The superhero flick has become a prominent genre in modern cinema, but there seems to be something especially weighing about whether or not this specific film will do well. With the Marvel Cinematic Universe having the largest influence in the past few years, Warner Bros. is using DC Comics’ properties to create a similar cinematic universe using characters that make up the Justice League. “Man of Steel” was the first of these movies and was met with mixed reviews and so the follow-up film “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice” has been surrounded by both hype and skepticism.
Henry Cavill as Superman is the same as he was in “Man of Steel.” His relationship with Lois Lane, Amy Adams, was a subplot that managed to really help humanize him amongst all of the god imagery. Ben Affleck stole the show as he presented himself as the definitive Batman. This is the Batman from the comics that is mainly based off the slightly-aged Batman found in Frank Miller’s “Dark Knight Returns” series. Both Affleck and Cavill show off their acting chops specifically during the big battle conclusion when (redacted) wins the battle. Gal Gadot, who plays Wonder Woman, wasn’t actually in most of the film but managed to become the star of some of the best moments the film has to offer.
A downside to the film is that it was trying to fill voids that past great comic book movies have, most specifically with “The Dark Knight.” A prime example of this is Jesse Eisenberg as Lex Luthor. At times I could not tell if it was a lack of Zack Snyder directing his actors, but there was overacting. Luthor was trying too hard to be the next Heath Ledger’s Joker, resulting in something that felt like a psychotic Batman villain rather than a genius mastermind Superman villain.
A strength of the film was the cinematography and composition of every scene. A common strength of Snyder’s films is his ability to communicate through a visual language and cinematography. There are still frames that can be taken from this film that are straight out of the comics. The actors and the actions they perform are beautiful against well-balanced and composed settings, awesomely planned fight choreography, and it is all strung together by solid visual effects.
The first half of the film is a lot of fluff. It’s just a really long lead-up to the fight between our two heroes, which is what you’re really watching the movie for. The script manages to keep your attention leading up to the fight with some character building, tasteful Justice League teasers and a twist that did admittedly catch me off guard. But looking back at the film as a whole, I could have been satisfied with the footnotes from the first third.
The soundtrack is a masterpiece from Hans Zimmer. It used elements from the “Man of Steel” composition but had plenty of its own material to offer. The most memorable of all of the tracks is the one that is used during the climax of the film that uses an adrenaline rushing set of drums and guitar rift. In every situation the music fit and stood out without being a distraction. The score was definitely the best part of the film.
I saw this film twice, once at a prescreening the Monday before release and again the Thursday night of the public release. It gave me time to truly process what this film has to offer. While many see the negatives and give the film a below average rating, I see the film as a mostly positive experience. It doesn’t hold up among Oscar nominees, like the “Dark Knight Trilogy,” or among family comic book films, like “The Avengers,” but it sure holds up as an action film. It does its job in the regard of giving us eye candy and bringing comic book characters accurately to life on the screen. On top of that, this film clearly exceeds its predecessor “Man of Steel” by a noticeable amount.
Three and a half out of five Panther Paws.