By Anthony Vargas
With comic book characters taking the movies by storm, some wondered how Warner Bros. would treat its iconic heroes on the big screen.
Now they know.
With a two hour and 30 minute entry into their extended universe, “Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice” is a work of ambition.
Unfortunately, that ambition results in a messy and shallow, if not enjoyable film. With unfaithful representations of characters, horrendous editing, and overzealous storytelling, “Dawn of Justice” does more injustice to its comic book counterparts.
Where their previous installment, “Man of Steel”, focused solely on Superman/Clark Kent (played by Henry Cavil), this latest entry concentrates on the “Caped Crusader” Batman/Bruce Wayne (played by Ben Affleck). In this film the audience sees the destruction of Metropolis from his point of view and how it shocked not only him, but also the world. As a result, he sets off on a path to destroy Superman, believing the planet is threatened by the existence of someone with godlike power.
That’s not to say it’s always Batman’s storyline the film focuses on. In the first half of the movie there is a mixture of perspectives from Superman, Batman and Lex Luthor, Superman’s nemesis (played by Jesse Eisenberg). However, none of these scenes unfold coherently. Rather, it’s like the film is telling three choppy stories that interconnect once in a while. The movie bounces from Batman’s perspective of the destroyed city, to a desert scene involving Superman saving Lois Lane (played by Amy Adams), to a courthouse, to the discovery of Kryptonite in the middle of an ocean, then back to Lane recovering from said desert scene all in the span of ten minutes. As a result, the movie feeling cluttered and doesn’t flow well because scenes are edited so abruptly.
Regrettably, editing issues are the least of this film’s problems. Even though this movie is supposed to be about the struggle between Superman and Batman, the big conflict doesn’t take place until the second half of the movie. This wouldn’t be an issue if the beginning of the movie were entertaining.
But, no such luck.
What it boils down to is a political thriller that is incredibly slow paced. Any scene leading up to Superman’s trial in Washington is painfully boring as is Lane’s subplot of finding the source of the bullet-induced sleep.
Having said that, does the second half of the movie make it worth watching? To an extent, yes. With all of the pieces in place, the movie does live up to the comic book saga it was meant to be. The action scenes are the highlight of the film and the introduction of Wonder Woman (played by Gal Gadot) is nothing short of perfection. To top it off, the whole point of the movie, two heroes fighting each other, was not only believable but logical as well.
Nevertheless, because the beginning of the movie was a jumbled mess, a lot of character motivations and lines of logic were missing. It started with the smaller details, such as Batman actually killing people, which wouldn’t be a problem if it were properly explained. Batman’s sole rule – not to kill – was a trait of his character in the source material and past reincarnations, such as The Dark Knight trilogy. However, all the audience really gets is Alfred’s speech of good men turning cruel, which links to Batman’s new method of branding criminals.
As the movie progresses, bigger holes in logic emerge, such as Lex Luthor figuring out Martha Kent’s connection to Superman and having to shift through a Kryptonion database holding thousands of pieces of information on the planet. A few scenes later, Batman is sending emails, despite being minutes away from his big confrontation with Superman! Adding one or two lines of dialogue to keep the logic intact could have solved these issues.
Despite all the hurdles, none of this stops the actors from performing admirably. Affleck’s standout role as Batman steals the show as he perfectly represents the smooth billion-dollar playboy from Gotham and masked vigilante.
The weak point seemed to be Lex Luthor, who appeared less of the iconic businessman of Metropolis and more of a crazed lunatic.
But glorious fight scenes, rich characters and admirable acting does not keep this film from having bad editing and plot holes that ruin what could have been a great story. If this marks the next big entry in Warner Bros. new cinematic universe, then they need to revise the formula.