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

Advertisements

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.

Man of Steel Review

The next film in my Original Six is Man of Steel.  I wasn’t actually planning on going to see this movie but some co-workers wanted me to organize a company outing after I organized a successful trip to see Iron Man 3. Then after a whole ordeal, the guys who asked me to put the event together didn’t even do. SMH.  I’m not real keen on Superman. I think he has a ridiculous powerset and is really hard to relate to.  But I tried to go in with an open mind and this was the result.


Man of Steel movie posterSynopsis
In order to save their son from Krypton’s imminent destruction, Jor-El (Russell Crowe) and Lara Lor-Van (Ayelet Zurer) send their son, Kal-El (Henry Cavill), to Earth. There, he was found and adopted by the Kents (Kevin Costner and Diane Lane), renamed Clark, and must learn to live in a world who ostracizes and fears him for being different. When General Zod (Michael Shannon), one of the few surviving Kryptonians, threaten Earth, Clark is faced with the choice of protecting his adopted home or siding with his people.

Review
I will get this out of the way up front: I am not a fan of Superman. I don’t particularly care for the character, but I have tried to look at this movie without much bias.

OK, now that I have that out of the way, Man of Steel was rooted much more science-fiction than I was expecting. This made the film more enjoyable for me. Throughout the film, they gave semi-scientific explanations for the why of his powers, without going into too much detail about the how. With the state of superhero films in today’s cinema, it is fairly certain that moviegoers can suspend disbelief and accept a world where people can fly. By not delving too much into the specifics, it allowed the film to keep moving without getting bogged down with the details. But details impeding the story are the least of the film’s story issues.

The pacing of the story felt very wonky to me. Maybe I have come to expect a certain story structure for a hero’s origin movie, but this threw those conventions out the window. The first act was entirely on Krypton, where we learned about why Kal-El was sent to Earth and the events leading up to Krypton’s destruction. This portion was one of my favorites, showing off the sci-fi element of the film and giving the story a better reason for Kal-El sent to Earth besides “Because our planet is about to explode.”

The next act, where we meet a grown up Kal-El who is now know as Clark, is what bothered me most about this film. When I think of an origin story, I expect at some point for the hero to learn how to use their powers while helping people and making mistakes in the meantime. This step was essentially skipped. He was saving people in this part of the film, but only because he was in the right place at the right time. Although it is explained why he isn’t actively helping people, I think this bothers me more because when he finally dons the outfit, he’s just like “BOOM, I know how to do all this perfectly.” Part of what makes origin movies fun for me is the character learning how to use their powers. Personal preference I guess.

Story-wise, I think it was a smart choice to make Zod, a character who can go toe-to-toe with Superman, rather than Lex Luthor, Superman’s most recognizable enemy, the villain of the first film. This allows two things: 1) Shows Superman’s physical strength, and 2) opens the door to have Luthor come into the inevitable sequel and gives Superman the time to show his mental strength as well. Not to mention, with all the destruction at the end, it gives Luthor a primer to turn the people of Earth against Superman, an obstacle he must overcome in the sequel (just spitballing).

It was very evident that Man of Steel was a Zack Snyder film. The fight scenes, particularly the final fight scene, were over-the-top action scenes, very similar to Watchmen or Sucker Punch, but way more grandiose and destructive that could have taken a page from Michael Bay’s playbook. I’m all for outrageous action sequences (part of the reason I enjoy Sucker Punch), but this is too much crazy, even for me.

Henry Cavill does fine as Superman, giving the character the a more serious demeanor than previous incarnations of the character. It is an interesting take on the character because it is so different from past portrayals of Superman. In the comics and previous film appearances, Superman is optimistic and upbeat, but Superman in Man of Steel is almost the complete opposite. He is reluctant to help others, and doing so only if it’s absolutely necessary. I understand they were going for a more “grounded” Superman, but they still could have done so with him still being willing to do what is right, regardless of the situation.

The stand out performances of the movie definitely came from the villains. Shannon was able to portray a certain menacing characteristic that is difficult for many actors. He is also able to make you empathize with him; that Zod’s actions are driven by his desire to do what he feels is in the best interest to ensure the survival of his people.  I would have to say my favorite performance, and maybe even the best of the film, was Ayelet Zurer as Faora-Ul. She doesn’t say very much, but her poise and the way she holds herself on screen is enough to convey the strength of her character.

Spoiler alert, Superman wins and Zod loses.  Now, as normal as this is for any movie, by all accounts, Zod should not have lost.  He was a soldier, bred specifically to be a warrior.  Clark, on the other hand, has no fighting experience, going back to my previous point about the origin story. Realistically, Clark should have easily have been beaten when faced with an opponent possessing an identical skill set but has actual fighting experience.

My lack of love for Superman notwithstanding, Man of Steel was a generally enjoyable movie. Despite overly exaggerated action sequences, the heavy science-fiction elements and the great acting by the entire cast added to the entertainment.

Rating
3/5

Trailer

Cast & Crew
Zack Snyder – Director
David S. Goyer – Screenplay / Story
Christopher Nolan – Story

Henry Cavill – Clark Kent / Kal-El
Amy Adams – Lois Lane
Michael Shannon – General Zod
Diane Lane – Martha Kent
Russell Crowe – Jor-El
Antje Traue – Faora-Ul
Harry Lennix – General Swanwick
Richard Schiff – Dr. Emil Hamilton
Kevin Costner – Jonathan Kent
Ayelet Zurer – Lara Lor-Van
Laurence Fishburne – Perry White
Dylan Sprayberry – Clark Kent (13 Years)
Cooper Timberline – Clark Kent (9 Years)