By Thom deMartino/Western Sun staff writer
Editor’s note: Some spoilers ahead.
The story of “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice” is right now almost more about the divergence between the reviews and the audience response, than the actual film. While several agree it wasn’t quite what they’d hoped, and much too much was given away by the trailers, many still came away enjoying it.
Still, for those who haven’t seen it, yet…
Bruce Wayne (Ben Affleck) has issues (and no, not the parental ones…wait, okay, that too, but we knew that.) His sleep is regularly interrupted by nightmares, he drinks heavily, and after the Metropolis-flattening events of “Man of Steel” and watching his own building full of employees come crashing down during the battle between Zod and Kal-El, Wayne and his alter-ego have a bone to pick with Krypton’s last son. With all the collateral damage caused inadvertently in the wake of these god-like beings, what hope does humanity have to protect itself?
Meanwhile, Clark Kent (Henry Cavill) is hearing more and more about the unflinching vigilantism of the “Gotham Bat” — and taking issue with his brutal tactics. In a different kind of hearing, Senator Finch (Holly Hunter) and other members of Congress are demanding answers from Superman about both the Metropolis debacle and the casualties from his desert rescue of reporter (and girlfriend) Lois Lane (Amy Adams) — thanks to a little extra political prodding by manic tech magnate Lex Luthor (Jessie Eisenberg, channeling a hyper-caffeinated Mark Zuckerberg.)
A stellar hero powered by Earth’s yellow sun, versus a nocturnal avenger cloaked in the night. With two seemingly antithetical methods of dealing out justice, with they be able to resolve their differences before the real threat emerges from the shadows? And who is the mysterious woman watching from the periphery?
Again, “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice” won’t please everyone: while there are some interesting portions lifted from the seminal “Batman: The Dark Knight Returns” comic in the mid-1980’s, this is not that book. Both heroes are tormented by their own personal demons, lending a feeling of darkness and gloom to the film; Batman seems to have foregone his code of not taking a life, even a criminal’s (we can surmise from some collateral damage of his own) and for all the build-up, the climactic fight scene between Bats and Supes seemed almost too short (and much was already revealed in the trailers.)
In trying to match Marvel’s successful movie franchise, Warner Bros has crammed as much into this film as possible in order to set up the future “Justice League” movies (as well as the independent cinematic outings for the other members,) leading the film to have a somewhat cluttered, disheveled feel.
That being said, there were several good points as well: Affleck’s turn as the Caped Crusader, while distinctly dark and gritty, proved he could take on the mantle of the bat (and his performance as the troubled Bruce Wayne could have almost stood on its own,) there were a few Easter Eggs for those familiar with the DC Comics universe, the new Batmobile is pretty boss, and Cavill seems more comfortable playing his iconic character than he did in his first outing in tights.
However, the MVP of the film is a toss-up: between Wayne’s faithful butler Alfred (Jeremy Irons) who is constantly looking after and playing wingman for his obsessed and driven employer, with a combination of concern, world-weariness and sarcasm; and Diana Prince (Gal Gadot, aka Wonder Woman), enigmatic and on the sidelines of the struggle until near the end, and making her presence known in a big (and impressive) way.
“Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice” may not be all it could have been, but it’s worthwhile to see it on the big screen. Consider it a rough, moody precursor of things to come.
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