Dawn of Justice versus the Critics

Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice

By Geoff Burton of CimemaTrek, Special to Rochester Media

The first question that comes to mind is awkwardly addressed fairly early in this two-and-a-half-hour marathon. Where does it take place, Gotham City or Metropolis? It turns out that Metropolis and Gotham City are twin cities separated by a bay somewhere.

It’s one of the many, many things that helps to weigh down this overly dark, humorless effort by Warner Brothers as it attempts to breathe some life the DC Comics lineup. It is a plan fraught with disaster. The single biggest issue is that DC Comics characters were created by several different people over the decades: Superman by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster, Batman by Bill Finger and Bob Kane; Wonder Woman by William Moulton Marston and H. G. Peter; the Green Hornet by George W. Trendle and Fran Striker; Flash by Gardner Fox and Harry Lampert; etc.

Marvel Comics Captain America, Incedible Hulk, Iron Man, Thor, Spider-Man, X-Men, Fantastic Four, Daredevil and Sgt Fury were all created by the ageless Stan Lee. There is something to be said about too many cooks in the kitchen versus one executive chef.

Batman Vs. Superman

Batman Vs. Superman

Director Zach Snyder charged writers Chris Terrio and David Goyer with squishing several of DC Comics characters into a script that would somehow make sense. (Aquaman and Flash make brief appearances.) When you sit down after forking over $12-plus, this is the result. If you are a comic book purist, you’ll be wondering.

Ben Affleck takes over as Bruce Wayne, aka Batman, and contrary to many fears, actually puts forth a decent version as an older more bitter dark knight. In keeping with Christian Bale’s version, he remains a grim brooding sort with a slightly less odd voice. For some reason, Snyder tosses in yet another origin flashback for Batman; I guess he wanted to make sure that the audience develops calluses on their butts after sitting over two hours.

Henry Cavill returns from “Man of Steel” as Superman and has just vanquished General Zod (Michael Shannon) which causes much death and destruction – including Bruce Wayne’s corporate building killing 230 persons. Wayne realizes that someone needs to check Superman and put him in his place. This is a case of the old veteran teaching the young whipper-snapper a lesson on manners.

Wayne isn’t the only one thinking about checking down Superman, a Senator Finch (Holly Hunter) is also concerned as is the mysterious Diana Prince (Gal Gadot) and industrious genius Lex Luthor (Jesse Eisenberg) are all thinking the same thing. The one problem Wayne has is that while Superman is now being looked at as a god-like quasi-hero, Batman is still looked at as a criminal vigilante. Nevertheless, he moves forward to put Superman in his place.

Dawn of Justice

Dawn of Justice

Meanwhile, Luthor is staying in Senator Finch’s ear while he tries to gain access Zod’s sunken ship for the chunk of kryptonite on board, he surmises that it would be the undoing of Superman and he could militarize it. Luckily for the world, Ms Prince is keeping tabs on him even while she’s getting chummy with Clark Kent and Bruce Wayne while they are all being schmoozed by Luthor.

After Batman realizes he is physically no match for Superman, he and his loyal assistant Alfred (Jeremy Irons) use their big giant brains to devise the technology to make the bat-suit better. You can only guess what it involves.

That is the extent of what I’ve am allowed to say, the studios insisted that we sign-off on any critical plot points – can’t mention any of the pathetic twists that only weigh down what I just mentioned even more. There is homage to Frank Miller’s graphic novels of the Dark Knight and the constant battle scenes are mind numbing. The special effects are interesting but far too many. It sorely misses some of the sarcastic humor that Christopher Nolan and Tim Burton added to their films.

The film allows me to re-iterate what I lamented after “Man of Steel“, Henry Cavill is poorly cast as Superman; he comes off as bad as Keanu Reeves does in anything. He has a seduction scene with Lois Lane (Amy Adams) that is awkward and not needed. Meanwhile, there is far too little of Gadot’s Wonder Woman; it will be interesting to see what Warner Brothers does with that franchise. The biggest error is with Eisenberg as Luthor who starts out sort of okay and then goes down hill. There are moments you like to see both he and Superman get wiped out. Hey, there’s an idea.

Jeremy Irons does a good job as a multi-tasking, inventive Alfred; Alfred assumes the duties of Fox (Morgan Freeman) from the Christopher Nolan series. But like Wonder Woman, his character isn’t significant enough to save the film.

Geoff Burton of CimemaTrek

Geoff Burton of CimemaTrek

“Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice” is just what comic book purists feared most, a weighted down dark mess that provides a narrative worse than a WWE wrestling match.   — GEOFF BURTON

Photos Courtesy of CimemaTrek

Read Dear Crabby’s thoughts on Superheroes


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