Warner Bros. 151 minutes PG-13
Ben Affleck and Henry Cavill are pitted batwing vs cape in what is the beginning of a new DC comics franchise. Director Zack Snyder already got his wings making Man of Steel with eternal optimist Superman and says the DC universe is massive and ready to explode.
This time he's gone to the dark side with Batman, played by Ben Affleck. Snyder cast Affleck because he thought it was a good fit. When Affleck asked why, Snyder described his vision of Batman as older, falling apart, completely broken down, and on top of that, morally bankrupt. Perfect!
But even Affleck says both heroes are really after the same thing: the truth. He says both consider themselves good guys, so why are they fighting? Wouldn’t be much a movie if they weren’t.
This film picks up with the issue of collateral damage as it relates to the climactic battle between Superman and General Zod which pretty much destroyed downtown Metropolis and took a lot of innocent lives. (Sound familiar? Look at the news. You may some news types here)
Is Superman as a false God that people will blindly follow. Holly Hunter plays Senator Finch who also questions Superman’s motives. Even if his motives are good, what about the law? Just because he has the power should we set aside the rule of law and just trust him? He’s a good alien but what if not all aliens are good. All that should also sound familiar.
Batman is outraged by Superman’s destruction and seeming disregard for life while saving Earth from Zod. Batman is prompted by Lex Luthor, played by Jesse Eisenberg, as a kind of slapstick, demented tech genius who gets a kick out playing with Superman’s superpowers and Batman’s bad attitude. He gets them all riled up.
Eisenberg says it was fun being a “Narcissistic sociopath.” And that as an actor, it’s really fun, to be able to do all these things you’re not allowed to do because you’d be arrested. At times we found him sort of entertaining. At others, just annoying.
Henry Cavill is a beautiful specimen of a man or superhero. the camera loves him. But the only time he shows any personality is with Lois Lane. One scene, in particular, is actually romantic and cute. After that, it’s all business. He’s too perfect and maybe even a little plastic. His appearance is much too colorful against the backdrop of Metropolis and Batman’s darkness.
His most trusted confidant is his Mom, Martha, played by Diane Lane. She gets a bigger part in this film and gets to show more emotion fearing for her boy, He has the weight of the world on his shoulders. And she gets herself into trouble because of it, too.
Even though Affleck as Batman is super pumped up, he seemed so puffed up that it seemed hard for him to move around like a superhero in that suit. During the first major fight he has with a bunch of thugs, he looked awkward and his punches and kicks looked more like he was on Dancing With the Stars. Way too choreographed. It got better later on. Maybe he had to break in the suit.
Then there’s Batman’s Alfred, now being played by Jeremy Irons. Irons is almost as cranky as Bruce Wayne. He’s more like a crotchety old uncle than his Butler. Irons says he had fun playing with the gadgets Batman is known for, but we were disappointed with the lack of high tech tools and any new accoutrements in the Batmobile. Yes, it’s still a cool ride, but how about some more details? Maybe those are coming. But now has a souped up Batman suit. It appears to be virtually indestructible. But will it hold up against Superman? Better yet, will it hold up with what Lex Luthor throws at both superheroes?
We know Director Snyder has a big screen to fill. Yes, we saw it in IMAX. And Snyder has put together a lot to fill that screen. To his credit, the set up to get up to speed takes a little time, but when things get rolling, the Director pulled out the stops. You get chases, fights, car crashes, explosions, fires, and lots of kryptonite.
The film was shot mostly in Detroit, Michigan, which Affleck says was perfect for its underdog vibe as a city coming back from near destruction. Snyder creates a plethora of special effects on the ground, in the sky and beyond to keep your attention. So much so, you’ll wonder what he’ll have left or come up with in the next film.Actually there are 2 Justice League films in the works and Snyder is credited with writing the story for Part Two.
There are two strong women in this movie. That’s what both Amy Adams as Lois Lane and Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman liked about working with Zack Snyder. He lets the women be strong and important. Although we found it pretty funny when Adams, in captivity, says “I’m not a lady. I’m a Journalist!”
Lois and Superman/Clark Kent continue their love story with the caped crusader arriving just in the nick of time when Adams gets in over her head. This is a very physical role. There’s plenty of running and falling. . They have a couple of cute scenes, but there’s plenty of stress and fear to keep their relationship interesting.
Gadot is striking as the woman with special powers. When she sees what Batman and Superman are fighting for or against, she reluctantly jumps in. We think that her entrance came a bit late in the film. Still her appearance was cheered by the audience at our screening when she finally arrived. The fans were waiting for her. She doesn’t say much. She’s a woman of few words and powerful weapons.
Is it worth your bucks? It feels like Snyder is trying to make grand statements in this movie about the state of the world and religion using the motives of Batman and Superman. They come for truth from different angles. Henry Cavill says we need these wonderful characters to compare ourselves against.
Since this is a big spectacle movie, iMax is a good choice. The opening sequence as Affleck careens through the city with the buildings crashing around him is an impressive grabber. But some of the battle scenes are more uneven, especially played out on the huge screen. Is it a fight to the finish? We think the ultimate showdown between the caped crusaders was not as gut wrenching and fulfilling as it could have been. The big battle Royale when Wonder Woman joins in makes it better. The supersize palette of the screen is filled with great imagery as the action flies back and forth. You could get whiplash. It’s great fantasy entertainment. Besides. Don’t you want to see who wins? We’ll leave it at that.