Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice the title itself gives us a lot of information about what the movie is setting up. If you are familiar with the comics world that characters like Batman and Superman inhabit you know that they become part of a super-team called The Justice League. So in Hollywood terms this is a ‘backdoor pilot’ to that whole universe.
But at its core this movie is about Batman seeking closure for the destruction caused by Superman’s fight with General Zod in the previous movie Man of Steel. You see Batman, aka Bruce Wayne (Ben Affleck) doesn’t believe that someone as all-powerful as Superman (Henry Cavill) will use his powers for good alone. This is a belief shared by Alexander Luthor (Jesse Eisenberg) the youthful billionaire who has his own reasons for wanting to pit The Dark Knight against the Last Son of Krypton. So bad things keep happening even though characters like Wayne’s butler Alfred (Jeremy Irons), Superman’s lady love Lois Lane (Amy Adams) and the mysterious Diana Prince (Gal Gadot) keep trying to contribute towards bringing things on an even keel between the superhero representatives of Gotham and Metropolis.
But this would not be a movie—a comics-inspired move at that—if the forces of evil weren’t dominant for a large part of the movie. So evil machinations abound, and as the trailers have shown us already Doomsday is the Big Bad that adds to the chaos surrounding Batman and Superman.
Mr. Affleck and Mr. Cavill play their parts with clenched jaws and bunched fists, and in a movie like this one, set in the dour universe Christopher Nolan introduced us to in 2005 with Batman Begins that is often enough. Some of the more ‘human’ interactions leave a lot to be desired in terms of dialogue as well as emoting but that is something I’m largely inured to because it is pretty much the same in the Marvel movies as well. Mr. Eisenberg is weakest link in this narrative and it bothers me that he is playing Superman’s arch-nemesis. His performance consists of little more than a series of twitches and pronouncements by a guy who seems to think Luthor in the Nolanverse would just be the amalgamation of all the evil inside every 20-something tech billionaire currently running around Silicon Valley.
Zack Snyder is back in the director’s chair for this movie and it is another muscular outing for the filmmaker. When those two comics legends fight you feel it through a mixture of choreography and sound design. Several scenes look great and go beyond their usefulness in providing trailer fodder but there are also some scenes and sub-plots that we could have done without. It is clear that the director along with screenwriters Chris Terrio and David S. Goyer are trying to cram in a lot with this one film. And it is a decent ride – I was watching this in a cinema at 10:00 a.m. with several kids in attendance, and I didn’t hear a peep out of the audience for the duration of the film. Which is a rarity in India where the goings-on on a cinema screen are treated in the same way as a television screen providing background noise to their lives at home.
Final Analysis: I was engaged during Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice’s run time, and it felt visually more interesting than Man of Steel. That said this movie did not whet my appetite for the further adventures of Batman, Superman and the rest of the Justice League.