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Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice Movie Review

Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice: Ultimate Edition Blu-ray + DVD + Digital HD combo pack cover art
Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice is now available on home video. Read our review of the Ultimate Edition Blu-ray + DVD combo.

Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016) movie poster Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice

Theatrical Release: March 25, 2016 / Running Time: 153 Minutes / Rating: PG-13

Director: Zack Snyder / Writers: Chris Terrio, David S. Goyer (screenplay); Bob Kane, Bill Finger (Batman creators); Jerry Siegel, Joe Shuster (Superman creators)

Cast: Ben Affleck (Bruce Wayne/Batman), Henry Cavill (Clark Kent/Superman), Amy Adams (Lois Lane), Jesse Eisenberg (Lex Luthor), Diane Lane (Martha Kent), Laurence Fishburne (Perry White), Jeremy Irons (Alfred Pennyworth), Holly Hunter (Senator June Finch), Gal Gadot (Diana Prince/Wonder Woman), Scoot McNairy (Wallace Keefe), Callan Mulvey (Anatoli Knyazev), Tao Okamoto (Mercy Graves), Brandon Spink (Young Bruce Wayne), Lauren Cohan (Martha Wayne), Michael Shannon (Zod), Vikram Gandhi (Himself), Andrew Sullivan (Himself), Charlie Rose (Himself), Neil deGrasse Tyson (Himself), Soledad O'Brien (Herself), Kevin Costner (Jonathan Kent), Ezra Miller (Barry Allen/The Flash - uncredited), Jason Momoa (Arthur Curry/Aquaman - uncredited), Jeffrey Dean Morgan (Thomas Wayne - uncredited)

Buy Batman v Superman from Amazon.com:
Ultimate Edition Blu-ray + Theatrical Blu-ray + DVD + Digital HD Blu-ray 3D + Ultimate Edition Blu-ray + Theatrical Blu-ray + Digital HD DVD
Amazon.com-Exclusive Collector's Edition Combos: with Batman Figurine with Superman Figurine

Marvel Studios kicked the superhero film up to another level with The Avengers. That 2012 film, which became the all-time biggest blockbuster not directed by James Cameron, teamed up the iconic characters that had starred in their own films over the previous four years and had excited comic book readers and cartoon viewers for some fifty years before that. DC Comics' answer that same summer -- the final installment in Christopher Nolan's Dark Knight trilogy -- did not have the same global impact. Nor did the next summer's DC offering,
Zack Snyder's Superman reboot Man of Steel, which drew mixed reviews and fell short of the genre's benchmarks at the box office. Rather than following that up with a straight sequel, Snyder, DC, and Warner Bros. Pictures now give us Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, the first live-action film to bring the two all-time biggest DC Comics personalities together.

Batman v Superman is designed to usher in a new age for DC Comics, which has lagged behind Marvel since the turn of the millennium with everything but Nolan's trilogy. With their fast-growing schedule of unidentified movie releases, DC and Warner are clearly upping the ante, hoping to keep Marvel's pace with a cinematic universe of their own. There is reason to believe they can, having had plenty of success in print, television and animation. There is also reason to doubt, as some fatigue for the genre must be in the process of setting in. Batman has been at the center of DC Comics' greatest film success of the past thirty years, from the Tim Burton and Joel Schumacher era to Nolan's dark reinterpretation. This film gives us yet another new Batman, starting with the umpteenth iteration of the traumatic childhood incident that made him who he is.

After young Bruce Wayne is orphaned, we jump to the present day and get the perspective of a white-templed, 40-something Wayne (Ben Affleck) of the destructive showdown between Superman (Henry Cavill) and Zod from Man of Steel's climax. Wayne/Batman isn't crazy about Superman, whose bespectacled alter ego Clark Kent continues to write for the Daily Planet, where he receives blowback for his hard-hitting reporting proposals. Kent's girlfriend and co-worker Lois Lane (Amy Adams) finds herself in danger pursuing a scoop in war-torn Africa, where Superman has to save her in an act of heroism that leaves casualties and invites criticism.

Lex Luthor (Jesse Eisenberg) is excited to bring together Clark Kent (Henry Cavill) and Bruce Wayne (Ben Affleck) in "Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice."

Batman isn't Superman's only detractor. There's also Lex Luthor (Jesse Eisenberg), a twitchy, stringy-haired young Jolly Rancher enthusiast who is haunted by his late father. Luthor uses his wealth to get his hands on Kryptonite and on General Zod's corpse. He has plans. The biggest is setting up a fight between Batman and Superman, something much of the film seems to be building up to.

As usual, Snyder takes great interest in providing action. It is loud, it is frantic, and it eats up much of the film's excessive 150-minute runtime. Where Snyder and his two screenwriters (young Argo Oscar winner Chris Terrio and DC Studios veteran David S. Goyer) fail is motivation. We never understand or buy into Batman's reason for wanting to take down Superman, nor even Luthor's specific plans for arranging this epic fight aside from the fact that he is a maniac.

Nonetheless, the big titular fight arrives, with Batman seemingly outmatched at first, but coming around to prove his might. The two powerful vigilantes throw one another around until the conclusion you anticipate happens with all the grace you expect from the guy who directed 300. Another hero is introduced in Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot), a young lady with a mysterious ancient past who gets her own guitar theme to complement Superman's oft-repeated two-note riff. When it looks like Luthor will lose, he unveils a monstrous force that only gets stronger when shot. This is not a movie that will end quickly, quietly, or subtly.

From the looks of it, it's Superman (Henry Cavill), Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot), and Batman (Ben Affleck) v something else entirely in the climax of "Batman v Superman."

There's a big surprise ending that Snyder went as far to preface with a videotaped message that played pre-screening to discourage spoiling. It's not something you foresee, nor is it something you foresee as sticking, which removes the dramatic weight the movie tries to give it,

complete with bagpiped "Amazing Grace." The closing emotional manipulation at least offers a respite from the wall-to-wall action, which never has the context to mean as much as it should.

Cynical moviegoers will chuckle at the scene in the middle of the movie that basically serves to tease the DC Extended Universe, with glimpses of Jason Momoa's Aquaman and Ezra Miller's The Flash. At least Marvel has the sense to bury its promotion in the end credits.

Affleck is fine as Batman. He underplays the part, which distinguishes his turn from those of past actors to whom he'll still inevitably be compared. It's not like there's a whole lot of room for acting in a Zack Snyder superhero movie, but Eisenberg seizes his opportunities to distance himself from Gene Hackman and Kevin Spacey, while really laying on thick the Superman-as-God talk. Cavill and other returning Man of Steel cast members supply consistency while not revealing anything new.

Though critics won't be too impressed, Batman v Superman will undoubtedly be a huge blockbuster and should get a boost from the premium prices of IMAX exhibitions and 3D (though my screening only featured the former). How well it is received by the discerning fanboy, however, remains to be seen. Pre-release, it is sporting a gaudy 9.1 on IMDb from 11,000 voters, which would place it third among all films with a qualifying number of votes. It won't hold up, though, of course. But it shouldn't drop to Man of Steel's slightly above-average 7.2 too quickly.

Preorder Batman v Superman from Amazon.com:
Blu-ray Combo / Blu-ray 3D Combo / DVD
Amazon.com-Exclusive Collector's Edition Combos: with Batman Figurine with Superman Figurine

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Related Reviews:
Man of Steel The Dark Knight Rises Avengers: Age of Ultron Guardians of the Galaxy
Ben Affleck: Argo | Henry Cavill: The Man from U.N.C.L.E. Stardust | Amy Adams: American Hustle Big Eyes
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Reviewed March 23, 2016.



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