereas Superman already received much of his development in Man of Steel. The best scene of the film was when these two finally meet for their showdown. It was big and dramatic and was one long, great fight sequence. Say what you will about Zack Snyder, he knows how to film action.

Now as for the rest of the film, it didn’t fare as well. Much of that comes from the pacing of the first two acts. It would do some set up, whether it was for one of the main characters or the overall conflict. Then rev up briefly. Then slow back down to more exposition. This starting and stopping made for a jarring experience. It didn’t help that the movie was trying to cram a good deal into itself.

There were many subplots throughout the movie. The way they interacted is where many of the pacing issues occurred. It felt like the movie was trying to pack in all these different story lines but didn’t know what to do with all of them. They didn’t flow that well together and would’ve worked better in other movies. Like many of DC’s movies, this one tried to incorporate too much and ended up losing its focus on what it was really trying to accomplish.

Batman v Superman is also supposed to be the first step towards the giant Justice League crossover, so it introduced many future characters and plot elements. It reminded me a lot of Avengers: Age of Ultron actually. In both movies, this prevents them from being self-contained stories, which hurts them. However, in Age of Ultron‘s case, Marvel at least seemed to have planned for it and know what is happening in the movies it was trying to set up. DC just seemed to throw them in there to say “look what’s coming,” without giving many of these introductions much purpose towards the overall story.

If there was one thing that was truly wrong with this movie it was Lex Luthor. For starters, his personality was all wrong. Luthor is calculating, cold, and in control of himself. This Luthor was the opposite of that. He was a genius like his comic book counterpart but that feels like where the similarities end. I’m a fan of Jesse Eisenberg, but he was not a good choice for Luthor. His Luthor was on the edge of insanity. It felt like more of a Joker than a Lex Luthor. That’s not who the character should be.

I thought Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice was OK :-|. There are several good qualities in the film, such as casting Affleck, Irons, and Gadot but the weak villain and poor pacing overshadow much of what the film actually does well.

Trailer

Cast & Crew
Zack Snyder – Director
Chris Terrio – Writer
David S. Goyer – Writer
Hans Zimmer – Composer
Junkie XL – Composer

Ben Affleck – Bruce Wayne / Batman
Henry Cavill – Clark Kent / Superman
Gal Gadot – Diana Prince / Wonder Woman
Amy Adams – Lois Lane
Jesse Eisenberg – Lex Luthor
Jeremy Irons – Alfred
Diane Lane – Martha Kent
Laurence Fishburne – Perry White
Holly Hunter – Senator Finch
Scoot McNairy – Wallace Keefe
Callan Mulvey – Anatoli Knyazev
Tao Okamoto – Mercy Graves
Brandon Spink – Young Bruce Wayne

The Dark Knight Rises Review

The Dark Knight Rises movie posterSynopsis
After taking the fall for the death of Harvey Dent eight years ago, Batman disappeared and Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale) went into seclusion inside Wayne manner. But when Bane (Tom Hardy) takes Gotham City hostage, Batman will need to appear again to save the city. But this time, he has the help of the skilled cat burglar Selina Kyle (Ann Hathaway) and police officer John Black (Joseph Gordon-Levitt).

Review
Christopher Nolan crafted some character defining stories in Batman Begins and The Dark Knight, and looks to do the same with The Dark Knight Rises. It’s almost impossible to do better than The Dark Knight, but The Dark Knight Rises is able to continue the momentum of awesomeness that began in Batman Begins and offers a satisfying conclusion to Nolan’s Batman epic.

This film is influenced by the 90s story arc “Knightfall,” which introduced Bane. Bane is a villain who able to match Batman both physically and mentally. The version of Bane in this movie was very faithful to his comic counterpart. Not only does he develop the plan to take over Gotham City, but he also takes Batman head on (and wins!). The only thing missing is Bane’s signature Venom serum to give him his super strength. Instead, this was replaced with the mask you see in the film.

The purpose of Bane’s mask isn’t explained real clearly. His mask was described to help ease pain he continually feels from a previous injury. But when it gets damage, Bane’s punches take huge chunks out of a stone pillar. So it appears his mask seemingly holds his strength back. I think they should have done something more along the lines of the Venom serum that augments his strength, maybe as something he inhales through the mask.

Another character they took an interesting interpretation of was Catwoman. She was never once called ‘Catwoman.’ The closest thing to Catwoman was ‘Cat Burglar.’ And she wasn’t dressed like a cat. Instead, her super cool burglar glasses create cat ears in her silhouette when they were not in use. I liked it because it was like “Hey, it’s Catwoman!” but they never said, “Hey, it’s Catwoman!”

