Friday 25 March 2016

Review: Batman v Superman - Dawn of Justice (spoiler-free)

World of Blackout Film Review

Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice Poster

Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (first-pass / SPOILER-FREE
Cert: 12A / 151 mins / Dir. Zack Snyder / Trailer
WoB Rating: 5/7

Well, that's a change of gear. Or rather, Dawn Of Justice is a change into several gears, all at once, for two and a half hours. Riding the cinematic clutch towards the Justice League, DC bring us a whole bunch of ideas and origins, all crammed into one 150 minute rollercoaster. And before I get properly started, I'll add here that the film kept me entertained throughout. Okay, it also kept me bemused and thematically motion-sick from time to time, but on the whole I enjoyed it*1.

The main stumbling block is that the story's trying to be in too many places at once and ends up flitting all over the place, even once the main plot-thread has kicked in. In trying to set up Batman, Superman's story falters and Wonder Woman's falls at just about every hurdle (and we all know Batman, of course, just not this Batman. Even if he's remarkably similar to Batman). Structurally, the film's a mess, and I don't know if that's down to re-shoots, re-writes or just taking two potentially great movies and cramming them into one which is less so. The film either needs to be much shorter or about 45 minutes longer, either would ease the strain.

There are also a few directorial issues that didn't seem to happen in the previous film. Laurence Fishburne is over-acting a cartoon version of the newspaper editor he played perfectly sensibly three years ago; Jeremy Irons forces himself to grimace through a wisecracking version of Alfred The Butler which suits neither the actor nor the character; and I've no idea why Jesse Eisenberg seems to think that the best portrayal of Lex Luthor would be channelling Jim Carrey's Riddler into the role, but Snyder appears to have agreed and has just let him get on with it, anyway*2.

Between the hyperactive story-threading, the shoe-horning of other DC properties and Bruce Wayne's anxiety daydreams, there's far too much going on here. Dawn Of Justice is not a great film, although there are great things within it. It's really a good second-draft which needs tightening up and trimming down.

Perhaps most ironically, DC have brought us a film which doesn't really do justice to the Superman we know, and certainly doesn't do justice to the Batman we don't.

Okay, it may not be Zack Snyder's Watchmen, but at least it's not Zack Snyder's Sucker Punch. We should all be grateful for that, if nothing else...

So, watch this if you enjoyed?
All of the superhero movies at once, I think.

Should you watch this in a cinema, though?
Go big or go home.

Does the film achieve what it sets out to do?
Sadly, I don't think it does.
And it does pain me to say that, even as a Marvel fanboy

Is this the best work of the cast or director?
Not nearly.

Will I think less of you if we disagree about how good/bad this film is?
Not at all.

Yes, but is there a Wilhelm Scream in it?
There only bloody IS, yes!

Yes, but what's the Star Wars connection?
Level 2: This film's got Scoot McNairy in it, and he was in Killing Them Softly with Ben Mendelsohn, who'll be in Star Wars: Rogue One later this year. Actually they were in Black Sea together as well, which is why my brain struggles to separate them since those films were where I saw both of them for the first time. Even though there's like this ten year age difference between them.
Anyway yeah, that. Look, I've been awake for 22 hours as I write this and I'm still too buzzed to sleep...

And if I HAD to put a number on it…

*1 I pretty much have to say this because I'm going to go on and pick it apart. But ultimately, it's a film I'll gladly watch again, even if that's just in prep for the sequel. I can see why the critics are mauling it, and as much fun as I had, I'd be hard pressed to actually disagree, put it that way.

*2 Oh, and further to Superman having My Two Robin Hood Dads, it turns out that Batman's parents are Maggie out of the Walking Dead and The Comedian out of Watchmen. Which explains a lot, when you think about it…

• ^^^ That's dry, British humour, and most likely sarcasm or facetiousness.
• Yen's blog contains harsh language and even harsher notions of propriety. Reader discretion is advised.
• This is a personal blog. The views and opinions expressed here represent my own thoughts (at the time of writing) and not those of the people, institutions or organisations that I may or may not be related with unless stated explicitly.

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