Some thoughts on Zack Snyder's thrilling EPIC! Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. No secret I loved it and it might just be my favourite DC Comic film so far! – FILM REVIEW


Posted by Craig Grobler on Google+ On Thursday, April 07, 2016

Batman v Superman Review W hat a film! I was absolutely thrilled by and loved Zack Snyder's Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice - it truly is an Epic Super hero film in every sense. I haven't felt this excited about a comic film since Christopher Nolan's Batman Begins and I have to say all things considered Zack Snyder's Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice might just be my favourite DC film!

      This is the first of two posts concerning Zack Snyder's Batman v Superman in this one I discuss my thoughts on the film and why I loved it so much. In my second post things get more interesting as I go a bit deeper and look at the set-up scenes; Knightmare, Ding, ding, ding, ding, Communion and Cyborg's birth and discuss what they could mean and their impact on the DC film universe.

      Batman v Superman has very quickly settled into my minds eye as part of the mainstream continuity of the world created by the comics. Partly because Zack Snyder and writers Chris Terrio and David S. Goyer make such a such a great film that is respectful to the spirit of the characters and the source material, adding depth in such ingenious ways whilst taking it in new and surprising directions that I cant wait to see where they take us next.

     And partly because this is the world I have wanted to see on screen for a very long time. Earth's mightiest heroes on screen in a credible modern world. 30 years in the making since Frank Miller's 1986 iconic The Dark Knight Returns mini series laid the framework for the clash of Earth's mightiest heroes.

Batman v Superman Frank Miller The Dark Knight Returns
Batman v Superman Frank Miller The Dark Knight Returns [+
     Prior to that, since there first meeting in 1956 (and subsequent first meetings) Batman and Superman have maintained a good, even close relationship. Batman recognising that a seemingly all powerful man, whose greatest power was never his strength but that he was the living embodied of idealistic hope never faltering in his belief that humanity was at its core good and needed to be protected, an alien that was always the best of us.

     Superman acutely understood his friends loss and why he pushed himself past the point of breaking to fulfil his quest of protecting his city, and always maintained that he was the most courageous man he knew - despite not having any powers he put himself in harms way time after time to protect the innocent.

     This friendship resulted in the the world's mightiest heroes teaming up as the World's Finest and eventually the Justice League. But as our world changed and readers needs transformed our heroes as they underwent their own character development. Resulting in idealogical differences. With Batman v Superman we explore what would happen if these two different characters were to meet for the first time in our modern world?

BATMAN v SUPERMAN: DAWN OF JUSTICE BEN AFFLECK as Batman and HENRY CAVILL as Superman
BEN AFFLECK as Batman and HENRY CAVILL as Superman in Warner Bros. Pictures' action adventure "BATMAN v SUPERMAN: DAWN OF JUSTICE," a Warner Bros. Pictures release.[ZOOM
     If you take one thing away from reading this it is that Zack Snyder clearly loves the characters and has made a film for those who love the material, as well as those who want to come along and experience a thrilling and fantastical world filled with exceptional beings.

     I wasn't bowled over by Man of Steel. There were many elements I really enjoyed and some I really didn't. But it is clear that Man of Steel had to exist to give us the characters that take the story forward in Batman v Superman. Zack Snyder is playing a long game and its paying off.

     There are some spoilers below, even more in my second upcoming post – but for this post I've tried not to be explicit about the story.

Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice hacked poster
Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice hacked poster [ZOOM]

     THE ESTABLISHING SHOT: FINAL BATMAN V SUPERMAN DAWN OF JUSTICE TRAILER - 25 MARCH 2016               

Fearing the actions of a god-like super hero left unchecked, Gotham City’s own formidable, forceful vigilante takes on Metropolis’s most revered, modern-day saviour, while the world wrestles with what sort of hero it really needs. And with Batman and Superman at war with one another, a new threat quickly arises, putting mankind in greater danger than it’s ever known before.


The short version:

     Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice is a thrilling EPIC! And well worth the 30 year wait. I loved it and it might just be my favourite DC Comics film so far!

