Sometimes a filmmaker has so much material to work with that he is able to build and build and build, until a solid, if not entirely good, movie is built from the sheer volume of raw materials he had at his disposal. Take “Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice” for instance, from director Zack Snyder of “300” and “Watchmen.”
As promised, two great icons of DC are gonna throw down, but in the midst of that superhuman scuffle, a whole universe is waiting to be built. “Wonder Woman” gets her onscreen introduction here, which will culminate in the release of her own movie (there are not enough ways to say finally), and two “Justice League” movies. And that’s not even counting the others waiting in the wings.
Universe building has become a tricky, continuous/continual thing, a task where different films and characters evolve and revolve around each other for years. So it’s no surprise when even movies with great potential, such as “Avengers: Age of Ultron” fail spectacularly, and that was with some pretty amazing leads with the chemistry to match. (Also Joss Whedon.)
Obviously, Ben Affleck and Henry Cavill as the Caped Crusader and Man of Steel don’t have the same sizzle, but then the goal here isn’t the wit and pop culture references of the Marvel Universe, it’s the grittiness and grimness DC prides itself on as an alternative to the sunnier, colorful style of its greatest competitor.
That said, “BvS” still doesn’t exactly succeed in its own construction efforts, but it sure provides an entertaining ride, even if it is a bumpy one.
It’s much too serious for its own good, where the only intentional humor to be found is of the deadpan variety, such as when the movie makes a point of showing why Batman would have that infamously ridiculous deep voice while in costume. Then there’s the unintentional silliness, which primarily involves dream sequences that only hardcore fans will enjoy.
But the good stuff barely manages it to make it worth sitting through…151 minutes. Shudder. Did I mention another problem is that it goes on a bit too long?
Interestingly, the hero worth your time in “BvS” is actually Superman. He’s had a tough run recently, and here he actually comes off as a hero struggling with actual problems and a character worth investing in. People are asking questions about how much power is too much, and it’s a good conversation to have when your hero could easily level whole cities if he wanted to.
By contrast, Batman disappointingly comes off as a spoiled brat who needs to get over himself. He’s older and hardened by his crime-fighting activities, seems to be a bit more flexible about that no-killing rule, and he’s still awfully easy to manipulate when Lex Luthor (Jesse Eisenberg) decides Superman’s gotta go.
Speaking of which, it’s common knowledge that superhero movies live and die by their villains, and Eisenberg and the rest of the supporting players around Superman are the best part of the movie.
There’s Laurence Fishburne as Daily Planet editor Perry White, Holly Hunter as a senator who stands up to Luthor, and of course, Amy Adams as Lois Lane. Yeah, she has to be rescued one too many times, even when she has a chance to contribute a major piece of the puzzle in the final fight. But this Lois is smart and dynamic, putting together a major story to help save the save the day, and serves as Superman’s firm support during his many moments of doubt.
She’s the damsel worth saving. Sure, Batman has Jeremy Irons as Alfred, and Affleck is mostly the one who chats it up with Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot). But there’s too little of her, and Eisenberg’s performance is reminiscent of his “Social Network” days, with his unhinged billionaire Lex Luthor as a more evil Mark Zuckerberg. He’s the best Luthor this generation’s gonna get. And I mean that as a compliment.
It helps that after spending most of the movie in some gorgeous outfits as her alter ego Diana Prince, Wonder Woman shows up at the end to kick ass and take names. She’s a female superhero with actual superpowers who is unafraid to use them, with a history as rich as either of her male co-stars. It’s a great introduction for Gal Gadot, who is still mostly unknown at this point.
And after that VERY long run time, it’s rather a relief that there’s no post-credits scene. Phew.
Taste of Cinema Rating: 2.5 stars (out of 5)
Author Bio: Andrea is a writer from Milwaukee. She has written for practically every form of media there is, she loves all things celluloid and hold nothing sacred save editorial approval.