Sunday Tasmanian - Tassie Living - - WEEK IN MOVIES -

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Di­rec­tor: Zack Sny­der ( Watch­men) Star­ring: Ben Af­fleck, Henry Cav­ill, Amy Adams, Jesse Eisen­berg, Gal Gadot, Jeremy Irons, Diane Lane Ver­dict: The cowl, the curl and the car­nage

IS this the spec­tac­u­lar su­per­hero smack­down we had to have? Or the movie fran­chise pow­er­play DC Comics had to make to gain lost ground on their Marvel ri­vals? For Bat­man v Su­per­man: Dawn of Jus­tice, the cor­rect an­swers are yes ... and yes.

At times, this epic pro­duc­tion ( bud­geted at an es­ti­mated cost of $ 320 mil­lion) un­leashes enough fire­power to truly set alight an au­di­ence.

Par­tic­u­larly when build­ing up an ir­re­sistible grudge match be­tween the Dark Knight ( Ben Af­fleck com­pletely re­tool­ing the role va­cated by Chris­tian Bale) and the Man of Steel ( Henry Cav­ill suit­ing up for a se­cond time).

How­ever, the film crams in so much added busi­ness that it can of­ten feel like a to- do list is be­ing com­pleted. To the unini­ti­ated, a bat­tle be­tween Bat­man and Su­per­man could seem a mis­match.

Nev­er­the­less, Dawn of Jus­tice comes up with a cred­i­ble premise that lev­els the play­ing field be­tween its ad­ver­sar­ial draw­cards.

We’re not just talk­ing some Kryp­tonite to take the edge off Su­per­man’s A- game, nor a new line of Bat- gad­gets to sharpen Bat­man’s moves.

No, the mo­men­tous clash that takes top billing in Dawn of Jus­tice takes root on ide­o­log­i­cal grounds.

In the wake of grow­ing pub­lic un­rest over the col­lat­eral dam­age of Su­per­man’s cava­lier hero­ics – re­mem­ber how he re­duced Me­trop­o­lis to rub­ble at the end of his last movie? – a tired and dis­il­lu­sioned Bat­man de­clares enough is enough.

De­spite all the neg­a­tive blather that greeted news of his cast­ing as Bruce/ Bat­man, Ben Af­fleck an­chors Dawn of Jus­tice with a solid, rel­a­tively nu­anced per­for­mance.

Sure he’s no Chris­tian Bale, but Af­fleck does ac­quit him­self well in a cre­ative en­vi­ron­ment that is ad­mit­tedly be­neath the stan­dards set by film­maker Christo­pher Nolan’s ac­claimed Dark Knight tril­ogy.

( While Nolan is on board as ex­ec­u­tive pro­ducer here, di­rec­tor Zack Sny­der has a pulpier, less high­brow way he’d rather go.)

As be­fore, the jury re­mains out on the charisma- chal­lenged Henry Cav­ill as Su­per­man. He never re­ally owned the role in 2013’ s Man of Steel, and on sev­eral oc­ca­sions here he has trou­ble even mak­ing the rent.

When the head- to- head heavy hit­ting fi­nally tran­spires – be pa­tient, for it takes some time to get there – Dawn of Jus­tice de­liv­ers the shock and awe on a level be­fit­ting a su­per­hero block­buster of such mas­sive scale.

( Speak­ing of shock, an im­por­tant word of warn­ing: there is one in­dus­trial- strength twist to the main plot of this movie. Stay right away from any po­ten­tially spoiler- ish sources un­til fur­ther no­tice. This can­not be em­pha­sised enough).

How­ever, when­ever the adrenalised ac­tion se­quences sub­side, the lumpy sub- plot­ting moves like wet ce­ment down a slight in­cline.

This is pri­mar­ily so that path­ways can be paved to­wards fu­ture DC movie of­fer­ings that will put the com­pany’s Jus­tice League fleet of char­ac­ters on the same foot­ing as Marvel’s Avengers.

Which ex­plains the size­able ef­forts made to jus­tify a much- touted bigscreen de­but for Won­der Woman ( played by Gal Gadot) here.

Though her en­trance leaves a dy­namic first im­pres­sion, Won­der Woman is soon drift­ing in and out of the pic­ture as a mostly ir­rel­e­vant pres­ence.

Even at a bloated run­ning time of 150 min­utes, hard­line DC fans will un­doubt­edly get an in­tense con­tac­thigh from see­ing two iconic faves butting heads at close quar­ters.

Non­par­ti­san view­ers may re­sent be­ing loaded up with a lot of ex­cess bag­gage to get to the good stuff.

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