     BvS starts where the Man of Steel left off - the Black Zero Event – the battle at the end of Man of Steel. It is about a world that has to deal with the after effects of a huge tragedy that destroyed half of Metropolis and brought alien technology to Earth changing things on top of that they have to deal with the arrival of a powerful alien living amongst them. Some see him as a saviour whilst others see him as a serious threat. On the flip side of the coin - Superman still hasn't come to terms with who he is and how or even if he can fit into our world.

At its heart Batman v Superman is the story of three orphans who lose their way. One falls and keeps falling until he is inspired by another to rise again. Another falls but through his fall discovers who he is and rises.... Whilst the last one falls, keeps falling and tries to pull everyone down with him.

Batman v Superman Iconic Batman imagery 

     Zack Snyder draws from across many narrative elements from the comics as well as iconic imagery of both Batman and Superman from across their legacy particularity Frank Miller's The Dark Knight Returns. Very much in the same way that he did for his other outstanding comic adaptations of Frank Miller's 300 and Alan Moore's The Watchmen.

     With Batman v Superman he brings two of the Earth's mightiest comic heroes to the screen loosely based on Miller's The Dark Knight Returns and updating them making them relevant in a thrilling way. If I get some time I may go through the film again and breakdown all the design, imagery and stories used as inspiration across the film. But there are numerous sites that have covered much of this as well as some I did not spot.


Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016)

A Fearing the actions of Superman are left unchecked, Batman takes on Superman, while the world wrestles with what kind of a hero it really needs. With Batman and Superman fighting each other, a new threat, Doomsday, is created by Lex Luthor. It's up to Superman and Batman to set aside their differences along with Wonder Woman to stop Lex Luthor and Doomsday from destroying Metropolis.

Director:
Zack Snyder

Writers:
Chris Terrio, David S. Goyer, Bob Kane, Bill Finger, Jerry Siegel & Joe Shuster

Stars:
Ben Affleck, Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Henry Cavill, Amy Adams, Jason Momoa, Diane Lane, Michael Shannon, Jesse Eisenberg, Jeremy Irons, Holly Hunter, Laurence Fishburne, Gal Gadot

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     Below I don't go in to detail about how writers Chris Terrio and David S. Goyer create a realistic world that the fantastic can happen, a story that allows my beloved heroes and villains to come to life in a thrilling and surprising story. A story that allows the cast to breathe unique personality into their characters.


I don't discuss that the film is so meticulously and tightly edited by David Brenner and his team that it doesn't matter if any of the cast were bad performers, we'll never know because we only see the good stuff. The editing becomes part of the story as it doesn't allow us to dwell to long on any one thing too long keeping the narrative fresh and constantly surprising.


     I don't discuss the 100s of visual effects specialists that make the real and the computer generated indistinguishable in the film making even the ridiculous seem plausible in a realistic world.


     I don't discuss Hans Zimmer and Junkie XL's magnificent score which may be my favourite recent film score. It runs from the absolute epic, through tension drenched chords to fun cues imbibing a sense of playful fantastic to the film. It is the Tarantino of film scores drawing inspiration from everywhere and giving each scene its own unique atmosphere.


     Whether it be rousing bat crazy drums, a sense of wonder for Superman, the cacophony piano somewhere between a carnival merry go round and slowed down violin chords of Psycho for Lex Luthor.


But none is more emotive than Wonder Woman's horns – every time she appears on screen we get hints of ancient war horns which are finally released like the hounds of hell or at least like the Viking like banshee wailing guitar riffs and drums of Led Zepplin's Immigrant Song when she is finally revealed to the sound of Hans Zimmer & Junkie XL's Is She With You?

     VIDEO: OFFICIAL - IS SHE WITH YOU? - BATMAN V SUPERMAN SOUNDTRACK - HANS ZIMMER & JUNKIE XL               


The long version.....
     And I don't mention how Zack Snyder's vision and bringing it all together in a visual and emotive spectacle, laden with subtext and both idealogical conflict and action for fans that will leave them like me, wanting more.

     I was absolutely thrilled and blown away by Batman v Superman so you can imagine my surprise when I discovered that, well, let's get it out of the way – from what I can see many fans so far have loved Batman v Superman the critics not so much and I really don't understand it.

