Ali/Frazier. Red Sox/Yankees. Nixon/Kennedy. There are history defining confrontations and rivalries that affect entire generations. The biggest of them all might be the Superman of Metropolis against the Dark Knight of Gotham.
Director Zach Snyder is once again onboard to deliver his follow-up to 2013’s Man of Steel, posing the question that while Superman is there to save the day, who asked him to? And what are the repercussions of his involvement in human affairs? While the toll for Mr. Kent is being evaluated on a global scale, in Gotham, Batman has criminals running scared with his brutal tactics of beatings, intimidation and even branding. Neither man is a proponent of each others tactics which is sure to lead to a confrontation down the road.
**Some Spoilers Ahead**
Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice opens smartly, rehashing the infamous moment that defines Bruce Wayne (Ben Affleck) forever, the moment of witnessing his parents death at the hands of a two bit street thug. As with other interpretations of Batman’s origin story, this tragic event leads young Bruce to the discovery of the hidden caverns below Wayne Manor which serves as the hidden home to the multitude of bats that live below. The bat is a symbol of stealth, might, and fear. I like that Snyder chose to open with something, while tragic, is familiar in the larger DC mythos to bait the audience in before going full throttle into a previously unseen subplot to Man of Steel. Zod and Superman are locked in battle over the skies of Metropolis with destructive havoc occurring city-wide. This is observed by Wayne as he speeds towards his local office building to assist his employees evacuate. He arrives in time to save both a little girl standing amidst the rubble and a guard who has had his legs crushed by a girder. Bruce comforts the man named Wallace (Scoot McNairy) while the city falls apart. This opening for me was actually the best part of the film as in harkened back to the sights and sound of 9/11 with brave men and women rushing into the dust clouds and rubble while the rest run from it. In no way am I comparing our national tragedy to a comic film but it just conveyed to me the heart of Bruce Wayne/Batman that has always made him my favorite comic character of all time. While completely human he is fearless to come to the rescue of those in need.
The story jumps a year and a half into the future to find Lois Lane (Amy Adams) doing what she does best, investigative reporting in the most dangerous of locales. She is in Africa to interview a terrorist overlord but the situation quickly deteriorates into a fire fight and the need to be rescued by her boyfriend Kal-El (Henry Cavill). The deaths in the village are laid at Superman’s feet but there is a more nefarious culprit behind the shootings. This is, however, just another example to United States Senator Finch (Holly Hunter) that Superman needs to be held in check. She begins having discussions with a young industrialist named Alexander Luthor (Jesse Eisenberg) in regards to security measures that could possibly be created in the event that the Superman situation ever turns south for the US Government. He plots to do everything he can to not only come up with a kill plan for Superman but to elevate himself to a position of power with grave consequences for those willing to stand against him. He uses the power of Zod’s ship (and Zod’s perfectly preserved cadaver) to not only learn of countless worlds but to create the ultimate back-up plan should his scheme to have the heroes destroy each other fail. The outcome is more of a foundation towards the Justice League with not only Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot) introduced but other future super friends getting cameos as well. The epic battle between Lex’s unholy creation and the united good guys is cataclysmic and ends in heartbreak but sets the path for the expanded film universe for DC.
I am going to be completely truthful in this review. The film had issues both with timing and content. It was an overstuffed piñata that had candy spilling from it before the first swing of the bat was taken. Eisenberg was twitchy as Lex, Cavill plays Supes with more melancholy than he should and Adams is there for window dressing. Ben Affleck was spot on as Bruce Wayne and I loved Jeremy Irons as the droll Alfred. The plot to get Superman and Batman to hate each other was convoluted and drawn out BUT when all was said and done, this was an extremely enjoyable two and a half hours of cinema. The national critics have made this offering their whipping boy without just cause. Were there scenes that were too drawn out? Yes. Were there plot holes that forces the audience to have a knowledge of the DC comic universe? Yes. Would I recommend my readers to see it in theaters? Absolutely. B v S has it’s downfalls but none are so egregious as to ignore it.
3.75 Kryptonite Spears out of 5
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