A film review: 'Dawn of Justice' is basically Supes feat. The Dark Knight and The Princess.

Origin: United States · Language: English
Director: Zack Snyder · Writers: Chris Terrio, David S. Goyer
Genre: Superhero · Release: March 25, 2016

Casts: Ben Affleck, Henry Cavill, Amy Adams, Gal Gadot,
Jesse Eisenberg, Jeremy Irons, Holly Hunter, Diane Lane,
Laurence Fishbourne, Scoot McNairy, Michael Shannon

More info: IMDb

Hey there. I initially wanted to write about Super first, a way earnest superhero tale than Dawn of Justice (I'm gonna call it by the subtitle, for a solid reason), but it's hard to pinpoint my thoughts on that one. I guess I'll do this one first, since it's the freshest I had in mind (just watched it yesterday, FYI).

There you go; a follow up to Man of Steel that is NOT Man of Steel 2. I guess since DC is jealous of Marvel when it comes to their Hollywood dominance, DC decided to replicate their whole shared universe thing in the form of the DC Extended Universe / DCEU, but not really: DC wanna start with a string of team ups first before making solo films for their characters, and what better way to launch the franchise than to give in to every geeks' dream as its first official step: to see the showdown of two pop culture icons to finally get the Hollywood treatment they thought they deserved, but didn't actually get. You know, a similar scenario actually happened in a direct-to-video flick before, but hey, who gives a shit, right? Thankfully, I didn't ride on the hype train, so there are no high expectations whatsoever. I came in purely as a spectator and nothing else since I don't really follow the comics like at all. But sadly, it still didn't deliver, yet... a tiny bit satisfying. To simply put, I'm polarized by the film.

Oh. This review is totally DEVOID of SPOILERS. Go on an read what I think about this movie!

Here's the plot: Bruce Wayne / Batman (Ben Affleck) was there in Metropolis when Superman (Henry Cavill) duke it out with Zod (Michael Shannon) during their climactic battle in Man of Steel, causing lots of casualties which involve people that he knows. He thinks Supes is a threat. So, he needs to stop Supes. Then there's Lex Luthor (Jesse Eisenberg) who cashes in on the bout by indirectly making them have a strong reason to fight each other due to his consideration of Superman being his... arch nemesis for some reason?

First and foremost, don't let the main title fool you; it's actually about the subtext of the subtitle to me. Yes! Even though the appearance of Diana Prince / Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot) is quite seamless and a much welcomed one, I couldn't say the same about the appearance of the rest of the Justice League members. Snyder should've just keep it very brief for the uninitiated (read: casual, non-geek fans) to add some mystery. But no! Their cameos just seems lazy and forced. Just like the promos, clips, and trailers (which I didn't catch all of it, but from what I heard, they pretty much gave the entire surprises away... except maybe for some stuff), Snyder gives too much fan service. The actual most anticipated part of the film as per the main title? Barely there, and barely exciting. It's the fights after that - Batman's solo fight and his three-on-one battle with Doomsday - that got me. And its jab at political turmoil and religious undertones are just... too brief and stunted, yet somewhat appreciated. With a reboot this adult-like and for this century, I really feel that these issues are a must to justify their relevance with our current society. To make this easy, let's just say that the film have rich stories and messages that are trying too hard to be accessible, resulting to an uneven flow of storytelling.

And now for the performances. Affleck totally knocked the fans' and my own initial doubts on his casting as The Dark Knight. He really channeled the older Bruce Wayne I previously seen in the second part of the direct-to-video animated film The Dark Knight Returns. Also, he totally kicked ass and kills people... with guns! Well, not like directly, but still... guns! And his solo fight scene was the best time I've ever had after only seeing that kind of tenacity in Batman's animated counterparts that is absent during Nolan's stint! Gal Gadot's Wonder Woman? She's pretty decent and smooth when it comes to her soft entrance and popped outta nowhere when it comes to her hard entrance while fighting that monster which Snyder should've kept as a BIG surprise (yet, still guessable, because hey... deux ex machina and the epic music, biotch!). And then... there's Cavill's Superman that's just passable when it comes to his acting. However, I really love the character's story which writes him up as a very sympathetic character, and that covers up his subpar performance! He was never that vulnerable in his previous incarnations! But the real star here is Eisenberg's Lex Luthor! While I'm not familiar with the character's previous portrayals, Eisenberg's version is a very delusional one; a guy who apparently don't believe in superior powers, if you know what I mean. Not physically terrifying, but has the makings of a psychopath akin to Heath Ledger's Joker from Nolan's Batman trilogy. Definitely ain't a miscast! Oh, special mention goes to Jeremy Iron's Alfred Pennyworth who's a very good-looking old charmer of a butler with equally good-sounding one-liners.

Lastly, let's talk about Zack Snyder's direction. The first thing I would like to applaud is his use of metaphors to tell the audience things that went on in Bruce's mind instead of trying to make a super-realistic take on the DC Universe. Another positive one is how he integrated the situation from Man of Steel in the opening scene of Dawn of Justice; it's brilliant as it somewhat gives a reason for Bruce Wayne, who represent one of the eyes of a normal citizen who thought that Supes is a terrorist that needs to be stopped, in addition to making it a solid point how this film is indeed a sequel AND the second entry in the DCEU. But when it comes to the visuals? Goddamnit, man! You've definitely aced the look, but not really the feels. From the simplest of things such as displays on screens or the colour vibrance that was severely dulled, then down to the complex of stuff such as the climactic battle of Doomsday vs. Mini Justice League, I don't know what to say. It's too crudely-rendered, cheesy, and too 'flexible' in terms of character animation, and tried too hard to make it a very grim take on the DC Universe. In this department, the Injustice: Gods Among Us video game that has a similar tone to Dawn of Justice that gone bonkers but used fully-polygonal 3D character models instead of real people, actually did these way better.

Overall, Dawn of Justice is a very divisive film. Snyder done did it. Man of Steel was okay, but here, he tried too hard to cram everything to the point that it looked and felt empty, all while pulling his bag of tricks from Watchmen and 300 into a PG13 film. I'm with the popular opinion here who thinks that it is someone else that should helm the upcoming Justice League in order to do... justice for the rich source materials of  DC Comics' library. All that hype, depending on some people, eventually amounts to nothing. Kind of recommended for casual film goers who prefer the emo brand of popcorn films, but no way in hell for the nit-picky fanboys, because you might be fantasizing about ways to kill Snyder while watching instead of enjoying the film. In the end, none of them won, except for Warner Bros. Pictures.

P/S: Suicide Squad on the other hand, is on the down low when it comes to its promotional materials, and its initial first-looks are actually promising (except for the massive amounts of tattoos on the Joker and Harley Quinn)! Can't wait for that! Mamma mia!

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