It was another good day for the glaziers of Metropolis and Gotham. I went into the hugely hyped “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice” with VERY low expectations, but came out with those expectations mildly exceeded.
The film picks up at the finale of “Man of Steel” with the glass-shattering fight between Kal-El and General Zod in Metropolis. Bruce Wayne (Ben Affleck) clearly has a branch in Metropolis (never explained) and is caught up in the carnage at a very personal level, setting up a grudge with Superman that is set to fester for 2 years. Also with a grudge (there was apparently only these two connected individuals!) is security guard Wallace Keefe (Scoot McNairy) who ends up legless after the attack.
Whilst most of the world still see Superman as a hero, there is growing discontent that he has great power without political accountability. Looking at this issue is US Senator Finch (Holly Hunter) with her committee and stirring the pot is ‘one-bat-short-of-a-roost’ industrial giant Lex Luthor (Jesse Eisenberg). Meanwhile back in Gotham, Bruce Wayne is continuing his grudge campaign against the bad guys of the Gotham docks area, ably supported by his trusted manservant (here played by Jeremy Irons). Meanwhile (meanwhile) a mysterious and beautiful brunette (Gal Gadot) appears on the scene and pays a particular interest in Wayne and Luthor’s business.
Phew! As you might conclude from this ‘brief’ introduction to the plot, there a several films shoehorned into this two and a quarter hours. Unfortunately, this is its downfall in that the story is an incoherent mess. As a viewer you are constantly grasping for the motivation for the characters doing what they are doing: surely in the next scene it will all become clear? But all too often you are left grasping at air!
This malaise can be demonstrated with a couple of examples:
- the only rationale for Lex Luthor’s story arc is that he is either a) 100% certifiable or b) omnipotent in knowing the events of future films before they have been made!
- a dramatic change of heart by a lead character happens so quickly – and irrationally – that there may indeed by hope for the Middle East conflict!
Oh dear… I feel another satirical bob-the-movie-man script coming on….
SCENE: Hitler’s bunker in Berlin in 1945. In an alternate history, General Eisenhower reaches the bunker and storms in before Hitler can commit suicide. He grabs Hitler by the neck, pins him to the wall and draws his service pistol, pointing it at his head.
EISENHOWER: “You b*****d. The number of people you have killed. So many of my men. Six million Jews. The woman. The children. Scum like you don’t deserve to go to trial. It ends… now.
HITLER (chokingly): “I-I-Ida”
EISENHOWER: “Wh… What did you say?”
EISENHOWER: “Why did you say that name? WHY DID YOU SAY THAT NAME?”
HITLER: “It was your mother’s?”
EISENHOWER: “Well, why didn’t you say so earlier? I have 2 million dollars and a Brazilian passport in my bag. Don’t worry mate – I’ll get you out of here…”
Frustratingly, amongst the ludicrously convoluted story (by Chris Terrio (“Argo”) and David Goyer (“Man of Steel”, “The Dark Knight”)) there is a good film struggling to get out. The cinematography by Larry Wong (“Super 8”) oozes quality and some of the individual scenes in the film are beautifully crafted. Some top moments:
- The death of the elder Wayne’s (again!!);
- Wonder Woman’s dramatic arrival (with a great musical motif by – presumably – Hans Zimmer)
- Each of Jeremy Iron’s well-crafted lines.
Also impressive is Ben Affleck’s Batman – after all the fan-boy brouhaha at his announcement, he is really convincing in the role.
But with $250 million of budget (TWO HUNDRED AND FIFTY!) you can afford to craft beautiful moments. It’s not enough and director Zack Snyder really should have done better. Just to put that into perspective, you could make over 16 “Ex Machina’s” for that!!
Given the volume of special effects, you can see where much of that money has been spent. It’s never a good sign where each of multiple SF company’s staff in the end credits need to be titled alphabetically. While the over-heavy CGI is very well done, we’ve seen it all so many times before, and that’s just tiresome. (There must have been dozens of staff assigned to filming the bath scene with Amy Adams, which at first sight seems to manage to show absolutely nothing but will no doubt give hours of fun to fanboys with their Bluray pause button in future months!)
In summary, a blockbuster that was more enjoyable than I expected it to be, but still not a film that is going to trouble my top 10 of the year.
(By the way, to save yourself 10 minutes of your life – and whilst in all expectation you would expect there to be something relating to ‘Justice League’ films – there is no post-credit scene in this film).
Fad Rating: FFF.