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“Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice” explodes on to screens

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It’s finally happened. After years of false starts, Batman and Superman finally share the screen. Last night, I saw Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, and I can report that it is far from a disaster, as some have tried to put out there. Honestly, it’s a flawed yet very interesting film, one that is as ambitious as any superhero flick to date, but one that can only sometimes reach the goals it sets out for itself. I liked the movie more than I didn’t, so I’m one of the defenders, I suppose, though I definitely see the criticisms put forth by my colleagues. It’s certainly worth seeing, but it’s a film that won’t be evolving the comic book genre anytime soon. It comes out this weekend, so with the embargo having been lifted, let us now discuss Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice a bit.

The film is both a sequel to Man of Steel, a prequel to the impending Justice League movies, and also a re-introduction to Batman. The movie actually picks up where Man of Steel left off (and during, essentially, with Bruce Wayne witnessing the battle with Zod as it destroys a city), with the citizens of Metropolis/the world debating the merits of Superman (Henry Cavill) being a god among men. This escalates in the wake of another incident involving Superman that results in loss of life. This captures the attention of Batman (Ben Affleck) over in Gotham City, who has been fighting crime there for years. He begins plotting to take down the alien, and after a time they cross paths, with some fighting to ensue before they get on the same page to overcome Jesse Eisenberg’s Lex Luthor (Jesse Eisenberg). Luther has been manipulating them the whole time, so their team up is necessary, along with a certain other hero, to take down what we see eventually is his creation of Doomsday. Man of Steel’s Zack Snyder returns to direct, with David S. Goyer and Chris Terrio co-writing the script here. The cast, aside from the aforementioned Affleck, Cavill, and Eisenberg includes Amy Adams, Laurence Fishburne, Ray Fisher, Gal Gadot, Holly Hunter, Jeremy Irons, Diane Lane, Harry Lennix, Scoot McNairy, Ezra Miller, Jason Momoa, Michael Shannon (sort of), and many more (remember, Jena Malone was cut from the flick). For those wondering, the score is done by the team of Junkie XL as well as the great Hans Zimmer.

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For me, what works here is the ambition, as well as the cinematography by Larry Fong that’s on display. This is not a film that plays it safe, for better or worse. There are bold choices all around, and while not all of them work, there’s more than does than doesn’t. There’s also a terrific handling of Batman, with Affleck making one of the best Bruce Wayne’s ever. He’s a strong Dark Knight as well, so his casting is a real boon, especially down the line. The failings here are the combination of a script that really wants to be about moral dilemmas but directed by a filmmaker in Snyder who doesn’t particularly see shades of gray. It works enough to recommend, but just by the skin of its teeth.

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What does this mean for DC’s universe going forward? I’m sure we’ll still get the two part Justice League movie, likely with Snyder helming part one. Hopefully though someone else can come in for part two, as new blood is needed. The spinoff films will likely happen as well, with those being X factors for me, outside of a solo Batman outing, which I’m now very excited for, especially if Affleck gets to direct as well. Warner Brothers and DC are still trailing behind Marvel and their cinematic universe, but it’s probably best not to compare. This is what it is, so we just have to hope for the best now.

Overall, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice is a flawed blockbuster that brings together two titans in a satisfying yet still slightly underwhelming film that will be hotly debated all year long. There are far reaching choices made here, so it’ll be interesting to see how the powers that be handle it all. I recommend seeing this movie, especially if you’re a fan and have been waiting to see this duo share the screen your whole life, but definitely keep your expectations in check. It’s not a disaster, but it’s no masterpiece either. It’s just big, loud, and just exciting enough to give a recommendation to…

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Be sure to check out Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, in theaters everywhere on Friday!

About Joey Magidson

A graduate of Stony Brook University (where he studied Cinema and Cultural Studies), resides in Brooklyn, New York. He contributes to several other film-related websites and is a member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association.

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