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Refuge Reviews- Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice

Batman v. Superman is a behemoth of a film, no doubt, but also one that fulfills it's mission to deliver two of the most popular superheroes of all time to the big screen.

Henry Cavill returns to the role of Superman as the hero is dealing with the backlash of the battle with General Zod in 2013's Man of Steel. Countless innocents lost their lives and Batman is none too pleased with that. Ben Affleck takes up the cape and cowl of the Dark Knight in a fantastic performance amid his controversial casting. He delivers a powerful and haunted performance that could lead to him becoming the greatest Batman on-screen we have had yet. The one choice I dislike regarding Batman is that he now kills criminals, which goes against his code in past incarnations and in the comics. 

As these 2 titans prepare to face off, a number of other characters are introduced somewhat laboriously over this 2 1/2 hour film. Amy Adams returns as Daily Planet reporter Lois Lane, who is not be much more then a damsel in distress but Diana Prince aka Wonder Woman, arguably the most famous female superhero of all time is fantastic. Gal Gadot's Diana just might be the best part of this movie, stealing every scene she is in, though her role in it is fairly small. It gets you excited to see the full standalone film starring the Amazonian princess when it releases next year. Faring less well is Jesse Eisenberg's Lex Luthor, who is a twitchy atheist that spouts melodramatic lines and acts nothing like the cool and calculating Luthor we know from the comics and past incarnations on screen. He does nothing but irritate with his presence in this film.

The film also tries to set up the entire DC Cinematic Universe in one fell swoop, so expect a ton of references to and cameo appearances from a number of DC Comics characters in this film including more then a few that are gratuitously out of place. Which brings up the editing which is not good. This beast of a film is chock full of disparate scenes that seem barely strung together and in no way seem organic. We jump from character to character seemingly at random particularly during the first hour and a half, which is almost all set-up for the 45 minutes of action that ends the film. The film does open strong though, with a somber flashback to Batman's parents, before revealing his role in the battle from Man of Steel. Unfortunately that momentum is lost when we follow a handful of side stories intermixed with the main rivalry between Batman and Superman. How is the action at the end though? And does it make the first half worth it? Short answer? Yes, at least for me. This is some of the best looking and intense action I have seen in a superhero movie and it is decidedly brutal. The trailers have shown most of these scenes in part and they are well-choreographed and showcase the 3 main hero's styles well, especially Batman. He uses aggressive fighting moves and his repertoire of gadgets and vehicles to stop the baddies as well as a little help from his loyal butler, Alfred. (played with relish by the great Jeremy Irons) A late film addition spoiled in the second trailer of another villain, is shoehorned-in to get the heroes to team-up and serves little more then being a walking special effect. But despite that it ends with a powerful event that excites you for the future Justice League films. 

Director Zack Snyder (300, Watchmen) delivers a lot of style and strong action but as is seemingly becoming his MO, lacks in substance and in character development. While Batman and Wonder Woman stand-out, poor Superman is given little insight into his character and is definitely the odd one out in this film. Superman fans will likely be the most let down, as most of his lines are painfully bad. The script by Chris Terrio is a convoluted mess that editing simply could not fix. This film did not need to be 2 1/2 hours, yet somehow they have announced a longer 3 hour R-rated cut to be released on Blu-ray in July! Production and costume design though is top-notch, as is the score by Hans Zimmer and Junkie XL.

Consensus:

Despite its flaws, I walked out of the theater satisfied with what I saw and excited to see where this DC Cinematic universe will go next as they march towards Justice League, which will team Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman with The Flash, Aquaman and more next year! As a fan of these superheroes, just getting to see them on-screen together is a joy for me, but if you don't already love these characters, it could be a slog to get through this movie for you.

Family Friendliness: 

Young kids probably should not be brought to Batman v. Superman as it is violent and features some brutal fighting that will make even adults wince. Also a large amount of strong language can be heard throughout the film and a scene of a female in a bathtub is uncomfortable, but features no nudity. The villain Lex Luthor spouts a lot of atheistic monologues so if that is hard for you to hear, be warned. Also the film is long and largely devoid of action until the end, so kids might have a hard time sitting still for 2 1/2 hours. (A kid at my screening was restless throughout the film) I would say 13+ would be best for Batman v. Superman.

Rating: 3.75/5