Having just returned form seeing the new movie “Batman vs Superman: Dawn of Justice“, I’m trying to gather my thoughts. I think it’s safe to say that the movie is good but a little boring. Ben Afflect’s Dark Night is probably the high point of the movie. We’ve see his genesis story before. It has been updated. Now his parents die in 1981 after a Patrick Stewart movie, Excalibur. We are treated to a couple of flashbacks that don’t otherwise add to his story anything that we have not seen before. There is a shot of what is apparently a Robin suit so there is more history in this character that we do not get to see. There is also a scene that seems very out of place that may end up being an omen of future stories. Jeremy Irons plays a believable but many too young Alfred.
Henry Cavill, Amy Adams, Diane Lane, and Laurence Fishburne reprise their roles from the Man of Steel. This new movie starts at the climax of that movie giving you a street level view of those events. Once you get all of those characters on the screen along with the lifeless Michael Shannon and Kevin Costner, things are starting to get a bit crowded. We do see Superman go really dark at at least one point of the story. Holly Hunter plays the role of a senator who actually seems to be doing the right thing. Contrast this with Iron Man’s use of the late Gary Shandling as Senator Stern.
Dark is a good way to describe much of the movie. The tone is dark. Most of the action takes place at night unlike the previous movie. The cinematography is also dark and 3-D did not help. Skip the 3-D. In addition to being dark the movie is tedious. It has an story to tell, it spends nearly two hours of the movie before the two heroes finally face off. A more typical story telling would have them face off twice with the first time early in the movie.
When Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman shows up on the screen she’s not given much to say. Hopefully she’ll do better in her own movie next year. We are teased with a picture of her from 1918. We are also teased with the Flash, Cyborg and Aquaman. Hopefully Aquaman doesn’t suck.
Jesse Eisenberg’s Lex Luthor is introduced like a sequel to the Social Network but quickly turns to menace. His motivations are unclear for much of the movie so you just have to go with the explanation that he’s the bad guy. I would like to have seen more. For example, Doomsday. Why? Even if Lex’s motivations are unclear what is good is how he manipulates both our heroes to go toe to toe. Fortunately for both of them, the ladies are there to set them straight. I expect we will see more of Lex.
This movie suffers to a lesser extent from the “titan vs titan” problem from the previous movie. If you have a character who can survive a direct missile impact, why are you punching him?
In summary you have a long, dense movie that plods along, hits all the requisite beats. It takes the character that we met in the first film and sets you up for a scheduled of at least four more films in this universe. I grew up with the TV Superman and Batman. I’ve seen all their movies that have come out since 1966. This film is certainly better from a character point of view than half of those films. I only wish there had been a bit more levity and joy on the 151 minute run time so that by the end I didn’t feel like I was walking out of a lecture. If you are a fan of the genre then its worth seeing because they were faithful to the characters. I’m sure there is lots of detail that I missed that will be revealed when I watch it again on iTunes. Fortunately for me someone pulled the fire alarm causing the movie to be delayed so the theater comp’d us all with tickets to come back. As a free movie it was really good.