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Batman Vs Superman: Dawn of Justice - DVD Review

Batman Vs Superman: Dawn of Justice

Review by Rob Carnevale

IndieLondon Rating: 2 out of 5

ZACK Snyder’s Batman Vs Superman promises much but ends up proving to be something of a false dawn.

For months, audiences have been teased about the prospect of seeing two comic book icons going toe-to-toe with each other for the ultimate superhero smack-down. But the premise itself was always flawed given that the big fight could never really yield a clear winner.

So, while Batman and Superman do get to knock seven bells out of each other, the result feels anti-climactic and struggles to mask the film’s true reason for being: the creation of The Justice League (DC’s long-envisaged alternative to rival Marvel’s Avengers series). In doing so, it also highlights the flimsy nature of some of the plotting that exists to get them to face-off in the first place.

Worse, what follows their fight is another almighty slug-fest, this time involving Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman and a Frankenstein-style Doomsday creation, during which Snyder gets to properly indulge his lust for big scale carnage, albeit with an emphasis on how few civilian casualties will result. It’s mind-numbingly excessive and symptomatic of all that’s bad with most superhero finales.

Snyder does attempt to inject some emotional investment by tossing in a ‘surprise’ turn of events but, again, the device will ring hollow for anyone who knows what’s coming next. In that regard, the final few moments feel like a futile attempt to manipulate our emotions.

That’s not to say the film is a complete write-off. Early on, there’s quite a bit to admire.

Ben Affleck’s Batman, in particular, provides a fascinating new chapter to the Dark Knight mythology, emerging as a twisted, vengeful, tired anti-hero of sorts, whose deeds are governed by a questionable morality. His principal reason for opposing Superman, meanwhile, lies in the climactic events of Man of Steel, which are revisited here from a Ground Zero perspective.

The sequence in question is expertly delivered, complete with emotional depth, but it comes as no surprise to find the film is at its most emotionally compelling when dealing with human loss, rather than anything superhero related.

Similarly, the battle of wills that exists between the superhero alter-egos, Bruce Wayne and Clarke Kent, provides some nice scope for screenwriting duo Chris Terrio and David S Goyer to examine issues relating to the corrosive nature of power and religion, or how to best deal with evil.

There are even some promising supporting turns from the likes of Jeremy Irons, as butler Alfred, and Scoot McNairy, as one of the survivors of the Metropolis fallout.

But a lot of the good work is undone as the film enters its final act. And it’s then that the flaws become more apparent.

Some of the latter plot devices designed to bring Superman and Batman together feel flimsy at best, while a lot of the stronger characters get lost in the mix. The women in the film, from Amy Adams’ Lois Lane to Gal Godot’s Wonder Woman, also feel under-developed (Adams, in particular, is reduced to being a damsel-in-distress, while Godot serves as mere eye candy, both regressive steps).

Jesse Eisenberg’s Lex Luthor, meanwhile, lacks the malevolence of Kevin Spacey’s version, or the charisma of Gene Hackman, but is serviceable enough, if a little difficult to understand (both in terms of his under-explained motivation or his motor-mouthed dialogue delivery).

If anything, Snyder’s film ultimately feels extremely profligate given the wealth of opportunity at its disposal. And while it does entertain early on, the final third feels disastrously overblown. And if, as suspected, future films deliver more of the same, then it will quickly become a case of diminishing returns for this DC universe.

Certificate: 12A
Running time: 150mins
UK Blu-ray & DVD Release: August 1, 2016