Sunday, July 24, 2016

Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016) Review:

Since the origins of each character, Batman and Superman have been one of the most iconic characters in comic books. After their print inception, readers and fans alike were impressed to see successful adaptations of each character during the last half of the 20th century. At that point, even during Christopher Nolan's trilogy, nobody knew how soon it would be before Superman and Batman would be seen on the same screen together. After the financial success with Man of Steel (2013), Warner Bros. pushed forward to get the DC cinematic universe expanded. And with that, the next step was to include the Arkham Knight. No surprise that in the time where social media dominates news, the internet exploded. Of course there were people who loved the idea while others felt it wasn't ready. Some criticized this stride as Warner Bros. trying to catch up to Marvel's success in building an expanded universe. Others felt that this plan should be given a chance. Once released, the response was about just as divided if not more.

How several fans came out of the theatre
Chris Terrio and David S. Goyer have written the script to this sequel. Following the destruction of
Metropolis from Man of Steel (2013), audiences are introduced to Bruce Wayne (Ben Affleck) finding a way on how to combat Superman (Henry Cavill) and make sure he will not become an enemy. At the same time, Lex Luthor (Jesse Eisenberg) is also looking for a way to rid of Superman, which requires him getting access to the Kryptonian technology left behind from Man of Steel (2013). Running underneath these two plots is a subplot dealing with Bruce Wayne making connections with Diana Prince (Gal Gadot) and figuring out her origins. This alone is enough but Terrio and Goyer's script is too over packed for its own good. Really Batman Vs Superman is a small section of this film because there are several other things going on simultaneously. This also lessens the amount of development the main leads receive. It is those reasons that give way to some really contrived situations where it happens just because it was called for right then and there.

The acting itself is for the most part fine. Most of the initial cast return from Man of Steel (2013) only for short appearances. Amy Adams still manages to put herself in peril even though she's supposed to be able to take care of herself on her own. For new cast members, Ben Affleck as Batman fits the role. He sounds much more calculative and rough in his delivery. Jeremy Irons as Alfred does a great job too, inserting a few smart-alec remarks as well. Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman although not always around is quite the looker and self sufficient as an Amazonian princess. Last but not least, Jesse Eisenberg as Lex Luthor is average. People will see why many do not favor his performance but not all of it is irritating. He does come off more Joker-ish and the jolly rancher scene is unnecessary yes, but it wasn't repeated more than once. Certainly a much more menacing actor could have been cast as Luthor, but Eisenberg is not ear bleeding bad. The real problem were the short cuts made to make all the pieces fit in for this cut of the movie.

The action sequences themselves have credibility to them but they were also uninteresting at points as well. For the majority of the time, all the Batman scenes that involved fighting were well executed. With director Zack Snyder heading this, it's hard to see Snyder not knowing how to properly make a good-looking action scene. Batman just doesn't care here; if you are bad, you're going to get hurt terribly. However, things begin to get rather tiresome when Superman enters the picture. Unfortunately because Superman flies and does super feats, CGI is needed in order to make this look realistic. This is the drawback though; looking at you Zack Snyder. Even though Snyder knows what he wants in his sequence, there are moments where the CGI is brought up to overkill levels. It's not say that it's unfinished CGI, but it does get to the point where it feels like the audiences may actually be watching cut scenes to a video game because everything is all computer generated. It's just ho-hum.

"Is it over yet?"
As for cinematography, Larry Fong managed the cameras. Fong's experience with big cinematic action films isn't a lot but does cover most of it. Seeing that he has worked with director Zack Snyder on his earlier films like 300 (2006), Watchmen (2009) and Sucker Punch (2011), it's no shock then that Fong was brought on board for this movie. For all the scenes, the camera is fairly stable. The problem with Fong's visuals are the lack of color throughout. The environment surrounding these characters is so drab and ugly, it's no longer appealing to look at. When it came to music, composers Hans Zimmer and Tom Holkenborg (Junkie XL) worked together and it’s rather disappointing. Aside from Superman's theme carrying over from Man of Steel (2013), only Batman's theme is somewhat likable. Luthor's finesse cue is too outlandish and Wonder Woman's track raises too many red flags in tone. It sounds more like it belongs to Luthor with an erratic electric cello in the background with beating war drums. It doesn't add any thematic depth to the listening experience.

For almost all positives this sequel has, a negative can be found to counter it. The basic elements to this movie are here - casting, music, camerawork and action but that's it. The writing isn't focused on the premise the title states, the visuals look drained, the action has too much CGI at times and the music is frustrating to latch onto. Yet, the cast do work well and action is fair.

Points Earned --> 5:10

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