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BATMAN V SUPERMAN: DAWN OF JUSTICE

SYNOPSIS: Fearing the actions of Superman (Henry Cavill) are left unchecked, Batman (Ben Affleck) takes on the man of steel, while the world wrestles with what kind of a hero it really needs. With Batman and Superman fighting each other, a new threat, Doomsday (Robin Atkin Downes), is created by Lex Luthor (Jesse Eisenberg). It's up to Superman and Batman to set aside their differences along with Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot) to stop Lex Luthor and Doomsday from destroying Metropolis.

Review by Louise Keller:
Operatic and loaded with potential, this overloud, overlong fantasy with mega-stunts fit for the superheroes at its centre is a mess: an onslaught of too much, too often and for too long. It's not all bad and there are some memorable moments, namely involving Ben Affleck's brooding Batman, Jeremy Irons as his scene stealing butler and Gal Gadot as enigmatic Wonder Woman. But with its misconceived premise and by trying to lay the groundwork for the upcoming DC Extended Universe films, Zac Snyder's film has too many distractions, characters and plot strands, delivering a massive jumble of confusion.

The film starts well enough with pearls, blood and bats by way of an introduction to the young Bruce Wayne who develops quickly into the gravel-voiced Batman. Character and plot establishment begin with the glowing green kryptonite on a Pacific Island, Lois Lane interviewing a terrorist in Nairobi followed by a nick-of-time dramatic rescue scene by Superman himself (Henry Cavill). The challenge for screenwriters Chris Terrio and David Goyer is to come up with a convincing reason why the two superheroes should come to blows with each other, when they clearly both purport to save Gotham City/Metropolis and the world from evil. Some grand ideas and a super villain with gravitas are required yet Jesse Eisenberg's psychotic, hyperactive Lex Luther is more irritating than anything else. Eisenberg's yappy mannerisms are cloying and juvenile despite Luther's dastardly aspirations and actions.

Both Batman and Superman are tormented characters, questioning their purpose as they make misjudgments. 'The fever, rage and powerlessness makes good men turn cruel,' observes Iron's Alfred and further notes that even his master has grown too old to die young. He gets to deliver the film's best lines. Affleck has charisma to spare and makes a good Batman, albeit one who is limited to living in his own dark world, haunted by nightmares. Cavill has all the right attributes for an appealing Superman, although there is little opportunity to make more of his relationship with Amy Adams' Lois Lane than continually save her from one perilous situation after another. (Adams is always lovely and projects great vulnerability.) Gadot has glamour and mystery as Wonder Woman, though it is difficult to rationalize why she is needed in the final physical confrontation between the two superheroes.

There are umpteen chases, explosions, machine guns, punches, kicks, crashing walls and more, while the music score pounds relentlessly. More is more is Snyder's philosophy as the notions of man, god, the devil and the superheroes come to grips with each other. Humour is in short supply. Batman's retort to Superman (when Wonder Woman appears): 'Is she with you?' is one of the funniest moments. Naturally all hell breaks loose in the final climactic scenes; but it is enough?

Review by Andrew L. Urban:
Scraping the bottom of the superhero barrel, this contrivance is an insult to the intelligence of the audience. It's a risky game to pit two beloved superheros against each other, a gamble that doesn't pay off partly because we feel cheated by the resolution. Cheap cinematic trickery doesn't earn respect.

Whatever the original intent, the screenplay is a mess of conflicting and incoherent story lines that mine and exploit the brand names of its two superheroes. The worst part is that none of it makes sense and none of it respects its heroic figures - notwithstanding the schmaltzy opening scenes of a young Batman and his doomed parents.

Full of loud misery and fiery battle, the film is a derivative of its genre and other filmic elements. For instance, the giant evil entity, Doomsday, in the climactic scenes is instantly recognisable as a gormless descendant of the Orcs from Lord of the Rings, but mimicking the triumphant, gob-stretching roar of a Novak Djokovic to announce his presence.

Overlong and overstated, the film is an example of how forever raising the scale and stakes too far can misfire. This is not merely a battle between bad, mad and evil characters like Lex Luther (Jesse Eisenberg) but between the very essence of good and evil ... as characterised by firepower. The violence is meaningless and removed from a human dimension by the very essentials of the superhero characters. There is not much tension in a fight between one indestructible character and another. They just bounce off the stone pillars as if they - the pillars - were made of sponge.

Drawn from the endless, bottomless, seemingly inexhaustible pit of comic characters, the film is indeed often comic-al in a silly way, self important and absurd. The only saving grace is a few short scenes featuring Jeremy Irons as the new Alfred, Batman's trusted backroom boy.

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CRITICAL COUNT
Favourable: 0
Unfavourable: 2
Mixed: 0

BATMAN V SUPERMAN: DAWN OF JUSTICE (M)
(US, 2016)

CAST: Ben Affleck, Henry Cavill, Amy Adams, Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Gal Gadot, Lauren Cohan, Jason Momoa, Ezra Miller, Michael Shannon, Diane Lane, Jesse Eisenberg, Holly Hunter, Jeremy Irons, Laurence Fishburne, Ray Fisher, Robin Atkin Downes

VOICES: Carla Gugino

PRODUCER: Charles Roven, Deborah Snyder

DIRECTOR: Zack Snyder

SCRIPT: Chris Terrio, David S. Goyer Batman characters by Bob Kane, Bill Finger; Superman character by Jerry Siegel, Joe Shuster)

CINEMATOGRAPHER: Larry Fong

EDITOR: David Brenner

MUSIC: Junkie XL, Hans Zimmer

PRODUCTION DESIGN: Patrick Tatapoulos

RUNNING TIME: 151 minutes

AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Roadshow

AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: March 24, 2016







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