“Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice” is a glum, humongous chunk of mess weighted further down by solemn ponderousness to bore us. Although its story doles out some interesting ideas and materials, they are all discarded, smashed, and pulverized in the end for lots of bombastic CGI actions. I found myself feeling tired and detached about whatever was going on the screen, and that is not a good sign at all for whatever will follow after this joyless experience.
During its plain, somber main title sequence which felt somehow hilarious to me, we get another version of how Bruce Wayne/Batman (Ben Affleck) came to be a superhero to terrify every criminal of Gotham City, and the movie moves forward to the climax part of “Man of Steel” (2013). As many of you probably remember, the downtown area of Metropolis was heavily damaged with thousands of casualties while Superman/Clark Kent (Henry Cavill) tried to save the humanity as well as his fellow Daily Planet reporter Lois Lane (Amy Adams) from General Zod (Michael Shannon), and Wayne, who hurriedly flied to Metropolis by a helicopter instead of his Batwing, found himself helplessly watching many of his Wayne Enterprises employees getting killed during this massive destruction.
After 18 months, Metropolis looks fully restored, but people around the world still feel conflicted about whether they can live with Superman. While he did save billions of people during that terrible time, many people including Senator June Finch (Holly Hunter) have expressed concerns over his uninhibited power. Wayne also regards Superman as a possible threat to mankind, but the most eligible bachelor in Gotham City is currently busy with investigating on another possible threat to his notorious city.
Anyway, his path is bound to cross with Superman’s, because his case is associated with none other than Lex Luthor (Jesse Eisenberg), a petulant young man who is also the CEO of LexCorp. As shown in his Oscar-nominated turn in “The Social Network” (2010), Eisenberg is always good at playing edgy, neurotic characters, and he looks well-cast during his first appearance, but then he does not have much to do except constantly chewing his one-note scenes as an annoying prick to be spanked sooner or later.
Not so surprisingly, Luthor has a devious plan for Superman and Batman, who become more hostile to each other after their first encounter. Despite the advices from his trustworthy butler Alfred Pennyworth (Jeremy Irons), Wayne becomes more obsessed with tackling Superman. As he is viewed more negatively in public, Superman becomes more conflicted about his position on the Earth, and that certainly throws shades on his relationships with Lois and his stepmother Martha (Diane Lane).
The clunky, jumbled screenplay by David S. Goyer and Chris Terrio spends too much time in building up its plot and then is tumbled into monotonous action mode along with several unintentionally funny moments. During the climax sequence, the movie emphasizes to us at least three times that the circumstance will be far less damaging compared to “Man of Steel”, but what it serves to us is a pretty much same thing except seemingly less body count. Lots of things get blown up or smashed in its heavily stylized CGI actions as the sound department people and the composers Hans Zimmer and Junkie XL try everything they can do for mercilessly assaulting our eardrum, and CGI figures including one hideous creature bounce around here and there with no visible sense of physical impact or dramatic stake. When I watched Norwegian disaster film “The Wave” (2015) on last Monday, what was at stake for its characters felt palpable to me even though I was well aware of its special effects on the screen. In case of “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice”, I only noted that the director Jack Snyder and his crew soaked their film into expensive special effects.
The movie actually has a few good things to mention. Henry Cavill embodies well his superhero character as he did in the previous film, and Ben Affleck is surprisingly solid although we will have to see whether he will be able to do something as memorable as Christian Bale in Christopher Nolan’s Batman Trilogy. As Diana Prince/Wonder Woman, Gal Gadot is the saving grace we all can agree on, though the movie is too busy to give enough time to her character. I heard that there will be a movie solely about her character, and, judging from what I observed from “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice”, I think Gadot is well-qualified for the job.
Meanwhile, many other notable performers in the film are stuck in their thankless jobs. While Amy Adams, Diane Lane, Laurence Fishburne, Harry Lennix, Michael Shannon, and Kevin Costner reprise their respective roles as required, Scoot McNairy, Jeremy Irons and Holly Hunter are unfortunately wasted due to their colorless supporting characters, and Ray Fisher, Jason Momoa and Ezra Miller are briefly glimpsed at one point as the characters to be introduced in Snyder’s upcoming Justice League movies.
“Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice” is not a total disaster, but its glaring lack of awe and excitement further exemplifies what has been noticed among superhero movies during recent years. Confined in their genre conventions, they become increasingly familiar and predictable to our exhaustion, and I am now reminded again of how much Nolan’s Batman Trilogy achieved while testing the genre as much as it could. While that trilogy really surprised me, “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice” did not surprise me at all even during what was supposed to be a dark dramatic finale, and I came to worry more about what will come next.