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Film review: Batman v Superman ***

By Alexia Evripidou

Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice is a big, loud, atmospheric and long awaited epic which should most definitely be watched at the cinema. This onscreen union of DC Comic’s leading characters Batman and Superman has had fans waiting for what seems like eons to watch and as a whole, it doesn’t disappoint. Batman v Superman is not the Marvel action style movie that many have become accustomed to. It’s not colourful, cheeky or greatly character driven, it is instead dark, original, broody and a powerful contender in the comic book movie genre.

Co-starring Henry Cavill as the virtually invincible Superman with Ben Affleck as Bruce Wayne/Batman, the Batman v Superman is the latest notch in director Zack Snyder’s belt. As was originally planned by Snyder, the movie has succeeded in taking inspiration from the Batman series The Dark Night Returns in terms of being intense and gritty in nature but it’s also managed to ally Superman’s chirpier Smallville reality within it. Batman v Superman works within an original premise, bringing the two worlds together as a potential solution to the larger interplanetary threat.

The film runs several parallel subplots and unfortunately not all of them have a clear purpose. The main strain is about the vigilante Batman fearing what would happen if this god like alien Superman should be kept unchecked. He therefore travels to Metropolis to preemptively combat Superman, where all hell breaks loose. Meanwhile a greater threat, in the shape of an oddly played Lex Luthor (Jesse Eisenberg) endangers humankind. Notorious baddy Luthor plots and schemes in between inconsistent character twitches and mindless verbal diarrhea, to turn the superheroes against each, however the whys and motives are vague and weak.

Viewers are invited into a world where after years of Superheroing our protagonists experience some kind of existential crisis. Parallel to the politics of our time, where accountability and transparency are demanded from those in positions of power, the film shows a ‘new’ world where superheroes accountability is questioned and where (small spoiler alert) two powers eventually overcome their differences to fight a common enemy threatening humanity. The film also marks the first appearance of DC comic characters Diana Prince/Wonder Woman, Cyborg, The Flash and Aquaman in live-action. Interestingly enough, though Wonder Woman’s role is relatively small in the film it is invaluable in the fight against evil.

Two legends, one fight; or so the film’s self explanatory title suggests, but is it? Arguably no. The film’s simultaneous subplots question what the film’s bigger purpose is; is it the fight between the superheroes or the mild threat of world destruction? Why exactly does the Dark Knight want to annihilate Superman so desperately? And what was going on with Luther’s hair? What did Luther want, to watch the ultimate fight between the two superheroes, domination? It was unclear, which can leave the thinking viewer wondering what the film was actually about, no matter how visually exciting it was. Also, Eisenberg’s portrayal of Luther was surprisingly weak and inconsistent, he was neither crazy, nor scary only a little bit confused and a bit mean, but definitely disappointing. There’s nothing quite like a real baddy to bring excitement to a film.

The lead characters motivations too were far from satisfactory and fell short in explaining their actions, which was unexpected for such eminent and well loved characters. It also has a weak storyline. The film is bitty, constantly jumping from one thing to another; introducing smaller characters without any real purpose.

Batman v Superman does however pack solid punches in terms of action, visuals and musical score; interspersing stylised imagery, silences and huge musical crescendos at a perfect time and pace.

The fight scenes are epic and have been worth the wait; fans will not be disappointed. Phenomenal graphics served with explosions, flying machines, evil mutated monsters, fires and punches that send opponents flying through brick walls, it’s every bit as exciting as a Batman v Superman fight should be. The imagery and atmosphere are genuinely intense and excellent and the musical score emotive, playing with silences to intensify mood. It just seems a pity that full rounded characters and strong storyline seem pushed to the backlines, which otherwise could make the film perfect; a harmonious marriage between visual stimulation and mental satisfaction.

STARRING Ben Affleck, Henry Cavill, Amy Adams, Jesse Eisenberg
DIRECTED BY Zack Snyder
US 2016 153mins

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