Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice is more like Batman WITH Superman feat. Wonder Woman: Dawn of Mercy Graves…
Well, those are the elements I can remember best.
The film quickly deals with Batman’s origins, and thankfully quickly, given that Man of Steel took the best part of an hour to do that, and we didn’t need chapter and verse given Christopher Nolan’s trilogy only ended just four years ago with The Dark Knight Rises.
I’m sum up straight that I’m not a follower of comics, and so I just rely on the films to entertain me and tell the story. And what I got from this one is that the animosity between the two leads is down to a basic misunderstanding. It begins during the end of Man of Steel, with Bruce Wayne (now Ben Affleck) spotting Superman (Henry Cavill) and General Zod (Michael Shannon) smashing up a number of building. Alas, since Gotham City is suddenly now placed right next door to Metropolis, it’s going to lead to him having to put in an insurance claim later in the day, as well as attending a number of funerals for many of his staff.
Cut to 18 months later, and there’s a Russian called Anatoli Knyazev (Callan Mulvey), a ship called the White Portuguese carrying something untoward, and a to-do in Juárez, based around lives in danger at the Day of the Dead carnival, which makes me wonder if that was meant to be caused by James Bond after he fired the rocket launcher in Spectre. And this is all part of the problem because the whole film is just so bitty. It has two-and-a-half hours to attempt to tell a story, yet doesn’t even manage that. It ends up being less a film and more a mass of disjointed set pieces.
Okay, so far, so negative, but there WERE some things I liked about it. Firstly, while the initial trailer I watched looked pretty dull, my interest was piqued with the second one, which featured plenty from both Jesse Eisenberg putting in a nicely comic turn as Lex Luthor, and Gal Gadot (above) as Wonder Woman – prior to her 2017 movie release. I was pleased that if anyone was going to be a bit madcap whilst also managing to look like a businessman, he made a good fist of it. I also enjoyed his Blanche DuBois-esque line about ‘depending on the kindness of monsters’.
My only experience of Wonder Woman was Lynda Carter in the ’70s TV series. Back then, her outfit was definitely of its time, all gung-ho American flag stylee, but Ms Gadot’s goes for a much darker look and fits in with dark tone that a lot of Marvel/DC films are starting to aim for.
But moreso than our Gal, I did enjoy the appearance, albeit not doing an awful lot, of the stunning Tao Okamoto (below) as Luthor’s personal assistant and bodyguard, Mercy Graves. She didn’t have a lot to say, and certainly didn’t get to do any bodyguarding, but for me, she stole any scene in which she appeared. Like I said earlier, I’m not one for comics, so I looked up the character afterwards and saw that she’s well versed in hand-to-hand combat and kickboxing, yet there was NONE of that here. Perhaps, based on what I’ve read, she could make a comeback in next year’s Justice League movie? And a quick spoiler heading about my reasoning…
Go to page 2 for more good thoughts about this film (while they last)…
And the thing I liked most about this film, and which led me to see it in IMAX, is that the Odeon in Manchester was showing it in 70mm IMAX – one of the few cinemas to project it in that format. There’s only a handful of prints doing the rounds in the UK, albeit a lot more than the THREE 70mm IMAX prints available for Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens – none of which were available to this Odeon.
What’s the difference? Well, normally, this – and a lot of such films, only get projected in a ratio of 2.35:1. Most IMAX cinemas are digital-only so their screen can only open up to 1.90:1 at most. Those capable of 70mm IMAX can open up to a full height of 1.44:1, which is almost the same as 4:3, the way TVs used to be when I was growing up in the ’70s and ’80s – at a time when I was so sick of 2.35:1 movies being cropped to 4:3 and with no way to watch them properly for most of this time. Yet now, with Channel 4 routinely showing such films properly, plus BBC1 doing it a lot more, and with ITV and Channel 5 only doing it through gritted teeth because it’s the only print they can get and they’d rather dumb down to the mental capacity of a person who’s had a frontal lobotomy and show 16:9 at most (The Hobbit in 16:9, ITV? Even John McEnroe couldn’t believe you were serious!!), it’s amazing that 1.44:1 feels like the future.
Alas, not many films are made this way because the film stock is running out. And Warner Brothers bought up any remaining stock, hence why the only films we’ve seen use it in recent years are Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight, The Dark Knight Rises, Interstellar and now this one. Check out the Blu-ray releases of these films and – because most TVs are 16:9 these days – the picture opens up to that ratio at most, so we’re still missing a chunk of the picture. They could place black bars at the sides of the screen and show the film as it was shot, but then people would be complaining about that, and there’s never anything HUGELY vital that gets cut off (although with one scene in this movie, it will lose out a lot of the effects – more on this shortly) so, basically, the only time you’re going to get the full deal is by going to see it in the cinema. And I ended up seeing it on the final day of its run at Manchester Printworks, but if you can catch it elsewhere and if you’re an IMAX geek like me, do so.
So, what scenes get the IMAX treatment? I’ll try to be spoiler-free as I explain.
There are four – the opening credits up until Bruce Wayne just stepping off his chopper (f’nar, f’nar), a flashback to World War II (I think), and while the last one is the closing section of the film, the penultimate one is when the two leads go for some fisticuffs, although it comes across more like a pathetic bar-room brawl.
