Film review – Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice is an opportunity missed
Warner Bros is trying to catch up with Marvel, and the desperation shows in this joyless, overlong and depressing mess that seems anxious to cram everything in
Sadly for fans, Warner Bros’ plan is off to a rocky start, because Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice completely misses the mark on every front.
As a superhero flick, it’s shockingly joyless and overlong, with the two iconic crimefighters presented as angry, cranky, easily manipulated men in tights. As an adventure film, it’s surprisingly devoid of action in the first hour – in fact, the film relies on an extended dream sequence to stage its first action set-piece. As a piece of dramatic fiction, it relies far too much on expository dialogue and the aforementioned dream sequences to reveal plot points.
Even as a vehicle to launch DC’s version of the shared universe – which is the film’s ultimate reason for existing – Batman v Superman flops for two reasons. The first is time, or lack thereof: since Warner Bros is playing catch-up – Marvel’s eight-year-old cinematic universe is heading toward its 12th film this April – there’s almost a sense of urgency to cram everyone into this film, and it shows.
His version of Superman is the most sombre and depressing depiction of the American icon in the history of any medium, yet he still comes off like a boy scout compared to this Batman, a violent vigilante who shoots criminals dead without batting an eye. It’s unfortunate, because in a different film, Henry Cavill’s physical chops and boyish good looks would make a perfect Man of Steel, while Ben Affleck’s smug persona would have made for a fun Bruce Wayne.
But no, this film opens with, for seemingly the hundredth time onscreen, the killing of Bruce Wayne’s parents, and then devotes several scenes to Bruce standing at his parents’ grave. Yawn.
Wonder Woman jumping into action is perhaps the film’s one emotional high, but she’s there to participate in a battle with a generic CGI monster with no motivation. The final minutes also bring a surprise twist that’s unique to Hollywood blockbusters (though it is also taken from an iconic DC storyline), but Snyder ruins it by undoing said twist with the very last shot.
If Warner Bros wants Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman to successfully battle Iron Man, Captain America and Thor on the big screen in the next few years, it will have to rethink its approach.
Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice opens on March 24
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