‘Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice’ Review (Spoiler-Free)

The greatest gladiator match in the history of the world… God vs Man. Batman v Superman is just as much about bringing these two comic book icons together, as it is setting up the quickly expanding DC Cinematic Universe. Since the film’s initial announcement over 3 years ago at San Diego Comic Con, fans have been eager to see the Dark Knight and the Last Son of Krypton share the same screen in live action, and in 1 day that dream becomes a reality. Having just come back from the press screening, I’ve decided to offer my initial thoughts SPOILER FREE, and give my overall rating.

NOTE: The following review is MY opinion.

After 3 years of development, I’m pleased to say that Batman v Superman delivers in practically every way. It’s a solid film from DC and Warner Brothers, and a great way to kick off the DC Extended Universe. Each actor (especially the main cast) gives it their all. However, this definitely feels more like a continuation of Superman’s story than it does a Justice League prequel, and that’s not a complaint in any way, shape, or form.

Characters

IMG_7474

Henry Cavill reprises his role as the Man of Steel, and does a wonderful job in showing how Superman is coping with his image in the eyes of the people in Metropolis, and the world. The consequences carried over from the previous film are felt heavily throughout the film, and it lends to some pretty great storytelling, emotion, and interesting plot twists throughout the film that I didn’t see coming.

Image-1(112)

Ben Affleck also shines in his debut as the Caped Crusader. Seeing an older and heavily experienced Batman was a beautiful and fresh idea. Even though the film doesn’t delve too much into his past as the protector of Gotham, you can tell he’s been through a lot. So far, the question I’ve seen people ask when it comes to Batfleck has been “Does he top Bale’s Batman from Nolan’s trilogy?” And in my opinion, YES. Affleck brought something to Bruce Wayne/Batman that I’d yet to see on the silver screen – pain. Sure we all know what Bruce Wayne has been through as a child losing his parents and all that, but for me, it’s always hard for me to sense that pain in previous iterations of the character on screen. In the past, it felt like Bruce got over his parents death a little too quickly, especially in Nolan’s trilogy. In the comics, the death of Thomas and Martha Wayne HAUNTS Bruce everyday, and you really feel that here. The hurt, the pain, and lost is felt so prominently here which make Ben’s incarnation immediately stand out from all the others. In my personal opinion, Ben Affleck brings the best cinematic take on the character I’ve seen yet. Just by looking at his face, you can tell this man has been through hell by losing his parents, a Robin, most certainly other heart-shattering events during his 20 year tenure as Gotham’s guardian. Another thing that separates Bale and Affleck’s Batman is the difference of their fighting style. Bale’s was slower, more boxer-liker. Whereas Affleck’s is more graceful, fast, and brutal: very reminiscent of the style of fighting made famous by Rocksteady in the Arkham franchise. My only complaint when it comes to Batman would have to be that we didn’t get enough of him in this movie. There aren’t as many scenes of him as you’d think, so savor them when they appear. The fight between Batman and Superman was extremely well done also. I’ve seen a few people complain about the ending of their battle, but I understood it. Perhaps it could’ve been done a little better, but I was very pleased with what we got.  This is the most comic book accurate we’ve seen Batman on screen yet, and I can’t wait for more.

Image-1(115)

On to Wonder Woman. Her role in the film isn’t a big one but, Gal Gadot steals every scene she’s in. I’m not going to go into detail on how she fits into the story or what she does. All I’m going to say for now is that I’m REALLY looking forward to Wonder Woman next year.

Image-1(114)

Now for Lex Luthor. If you’re reading this review, chances are you’ve seen the backlash WB and DC has gotten over the casting of Jesse Eisenberg as Lex. I wasn’t one of those people because I know how good of an actor he is. I wasn’t worried at all, and I’m pleased to say that he KILLED it. Jesse’s Lex is very much how you remember him to be, just younger, wittier, and a tad bit hairier. Jesse’s awkward-teenager personality fit surprisingly well in the film. He was dark and menacing, and charming when he needed to be. He did a great job at pulling off the arrogant billionaire act. Some people are either going to love it or hate it. Honestly, it took me a little bit to enjoy his take. Once I took my idea of the character and set it to the side, I REALLY enjoyed the way he played Luthor. It was new, fresh, and I’d say he stole the show hands down. I really hope we see Jesse reprise his role in a future DC film. I have a feeling we haven’t seen the last of Lex Luthor.

Story

IMG_7475

To be quite honest, there’s really nothing I can say about the plot of the movie without spoiling major details that the synopsis didn’t cover already. Just know that the plot isn’t as cut and dry as you’d think. I won’t even discuss the cameos. Just enjoy them.

Action

IMG_7479

Man of Steel has been ridiculed by most for the destruction of Metropolis, and chances are if you didn’t like the MoS destruction, you won’t like it here. Ultimately there isn’t as much but there are plenty of explosions and crumbling buildings to be had. Destruction shouldn’t be a surprise in movies like Man of Steel or Batman v Superman. You’ve got this alien being with these extraordinary abilities fighting other beings and creatures with abilities. Both movies show that being the hero also has consequences. Things won’t always be perfect. People will die, it’s just how it is. Having an all-out brawl with General Zod without casualties or damage would be pretty unbelievable, so I commend Dawn of Justice and Man of Steel for being realistic in that department. Being a hero has a price. Speaking of heroes, The Trinity vs Doomsday battle was mind-blowing. Seeing them fight side by side brought a tear to my eye. I’ve been waiting to see that since the Justice League Animated Series. Without spoiling I’ll also say that people needn’t worry about Doomsday. He was badass.

I do, however have one pretty semi-major complaint, and that has to do with the ending. Now obviously this is a spoiler-free review so I won’t cover it here but it was something that left me scratching my head on the way home. I’ll discuss it on this week’s podcast so stay tuned later this week.

All in all, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice was everything I wanted, and needed it to be. You can tell that Zack Snyder and the whole development team took their time with this movie, and as a die hard DC fan, I really appreciate that. Aside from weird portions in the opening and questionable pacing in the first act, and me not being the biggest fan of the ending, Batman v Superman is a great movie that I intend to see over and over again. Thank you, Zack Snyder. Up next, Suicide Squad!

Verdict: 8/10

Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice releases in theaters tomorrow on March 25th, 2016