     I'm sure many fans would appreciate the film as much as I did as Snyder's Batman v Superman is the DC Superhero film we have been waiting for. It is the culmination of efforts put into DCs output over the last couple of years and picks up the threads from many comic stories and weaves them into an epic tale of Earth's mightiest heroes not just clashing but going at it in a knock-down street brawl and it pays off in spades. But it so much more than that; Snyder reinvents both heroes and villains as they have never been seen before, creates a world that the DC universe can explore and breathe life in to and opens the door to the future.

Batman v Superman Dawn of Justice IMAX screen ratio shows you more
Batman v Superman Dawn of Justice IMAX screen ratio shows you more

     I've seen Batman v Superman twice now the first, an exclusive 70mm presentation and the second at the IMAX with my wife, who isn't a comic/sci-fi/super hero or any other genre fan and she really enjoyed it. I had assumed that maybe it was to in-genre or so steeped in the comic world that possibly mainstream audiences couldn't engage with it.

     My wife is so far from the comics world - as an example she didn't have a clue of the significance of the Meta Human scene where we are introduced via the LeX -Files to Ezra Miller's FlashJason Momoa's Aquaman and Ray Fisher's Cyborg - who they were or what any of it meant. So I know there were bits in the film that didn't mean anything to her – but she thoroughly enjoyed it. It works as a stand-alone film and some elements work even better as an example - Wonder Woman. Comic readers and anyone with exposure to the marketing will probably know what's coming but regular civilians may be pleasantly surprised.

Metahumans: A term ... used to describe any human being with what are commonly described as "super powers".
 - Excerpt from DC Wiki

     Having said that – yes, you would definitely have a much deeper appreciation of Batman v Superman if you have seen Zack Snyder's Man of Steel, the previous Batman films and have some knowledge of the DCU.

     So why the hating? I'm not sure, perhaps there is - a discussion about what makes a good Superhero film based on 70+ years legacy and what makes an entertaining film - to be had?

VIKRAM GHANDI
We have always created icons in our own image,
what we've done is project ourselves on to him.
The fact is maybe he is not some sort of devil or jesus character
Maybe he is a guy just trying to do the right thing.


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     Of late there has been a trend where we have been inundated with highly entertaining Superhero films where the focus has been squarely on the entertainment factor of the film, followed by the story and finally how the characters can make all that work. This seems a little horse before the cart to me.

     An increasing issue impeding my enjoyment of these type of films is that they are becoming more and more generic, formulaic, by the numbers, relying on pop culture references and populated with instantly forgettable characters lost in a sea of other instantly forgettable characters. This trend seems to have shifted the way we view or think about Superheroes.

     Seriously – you could almost take any of the recent wise cracking, self assured super power individuals (who can only be identified by their costumes, origin and to some extent their powers) and switch them around - or even switch them with other unknown mythical or magical beings with no roots in the tale and the story would still flow almost uninterrupted. To that that point Bruce Wayne could just as easily be switched out with James Bond and the story would still flow (apart from the Batman side of things of course).

     In fact in Batman v Superman there are even nods to Bond. Producer Christopher Nolan keeping the iron warm or Zack Snyder recognising the similarities and having some fun? Perhaps the latter as the black Aston Martin DB Mark III Bruce Wayne drives is Zack Snyder's own.

     Another example of this from BvS is KGBeast who channels the ruthlessness of the original comic character as well as his Russian roots but very little else. He does works as a villain - but I wish there were more characteristics from the comics. How about he whipped out a zip mouth gimp mask when he commences his missions? Who knows this may actually be his origin story and he may be back needing an artificial arm.

     This aforementioned entertainment at all costs approach seems to be box office gold but lacks substance, runs contrary to many of the reasons I liked the imaginative characters and worlds the stories take place in, in the first place and worst of all seems a bit of a wasted opportunity as the characters I love are slowly being reduced to theme park mannequins rather than being given personalities past plot devices.

     There is room enough for these crowd pleasing generic types of films. And I'll pay my money like everyone else and probably enjoy them for what they are, but please leave Batman and Superman out of it.

     Sure there are many practical realities that a film-maker has to deal with to bring a successful Superhero film to the screen that will have all sorts of impact on the story or characters.

