March 21, 2016

CINEMA | 'Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice' Clashes

"Nobody cares about Clark Kent taking on the Batman."
Ben Affleck Henry Cavill Gal Gadot Zack Snyder | Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice

Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice really goes for it. Whether or not you are on board for its dark, stylistic journey is another story. The Man of Steel follow-up not only adds Batman to the mix in the form of Ben Affleck's new yet older Dark Knight but a host of other constantly moving comic book elements and characters. Filmmaker Zack Snyder directly addresses the mass destruction and aftermath of Superman revealing himself to the world as the film, although it often feels much more like a narratively maddening yet visually exhilarating multimedia experience, is so insane, it's occasionally endearing.

Unfortunately, the otherwise charismatic Henry Cavill is still saddled with the unenviable focus of being the world's boy scout, both adored and loathed, while seemingly only caring about making out with Amy Adams' energetic Lois Lane. Inserted into the picture is a very weird Jesse Eisenberg, who hams it up to next level batty, as the maniacal nemesis Lex Luthor determined to stop Superman at any coast (for some reason). We don't get much of Cavill as things happen to him instead of him being the one seeking out the action or moving things forward.

It's Affleck's large (and mostly welcome) presence and point of view throughout the film that anchors the central action and narrative. His Batman is a much more intense and brutal vigilante balanced out by his sparkling chemistry with a refreshing Jeremy Irons as Alfred. Gal Gadot kind of breezes through the film as an interesting presence before getting into the superhero action in the final act. Her Wonder Woman is mostly a mysterious tease to give you just enough interest in her own standalone film to come later.

Ben Affleck Henry Cavill Gal Gadot Zack Snyder | Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice

Snyder and his screenwriters, Oscar winner Chris Terrio and The Dark Knight trilogy co-writer David S. Goyer, rely heavily on famed Batman author/artist Frank Miller's grim, dour aesthetic for a mixed bag of tone and influence (think The Dark Knight Returns). There's so much going on just as the film looks to pepper little DC Comics tidbits filled out with cameos, references, and absurd dream sequences.

The film feels ever so loosely tied together despite a brisk pace with an abundance of disparate characters having their own solo adventures while various moving parts try to connect the dots while setting up the greater DC Extended Universe and upcoming Justice League team-up film yet to come. So many questions and ideas are raised about gods, heroes, and absolute power yet few are fleshed out or resolved. However, some dazzling scenes are undeniably cool and awe-inspiring seeing our childhood heroes rendered on screen together even if they are fighting.

Batman v Superman almost defies any typical kind of conventional analysis or rational dissection. It's a proudly balls out and darkly grim vision of superheroes likely to turn off many as it will delight others. Snyder has doubled down on his trademark brand of hyper stylistic action and violence. It's overly self-serious but kind of revels in it. There's plenty to like, particularly the boldly choreographed, often breathtaking visuals, just as there is to sour you with so much non-sensical chaos going on. It's somehow simultaneous crowd-pleasing and off-putting as it uses superheroes to express its underdeveloped philosophical ideals.

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