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|Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice
dir Zack Snyder
scr Chris Terrio, David S Goyer
prd Charles Roven, Deborah Snyder
with Ben Affleck, Henry Cavill, Amy Adams, Jesse Eisenberg, Gal Gadot, Jeremy Irons, Laurence Fishburne, Diane Lane, Holly Hunter, Scoot McNairy, Callan Mulvey, Michael Shannon
release US/UK 25.Mar.16
16/US Warner 2h33
Hero v hero: Affleck and Cavill
|R E V I E W B Y R I C H C L I N E
Although made on a beefy scale, this is a thin movie padded out with lots of unnecessary business. The plot elements are intriguing enough to hold the attention, although the only complexity comes in how they're intercut. So even with plenty of eye-popping action and entertaining effects work, the film feels eerily vacuous.
After Superman/Clark Kent (Cavill) battled Zod (Shannon), destroying half of Metropolis in the process, Batman/Bruce Wayne (Affleck) descends even further into vengeful rage, blaming the carnage on Superman, whom the world reveres as a god. That's something Clark is struggling with, and it's straining his relationship with reporter Lois (Adams). What none of these people notice is that mischievous millionaire Lex Luthor (Eisenberg) is engineering a grudge match between these two vigilante superheroes, setting things up for another epic war that drags in woman of mystery Diana Prince (Gadot).
Oddly, the plot leaves the bitter Bruce looking so easily manipulated that he's difficult to sympathise with. And filmmaker Snyder doesn't help by pouring every boyish fantasy he can think of into Bruce's Bat-gadgets. For example, the tank-like Batmobile is pure wish-fulfilment, and utterly boring as a result. But it's not nearly as embarrassing as Bruce's manliest workout montage ever. By contrast, Clark is a true believer, a relentlessly good guy whose weakness is underestimating the evil around him. Again, not hugely easy to identify with.
Both Affleck and Cavill do what that they can with these one-note characters, injecting emotion here and there. But the constrained physicality of their costumes leaves them looking like mannequins. Honestly, if you were designing a super-suit, wouldn't the first priority be the ability to move easily? Batman's battle armour is particularly absurd, especially the shiny eyes that leave him looking blind (insert comment here about Affleck's previous superhero role). Meanwhile, the electric Gadot walks off with the movie.
While huge action and skilful production values make it well worth the price of admission, there are too many problems to ignore. The continuous dream sequences look cool but have no narrative relevance (except to hint that Bruce bases his entire quest for vengeance on a dream he had about being in a Mad Max movie). But then, much of what's on-screen feels rather pointless, including the brutally violent final sequence, which takes a very long time to get to the shocking climax the film hinted at from the start. It's entertaining, but also rather exhausting.
|R E A D E R R E V I E W S
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© 2016 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall
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