By Stan Rezaee
Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice is the cinematic adaptation of the two most iconic comic books and while it fails as a superhero film, it succeeds at being a brilliant work of social commentary.
Following the events of the last film, Superman has become a polarizing figure who is both admired and despised. One such detractor is Bruce Wayne, who has returned to his life as Batman in an attempt to kill Superman. Meanwhile, Lex Luthor is also working to develop weapons to kill Superman by using the recovered Kryptonian technology.
Let’s get this out of the way, Ben Affleck did a good job as Batman. He may not be on the same level as Christian Bale or Kevin Conroy, but his Batman is on par with the performance of Michael Keaton. Affleck plays a more mature but also cynical Batman that is true to Frank Miller’s vision. Adding to the performance is Jeremy Irons as a sarcastic Alfred Pennyworth who serves as the voice of reason.
However the award for worst performance in this film will have to go to Jesse Eisenberg for the role of Lex Luther. While more serious than Gene Hackman performance, however it feels like that Eisenberg is trying hard to do a bad impression of his own Mark Zuckerberg performance (which by the way was a very inaccurate depiction of the actual Mark Zuckerberg).
Dawn of Justice strong suit is that it’s an examination of the balance between unlimited power and moral goodness in today’s world. This theme is explored with a Superman representing the values of American Exceptionalism in a post-9/11 and 2008 Economic Crash world. This is not the classic Superman that is universally admired but one whose existence brings up many moral questions about the concept of unchecked power.
Audience are also asked to contemplated over the notion that evil prevails when good people fail to act. Most notable is the films criticism of modern journalism failure to address real issues and to hold the powerful accountable. Another example is how the government is whiling to give LexCorp a free pass to develop weapons and experiment with alien technology with no oversight.
While Dawn of Justice does masterful job at wanting audiences to reflect on what defines the concept of “Truth, Justice and the American way” in today’s world, it fails to standout as a unique or memorable superhero film.
The film takes the plot of The Dark Knight Returns then blend it with The Death of Superman while adding some content from Death in the Family and Injustice: Gods Among Us with the hopes of creating a DC version of The Avengers. However they put the cart before the horse while trying to compensate this with a mix of origin stories. The Marvel Cinematic Universe had five movies released that set the foundation for the plot of The Avengers. DC only had Man of Steel and it’s going straight to an Avengers-like building a foundation.
The end result is some bad pacing in the beginning while two of the most iconic battles in comic book history having a very mediocre rendition onscreen. Also; it really did not need Batman v. Superman in the titles as Dawn of Justice would have worked fine.
From the start; Affleck is suppose to be an established Batman but his legacy is being floated around as if he just started fighting criminals in Gotham. The story fails to hit that the Gotham government is involved in mass cover up, so this is either bad story telling or people in the DC Universe have a worst memory problem then those in the Marvel Universe.
The highly anticipated fight between the Man of Steel against the Dark Knight lacks the feeling of a final confrontation that was so emotionally evoked in Miller’s story. Knowing that they will have to team up to defeat Doomsday, the feeling that this is the end is completely lost.
Meanwhile the battle against Doomsday is less of an epic battle and more of a CGI slug-fest. At this point it appears that Snyder wanted to outdo the unnecessary destructive final battle of Man of Steel with even more chaos.
The only memorable moment from this final battle is the long awaited introduction of the modern Wonder Women. She is presented as a majestic feminist icon while greeted with a rock opera inspired score that could only be composed for a warrior goddess. At the same time; both her appearance and theme song feel like a nod to 300 (another Snyder film based on the work of Frank Miller).
Despite the negative reviews, one should not be dissuaded to skip Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice because its still a good film worth watching.
Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice is a film with a strong message that asks audiences to reflect on what our values are today, however as a superhero film it falls short of being anything unique.
Final Score: 7/10