When last seen, the city of Metropolis lies in ruin. General Zod (Michael Shannon) is dead and Krypton’s last known survivor has assumed the role of guardian of Earth. The very presence of Superman (Henry Cavill) answers some of the most elusive questions of our time; however, more arise. What are Superman’s intentions? Can we entrust this alien with our safety? Can you the control the uncontrollable?
The U.S. Congress is very interested in the first question. Senate hearings commence, putting Superman on trial to answer for the collateral damage in the battle against Zod. Public opinion is mixed (as it usually is) and Superman is on the hot seat. Realistically, I’m not sure what this Dog and Pony show hopes to achieve, but it is a Congressional hearing after all. If history is to be believed, there might not be a reason. The second question is of particular interest to billionaire CEO and Gotham City socialite Bruce Wayne (Ben Affleck). Superman’s superhuman abilities makes him a threat to all of Mankind, the moment he decides to abuse his power. Wayne wants to neutralize the potential threat before it develops. Killing Superman wouldn’t ensure world peace, but could rebalance the playing field. Neurotic billionaire Alexander “Lex” Luthor (Jesse Eisenberg) is only concerned with power. The power that Superman possesses is something that Luthor craves. Always planning, Luthor has plans to assume control of Superman. He who controls the cape, controls the World and world domination is what’s best for business.
Batman Vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice starts the Justice League franchise, patterned after the successful Disney/Marvel Avengers based Marvel Cinematic Universe. However, DC Comics/Warner Brothers have a problem. I can allow for some creative license, but Dawn of Justice is just plain baffling at times, if you know the origin story. To go further in depth would spoil of aspects of the film, but let’s just say that screenwriters David S. Goyer and Chris Terrio were very creative in this pseudo reboot/origin story/sequel. Apart from a middling plot, the biggest issue with Dawn of Justice are in it’s villains. I’m a huge fan of Lex Luthor and in my humble opinion; the character of Lex was miscast, mismanaged, misunderstood.
Jesse Eisenberg’s neurotic, whiny, disposition was akin to Edward Nigma also known as The Riddler. Eisenberg’s Luthor lacked the physical and emotional gravitas the character demands. Luthor’s role in Dawn of Justice isn’t that of an arch nemesis, but more of a bit player, designed to carry the story from Man of Steel (2013) to the new Justice League movie in 2017. Certainly not what I expected from one of the greatest super villains ever.
As flawed as Batman V. Superman: Dawn of Justice is, there are some highlights. Hans Zimmer’s surprisingly subdued score was complimented nicely by Junkie XL’s enthusiastic guitar laced Wonder Woman theme. Elements of “What Are You Going to Do When You Are Not Saving the World” from the Man of Steel score, also by Zimmer are sprinkled throughout Dawn of Justice; giving the underwhelming origin story some relevance. Typical of Zack Snyder films, Dawn of Justice is on par with the visual splendor of Watchmen and SuckerPunch. Though my screening was presented with inferior IMAX 2k projectors, Dawn of Justice is an experience that should be seen on a giant screen; especially for the film’s chaotic third act.
However, looking good and sounding good should supplement a solid story. Not the case here. Comic book heresy aside, Dawn of Justice is an exercise in excess. Batman is officially rebooted, Superman is still an insufferable bore and Wonder Woman isn’t fully introduced, yet inexplicably factors into the story in a major way and I won’t waste anymore time on Eisenberg butchering the Luthor character. Already suffering from a bloated running time of 151 minutes, the film takes a slower, more methodical pace toward its turbulent climax. Watching Batman V. Superman: Dawn of Justice is like using a blender without a cover; loud, a bit of fun, but ultimately one huge mess.
Rated: PG-13 @ 151 mins.
Note: The film is presented in 2D, 3D, IMAX, IMAX 3D, giant screen experiences such as Regal RPX, Cinemark XD and AMC Prime/ETX where available; Also available in D-BOX and 4DX in limited theaters.