Just under 3 years since it was initially announced, back at 2013's San Diego Comic-con, and the long-awaited, massively anticipated, comic-book blockbuster, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, has finally arrived. However, just how epic is Zack Snyder's Man of Steel follow-up?

It's a fairly broad and difficult question to answer. Batman v Superman is certainly an epic film, with an epic scale: a true blockbuster in every sense of the word. Although, that's not to say that this is a great film. In fact, it's really not. Being the huge comic-book fan - an Batman fan, especially - that I am, I was sorely disappointed by this. On paper, I've always been a bigger DC fan - armed with an arsenal of better heroes and villains - but, cinematically, Marvel have won me over with the MCU. Why? Because their adversaries can't seem to translate the greatness of their stories to big-screen and Batman v Superman is the perfect example. It's by no means an awful film but it's far from perfect. For such a cinematic juggernaut, it's quite the mess.

The film marks the first time Batman and Superman have ever shared the big-screen, in a live-action adaptation. It also marks Wonder Woman's first ever cinematic portrayal; Ben Affleck's first endeavour as Bruce Wayne; DC'S first actual film in setting up their new cinematic universe; the first step in bringing the first ever cinematic Justice League to light. It's probably also the first ever comic-book film to have such a polarising divide amongst critics and fanboys and audiences. The point is, Dawn of Justice is a lot of things and a lot of firsts. However, it isn't Zack Snyder's first foray into directing a DC film, following up from 2013's Man of Steel. The film received a similar reception, but perhaps had more people leaning towards a negative side with their opinions on that film. I, personally, didn't mind that film too much. Was it great? No. But it wasn't bad either. Of course, comparisons between Man of Steel and Dawn of Justice are going to be a given. I think this is unnecessary as both are different films and the only real takeaway is that Snyder hasn't learned from his mistakes from the 2013 heroic reboot.

Dawn of Justice opens before Man of Steel ended, with Superman (Henry Cavill) and General Zod (Michael Shannon) battling it out and laying waste to Metropolis. However, after a montage bringing us to speed with the character, we're seeing it from the perspective of Bruce Wayne (Ben Affleck) this time, o was caught amongst all the chaos, when his Wayne Enterprises Financial office block is destroyed as a result of all the carnage, with employees still trapped inside. 18 months later and Metropolis has been rebuilt, Superman is now a figure of great controversy and Wayne still hasn't forgotten the extra-terrestrial force's actions. Having trained and prepared for this, Wayne comes out of retirement and suits up as Gotham's infamous Batman for the first time after years, seeking revenge and making it his utmost priority to bring Superman to the ground. However, when a new threat emerges in the nefarious Lex Luthor (Jesse Eisenberg), the pair must put aside their differences to save the world from Luthor's imposing, man-made new threat: Doomsday.
One of this film's strongest elements is its stellar cast and the performances they all give, for the most part. Despite the initial wave of controversy that shook the Internet when he was initially cast, Ben Affeck makes a great Bruce Wayne and an even better Batman. In fact, the Batfleck is one of the best aspects of this film. He's very believable as this older, more worn-down Bruce Wayne and you buy into his hatred for Superman. You really root for him to succeed. Jeremy Irons is also terrific as a very different, much tougher Alfred; Amy Adams does good work too - albeit if a little unnecessary to the proceedings - and Gal Gadot is all sorts of wonders as Wonder Woman - and, yes, pun very much intended. The actress doesn't have a lot of screen-time but she absolutely steals every scene she is in and wins the audience over. If her performance is anything to go by, we should be getting excited for her solo film next year because the actress is perfect as our Amazonian princess and warrior, totally kicking ass. Henry Cavill's performance is okay and he's certainly much better than he was in Man of Steel but I'm still finding his portrayal of Kal-El a little bland and lacklustre. Jesse Eisenberg's Lex Luthor, on the other hand, is more flamboyant and energetic but it's a very over-the-top performance that quickly becomes very irritating to watch. Ever since the casting was announced, I knew the actor was miscast and I was right because, whilst I'm usually a big fan of Eisenberg's, he was just annoying in this.

The problem isn't really the acting though, it's the script. Zack Snyder has just crammed too much in here and it's all too messy and convoluted. Eisenberg's Luthor doesn't fit the dark, bleak tone of this film and feels very misplaced with his energy and there's just too many characters crammed into this picture for us to really invest in any of their stories' and really care for them and empathise with them too much. Sure, Superman is certainly more likable here than he was in his own film and Cavill gives a better - if still not overwhelming - performance as the hero but the film doesn't spend enough time in getting the audience rooting for him. Instead, he is overshadowed by Affleck and some of the other supporting characters. However, the script doesn't just falter in its characters, it's a mess in itself. Storytelling has never been Snyder's forte and it's evident here. The narrative is very clunky and this is like 3 separate films - the first act is a solid, compelling political thriller focusing on the controversy surrounding Superman that is entertaining to watch and promising for the rest of the film; the second is the eponymous duel and the third is a convoluted CG mess and a contrived setup for the future of the DCU - each act worse than the one before, getting more messy and frustrating as the film progresses. With a runtime of 151 minutes, and such little going on, the film quickly becomes tedious too.

The action sequences are excellent, however, and the epic scale of this picture is something to be witnessed - a true experience in IMAX - but these sequences are few and far between. Now, whilst the epic showdown between Dark Knight and Man of Steel that the title promises us only lasts about 20 minutes and is frankly quite lacklustre in the bigger picture (a two and a half hour film titled 'Batman v Superman' with only 20 minutes of the 'Batman v Superman'), it's still exceptionally epic to watch and it is well-directed and well-executed; you'll probably get your entertainment's worth in that one scene but it's just a shame it isn't the focus on the film, as it should have been. The 'Dawn of Justice' subtitle comes into play in the final act but it feels shoehorned in for the sake of setting up next year's Justice League: Part One and is all too contrived and unnecessarily forced into the last 10 minutes or so of this film. It's a very disjointed and messy film. The direction and handling of the material here is fairly poor and Snyder opts for the "style over substance" method, focusing on making a spectacle rather than a cohesive, solid story. The film looks visually stunning and the epic scale means that it really is a spectacle but the film is so overcrowded, confused, convoluted and just plain messy that this watch becomes so bogged down with tedium and, quite frankly, is just disappointing.
In the end, Batman v Superman isn't an awful film, it's far from it. However, on the other end, it's also far from perfect. The first act is solid and the fight, as short as it may be, is entertaining. But, the rest of the film falls flat. This film is messy and too confused to make sense of itself. The film spends to much time giving us pointless exposition and gets really boring really quickly. Ben Affleck makes a great Batman and Gal Gadot has me excited for the solo Wonder Woman film next year. This is a stylish, epic spectacle but it's not nearly cohesive and solid enough to actually make it a decent, competent watch. For the historic scope and ambitious nature of this project, I'd say it's essnetial viewing but only for true, comic-book fans. But, prepare to be disappointed because, for everything this film could have been, for all the potential of this, for all the hype and excitement of witnessing two of the most iconic superheroes ever brawling it out on the big-screen, the biggest downfall of Batman v Superman is that is, quite simply, just disappointing. Sorely disappointing.


VERDICT:
An epic scaled, visual spectacle, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, truly delivers on scale and action but lacks on story and narrative and is all a little too convoluted, messy and cluttered to remain memorable.

About the Author

Awais Irfan
Founder of Oasis Awais, and avid lover of life, Awais Irfan's love of writing and film is unequivocal. Ever since he was a little kid, he has loved the cinematic experience; so much so, he is studying Film Production in Glasgow and hopes to be the next "big thing" in directing.

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