'Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice'
Director: Zack Snyder
Cast: Ben Affleck, Henry Cavill, Amy Adams, Jesse Eisenberg, Gal Gadot, Jeremy Irons, Ray Fisher, Jason Momoa
A still from 'Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice'. Pic/Santa Banta
The much-awaited DC comics extended combo-franchise universe that heralds the origins of ‘The Justice League’ has the ‘Man of Steel’ taking on the ‘Dark Knight’ in a contrived circumstance that belittles the entire exercise. That’s not to say that you don’t get your fill of your favourite superheroes in full on action. There’s plenty of that happening here, rest assured.
Superman a.k.a Clark Kent (Henry Cavill) appears to have taken on a darker hue at least in public perception. In an apparent set-up to defame the superhero - he reacts to his fiancée, roving reporter of the The Daily Planet, Metropolis, Lois Lane (Amy Adams) being put in danger by rebel forces in Africa and while in the attempt to rescue her, there happens to be collateral damage - Which a large number of his once-upon-a-time fans from the US are holding him responsible for. A public hearing is set and archenemy Lex Luthor (Jesse Eisenberg) has his heart set on putting Superman in the dock. A bomb detonates and on the other side, Gotham city, Batman (Ben Affleck) begins to believe that Superman has gone rogue and deserves to be stopped. The confrontation doesn’t last long because there’s much more at stake than just the apparent goodness of two superheroes. That’s when Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot) steps in.
‘Man of Steel’ was disappointing while ‘Dark Knight Returns’ had its own issues. So, Warner Bros’ embarking on this combo effort as a face saving precursor to ‘The Justice League’ was pretty much on the cards. Most fans of both the superheroes were curious, though not quite ecstatic of the new developments. But with a concerted marketing strategy and repeated plugs on social media, the buzz caught on fast and furious and people actually started expecting something more from this confrontationist exercise in storyline extension. The result is eye pleasing if not entirely satisfying.
Bruce Wayne a.k.a Batman’s back story, devastating attacks on the Metropolis by alien ships, Lois Lane in the midst of an ambush in far flung Africa, The Man of Steel’s defamation brought on by a mega corp’s attempt to take control of the world and Batman’s brooding about his responsibilities to humankind, legacy and future course take up quite a lot of runtime as setup. The exposition is quite fleetingly represented in scattered shifts between Gotham, Metropolis and Lex Luthor’s shenanigans. And there’s not much time to develop the story enough to plausibly justify the face-off between the two superheroes. That they have to come together before the final shocker is expected and happens as par for the course.
The reasoning is not strong even though the screenwriters Chris Terrio (‘Argo’) and David S. Goyer, (all three of Christopher Nolan's Dark Knight blockbusters), try to factor in issues of conflict - which could have been better fleshed out by becoming a little more incisively contentious. Jesse Eisenberg’s brand of villainy as Lex Luthor appears to be fashioned on the Shah Rukh Khan model of overacting and it’s quite irritating and out-of-place in the film. The overall excitement is therefore stymied. The non-linear spiel, though busy and fervently active, doesn’t quite enchant because of the frequent back and forth cutting that doesn’t allow for extended concentration. With the central conflict looking forced and out-of-place especially when there’s an irritating villain scheming in the shadows, waiting to be vanquished. The tonal template here is much darker than what Snyder designed for ‘Man of Steel’ and that’s a good thing surely. Patrick Tatopoulos' gloomy production design, a bleakly haunting score by Nolan regular Hans Zimmer with collaborator Junkie KC, add weight to the overwhelming feeling of impending doom. The suits look different too and that evolution is credit worthy. Add to that strong performances by Ben Affleck, Henry Cavill, Amy Adams, Laurence Fishburne and Jeremy Irons, which makes this a far more serious effort no doubt - unfortunately it’s weighed down by a severe lack of credibility in story. Which is in fact much more than the fans expected. So there won’t really be disappointment on that front.
Watch the trailer of 'Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice'