BATMAN V SUPERMAN: DAWN OF JUSTICE
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.