Thursday, 28 May 2020

Batman V Superman: Dawn Of Justice Ultimate Edition (2016)

In honor of The Snyder Cut being released on HBO Max next year, I decided to revisit Zack Snyder's previous effort in the DCEU(DC Extended Universe). The Ultimate Edition was chosen as the story is fully fleshed out and is generally viewed as better than the theatrical cut. Having seen both, I agree.

After the events of Man Of Steel(2013), the world has changed. A God by the name of Superman flies around, and the people of the world either totally love him or despite him. With the 24 hour news cycle reporting on his actions daily, and political perspectives looking at it, all eyes are on him. Bruce Wayne, who has been operating as the Dark Knight for decades witnessed the destruction caused by Superman's battle with Zod on the ground, which resulted in one of his buildings with several of his employees dying inside. His fears, compounded with years of facing humanity's worst criminals in Gotham have changed him.

The film opening with the death of Bruce's parents may seem counter-intuitive at first, but it holds importance to this story beyond the "Martha" connection. This was the first moment where Bruce felt complete hopelessness. Now, as the Dark Knight, his actions have gotten more aggressive, killing criminals, and branding others if he deems that person should die. Clark Kent tries to focus his efforts on bringing attention to Batman's actions, though his boss Perry White isn't interested in publishing it, and frankly, it doesn't completely take Clark's mind off things.

After saving Lois from African insurgents, he is accused of killing several innocent men with his heat vision, but it was really caused by mercenaries who are employed by Lex Luthor, who has a complex plan to either turn the world against Superman or kill him, manipulating both the heroes, as well as political figures to gain access to Zod's Kryptonian ship for his experiments involving Kryptonite.

Superman and Batman's story arcs in this film are great as they run in parallel with each other. Superman has vowed to protect mankind, but mankind has let their fears question his choices, and view him as a threat. He sees that Batman's actions are seemingly applauded by the police, causing more resentment between the two of them. This isn't the classic Superman story that we are used to. This universe is supposed to closely resemble ours, and our world isn't as hopeful as we wish it was. Skepticism runs inside everyone.

Ben Affleck is pitch-perfect as The Dark Knight. He is an intimidating on-screen presence and you can see why the criminals of Gotham are afraid of him. His Bruce Wayne is the perfect mask. He displays charisma and confidence that is associated with the character perfectly. Henry Cavill continues to prove that his interpretation of Superman is worth the price of admission. His character's journey in becoming the character we all know is compelling the watch in the real-world setting. I just wish we got a bit more of his Clark Kent. This film favors Batman more. With the time on screen she is given, Gal Gadot makes the most of it, stealing each scene she is in. I recommend watching her solo film after this.

The action set pieces are memorable. In previous incarnations, Batman's fight scenes features him with stiff movements. No longer. The warehouse scene is one of the best hand to hand combat scenes I have ever watched. It was reminiscent of the Arkham video games. Despite winning, the fight had little touches to show that Batman is still human, such as him getting stabbed by one of the goons. The Batmobile chase scene is brutal and jawdropping. The titular fight between our two heroes is like a heavy gladiator match. You feel the weight of each punch. I have to say that in the final battle with our Trinity about to face off against Doomsday, it felt like a moment ripped straight from the comics.

DC films always come up with a memorable score, and this film is certainly no exception. Hans Zimmer and Junkie XL work well together here. The themes from Man Of Steel return for great dramatic effect. Two memorable pieces for me are "The Red Capes Are Coming", which serves as Lex Luthor's theme, and "Is She With You?", which has since become Wonder Woman's theme in her subsequent appearances.

One con is the franchise setup. As cool as it was to see those characters in live-action for the first time, it didn't bear much relevance to the main story. If it had to be in the film, it should have been a post-credits scene.

I honestly think that this is Zack Snyder's best work. This film offered a compelling narrative that gave a new challenge to two idols of pop culture: having them reassess their purpose in the world.

A standout superhero film with a unique story, brilliant performances, top tier effects, and creative vision, Batman v Superman deserves the passionate debates it led to.


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