Monday, February 6, 2017

Movie Review: Batman V Superman - Dawn of Justice Extended Edition

Stars: 2 out of 5
Pros: Lois Lane’s storyline; some themes
Cons: Pacing; tone
The Bottom Line:
Very slow pacing
And a tone that stays too dark
Not good DC film

“Bruce Wayne Meets Clark Kent.  I Love It!  I Love Bringing People Together.”

Not having been a comic book reader most of my life, I have been much more familiar with the DC Comics characters than the Marvel characters since they have been more popular in movies and TV until the recent explosion of Marvel movies.  So I want to like the DC Comics movies.   In fact, I’ve been excited for the announcements of the planned DC movieverse to take on Marvel’s movie dominance.  And yet, Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice left much to be desired.

This movie serves as a sequel to Man of Steel as well as a set up for the Justice League movie coming later this year.  In fact, it opens with alternative shots of the climax from Man of Steel as Bruce Wayne (Ben Affleck) watches the destruction that final battle caused.

But the main action of the film picks up eighteen months later as Superman (Henry Cavill) is under attack in the press and from Congress for some of his actions.  Even a recent jaunt to Africa to rescue girlfriend Lois Lane (Amy Adams) ends with further questions about him.  Lex Luthor (Jesse Eisenberg) is working in the shadows on his own way to stop the alien menace that everyone has decided Superman is.

Meanwhile, it’s Batman over in Gotham City that has captured the interest of Clark Kent.  It appears that parts of the city are afraid of Batman, and no one dares speak out.  As the two superheroes make plans to confront each other, what will the outcome be?

Since I had missed this film in the theater, I watched the extended version on Blu-Ray.  My comments will be on the three hour film as a result.  I don’t know what was added for that extra half hour, but it certainly didn’t help the movie in my eyes.

The first hour of the film was slow.  I mean, we get the backstory about Bruce Wayne’s parents dying again.  Honestly, it seems like we could cover that in some dialogue at this point.  I know this is a new Batman, not the Batman of Christopher Nolan’s films, but come on!  Even when we move on to the current storylines, things move forward very slowly.  It does get better as we go along, and I enjoyed the teases about the characters we will see in Justice League.  Then we get to the climactic battle, which takes up most of the final hour.

Meanwhile, the tone of the entire film is dark.  Now, I get that Batman is a dark character, but Superman isn’t.  Yet he gets to brood much of the time as well.  And the very little character growth we see in any of the characters seems small for all the time spent with them.  While the Marvel movies have end of the world stakes, they still manage to include fun while also developing characters.  In fact, those different tones draw me into their movies instead of keeping me at arm’s length like happened here.  I hope that DC gets that soon.

I’m not blaming this on any of the actors.  They are doing the job they were hired to do based on the script and directing.  In fact, I thought they were all great.  Yes, even Ben Affleck.  It’s a different take on Batman, but I thought it worked here.  Being a Wonder Woman fan, I also enjoyed see Gal Gadot bring her to live action life.

Likewise the special effects, and there were a lot of them, were wonderful.  Then again, that’s hardly a surprise for a film released today.

It’s too bad this movie was so slow and dark because there are interesting things here.  I appreciated the way that people turned on Superman even after he saved the day.  It says a lot about our culture today, and none of it is good.  Likewise, looking at how Batman was treating people provided a nice contrast.  Honestly, I wished they focused more on this conflict and resolved it better than we got here.  That’s not flashy superhero stuff, but it was an interesting plot thread.

Likewise, I completely enjoyed Lois Lane’s storyline.  It is classic mystery, and I do love a good mystery.

But these two things aren’t enough to save Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice.  Hopefully, these films can lighten the tone and improve the pace as they go along so we can all enjoy more superhero action.

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