     I am sure Zack Snyder had to overcome a mountain of obstacles to bring the Batman back to screen again and keep him engaging and fresh, making Superman, one of the most well known and dated characters relevant in a cynical modern world that has left him behind as well as his arch nemesis Lex Luthor and let's not forget about bringing Wonder Woman out of the 70s (the hopes and dreams of many with her) to steal the show?

     But we increasingly seem to be seeing more and more films where the Superheroes are being stripped of their uniqueness, like pawns on a board overseen by the bums on seats entertainment value formula. Which is fine - but why not just create a new stories with new characters rather than strip mine existing legacies?

     Thankfully Snyder's Batman v Superman does not go down this path and perhaps it's no surprise that some may not be able to engage with a film that sets out to tell a story and puts its characters first. I'm sure that this could have been alleviated by getting the man haunted by the death of his parents to the extend that he seeks justice out by hunting down criminals dressed as a Bat by doing - I don't know a little jig or a moonwalk. Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice isn't that kind of film and Ben Affleck's Batman isn't that kind of Batman.


Batman v Superman Batman Poster
Batman v Superman Batman It's black and white to him Poster [ZOOM]
     Zack Snyder doesn't just make a thrilling film or a good film that has some characters in it that could be Batman and Superman he makes an Epically great film that has Batman and Superman in it.

     I guess there could be some discussion about which Batman? As with other long surviving characters like say - James Bond everyone - depending on various factors, has their favourite version and this will influence how much they accept Ben Affleck's Batman as well as any other future interpretations.

     VIDEO: THE EVOLUTION OF BATMAN IN TELEVISION & FILM               


     I am of the opinion he plays it exactly like he should for Zack Snyder's interpretation and he is the Batman I have been waiting for (but he can only exist after Christian Bale's Batman). Why doesn't Superman get the same question seen as he has top billing alongside Batman? Well I'll get to Superman further down - but for know suffice to say that as much as Ben Affleck's Batman and Gal Gadot's Wonder Woman steal the show - I left the cinema with no doubt that this was his film and Zack Snyder is a cinematic genius for developing Superman's character over Man of Steel and into Batman v Superman.

     Surely there is something to be said for a character that has been seen so many times in so many different forms that can still thrill and surprise all credit to Zack Snyder for taking on all the challenges of bringing three of the comic world's greatest heroes together on screen and letting them rock it.

     I have to say I was surprised when it was announced that the next Superman film would be Batman v Superman. I thought Superman would be getting his own trilogy before they start mixing it up. Not to mention Christopher Nolan's Dark Knight Trilogy had barely concluded. Holy cow! Christian Bale's suit was still warm - seems a bit risky would audiences be open to a new Batman? And how on earth is Batman going to fit into the Man of Steel's sci-fantastical world? And how the hell are going to tell a story that makes sense that does not hinge on shoe horning two of the most beloved in the comics world into it?

BATMAN v SUPERMAN: DAWN OF JUSTICE BEN AFFLECK as Batman
BEN AFFLECK as Batman in Warner Bros. Pictures' action adventure "BATMAN v SUPERMAN: DAWN OF JUSTICE," a Warner Bros. Pictures release. [ZOOM

The Establishing Shot
     Whether you like Zack Snyder's films or not, or even if you feel he is all style over substance (even then this is surely a strength when adapting comic stories) I think it is generally accepted that Zack Snyder is a master of the visual language, and he doesn't disappoint - it might not be immediately apparent but even before the Establishing Shots of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice Snyder has started the subtext and spans the gap between the past, the now and possibly takes us into the future as well. These scenes are critical to key events in BvS as well as the broader themes of - why men fall and why they unite.

     Batman v Superman starts with an existing Batman trope, which immediately let us feel the comfort of the familiar and bridge the gap between Christopher Nolan's previous Dark Knight motifs - as leaves fall over the production logos. These leaves and the pearls from Martha Wayne's necklace are tied into young Bruce Wayne falling down the tunnel another critical moment in his life and more importantly they are also letting us know that where we are now - the best of days, like Spring & Summer has past now is the Autumn or Fall of discontent.