The League of Shadows played an integral role in Batman Begins, and they play a strong role in this film, bring the trilogy full circle. It’s pretty cool that they were able to bring back such an important group from Batman’s beginning for his finale. And and the center of the League is Ra’s al Ghul. In the comics, for those unfamiliar with the character, al Ghul is immortal. Now immortality in the traditional sense does not fit into the more realistic settings of The Dark Knight trilogy, but there are other ways to live forever, which this film plays with. It is a nice nod to the source material, while still staying within the trilogy’s continuity and realism.

As I have pointed out in my reviews for the previous films in the trilogy, Hans Zimmer’s score is one of my favorite parts of the movie, and it has only improved in each film. A lot of the music is recycled from Batman Begins and The Dark Knight, but there is new music for Bane’s Theme and a few others. Once again, the music is well balanced with the dialog. There are moments that the score is silent, making these moments even more emotional. Not everything moment needs a strong score behind it; sometimes the lack of sound is just as powerful.

The Dark Knight Rises offers a satisfying conclusions to Nolan’s Batman epic. Finally, Bane has a big screen appearance that properly portrays his genius and strength in the comics onto the silver screen. The Dark Knight trilogy finishes just as strong as it began.

Rating
4.5/5

For the rest of The Dark Knight trilogy, check out my reviews for Batman Begins and The Dark Knight.

The Dark Knight Review

The Dark Knight mo vie posterSynopsis
One year after Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale) started fighting Gotham City’s criminal underworld as Batman, a new menace has surfaced. The Joker (Heath Ledger) is bent on spreading chaos throughout the city. Working with Lieutenant Jim Gordon (Gary Oldman) and the new district attorney, Harvey Dent (Aaron Eckhart), Batman must bring down the Joker before he brings all of Gotham to its knees.

Review
Batman Begins gave us a strong Batman origin story. The casting was spot-on, the story was great, and the characters were well fleshed out. All of these aspects carry over into The Dark Knight and add some new cast members that are just as on-point as the returning cast. The Dark Knight is darker and grittier than its predecessor, and triumphs not just as a great superhero film, but as a cinematic masterpiece.

Heath Ledger received a ton of flack when he was announced as the Joker in The Dark Knight. Now it’s hard to envision anyone else in the role. Ledger completely embodied the Joker, from his voice to the character’s mannerisms, including freaky body twitches and lip licking. It looks like the Joker is barely on the edge of maintaining his sanity, and it’s all feels real. This is without a doubt my favorite portrayal of the character.

One noticeable difference is Rachael Dawes is played by Maggie Gyllenhaal this time around, instead of Katie Holmes. Holmes turned down the role due to scheduling conflicts with Mad Money. As I said in my Batman Begins review, Holmes wasn’t awful, her performance just wasn’t as strong as the cast around her. Gyllenhaal, on the other hand, has no problem standing toe-to-toe with the likes of Bale, Ledger, and Michael Cane. She also does well bring across the emotion necessary for some of her more dramatic moments. As much as I don’t like to see cast changes in the middle of franchises, this one was probably for the better.

We didn’t get to see much of the detective part of the “World’s Greatest Detective” in Batman Begins, but we do this outing. Wayne uses his skills and resources to find the Joker’s hideout. It was only a few, short sequences, but it was nice they acknowledged that side of Batman since often it’s neglected in favor of action.

The Dark Knight has a long running time, but it doesn’t feel like it at all. Part of the long running time is due to the focus on two villains. Unlike most movies that try to focus on more than one antagonist, this film does not feel claustrophobic. It does extremely well balancing both Joker and Two-Face, who comes in about halfway through the movie. Although it is two and a half hours, it moves along at a quick pace, while still developing the character of Bruce Wayne and the supporting cast.

Not only is The Dark Knight one of my favorite comic book movies, but it is one of my favorites of all time. With superb casting, great balance of characters and character development, not to mention great action, it is hard not to love this movie.

Rating
5/5

For the rest of The Dark Knight trilogy, check out my reviews for Batman Begins and The Dark Knight Rises.

Batman Begins Review

Batman Begins movie posterSynopsis
After being away for eight years, Bruce Wayne returns to his home in Gotham City. Using what he learned from his time training with the League of Shadows, he takes up the mantle of Batman and begins a crusade to rid Gotham of crime and corruption, starting with Scarecrow and his drug operation.

Review
I grew up with Batman: the Animated Series in the 90s and Justice League in the early 2000s (or Batman and his Amazing Friends as I like to call it). And although I don’t read the Batman comics, I try to stay up-to-date with what is going on in his books. So you could say Batman is pretty close to my heart. As good as Michael Keaton’s Batman was, it wasn’t really an origin story for the character. Batman Begins looks to establish a definitive Batman origin story, and create a dark and gritty Gotham City that is less exuberant and more grounded than the Joel Shumacher Batman films.

