*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Criminal mastermind Lex Luthor, obsessed with defeating Superman, manipulates Batman into preemptively battling him.
Despite its short comings director Zack Snyder (Man of Steel and The Dawn of the Dead remake) offers a brooding intelligent take on the seminal figures of our 20th century pop culture. Ben Affleck is surprising perfect as the aged Batman and Henry Cavill once again proves he is rightly another generations Superman. While slightly out of place Jesse Eisenberg does his best at putting a new spin on Lex Luthor. Diane Lane, Amy Adams, Laurence Fishburne and Kevin Costner return and Amy’s Lois Lane gets more to do in this installment.
Jeremy Irons’ limited screen time is welcomed but with its excessive running time both Holly Hunter and Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman are underused. DC fans will be pleased as Snyder and writers Chris Terrio and David S. Goyer slip in live-action portrayals of Aquaman, Cyborg and the Flash. The film’s plot twists are interesting and include the killing off of some main characters, the plot also includes Man of Steels’ Zod. However, disappointingly once again the hero’s face off with the typical effects-driven, end level bad guy in the closing act, smothering a potentially powerful story. Its also crammed with overt man versus god references.
Snyder thankfully though offers a fittingly dark toned grim whirlwind with a visual grandeur thanks to Larry Fong’s cinematography. Notable are a few edgy jarring dream sequences. Wonder Woman’s untold story with a Belgium 1918 photograph peaks interest. Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice pays tribute to the characters’ roots, offering great modern incarnations of them but Dawn of Justice loses momentum by the end with a clichéd effects driven Doomsday battle.
Additional Note: The Ultimate Edition of Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice has 30 minutes of extra footage, while it doesn’t change the comments above, there more of our heroes and violence- notably in the opening of Alfred’s narration is replaced with Bruce Wayne. You see more of Bruce’s father. The North Africa sequence plays out differently with the following conspiracy investigation aspect, framing of Superman and bomb aftermath expanded. This clarifies character motivations and actions. And dots the I and crosses T’s on logistics. The ending is longer, but this doesn’t necessary works as it puts some editing issues around Lanes character actions and burial timings. Nevertheless, the extra half hour gives the film a more epic feel akin to The Dark Knight.