Batman v. Superman is flawed, but entertaining

Colin Barry

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Batman and Superman are two superheroes who are ingrained into American pop culture. The two have fought multiple times in their respective comics, but never on the silver screen. While “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice” is overstuffed, beyond complicated and filled with silly and stupid moments, but the action and character representations work exceptionally well. There are some fantastic performances within the film, and director Zack Snyder proves that he is capable of making a dark, entertaining comic book film.

The film’s story takes place after 2013’s ”Man of Steel,” and finds Bruce Wayne’s Batman (Ben Affleck) having developed a deep grudge against Clark Kent’s Superman (Henry Cavill) after the destruction of one of his company’s buildings in Superman’s battle against General Zod (Michael Shannon) in “Man of Steel.” Clark Kent, on the other hand, has an issue with Batman’s sense of brutal vigilante justice.

At the same time, Kent’s love interest, Lois Lane (Academy-Award nominee Amy Adams) attempts to uncover a conspiracy involving the government’s part in an international incident. While this is taking place, Lex Luthor (Academy-Award nominee Jesse Eisenberg) starts to goad Batman and Superman to fight as he observes from the background like some kind of crazed spectator. He wants to keep them distracted while creating a creature called Doomsday with the technology left over from General Zod.

Ben Affleck proves all the naysayers wrong within the first few minutes he shows up.  Taking cues from the acclaimed ”Batman: The Animated Series,” Affleck shows layers of the Dark Knight that most actors who portrayed him could not. His Bruce Wayne is charming played flawlessly as Batman in fight scenes.

Snyder is at the top of his game in directing action. The film’s many pulse-pounding set pieces are some of the best to have been showcased in the comic book movie genre. From a literally explosive car chase scene with the new Batmobile to the exciting, climactic title fight between Batman and Superman, to the emotional final battle against Doomsday featuring Wonder Woman holding her own with Superman and Batman, the action is awesome and expertly echoes the action scenes found in comics.

Eisenberg portrays Luthor as a dangerous genius with weird nervous ticks, whose hatred for Superman has driven him hysterical. He shows some complexity as Luthor, hinting toward past events that may have led to his madness.

As enjoyable as some performances and big action sequences are, the largest problem with the film is the writing. Veteran screenwriter David S. Goyer added far too many subplots to the film. The international incident seen at the beginning of the film starts to set up the plot, but gets lost in the shuffle of other events and really does not matter at the end of it all.

Luthor’s motivation is not entirely clear by the end of the film, which leaves the audience thinking he’s just a bad guy for the sake of being a bad guy. Shockingly, the film does not go in-depth on the rivalry between the title characters, which should be featured most prominently in the movie. It almost feels like they are fighting each other because the title of the movie has “versus” in it, not because they have contrasting ideals. It is crucial to flesh a component like this out.

Cavill’s dual performance as Kent and Superman is borderline robotic, as he shows very little emotion and no remorse for his actions. This is a giant step back from his performance in ”Man of Steel,” where Cavill showcases a more heroic and three-dimensional version of the character. Adams’ Lois Lane does not have much to do with the plot other than for her to be present. In fact, she is more of a plot convenience than an actual character. Which is a shame, since her performance in ”Man of Steel” was outstanding.

Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman, aside from being in a few legitimately great action scenes, is not given a whole lot of the storyline either, other than to be set up for the upcoming ”Justice League” film.

The overall set up for the ”Justice League” film feels very obvious and not natural. The reveals of each member and the immensely shocking scene when Ezra Miller’s Flash shows up really don’t add to the film itself. They are just in there to remind the audience there are more DC films coming.  “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice” is an imperfect, but satisfying superhero film. It may not live up to its title, but fans and moviegoers will certainly enjoy themselves with the film’s chaotic action sequences and the moments between the characters of DC’s Holy Trinity. The ending will leave the audience, regardless of whether they are comic fans or not, breathless and emotional, and will certainly stick with them for a long time.