Saturday, April 16, 2016

REVIEW: ‘Batman v Superman’ is super

By Lisa Goudy

‘Batman v Superman’ is one big thrill ride.

With appealing visuals, stunning fight scenes and character substance and development, Zack Snyder’s latest superhero blockbuster is a remarkable achievement. It sparks political ideologies, has characters grappling with their own identity and with right and wrong and it is a deeply philosophical film that gets you thinking and keeps you thinking after the credits have rolled.

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Is Snyder’s film a perfect movie? Of course not, but nothing is. ‘Batman v Superman’ is a dark film, there’s no denying that, but what The Caped Crusader and the Man of Steel bring to the table in this movie is a highly entertaining, visual and comic-based substantive story that opens up all kinds of doors and windows to the future of the DC Extended Universe (DCEU). What's more is it doesn't spell everything out for you, which allows you to be the one to connect the dots and make your own conclusions, while still telling a cohesive story.

‘Batman v Superman’ picks up where its predecessor ‘Man of Steel’ (2013) left off when Superman (Henry Cavill) and Zod (Michael Shannon) are fighting in downtown Metropolis. Bruce Wayne (Ben Affleck) is on the ground level on the streets of Metropolis when, during Superman and Zod’s fight, they take down a Wayne Enterprises building and Bruce is helpless to save those inside and many other innocent people who die.

The film really gets going 18 months later. While some people finally see Superman as a true hero and a symbol of hope, others are more concerned with the amount of power he has and how, if left unchecked, nothing and no one could stop him, especially after the damage caused in ‘Man of Steel.’ The doubt of Superman is furthered when he rescues Lois Lane (Amy Adams) from a controversial hostage situation in the Middle East.

Batman in Gotham City is cynical and distrustful of Superman. When Lex Luthor (Jesse Eisenberg) discovers kryptonite that can weaken Superman, Batman decides to steal it to take the Man of Steel down so no one else will get hurt.

Affleck portrays a different and far darker Batman than we’ve ever seen before. This is a Batman who has fought crime for 20 years in Gotham, only to see the best people turn bad. This is a Batman who has lost faith in humanity and sees Superman as a threat. He and many others criticize Superman in a world that is jaded from the realities of war, poverty and violence.

Affleck nails his performance as Batman. You can really feel his cynicism through Affleck’s fantastic performance as the darkest Dark Knight we’ve ever seen. Cavill once again performs well as Clark Kent and Superman. Superman wants to represent hope and use his powers for good and for people to have faith. But when the world once again starts to question him and shows the worst in humanity, he too begins to doubt his role. 

Another standout is Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman. While her character doesn’t have a lot of development – she has a solo film to do that set for release next year – her scenes as the first movie version of Wonder Woman are fantastic. They are visually appealing and empowering to all women.

Also notable are Jeremy Irons as Alfred, who has perfect deliverance of witty lines, Adams who shows an intelligent, independent and capable Lois and other cast members such as Laurence Fishburne and Diane Lane.

As well, we are introduced to a very different Lex Luthor in the film, portrayed by Eisenberg. He is a genius but also a psychotic and that shows in Eisenberg’s performance. 

And, of course, the promised fight between Batman and Superman does not disappoint. It was great to watch and visually stunning.

Hans Zimmer, the composer, deserves a special shout-out. Not only is his score epic and haunting, but it also helps set the tone and build intensity and emotional depth throughout the film. The music is phenomenal.

It’s true that with a running time of 150 minutes there is a lot going on, but it’s an engaging story. It’s easy to understand both sides of the conflict between Batman and Superman. It is a thought-provoking film that delivers ideological and physical conflict between the two heroes and sets up the next chapter of the DCEU.

With a complex and compelling dark look at two iconic DC Comics characters, ‘Batman v Superman’ examines characters not in black and white as we’re used to seeing, but in a layered, grey area that is a grimmer outlook on the reality painted in the film. It is a beautifully shot and intense film that is a super start to the DCEU.

*** This review appeared in the April 6, 2016 edition of the Moose Jaw Times-Herald's weekly paper, UnCut.

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