Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice

Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice ★★

Pitting two of DC Comics' greatest behemoths against each other in what's a dream come true moment for comic book nerds, Batman v Superman was greatly anticipated by fans despite its predecessor failing to pave a strong foundation for DC Extended Universe to take off. Man of Steel was sloppy, bloated & underwhelming and this latest instalment is no better, for it is marred by an array of bad decisions, and is every bit deserving of the mauling it received at the hands of critics during its theatrical release.

The story of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice takes place 18 months after the first film and follows Superman who is now a controversial figure since no one can keep him in check. Amongst many who view him as a threat to humanity is the prince of Gotham himself who, after witnessing the destruction of Metropolis, has been looking for a weakness that he can exploit. Meanwhile, an eccentric business mogul is concocting his own devious plans to defeat Superman.

The best way to proceed would be to simply point out what worked here & what didn't. Speaking of what works, most of Zack Snyder's trademarks that unexpectedly disappeared in the previous chapter make their welcome return in this instalment. The opening credits scene shows what he can do when allowed free reign, for the sublime manner in which that segment flips through Bruce Wayne's childhood is no short of a little masterpiece in itself. Unfortunately, everything after that is a downhill journey.

Next up is Ben Affleck who received a lot of flak when he was chosen to don the Caped Crusader costume but he does a terrific job to silence his detractors. The masked vigilante we meet in this film is unlike previous renditions. He bears the scars of a veteran who doesn't mind pulling the trigger against his enemies anymore, and is a badass version of Batman who has seen it all & has set his morals aside to instil fear in the criminal world. The most impressive of all, however, is Diana Prince who easily outshines anyone who falls in her vicinity.

Cinematography envelops the story with a brooding layer, VFX team does a splendid job but its overabundant CGI action neither surprises nor elevates the experience by any measurable extent. The soundtrack by Hans Zimmer & Junkie XL is loud & deafening but there are times when it enhances the desired effect of few moments. These were the middling aspects. Now, let's talk about what doesn't work in the film's favour. First is the script itself, which exhibits the same set of issues that plagued its predecessor.

The writers once again tease with interesting ideas but never dig deeper than surface, thus leaving its characters devoid of depth and its plot all muddled up. The script packs many moments that add nothing but empty minutes to what already is an overlong flick. Next is Snyder's direction as he fails to steer the plot in the right direction or provide good enough pace to it. Editing is an absolute mess, for its 152 mins of daunting runtime is severely felt, plus the narrative lacks a smooth flow.

Henry Cavill did a convincing enough job in Man of Steel but his performance here is cold, plus his character's arc trajectory stays pretty much motionless in this sequel. Hamming all the way is Jesse Eisenberg and whatever idiosyncrasies he brings to this character only makes his input all the more annoying. Also, the big stuff, i.e. Batman & Superman going against each other, ultimately fails to live up to its hype. And lastly, its action-filled final act is so badly crammed & poorly handled that it fails to leave a memorable imprint.

On an overall scale, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice is another middling chapter in the DCEU that had the ingredients to deliver an extravaganza worthy of matching the greatness of its hype but it crumbles under its own hefty expectations to finish as another effects-driven blockbuster. It isn't a total disaster though, for it packs a few moments that are embedded with little gems but its overall structure & narrative flow does lack a sturdy backbone. In a sentence, Batman v Superman is fragmented, frustrating & forgettable.

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