BATMAN v SUPERMAN

Director: Zack Snyder
Starring: Ben Affleck, Henry Cavill & Amy Adams
Synopsis: Fearing that the actions of Superman are left unchecked, Batman takes on the Man of Steel, while the world wrestles with what kind of a hero it really needs.
Rating: 12A Duration: 151 minutes Release date: 25 March (UK)

Batman v Superman, God vs Man, day vs night, however you sell it, you must certainly get the point by now. This is, arguably, the biggest superhero smack down to take place on the silver screen and marks the real beginning of DC’s extended universe.

Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice starts precisely where its predecessor ends. However, this time we are following Bruce Wayne (Affleck) as he races into Metropolis attempting to save the remaining employees of Wayne Enterprises trapped in the middle of Superman and General Zod kicking seven bells out of each other.

Viewed from ground level, the finale to Man of Steel takes on a different feel and has a very 9/11 essence to it. It’s an uncompromising look at the damage superheroes and the villains they face can do to the cities they regularly pummel each other in. It also sets the tone for the rest of the film and further highlights the difference between DC’s slate and that of Marvel’s.

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It’s an obvious comparison, but one that set the two studios apart. Marvel films are fun and vibrant and more family friendly, while DC have gone darker, playing up to the allusion that their characters are more God like than any of Marvels more popular heroes. It also sets a precedent for the rest of the film, and attempts to ask some more socio-political questions.

The film is littered with political allegories and Biblical comparisons, with some more obvious than others. Like Watchmen before it, which was also directed by Snyder, BvS wants to be a more grown up superhero film; it wants to please the kids and hopes it give older audiences something more to think about.

It’s arguable whether it works or not. It’s nice to have a superhero film that deals with “adult” themes, but does it make events any more fun? That really depends on what you are looking for in this type of film, and whether or not you enjoyed Man of Steel. Easily, BvS is very much like Man of Steel. Visually and dramatically it features several similar beats and shares its moody tone.

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Narratively BvS has a lot going on. There’s so much happening that another approach may have been to spread the events seen here over two or three films instead of thrusting everything into its 151 minute run time. With so many characters to fit in and so many stories to tell, it’s inevitable that some aspects of the film feel rushed and maybe even shoehorned in.

Certain story elements and character developments feel hurried and what may seem like the logical next step, doesn’t always play out. Lex Luthor (Eisenberg) is an erratic, almost irritating villain who actually feels more like Jim Carey’s Riddler instead of a criminal mastermind, more mad than intellectual. While Batman (Affleck) has a different moral code than previous incarnations of The Dark Knight and almost has a careless abandon for the criminals he is out to punish.

Superman, as in Man of Steel, is a morose God like being, who seems to be even more uncertain of his place in the world than he was previously. Set up for crimes he did not commit, the public are split on whether he is hero or villain and some very important people are also torn on the matter.

With a cast as full as this, it’s difficult for everyone to convince with limited time. Holly Hunter does her best as a United States Senator tasked with concluding if we can trust Superman, while Laurence Fishburne is his excellent self in a severely limited time span. Likewise Jeremy Irons as the new Alfred Pennyworth fits the role perfectly and his interplay with Affleck’s older Batman exudes chemistry.

Ben Affleck is, despite all the deluded online debate beforehand, excellent as the new Batman/Bruce Wayne. He blends the playboy with the vigilante and makes some very clunky dialogue sound better than it had any right to be. Henry Cavill’s charm is hinted at, but is never explored in the way it could be due to the way it is deemed that Superman must be played here.

Snyder is a divisive director, but he’s nowhere near the hack that some will make him out to be. His storytelling techniques may be a little choppy and leave some people wondering exactly what is happening, but there can be no doubt he knows how to form action in his films. The visuals in the film are truly memorable and the realisation of seeing DC’s trinity on the big screen will give you goosebumps. While the first half may drag for some, the second is a full on scrap between Batman & Superman and then later with an Amazonian Goddess and an all powerful alien creature.

It’s not going to please everyone, but Batman v Superman is nowhere close to being the mess that others have claimed. And if nothing else, succeeds in being a visually pleasing coming together of two of the genres biggest names.

3/5

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