The Gotham City in Schumacher’s films evolved into a place full of neon signs and cartoonish characters. It may have started out strong, but it become a mess that tried too hard to display its comic book roots. The Gotham City presented in Batman Begins returns to that grittiness of the 1989 Batman, but doesn’t become overly stylized. You can imagine this Gotham is a real place. Not only is the setting more grounded, but Batman’s equipment is as well. His suit, gadgets, and vehicles are all more realistic than those in previous Batman movies. It’s more fitting with the movie’s more serious tone.

Scarecrow and Ra’s al Ghul are not iconic Batman villains, but I liked the fact they used lesser-known members of his rogues gallery. They could have played it safe and done someone like the Joker or Catwoman, but instead chose B-list villains (Well Ra’s may be considered A-List, but he hasn’t had much mainstream exposure). They took a risk and it payed off because it allowed for a great set-up for Batman’s take down of Gotham’s crime.

I don’t think there could have a better cast assembled for this film. Christian Bale is perfect as both a young Bruce Wayne and Batman. It’s funny how none of the previous actors didn’t change their voice when they were portraying Bruce versus when they were portraying Batman. Now after Bale took the part, it seems like it should be a no-brainer. Michael Caine does great as Alfred and Bruce’s mentor. Gary Oldman as Sargent Gordon (not commissioner yet), Liam Neesan as Henri Ducard, and Cillian Murphy as Dr. Jonathan Crane, all fantastic. And Morgan Freeman as Lucius Fox, well, when isn’t Freeman awesome? Only one I am a little iffy about is Katie Holmes as Rachel Dawes. She doesn’t do terrible, but she doesn’t step up and basically is just not as great as the rest of the cast around her.

Han Zimmer’s score as become iconic and really adds to the atmosphere. I instantly recognize his Batman scores when they come on my Pandora station. And the best part is it balances well with the rest of the sound work. Sometimes a film’s score is too overpowered and covers up the dialogue. But not here. It’s regulated to quiet background when necessary, and loud and prevalent when it needs to be.

I can’t think of very many negative things to say against this film.  With a superb cast, a more grounded world, and an amazing score, Batman Begins is the perfect superhero origin story and first entry in a Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight trilogy.

Rating
4.5/5

For the rest of The Dark Knight trilogy, check out my reviews for The Dark Knight and The Dark Knight Rises.

WB confirms “12 to 14” films from DC

Not surprisingly, Warner Bros. and DC has confirmed they have more movies planned besides the upcoming Man of Steel sequel.

According to comicbook.com, Warner Bros. CEO Kevin Tsujihara discussed WB’s future projects last week.  Tsujihara stated “We have Batman Vs. Superman coming out in 2015, but there are going to be in the coming months a lot of announcements regarding the future movie, television, games and consumer product pieces that are going to be coming from DC.”  He also added “I think the basis, foundation of those 12 to 14 pictures are going to be coming from DC Entertainment.”

Right now they are playing catch-up to Marvel and their cinematic universe, using Man of Steel as a springboard to kick of their movie universe.  Personally, I think they should use television to introduce their characters, then use the movies to bring them together, whether it be pairings or a full fledged Justice League movie.  DC has had success on the small screen in the past with shows like the 1970s Wonder Woman, 2000s Smallville, and the recent Arrow.  A Flash series is already set to spin-off from Arrow, introducing super powers into the series.  The grounded atmosphere of Arrow is similar to the feel of Man of Steel and I’m assuming in other films going forward, too.  It wouldn’t be that much of a stretch to make Arrow, The Flash (or whatever the series may be called), and Man of Steel in a shared cinematic universe, to steal Marvel’s terminology.  DC can play to their strengths and use the small screen to their advantage.

Also, interestingly, Tsujihara uses “Batman Vs. Superman” rather than “Man of Steel 2” or “Man of Steel sequel.”  Granted, Batman Vs Superman has been the placeholder title until one is officially confirmed, but could this be that confirmation?

Man of Steel 2 is scheduled to be released in theaters July 17, 2015, directed by Zack Snyder with Henry Cavill reprising his role as Clark Kent/Superman and introducing Ben Affleck as Bruce Wayne/Batman.

Ben Affleck is the new Batman

batman_vs_superman_logo

So as I’m sure many of you have heard by now (it’s all over the web), Ben Affleck will be playing Bruce Wayne/Batman in the Man of Steel sequel.

My initial reaction was “Really? Affleck?”  Affleck played the titular character in Daredevil, which most are still trying to forget.  I can see him playing Bruce without a problem, but I’m not sure about Batman.  However, I try to keep an open mind about such news.  Who knows, maybe he will be terrific in the role.  Newsarama thinks casting Affleck as the caped crusader is a brilliant choice by WB.  As IGN pointed out, Heath Ledger got similar backlash when it was announced he was going the be the Joker in The Dark Knight.  Look how that turned out.

In the end, Warner Bros. is going to do whatever they want and we will just have to roll with the punches.  As fans, we can only hope for the best.  Man of Steel 2 is scheduled to be released in theaters July 17, 2015.