Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice Review
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In recent years, Marvel’s superheroes have generally dominated the comic book box office. DC’s heroes, on the other hand, have floundered, mixing the success of Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy with some Superman missteps and some major disappointments. And, despite its epic action sequences, Zack Snyder’s Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice will do little to help DC’s cause.

Dawn of Justice joins the stories of the Dark Knight and the Man of Steel as they clash over their crime-fighting differences. After a deadly rescue in the Middle East, the world begins to fear that Superman (Henry Cavill) has too much power. And as Batman (Ben Affleck) continues to police the streets of Gotham, Superman suspects that he’s just as much a criminal as he is a crime-fighter. But while the two heroes battle one another, Lex Luthor (Jesse Eisenberg) eagerly awaits the destruction of both heroes, so he can begin his own rise to power.

This superhero showdown is, to put it simply, a big, bloated, pitch-black mess.

For a movie that clocks in at a whopping two and a half hours long, there’s surprisingly little development—or at least not much that makes a whole lot of sense. The beginning of the film is a lengthy series of choppy, spastic introductory scenes, skipping from Bruce Wayne’s childhood trauma (which we’ve all seen multiple times) to chaos in Metropolis to trouble in the Middle East. And even after the initial frenzy dies down, the film never really gets a chance to settle into any kind of a cohesive story.

Meanwhile, Batman and Superman are seemingly prepared to battle to the death just because they don’t like the other hero’s crime-fighting style (or perhaps each is just upset because the other stole his cool cape idea—I’m still not entirely sure). And Snyder spends so much time building up their petty rivalry that he leaves very little time left for what everyone already knows is the story’s ultimate conflict. Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman also seems to have promise, but she plays such a small part in this film that it’s still hard to tell.

To be fair, the action is pretty thrilling and the battle sequences are epic, but there’s just nothing fun about this movie—not even where the typically more lighthearted Man of Steel is involved. There’s just no joy here, no comic book playfulness. The only hint of levity comes from Jesse Eisenberg’s unhinged villain, Lex Luthor—but Eisenberg’s performance is so awkward and unnatural that it’s more obnoxious than amusing. The rest of the film, then, is varying shades of dark—heavy and over-serious, with religious and political undertones.

Snyder simply tries to do too much: introducing too many characters, tacking on too many stories, delivering too many grim messages. And the result isn’t especially satisfying from any angle.

Of course, the novelty of a Batman/Superman showdown does give Dawn of Justice a certain appeal—and the action is definitely attention-grabbing. But the hazy, unbalanced story and the oh-so-somber tone will make you miss those other superheroes (and start counting down the days until their return in May).

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