Review: Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016)

My Plot review: Not Recommended
Star rating: Star rating of 2

Square Off

Batman vs Superman: Dawn of Justice is the ultimate clash of the titans. It's been nearly two years since Superman's colossal battle with Zod devastated the city of Metropolis. The loss of life and collateral damage left many feeling angry and helpless, including crime-fighting billionaire Bruce Wayne. Convinced that Superman is now a threat to humanity, Batman embarks on a personal vendetta to end his reign on Earth, while the conniving Lex Luthor launches his own crusade against the Man of Steel.

I am prone to nihilism. It's hard not to watch the news at night without building an intense hatred of humankind in 2016 and this leads me down a mental path that I have to snap myself out of. And yet, none of these moods comes even close to the sheer hatred of humanity on show in this film.

What always defined the red cape wasn't so much the alien, but the man. Clark Kent is the perfect immigrant, fully integrated into society and loyal to friends, family and often journalistic integrity. Superman is the beacon of hope, the light piercing the dark and an example of what we as a society could be. But not in this film, oh my no. Barring a throw-away line at the finale, I can't remember seeing a film with so much contempt for hope and humanity. What Snyder and co. have created is a film closer in tone to Fight Club than to Man of Steel. The problem however is....well...Snyder is no Fincher and Fincher didn't appear to have the whole of Warner sticking their oar in either.

What the creative team do deserve plaudits for is the conviction they have in creating an operatic superhero saga that is tonally removed from the successful Marvel blueprint. Snyder could easily have mimicked the formula with the iconic DC characters and printed money for the next decade or so. That they are intent on creating a gods vs monsters saga is to be applauded because it is a risky tactic. Mentions should also go to Affleck's Bruce Wayne/Batman and Godot's Diana/Wonder Woman. The former dominates the film and while he isn't the Clint Eastwood-esque war-torn Wayne of Frank Miller's epic Bat-arc's, he does convey a weariness that we have yet to see in previous previous big screen adventures.

"The problem is that by going for the operatic, they settled for a director and writing team that simply isn't talented enough to pull off what they want to achieve."

Aim for the stars, you have to applaud that. But my god, the finished article is something I never would have thought I would say about Zack Snyder. Like him or not, he is an auteur with a very specific style which is why the most disappointing thing about Dawn of Justice is how devoid of personality and style it is. Scenes jump from place to place with little thought for pacing, editing and pushing the story forward in a way that makes dramatic sense. The action scenes (in 3-D at least) are a mess of red, black and blue and if you ever missed Christopher Nolan's touch, it is during the Batmobile chase at the midway point of the film.

One thing I crave in an action film is geographical direction. I want to know where the heroes and villains are in relation to their surroundings and how the battle is effected by this. This results in well choreographed, well directed action scenes.

Aside from one absolutely brilliant sequence of Batman taking out war criminals, I had next to no idea what the hell was going on for the majority of the action scenes. This is criminal for a film of this scale and unfortunately wastes the unique battle techniques of Wonder Woman. Speaking of wasting your female leads, let me pour one out for Diane Lane and Amy Adams, two wonderful actors reduced to damsels and deus ex machina's.

Whilst it may seem like I'm missing elements from this review, it's because the film is utterly forgettable and nigh on impossible to muster up any genuine emotion for. It is cold, cynical and misanthropic but most of all it is dull.

Oh god, I forgot Henry Cavill was in the film...

They say the road to hell is paved with good intentions. Dawn of Justice isn't quite a hellish experience but I can't say I'm looking forward to what lays ahead.