Film Review: Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice

by Sam Robinson

Rated M. Starring Ben Affleck, Henry Cavill, Amy Adams, Jesse Eisenberg. Directed by Zack Snyder.

Why can’t we be friends?

I kid you not – Smash Mouth’s 1997 cover of WAR’s hit was circling around my head during Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice – in fact somebody should really make a YouTube clip of that. Two of the greatest superheroes of all time turned against each other – yet underneath it all, standing for the same thing: justice.

This is the film that both Batman and Superman fans have been hanging for. The ‘DC Extended Universe’ – yes, official title – is well and truly underway, hoping to replicate the success of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and rake in some box office green on the way. But is Batman v Superman a success? My thoughts on that shortly.

In a nutshell, Dawn of Justice is built on a misunderstanding. Bruce Wayne (Batfleck) travels to Metropolis because he’s unsure of Superman’s alien super powers, fearing that it could lead to the destruction of humanity. This is the basis of the enmity to which the title nods. But it soon appears that there’s a greater enemy – Lex Luthor (Eisenberg) – whose psychotic behaviour is bent towards destroying Superman (Cavill) and anyone else who will get in his way. Speaking of which, Eisenberg plays Luthor like an audition piece for the Joker, which makes me wonder if he missed out on the part in Suicide Squad. It’s odd.

There’s a lot more going on in the plot than that, but it’s worth avoiding spoilers for this one. It’s a busy film – loads going on – and at 150 minutes in length, it feels a bit like running a marathon. My tips are to keep hydrated, and try to keep up. It’s great fun to see Superman and Batman tussle it out, but once the main villain shows up – it becomes a bit of a bloated CGI and explosion fest. Director Zack Snyder isn’t afraid to descend into Bay-hem territory with carnage and destruction cranked to eleven, and the tone of the film is particularly bleak and dark. Lighter moments of humour are scarce.

Perhaps the biggest problem with Batman v Superman (other than it could have done with some scissors to cut down the runtime) is that there are many plot holes. Snyder has a lot to cover in this film, which means that things are missed. I couldn’t quite work out Luthor’s motivations, or why Bruce Wayne suffers from (so many) dream sequences. There’s also questions of why Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot) needed to be introduced here, what the point of the film’s final act is, and why Snyder has taken the lens flare baton from J.J. Abrams. For all the speculation though, Ben Affleck is fine as Batman – however the character is often lost amid all the action.

‘Superman answers to no-one. Not even, I think, to God.’

‘If God is all-powerful, he cannot be good. And if God is good, he cannot be all-powerful.’

There’s lots of God talk in this film. The latter quote above comes from Luthor, and it’s a conundrum that many struggle with. But here it’s targeted at Superman, and his god-like nature. Superman has long been seen as a Jesus metaphor (as we pointed out in our Man of Steel review), and Dawn of Justice goes to great lengths to show us this. It’s actually quite coincidental that it’s releasing at Easter weekend, as we see this great Christ figure in Superman again selflessly working to save others. John 15:13 –

‘Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.’

When Jesus lays down his life, nothing can stop him. Jesus has no weakness. No Kryptonite could hold him down, nor could death hold him down. He has the authority of God, over death itself. He defeated death and sin on the cross – and it was proven in his resurrection on that very first Easter Sunday. It’s a perfect time to see this film, and consider the parallels it suggests, and look to the greater hero, the risen Lord Jesus.

The Verdict: Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice is long, action-heavy, and bleak, but will still entertain fans of DC heroes. 3/5

Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice will be released in cinemas worldwide later this week.

For more film reviews from a Christian perspective, connect with Reel Gospel on Facebook and Twitter.

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