Dark, steely, dull

Bat­man V Su­per­man de­liv­ers spec­tac­u­larly on the tit­u­lar fight, but plods along most of the time.

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - MOVIES - By MICHAEL CHEANG

Bat­man V Su­per­man: Dawn Of Jus­tice Di­rec­tor: Zack Sny­der Cast: Ben Af­fleck, henry Cav­ill, Gal Gadot, Amy Adams, Jesse Eisen­berg, Jeremy Irons

THIS is it. The dawn of the Jus­tice League. The film that is meant to be the start of some­thing big­ger for DC’s su­per­heroes. Man Of Steel was just the pro­logue – Bat­man V Su­per­man: Dawn Of Jus­tice ( BVS) is the real deal. This is the film that is meant to kick­start the DC Ex­tended Uni­verse ( DCEU), and make us in­vest our geeky lit­tle hearts into nine more up­com­ing DC su­per­hero movies ( in­clud­ing two Jus­tice League ones).

Well, based on this movie, Mar­vel won’t be quak­ing in its boots just yet.

Sure, BVS is big on vis­ual spec­ta­cle and set pieces, de­liv­ers spec­tac­u­larly on the tit­u­lar match- up, but it is also dark, steely, and in­cred­i­bly dull most of the time. It’s as if di­rec­tor Zack Sny­der took one look at the usu­ally fun and sunny dis­po­si­tion of the Mar­vel Cin­e­matic Uni­verse ( MCU) and de­cided to go the op­po­site di­rec­tion in­stead ( he did that for Man Of Steel as well, re­mem­ber).

Any­way, since Su­per­man got a whole movie to him­self to es­tab­lish his ori­gin in this new cin­e­matic uni­verse, BVS starts off by es­tab­lish­ing Bat­man’s roots in­stead – from the death of Bruce Wayne’s par­ents, his dis­cov­ery of a cave full of bats, and how he trained to be­come... oh wait, Sny­der doesn’t re­ally get that far. He just skips for­ward to the end­ing of Man Of Steel, where Su­per­man is fight­ing Zod in a cat­a­strophic bat­tle that dec­i­mates the en­tire city, in­clud­ing Wayne En­ter­prises’ Me­trop­o­lis build­ing, and kills thou­sands of peo­ple. This, we learn, is where Bruce first starts to fear the threat of an all- pow­er­ful alien su­per­hero who could “burn us all” if he chose to.

While most fans were ini­tially scep­ti­cal of the cast­ing of Ben Af­fleck as Bruce Wayne, he man­ages to prove those fears wrong with a por­trayal of a world- weary Bat­man who has al­ready been un­der the cowl for 20 years, and wants to leave a last­ing legacy by elim­i­nat­ing the “alien threat” to the world. Af­fleck’s per­for­mance ( as well as Jeremy Irons’ as a dry- wit­ted Al­fred Pen­ny­worth) makes you wish that Bat­man was the one who had an en­tire movie to es­tab­lish his char­ac­ter rather than Su­per­man.

Also har­bour­ing ill in­tent for Su­per­man is Lex Luthor ( played with an­noy­ing aplomb by Jesse Eisen­berg), who has a deep, deep ha­tred for the hero, but just can’t seem to jus­tify why, ex­actly ( maybe he’s just jeal­ous of the way Su­per­man keeps his hair so neat and tidy all the time). But clear mo­tives be damned – all you need to know is that Lex will do any­thing to de­stroy Su­per­man.

Oh, and there’s this won­der­ful woman who keeps pop­ping up and seem­ingly stalk­ing Bruce Wayne with­out re­veal­ing who she is, what her mo­tives are, and what she does for a liv­ing be­sides stalk­ing Bruce Wayne. But trust us when we say she’s a real won­der, that woman.

Story- wise, there isn’t re­ally much to re­veal out­side of what you can de­duce from the mul­ti­tudes of trail­ers al­ready re­leased in the lead- up to the movie.

There’s Su­per­man, there’s Bat­man, there’s Won­der Woman, there’s Lex Luthor, and there’s a com­pletely point­less big, ugly grey mon­ster that is sup­posed to be Dooms­day ( the alien mon­ster that once “killed” Su­per­man in the comics) that comes out in the end for our heroes to fight. There’s also A LOT of punch­ing, shoot­ing, and more build­ings and cities get­ting knocked down or blown up.

Speak­ing of which, one of the big­gest crit­i­cisms of Man Of Steel was the wan­ton de­struc­tion of Me­trop­o­lis dur­ing the Su­per­man/ Zod fight. Here, you could hold a drink­ing game with the num­ber of times some­one takes pains to men­tion “That build­ing is empty”, or “That is­land is un­in­hab­ited”, or some­thing along those lines.

The movie’s big­gest prob­lem, how­ever, is Su­per­man. Has there ever been an on- screen Su­per­man as dull as Henry Cav­ill’s? When he’s not busy sav­ing kids from burn­ing build­ings and Lois Lane ( Amy Adams) from per­pet­ual danger ( which she gets into way too of­ten in this movie), he is staring out painfully into space with a fur­rowed brow, as if stricken with an acute case of su­per- con­sti­pa­tion. And you thought Bat­man was the dark, brood­ing one.

Thank­fully, BVS isn’t ex­actly a train wreck the way, say, last year’s Fan­tas­tic Four re­boot was. It de­liv­ers a new and quite com­pelling ver­sion of Bat­man that I wouldn’t mind watch­ing more of ( there’s a solo Bat­fleck film in the works al­ready, so yay!), in­tro­duces Won­der Woman won­der­fully well ( she’s also got a solo film com­ing. Dou­ble yay!), gives tan­ta­lis­ing peeks at the other metahu­mans out there ( in­clud­ing The Flash, Aqua­man, and Cy­borg), and does the job of mak­ing us want more from this new cin­e­matic uni­verse. I just wish it didn’t have a Su­per­man who is so su­per- dull.

By the end of it, you’ll still be­lieve a man can fly, but you’ll also wish he would fly away and never come back again.

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