"Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice" Review: Little Brother Fights Back

Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice had a lot riding on it. Forget the hardcore fanboys’ opinions, huge budget, and bringing major DC characters together on the big screen for the first time in this generation. If DC didn’t get this film right, it could have sunk the franchise. Period. With this installment, director Zack Snyder and the crew give us a very entertaining gateway into the next chapter of DC super hero cinema.

As to stay away from spoilers, let’s establish the rules of this review. I’ll keep it inside the lines of a few things: 1) nothing you haven’t seen outside of the trailers, 2) nothing you can’t deduce from the title, and 3) I will only paint pictures that color the cinema techniques in the film. Fair enough?

From the start you know that the film is in the hands of a visual director. Snyder has a distinct way of telling the story with the frame and dark palette cinematography. After a brief Bruce Wayne origin sequence, the film picks up with the title “Mankind is Introduced to The Superman”. We see what was going on from Bruce Wayne’s (Ben Affleck) perspective during the massive fight between Superman (Henry Cavill) and General Zod (Michael Shannon) from Man of Steel. It’s an incredible sequence that answers the question of “what was happening on the ground during the fight between these two super beings?” It immediately sets the stakes for the film. Is Superman someone that humans can trust, and with so much power, how can we keep him in check?

After the showdown in Metropolis, Bruce develops a grudge against the seemingly unstoppable alien. He spends time preparing to fight Superman, which obviously entails him having a level playing field because head to head there is no match. Jesse Eisenberg is introduced as Lex Luthor, and Eisenberg’s signature tics and fast talking antics from characters past really works for this Lex Luthor. He’s crafted an entitled, insecure, brilliant, low key maniac with just enough swag that for me worked well. Luthor’s money and intelligence allows him to have a pulse on what’s really going on in the world and gives him the power to influence it as he sees fit.

A large part of seeing Batman V Superman is not wondering what the outcome will be, but what will things look like? Is Affleck a good Batman. Yes. There is no point in which I didn’t think he was Batman or an older Bruce Wayne for that matter. When he’s in a scene with Cavill, you know who the seasoned actor is. Is Gal Gadot a good Wonder Woman? She fits in the film as it needs her, and when it does, she does a good job. Her introduction to this world felt a little clunky and forced, but seeing her fight...I look forward to future films (perhaps more so to see Wonder Woman’s powers more than Gadot’s acting). Overall, the acting in this film as a collective is solid. 

The movie works really hard to engage your senses and thrust you into a cinematic experience. The weight of objects are seen visually, and heard aurally on an extremely detailed level. The sound and effects departments deserve a round of applause. One of the best sequences in which you can appreciate this is watching the batmobile tear through the streets, buildings, other cars, and then get tossed like a toy car when it runs into Superman. It’s a set up you know is coming (from the trailer) but works to show Superman’s power and strength. Let’s not leave out the amazing score from Hans Zimmer (my favorite film composer of all time) and Junkie XL! The score is its own character and pushes the story forward in all the right ways. 

Batman V Superman has its issues. In fact, the film builds up to the ultimate showdown so well that once it gets there things get a bit awkward. In some ways it's like writers Chris Terrio and David S. Goyer had the beats they wanted to get to in the story outline but couldn't make smooth transitions between major plot points. However, it delivers on the spectacle that you want to see! For a team up film, everything comes together as it should, and sets us up for an entry of more characters in this world. It’s hard to bake the best cake ever, but the film is very tasty and satisfying! Will DC take the reigns from Marvel in the box office now? No. But little brother just got a good lick in that the rest of the world has to give him props for! I’d pay to see it a couple more times!

Rating: C+

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Kevin Sampson

The fact that Kevin Sampson is not just a film critic, but a writer, producer, and director as well makes his understanding of cinema even better. Coming from a theoretical and hands on approach, he understands both sides of the struggle of viewing and creating great works. After receiving an MFA in Film & Electronic Media from American University in Washington, D.C in 2011, Kevin took his love for film to the next level by creating and producing Picture Lock, an entertainment website, podcast, and hour long film review TV show that runs on Arlington Independent Media’s public access station in Arlington, VA. The show covers new releases, classic films, and interviews with local filmmakers in the DMV area. He is also a member of the Washington DC Area Film Critics Association and African American Film Critics Association. He is currently looking forward to filming his first feature film in the near future. He believes that film is one of the most powerful art forms in the world, and he hopes that he can use the craft to inspire others and make a difference in it.