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Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice Film Review: A Plot You Didn’t Like Doesn’t Equal No Plot

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Image via http://www.joblo.com.

I watched Batman vs. Superman, and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Now, I get where the unsatisfied portion of comic fans comes from. It’s natural to expect loyalty to the source material. If I loved a book and they fundamentally changed things, I am bound to refuse to watch the result.

I saw the first scene from Runaway Jury, and I ran away. It wasn’t a bad scene. The movie has a great cast. It was based on one my favorite books: John Grisham’s Runaway Jury, and that was the problem. They changed what the main trial was about, and I lost my appetite. After loving Batman v Superman despite the negative reviews (mostly about how it defies who Batman and Superman are), I will shut my mouth and watch a well-rated movie with a cast I love. I will forget about the book, and then I will come back and talk about it.

But as I haven’t read the comics, I don’t have anything to compare the movie to other than the Batman and Superman movies I have seen, and I’ve seen them all apart from the one starring George. I have enjoyed Michael Keaton, Val Kilmer and Christian Bale as Batman. And I totally loved Affleck too.

I grew up with Christopher Reeve’s Superman movies, but Henry Cavill did a good job in Man of Steel. Now, I would have enjoyed that film more if the battle scene and sounds were edited better and cut shorter. But overall, it was a fun experience. And movies cast like that help if you are a total movie geek and don’t mind mainstream stuff. Russell Crowe as Superman’s father, Michael Shannon as the main villain, Kevin Costner as the stepfather, Diane Lane as the stepmother? Oh, and Amy Adams is Louis Lane? That was a decent experience.

Some people hate director Zac Snyder as a principle, whether or not they liked 300. I don’t like 300, but Watchmen was a dark, decent and engaging film.

Then there are the massive directorial style differences between Snyder and Nolan. So everyone knew the movies were inevitably going to be different.

Now, there’s a line I heard over and over. Sometimes it was uttered to harshly criticize the movie. Sometimes to state the obvious in a neutral way: “This wasn’t like a Batman movie. Or a Superman movie.” Exactly!

It was a Batman vs. Superman movie. It had them both. It had a more depressed Batman (although Bales’ Wayne/Batman was no ray of sunshine either), and a Superman who was having a bit of crisis. What sane being, alien or human, would feel comfortable with being adored and feared by the masses? When his fathers are dead, and his girlfriend is constantly in danger to her personality and job? And now he has a vigilante out for him, whose psychology isn’t that far off when you consider his childhood, history with villains and most recently, the death and distraction he witnesses in the beginning of the movie? (Sure, letting us know Robin was dead would make it even more rational, but I do love Batman overreacting and being irrational. It suits the character.)

As far movie having no plot/ characterization, that’s ignoring a lot of elements. You may not like it. You might find some clichés although I can’t really think of superhero movies without them.) but tell me how this is not having a plot:

(There might be spoilers. And so many things happened, I might confuse the order of stuff and leave some things out.

About two years after Superman’s fight with, and victory against, General Zod, United States is polarized about Superman’s existence. People are bothered by his powers, and how he doesn’t answer to anyone. On the other hand, people he saved or people who witness his saves are more fans/worshippers.

One person who’s extremely mad is Bruce Wayne. He’s seen the destruction the battle has caused. He lost many employees. He saw the panic, fear and pain with his eyes. Of course, a saner person would blame it on Zod, but our Batman is prone to extreme reactions. (Didn’t he hide away for years in a previous movie?) So he obsesses over how to beat (and kill) Superman while increasing the violence in his vigilante ways.

Rich and psychotic businessman Lex Luthor wants to destroy Superman for his own twisted reasons and uses the government’s doubts and his resources to get his hands on a batch of kryptonite.

Distracting Wayne a little is a gorgeous woman who seems to be rich socialite of sorts and “steals” the info Wayne wanted to steal from Lex Luthor.

And there’s the fun irony that Clark Kent, Superman’s journalist persona, wants to go after Batman as he sees him as an uncontrolled vigilante who doesn’t care about collateral damage or ethics when going after criminals.

In their distracted states and crises, neither hero sees what Luthor is up to until it’s too late. Will they see they are on the same side before it’s too late?

*

I still left a lot of details out, but basically you have a decent plot with a solid antagonist who is working on unleashing a more dangerous creature just in case, a superhero trying to fit in and shaking off Bruce Wayne, a US senator (Holly Hunter) who undermines and underestimates a disturbed genius, and of course two protagonists who have to deal with a lot of demons, action and each other.

Yes, it’s not a Batman movie or a Superman movie. But it’s a great hybrid with a lot to offer if you don’t go into the movie expecting it be loyal to comic books.

It does however have more realistic superheroes in the sense that they have problems like the rest of us. Maybe it’s not money or health, but they grapple with who they are, what they should be doing and their levels of humanity.

And Jeremy Irons’ Alfred is like a combination of Michael Cain’s Alfred and Morgan Freeman’s Fox: butler, scientist and life coach with a snappy sense of humor. Frankly, I would watch a lot more Batman movies with that Alfred.

*

All in all, I think Batman v Superman Dawn of Justice is the Keanu Reeves of movies. People are polarized. As with Keanu Reeves, I like what we get.

What do you think?

PS Bang2write’s awesome Lucy V Hay has a great e-book on the movie. She basically evaluated the script. After reading it, I do agree with some of the scenes being redundant like the nightmares.

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