I was not a fan of The Dark Knight Rises. It was too long, too depressing, and the story did not flow very well. In contrast, and despite its problems, I enjoyed Man of Steel for the most part. So, I was very cautious when I decided to go see Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice as I didn’t know what to expect.
The story in the film is pretty straight-forward: Bruce Wayne (played by Ben Affleck) blames Superman (Henry Cavill) for the deaths and injuries caused during the fight with Zod at the end of Man of Steel. Superman considers Batman to be a dangerous vigilante. Eventually, they meet up and slug it out near the end of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.
The first problem comes in how long it takes to tell the story. While all the scenes in the film provide useful information toward resolving the conflict by the end, there are scenes which should have been trimmed mercilessly in order to tighten up the flow. There were multiple scenes of Bruce bemoaning this or that, moping about his parents, or having nightmares about Superman turning evil. With judicious editing, just those scenes could have been tightened to remove about 20-30 minutes from the film (which is 151 minutes long).
Other than the extended moping, Affleck did a great job as Batman/Bruce Wayne. After the travesty that was Daredevil, and not really liking most of what he’s done since (I haven’t seen everything, but most of it didn’t interest me), I went into Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice hopeful but not expecting too much. I now think he has done one of the best jobs portraying this character. I think it’s a toss-up between Affleck here and Christian Bale in Batman Begins.
Cavill was pretty much the same as in Man of Steel. He did a good job, but I find this version of Superman to be too brooding—almost like he’s channeling Batman. He highlights one of the major faults in most of the recent DC Comics adaptations: they try to make them too serious and dark. Superheroes are supposed to be about hope, yet this film had very little hope in it.
Another part of the problem was with the muted color palette (see the poster, above). Everything in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice was desaturated too much, like it was filmed through a thin, gray fog. The costumes were very well designed and looked great, but were also too dark. Just a little more color saturation, with a little brightness thrown in for good measure, would have improved things immensely.
One of the bright, shining lights in the film was Diana Prince (Gal Gadot). Whether at the party or fighting evil, she brought a strength of purpose to the film. She helped to offset the brooding and general moping of the two main characters. I think she was an excellent choice for the role, and she is a worthy successor to Lynda Carter to portray Wonder Woman, the valiant daughter of Zeus.
Despite all the negative points, I found Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice to be a vast improvement over The Dark Knight Rises. The focus was better, and I enjoyed the film more than I thought I would. Even with it feeling too long, every scene was packed with information that gave depth to the film. If you like Superman and Batman, I have no problem recommending this film as reasonably solid.
Release Date: March 25, 2016 (USA)
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Alcohol/Drugs: 2 (Bruce drinks a lot, social drinking at parties)
Language: 2 (some stronger language, a lot of mild expletives)
Nudity: 1 (bath scene with Lois with a fair amount of skin shown, naked woman in bed with Bruce)
Sexuality: 2 (above bath and bed scenes, some innuendo)
Violence: 4 (brutal violence, death)