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Monday, March 28, 2016

Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice 2016 * * Stars

Batman v Superman: Dawn of JusticeDirector: Zack Snyder
Year: 2016
Rated PG-13
Rating: * * Stars
Cast: Ben Affleck, Gal Gadot, Henry Cavill

In 2013, Zack Snyder made the moderately successful, superhero film Man of Steel. He shot it with a weaker second half showcasing darkness overload, a lack of humor, virtually no romantic interludes, and an unnecessary amount of death and destruction. He did though, direct "Steel" with an acceptable sum of narrative clarity. With Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (my latest review), Snyder does the opposite. He becomes the bemused storyteller, the antithetical Spielberg. He tries to juggle too many characters, too many subplots, and too many locations. Basically, wacky Zacky butchers the almighty cinematic form. Listen, I don't fault the actors/actresses and I can't knock Zack for his wide-eyed intentions. His vision here is not to entertain but to make you ponder and think (that results in a real boring first hour). But by his inclination of trying to be Christopher Nolan (coupled with some choppy editing by veteran David Brenner), he turns "Justice" into the anti-popcorn flick, the type of cinematic vessel that a fanboy would analyze and a young child would want to leave the theater halfway through. In truth, I predict Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice will have a strong opening weekend with ticket buyers. I then see its box office take drop further than Marco Rubio's political ratings. Ouch!

Featuring a bloated running time of 153 minutes, harboring a Hans Zimmer film score that is equal parts loud and unbalanced, and highlighting a brief cameo by Mr. Kevin Costner, "Justice" marks the first time that Batman and Superman have shared the screen together. Add Wonder Woman, The Flash, and Aquaman to the mix ("Flash" and Aquaman are on screen so briefly, I wouldn't have known it had someone not told me) and you've got something that veers completely from the advertised battle between Bruce Wayne and Clark Kent. Watching Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice only reminded me that it was more of a blatant setup for future Justice League movies.

Bottom line: Almost all the performances in "Justice" are decent (that includes Amy Adams, Jesse Eisenberg, Henry Cavill, and Ben Affleck). Director Zack Snyder however, lets his cast down by failing to install their screen time in a less-than-scattershot manner. Added to that, the events and characters from his superior Man of Steel, don't transition well to Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. It's a copy-edit nightmare. Actors like Laurence Fishburne (director of the Daily Planet) and Diane Lane (Superman's mom, Martha Kent) have their scenes so randomly inserted, there's no tone and no sense of them being compelling. And with Snyder being such a special effects maestro, here he gets sloppy. In "Steel", he filmed action sequences with a visual artistry that I'd never seen before. In "Justice", there's no poetry, no adequate movement from frame to frame. Oh and if you're wondering about the main event between Superman's superhuman powers and Batman plus his gadgetry, gas-fueled Batmobile, well their highly anticipated duel is on and off the screen faster than a speeding bullet (ha). Overall rating: 2 stars.

Written by Jesse Burleson

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