By Andrew Hanley | @AHanleyFilm
We always knew Batman v(s) Superman: Dawn of Justice would be multiple films mashed into one and much of that suspicion rests with the trailers. Sure, we have just over a month until Captain America: Civil War unleashes its clown car of superheroes onto our screens but let’s be honest, after eight years Marvel and its Cinematic Universe have earned that cash cow by developing individual personas and gradually building interspersed relationships between their superfolk.
Zack Snyder’s style-over-substance attitude has long been criticised, especially since his oft-regurgitated slow-motion quixotism is what many cinemagoers take issue with. Yet when it comes to the theatricality of comic book adaptions style is a necessary casualty in bringing men in tights to the silver screen. The true artists will tell you, character is key. And it’s in this regard, that Snyder fails absolutely. BvS: DoJ’s (even the acronym is a mouthful) screenwriters David S. Goyer and Chris Terrio may have wielded the pens on Chris Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy and Argo, respectively, but the accountability lies with the auteur.
In this clash of the titulars, we are introduced to a morally corrupted Bruce Wayne and re-introduced to the same beacon of banality in Superman that we had the pains of meeting in 2013’s Man of Steel. While it’s refreshing to see a fresh take on Batman and of seeing a seasoned actor such as Ben Affleck portraying him, why does this Batman exist? We catch glimpses of his past in the well-worn murder of his beloved parents and slight nods to previous friends and foes but what exactly wore Wayne down to branding criminals and brandishing machine guns? Stay tuned, same Bat-time, same Bat-boredom. On the flip side we have existential questions regarding theology, democracy and the existence of Superman. With the exception of celebrity cameos from the likes of Neil deGrasse Tyson those questions also go unanswered. Not only do the decisions of these characters baffle but when Jesse Eisenberg channelling Mark Hamill’s Joker is the most sympathetic character in a film containing three flagship superheroes, there is a serious problem.
Credit must be given to Snyder’s forlorn attempts to recapture the audience that jumped ship upon viewing Man of Steel. Several clumsy lines of expositional “These buildings have been cleared” dialogue are bare-faced attempts to repair the CGI civilian carnage that Metropolis suffered last time around and subtle gags such as Frank Sinatra’s ‘Night and Day’ shadowing Lex Luthor’s speech at a party where Bruce Wayne and Clark Kent meet for the first time provide half a chuckle but hardly stands for wit, particularly in a post-Joss Whedon superhero cinema.
Snyder tries desperately to give DC fans the heroes they deserve, instead giving them a shoehorned league of heroes we don’t need. Not right now, not ever. If you enjoy the mayhem that Man of Steel or Transformers bolstered up your summers with or preferred Watchmen without any of the socio-political subtext that its literary counterpart offered, Batman v Superman might be an entertaining 150 minutes spent. However, unless Patty Jenkin’s upcoming Wonder Woman film trumps The Dark Knight for best superhero film of all time, DC’s hopes of challenging Marvel for its crown will be dashed to more pieces than Metropolis and Gotham combined.
In Colour @ the Movies | Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice | ★★☆☆☆ |
Directed by Zack Snyder, written by David S. Goyer and Chris Terrio and starring Ben Affleck, Henry Cavill, Jesse Eisenberg, Amy Adams, Gal Gadot, Jeremy Irons, Diane Lane, Laurence Fishburne and Holly Hunter.
Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice is in cinemas from March 25th.
Andrew Hanley is a filmmaker and blogger. He has a sharp tongue, a critical eye and a kind heart. You can follow his blog here #AndrewHatesMovies