Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice, rated PG-13
Some may ask how many times will we need to see a new Batman or Superman film. Well, since 1943, this is the tenth time Batman has been portrayed, and the sixteenth time for Superman since 1939. And based on the large crowds in the theatre last night when we saw the film (the film is projected to make $160 million this weekend in the U.S. alone), pairing the two superheroes (along with Wonder Woman) in the same film is a welcome idea. A good idea perhaps, but poorly executed in this (estimated) $250 million hot mess of a film.
It’s not for lack of effort. The film, loosely based on the graphic novel “The Dark Knight Returns” by Frank Miller, features a strong cast – Ben Affleck is good as the new Bruce Wayne/Batman and Henry Cavill returns from the disappointing Man of Steel as Clark Kent/Superman. Kevin Costner makes a cameo as Superman’s father while Diane Lane has a larger role as his mother Martha. Amy Adams, one of our better actresses, returns as Lois Lane. We have Jesse Eisenberg, excellent as Lex Luthor, Laurence Fishburne rather irritating as Daily Planet editor Perry White, Holly Hunter as Senator Finch and Gal Gadot as Diana Prince and Wonder Women.
**SPOILER WARNING! **
The film is directed by Zack Snyder (who also directed 2013’s Man of Steel), but ultimately the script by Chris Terrio and David S. Goyer is disorganized and confusing, beginning with a flashback to when a young Bruce Wayne’s parents are shot to death outside of a movie theatre. We then see another flashback (there are many of them in the film) of the alien invasion of Metropolis eighteen months ago by General Zod (Michael Shannon). Bruce Wayne has been closely watching the now controversial Superman since the attack. Clark Kent now lives with girlfriend Lois Lane. Note: I guess Superman’s morals have slipped a bit, and Batman is no boy scout in this film either.
Superman has become a deeply polarizing figure, leading to a Senate committee led by Senator Finch about Superman not being above the law. While Wayne seeks to bring Superman under control as Batman, Luthor heads up Lex Corp and wants to get his hands on kryptonite and create his undefeatable monster Doomsday and dominate the world.
Luthor, and the film, portray Superman as a Jesus-figure who has come from above to save the world. Luthor is a devil figure, and is provided with dialogue right out of the Christian liberalism playbook (“If God is all powerful, he cannot be all good. If God is all good, then he cannot be all powerful”).
The film serves to introduce us to the upcoming Justice League franchise. Affleck is planned to portray Batman in several forthcoming films – Suicide Squad (2016), The Justice League Part One (2017), Untitled Batman Reboot, Justice League Part Two (2019), and possibly 2 sequels to the Untitled Batman Reboot. I hope the following films are much better than this one.
This dark and violent film is overly long at two and a half hours. Although the action scenes were generally done well, a shorter better-edited version of the film with more focus on the storyline would be more satisfying. An “R” rated version of the film is planned for DVD. The film includes a small amount of unnecessary adult language, including a few abuses of God’s and Jesus’ names, and a bathtub scene with Adams and Cavill.