Oh, and 70mm IMAX is film, and film attracts dust and dirt sometimes. I spotted a hair in the gate towards the end of the final scene, but hey, it’s film. It happens. You live with it. Remember reel changes? I do. However, Laser IMAX is coming. Eventually. Some cinemas have it already, and hopefully this one will before long. It would mean that you can have the benefits of 1.44:1 presentations without the need to fight over the last 70mm print in the country.
And a spoiler alert for where the hair appeared…
Note that this presentation was also in 2D. As far as I’m aware, no 70mm IMAX screenings are in 3D. However, given that this is one of those films that was NOT made in 3D, with the format applied in post-production, you’re missing nothing. In fact, I’m seeing less and less 3D films, generally. It was used brilliantly in Gravity, The Walk, Life of Pi and Prometheus, to name but four, but most of the time it’s best avoided.
And let’s round off this review with some more moans about the movie.
Bruce Wayne was so high and mighty about Superman smashing up buildings early on, yet when they get to their fight, he thinks nothing more of returning the favour with smashing up the building they’re in! Hello, Mr Pot, meet Mr Kettle(!)
And to that extent, it did feel stupid that Superman’s often seen going all out just to rescue one individual, yet in Man of Steel – and so the opening of this movie – shows he’s happy to ignore the public in peril because he’s too busy smashing into buildings with Zod. But then, this is Zack Snyder, so it’s not meant to make sense.
Batman V Superman features hardly any humour, and many of the characters are little-used. I enjoyed Jesse’s Lex Luthor, yet, he didn’t feel in it a huge amount. Similarly, Amy Adams doesn’t get a lot to do despite being one of the main characters. They tried to fit in too much, here, and not enough of it pays off.
Oh, and it was also stupid that the Batmobile can bounce off Superman, but a knife can plunge into his chest? Wha??
Last time, we saw a bare-chested Henry Cavill, and this time we get a bare-chested Ben Affleck. When are we going to get a bare-chested Amy Adams? And why didn’t we get a bare-chested Tao Okamoto? The modern film industry is so sexist…
And there’s nothing after the end credits. We’re used to post-credits scenes with Marvel movies, so I assumed that DC Comics would treat us to the same. Then again, they didn’t with Man of Steel. Here, all I’ll say is that the final frames would’ve been neat for a post-credit snatch, but no…
Finally, about this film, there’s a rumour that the Blu-ray will be an extended R-rating in the US (so, a 15-cert over here). That would indiciate that it’s more violent, but while I’d normally wait for the full version, and since I had to see this for the 1.44:1 70mm IMAX scenes, I think I’ve seen enough of these two bonehead punching each other into next week.
Next up is Suicide Squad, released in the UK on August 5th, but while the trailer makes it look way too violent for a 12-cert, I was hoping it would be an uncut 15-cert, especially since Deadpool proved such a success with that rating. However, Warner Bros were expecting this film would take $1bn worldwide very quickly, yet after three weeks, it’s raked in $800m, so it’s underperformed, for them, and the bad word of mouth it’s had probably means that Suicide Squad will be dumbed down for teenagers. Oh dear…
You can also buy the Deluxe 2-CD Limited Edition Soundtrack, and click on the poster for the full-size image.
Running time: 151 minutes
Studio: Warner Brothers
Format: 2.35:1 (Digital Intermediate (4K), Anamorphic Panavision, Panavision Super 70, Super 16), 2.20:1 (70 mm version), 1.90:1 (some scenes: IMAX digital version), 1.44:1 (some scenes: IMAX 70 mm and Laser versions)
Released: March 25th 2016
Director: Zack Snyder
Producers: Simon Kinberg, Ryan Reynolds and Lauren Shuler Donner
Screenplay: Chris Terrio and David S Goyer (based on Batman created by Bob Kane and Bill Finger, and Superman created by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster)
Music: Junkie XL and Hans Zimmer
Bruce Wayne/Batman: Ben Affleck
Clark Kent/Superman: Henry Cavill
Lois: Amy Adams
Lex Luthor: Jesse Eisenberg
Martha Kent: Diane Lane
Perry White: Laurence Fishburne
Alfred Pennyworth: Jeremy Irons
Senator Finch: Holly Hunter
Diana Prince/Wonder Woman: Gal Gadot
Wallace Keefe: Scoot McNairy
Anatoli Knyazev: Callan Mulvey
Mercy Graves: Tao Okamoto
Young Bruce Wayne: Brandon Spink
Martha Wayne: Lauren Cohan
Wayne Industries Pilot #1: Alan D Purwin
Jack O’Dwyer: Mark Edward Taylor
Wayne Industries Pilot #2: Hugh Maguire
Zod: Michael Shannon
Sage: Ripley Sobo
Jimmy Olsen: Michael Cassidy
Emmet Vale: Ralph Lister
Jenny: Rebecca Buller
Swanwick: Harry Lennix
Major Farris: Christina Wren
LeBlanc – Library President: Nicole Forester
Reviewer of movies, videogames and music since 1994. Aortic valve operation survivor from the same year. Running DVDfever.co.uk since 2000. Nobel Peace Prize winner 2021.
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