Cine Reviews: ‘Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice’ (2016)

Well, the red capes have arrived…

Fearing the actions of Superman are left unchecked, Batman takes on the man of steel, while the world wrestles with what kind of a hero it really needs. With Batman and Superman fighting each other, a new threat, Doomsday, is created by Lex Luthor. It’s up to Superman and Batman to set aside their differences along with Wonder Woman to stop Lex Luthor and Doomsday from destroying Metropolis. 

Batman v Superman is the pseudo-sequel to 2013’s Man of Steel and at the same time a Batman reboot.Also, it kind of serves as an epic prelude to Justice League. Now, was that too much to handle?

Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice is finally hitting the big screens this week, and we got the chance to see it early. The time has finally come and the battle had just begun. God vs Man, Day vs Night. We waited for this for days and nights, but was this theatrical battle enough to blow us away with all its might?

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To be frank, BvS is still a great comic book movie in its own right but like any film of its kind, there are still marks of errors. Zack Snyder indeed corrected his wrongs, yet he still seemed to  overlook the shortcomings and mistakes from his own excitement. However, he did all of those for a good reason – to give us something more impressive than his last.
Easily said, this sequel/reboot is already a better movie than Man of Steel was in so many ways. Zack Snyder conjured a follow-up that managed to trump down its predecessor – almost close to shaming it. It shrugs the previous film off its shoulders, yet it tends to NOT realize its own shortcomings. Then again, it knows when and how to focus even if it tends to occasionally aim at the wrong directions. There is so much to the story and a lot was happening in it. Some good can be enjoyed from it deeply – partly due to the introduction of new characters and strongly emphasized themes. However, there were still certain areas which felt the need to hang in the balance with total precision. With so much going around, it tends to hop on Marvel Studios’ bandwagon in terms of “exhilarating” and utterly “geeky” storytelling, and for that it almost even feels like such. It could be taken into both good and bad context, but sadly the latter becomes a little more noticeable.

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The feeling that you get from watching it all unfold before your eyes is truly thrilling, but it was not easy to ignore the flaws that it couldn’t even seem to recognize for its own good. They don’t necessarily make the movie less entertaining nor dull, but unfortunately it managed to look like an indulgent “overkill”. The upside being, is that there were still so many great moments for the comic book fans to totally embrace even if they look too superfluous for the others. There is truth to the “overstuffed” statement it makes, yet it still seemed to know how to manage itself for some time – up until it goes wild and crazy for our own pleasure. Admittedly, you can feel that it couldn’t handle itself anymore. To deal with that, it tries to be confident and flashy with its insane visuals and rousing action scenes. This again becomes obvious, but then again you just try to roll with whatever gimmick it gets along with.

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Now, apparently there is also a downside here. Yes they might have been a treat for the ears and the eyes but still, maybe it would’ve been more electrifying if it knew how to lower its volume down if one were to speak about its rambunctious visuals.  This is a misstep from Man of Steel that gets stepped on once again, but thankfully it ended up being only a minor obstacle. It didn’t crush its bravado too much, and fortunately it managed to stay that way by not getting in the ways of its enthrallment. Flaws and all, the director behind it still knew what to do with the film’s immense scope. Its greatness clearly differs from that of Nolan’s The Dark Knight Trilogy, but that should not be seen as an undermining effect. Snyder actually was still able to do an exceptional job, and he made the film in his own victorious ways most of the time. He played with the mammoth concept, and he played it very well in his own wonderful arena of zesty amazement – but only if one were to try disregarding the frailty management of subplots.

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To speak the truth, the subplots were all very well fascinating. It’s just that on several occasions, they felt like they were being pushed beyond they extent simply because of the manner they came out to be. But to shed light on its more positive side, it is a great thing for BvS to keep both of its eyes on Batman and Superman – never letting the characters subjugate one another. Ben Affleck and Henry Cavill were a great tandem and  both of their character arcs were chaotically involving and are loaded with big twists and shocking surprises at every turn. But what stands out higher than the others is how surprisingly emotional it all was. Adding to that are Cavill’s manipulative facial expressions and Affleck’s specific depiction of the Batlets you sense the danger that they are facing. Ben Affleck was truly capable of giving a new tasteful take on this beloved hero in the form of grime and a different kind of seriousness and it turned out to be a total success. Alhough it could be shocking, it is relieving to find out that Zack Snyder didn’t spare anything to make it faithful to the Batman that comic book fans knew. Fans of Superman though should not worry, as he is given so much character depth that. Henry Cavill did a better job in here than he did in the last, though it is hard to say if he was perfect for the role or not. Notwithstanding his shortcomings though, the characterization given to him is broader. In the film, he even goes on a stormy pensive to question his actions. A little bit of realism is inserted in that aspect, and it makes us care for these characters specially when the going gets rough.

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TA-DA!

You can tell from the looks and feels of it that it explosively goes in its own way, creating both a Batman and Superman that is equally unique and fresh. Yet there are still so many characters that stemmed out, making the film try to do its best to harmonize them all in synchronicity. To each of them, different themes both dark and sentimental are gathered in. Lex Luthor and Jesse Eisenberg’s portrayal of him adds a sinister peculiarity to this rather gloomy mix that results to entertaining whimsicality. It was just so oddly satisfying seeing Jesse going loony and just get into character for the film’s entire duration. While he was pretty good as Lex, there is a specific point in the film where you feel like he is the instigator who makes the battle possible. Almost serving as nothing more to the story but that. Henceforth, making himself just a decent antagonist who makes the madness happen in the end. His character and how he is written into the story is also what makes the main event (Batman against Superman) quite unsatisfiable since the amount of time spent on it was inadequate. Why, you ask? Because the writers thought it was a wise decision to show us very LITTLE of the fight and MORE of the team-up against a monstrous villain. Also, because it wanted to get onto Marvel-levels of excitement by throwing Avengers-like fits in terms of jamming all of the stuff right in. But still, Eisenberg kept us gleeful with his portrayal. So that’s that. Oh, and one more thing: Gal Gadot as Diana Prince almost stole the show. She was just so good in those brief but pleasing moments. But still, there are still so many characters in the film that felt the need for better juggling.

