7.7 out of 10
‘Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice’ is a tough nut to crack and is really a tale of two halves. Parts of this film can be a little choppy and hard to follow if you are not among the comic book nerd elite. While other parts of the film are just edge-of-your-seat action overload. Normally, a schizophrenic movie that makes you sigh in the early minutes and gasp with excitement later on, gets hit pretty hard in these reviews. But, darn it, if there isn’t something special about this one.
“Batman v Superman” is a solid comic book film that lays the ground work for more to come.
Any spoilers will be clearly marked so you can avoid reading them if you so choose.
‘Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice’ opens in Baltimore on March 25, 2016.
Also check out Film Examiner Allie Hanley’s consensus article to get an idea what some of Examiner’s top film writers thought.
“Batman v Superman” is exactly what a comic book film should be. It has everything you would want. You will find a number of cool characters with all their unique abilities and powers. You will find awesome gadgets and great special effects. You will even find a love story and some tension-breaking corny lines of dialogue. But, the comic book film attribute that stands out more than the others would be the action scenes. Nowadays, it seems like directors feel they have to go bigger than the films that came before. Cities must be destroyed. Planets must be threatened. Innocents must die. Where “Batman v Superman” prevails is when it steps back from that a little. Sure, it has a couple huge action sequences, but the film really flexes its muscles when it goes small. Like one-on-a-few, or one-on-one fight scenes. These are choreographed brilliantly and are the memorable moments that set this movie apart from its peers.
It is pretty rare that someone or something gets listed in “The Good” and “The Bad” sections of these reviews, but Jesse Eisenberg as Lex Luthor will have that distinction. Eisenberg is a terrific actor. He has more range than many of his peers, and he shines as a villain in this one. He is quirky. He is fun. But, when the time is right, he is evil to the core. Director Zack Snyder took a chance going with someone who looks so young, but it paid off. Eisenberg’s appearance may seem out of place, but his presence fits perfectly.
Most importantly of all: “Batman v Superman” is incredibly entertaining and will please just about every fan of the genre. I can’t speak for the hardcore comic book nerds, because I do not fall in that category. But, for the rest of us, this one is a blast.
Ok, let us get this out of the way since it really is not a problem with the film itself. “Converted IMAX” sucks. It really, really does. I saw this film in 2D converted IMAX. What I mean by that is IMAX that was retrofitted to show in a standard theater, instead of a theater that was built as an IMAX theater. The main problem is the audio, and it was horrendous here. The problem arises with how many channels of audio IMAX has. Each channel sends specific audio to specific speakers. The theory is that if you can get multiple channels coming out of multiple speakers, you can hear more detail. And, when done correctly, that is true. But, virtually every time I go to a converted IMAX, the audio is not correct. This time around, the background, ambient sounds were blasting in my ear while the dialogue was trying to come from the front of the theater. Much of the dialogue was drowned out. There were also times where the dialogue sounded like it was echoing.
So, DO NOT pay the extra money for IMAX unless it is a true IMAX theater. Ok, rant over.
Jesse Eisenberg is fantastic as a villain here. The problem is, his Lex Luthor comes off as an attempt to be The Joker. Seriously, put some make-up on that face and the guy was trying to do a Heath Ledger impression.
The first half of the movie is a bit choppy and confusing. In order to avoid spoilers, not much more can be said. Clearly, there are some things strictly for the hardcore comic fans, and that may be the heart of the confusion. It seems abundantly clear that the longer, director’s cut of this film is going to fill in a lot of gaps (very similar to the underrated Affleck version of “Daredevil”…no seriously, watch the director’s cut, haters).
To be honest, the marketing gave away most of the twists and reveals. All that is left are the “Easter eggs” left behind for the hardcore comic fans to find. This was pretty unnecessary, because we were all going to see this movie anyway; might as well save a few surprises for us.
The Bottom Line
Go see this film. Take a friend. Then, the next day, go again and take a different friend. Just don’t waste your money on IMAX unless you go to a true IMAX theater. “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice” may not set itself apart in a very crowded genre. But, when it shines, it is nearly blinding (interesting turn of phrase considering how dark the film actually is). The first hour or so may be a bumpy ride for moviegoers who are not hardcore comic fans, but the second half of the film more than makes up for the rough start. And pay close attention to the smaller scale fights in this one. They are brilliant.