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In terms of atmosphere, Batman v Superman was almost was reminiscent of the director’s previous work “Watchmen” with all the meatier themes thrown in. Moreover, the emotional highs that it sets compliments well to the elevated grittiness. This aspect gets contrasted perfectly in the two heroes; depicting them with agreeable justice. The image of heroism that they project are close to realism with the perplexity of the situation they are in. This is where a socio-political element comes in and it never fails to remember the heroes’stand in the world. A hefty amount of their moments are rooted in tension, and there are amazing factors that contribute well to their weight. In the process, an amazingly human superhero story gets crafted; making us care for what doom they will face. Perhaps the one it has molded is equally  emotional and action-packed, although it still left few stains that you’d wish they could have washed out in order for it to stamp a huge mark on the genre. Nonetheless, it still puts you into a cinematic experience that plays with the feelings and grips you to your seat at various degrees. What it does is something worthy of being commended, and it deserves to be. Most specially considering that it was accomplished brilliantly by the equal servings of Batman and Superman’s arcs. Whether you love it or hate it, in the end, it all becomes a matter of perspective on how you see the stylish wonders that it brings to the big screen.

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It is quite safe to say that it is a polarizing film. What comic book fans will drool over might just give a little annoyance and frustration to moviebuffs – which is quite provable. It does overflow with geeky bits, but the pieces that we get tend to become overwhelming. Almost a little too much for our liking. However, viewers should also take into consideration that Zack Snyder is no miracle worker in delivering a heavenly masterful comic-book movie (except Watchmen). No offense was meant there, but one should realize that they better get prepared for what Zack’s about to bring. What he has shown and done is just right and proper. He may have NOT mastered the film’s direction, but he achieved what he had to do. His will to make up for his mistakes in Man of Steel is evident, and it is indeed worthy of a kudos. The efforts exerted served a lot of enthusiastically amusing moments and it brings out the geek in comic book fans. Thankfully enough, they still even managed to keep picky cinephiles pleased from all the thunderous happenings in the fusion of its various spotlights.

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To rest this case, it could still be said that lowering down its noise would make for an underwhelming offering. If you try to look at it that way, it becomes so and it would only make itself look more disappointing than it came out to be. The breathtaking amounts of gratifying generosity Snyder put into it might be arguably excessive and even falls short for some, but one should take note that the bottom-line here is that there are various levels of enjoyment to be put in from the very moment it all begins. I won’t go into spoiler territory, but I will say this: there is indeed too much build-up to the “big fight” between the titular heroes that it keeps us roaring for more. Unlike how it all sounds, the latter statement actually places it a little closer to the negative side of things. Where the film focuses on in its climax is wrongly tended to in spite of it looking all glorious and such. As a side dish to the mayhem, it tries to use an emotional twist which wrecks one’s feelings in order to make up for its deficiencies. But still, we wanted the entirety of that moment to greatly pay off since it has been a long time coming. What comes next though is an array of hugely expanded action bits that somehow soared with emotions and thrills.

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That is part of the reason why its bigger flaws remained quite small, for BvS is surprisingly affecting. This is one superhero movie that will water your eyes, and it doesn’t do it awkwardly nor clumsily. It shows a different side to these superheroes through their humane morals and principles as well as their cause. Again, something that the film paid attention to heavily. Things do get blown into large proportions and they both are good and bad equally. It is easy to take it for what it is, because it is not underwhelming nor appalling whatsoever. Its flaws are small holes that do prevent it from being a total masterpiece, yet again these holes also let in some fun moments for us to devour. It just amounts to us winning in the resplendently wonderful splendor from what we see onscreen. Even if they are in fact glitched up in the eyes of some. However, I just wouldn’t go as far as saying that BvS is a corpulent clutter of large-scaled frenzied, chaotic fan service. It certainly is a bit of a mess, but at least it knew how to cover it up to make us almost forget about its narrative and filmic defects. Moreover, the passionate sincerity that Snyder applies to both the film and the main story  is palpable.

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There is distinction and tactful flavors that is thrust into it, and Snyder’s cinematic service is one that makes our senses go completely berserk. It  knows how to go out with an explosive bang, and for that you have just got to admire it for raking in a lot of the good stuff. This is Zack Snyder’s work, and this is his take on the Batman v Superman story. I can personally say that it was stunning most of the times, and it was very enjoyable – specially in IMAX 3D. The characters and story could’ve used a little more glue, but overall it was still quite splendid. Just don’t go in expecting The Dark Knight because you certainly won’t get that. That may have been a miracle, but BvS is a rather meritorious cinematic endowment manufactured by the hands of those seeking to give pleasure to fans of the source material.

Rating:

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(You see?)

* Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice opens in Philippine cinemas on Black Saturday, March 26 from Warner Bros. Pictures. See it in IMAX 3D, 3D and 4DX.

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