BRUCE WAYNE
There was a time above. A time before. There were perfect things, diamond absolutes, things fall, things on earth and what falls is fallen.

     Batman v Superman starts and ends with funerals which is also paired with the opening scene of Man of Steel. The imagery accompanying Bruce Wayne's narration is a retelling of the early key events that turns a young Bruce into who he becomes.

BRUCE WAYNE
In the dream they took me to the light, a beautiful lie.

     But by the end of the voice-over Snyder also lets us know that although we may be familiar with some of these events – we only think we know the Batman – this is a very different Batman. These events terrified him and this event still haunts him. Let go of what was before - things are different and are possibly going to change even more.....

     Of course Wayne's entire soliloquy is referencing: Above & BelowAngels & The Fallen ...

     Writer Chris Terrio discusses the conflict between Batman and Superman.

I began to think Batman and Superman occupy different parts of the mythic imagination. In superhero stories, Batman is Pluto, god of the underworld, and Superman is Apollo, god of the sky. That began to be really interesting to me — that their conflict is not just due to manipulation, but their very existence. In the end, there’s a common humanity which I think is discovered at a certain moment in the film.

- Excerpt from an interview with Chris Terrio by Ben Fritz for The Wall Street Journal
     and the Dark and Light dichotomy borne out with the inevitable conflict and impending battle to be fought in Batman v Superman.

LEX LUTHOR
Black and blue,
fight night!
The greatest gladiator match in the history of the world.
God versus man.
Day versus night!
Son of Krypton versus Bat of Gotham!


     As well as the Above & Below theme their is also a secondary running theme of angels that fall through Batman v Superman that may be realised beyond Wayne's fall further down the line.

     Also although Wayne's introduction sets up events of his own life and events played out in Batman v Superman. There may be a more ominous foretelling that he hints at in the very first line:

BRUCE WAYNE
There was a time above.

     It could be that there was once a time Wayne was above and since his loss he has fallen, down the tunnel where he spends most of his adulthood in his Batcave. Does he differentiate the past as above and the current as below? Is he referring to a time before the shocking events in BvS where heroes fall? Or is this a future Batman speaking about the past that was once lived above the ground?

Batman v Superman Knightmare Batman Underground Bunker
Batman v Superman Knightmare Batman Underground Bunker [ZOOM

     Zack Snyder's Batman is a refresh of the character not an extension and whilst the death of his parents Martha and Thomas Wayne set him off on a path, it is clear that much has happened since to push him further into the darkness and the fringes of humanity.

     Regarding the deaths of Martha (Lauren Cohan) and Thomas Wayne (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) and to bring a previous post full circle – a while back I had a look at the Man of Steel trailer and noted that Zack Snyder referenced Batman in a scene in his earlier The Watchmen scene, he seems to reference the mugging of the the Waynes but in this alternative Watchmen cinematic reality Nite-Owl thwarts the attack thereby averting the creation of Batman in the Watchmen universe. To affirm this Snyder hides posters of the first issue of Batman in the background.

     In Christopher Nolan's Batman Begins the Wayne's were at the opera watching Mefistofele by Arrigo Boito wherein a man sells his soul to the devil.  This was a departure from the accepted mainstream continuity - but even more pertinent to the Dark Knight's world.

     In BvS the critical Wayne mugging scene it looks like they have just left a cinema that can be seen to be showing Zorro and John Boorman's Excalibur. In the accepted version of the continuity the Wayne's left a screening of Zorro early, the implication of a man seeking justice and defending the weak whilst wearing a mask clear. But the Easter Egg here is - Excalibur, the tale of King Arthur forming a round table of trusted knights to protect the weak and innocent. Justice League?

     For the past fifteen hundred years, stories of a legendary king and his court have come to symbolize all that is noble and good. The story of King Arthur and his knights is the tale of a time of peace, justice, and brotherhood.

     It is the story of Knights, living by a Code of Chivalry, who created briefly an ideal world based on honor and good deeds. It is the story that ends in betrayal and tragedy, but it leaves us with the hope that another such time might come again.

- Excerpt from a Teacher’s Guide to The Core Classics Edition of Alice M. Hadfield’s KING ARTHUR And THE ROUND TABLE by Jennifer England



SUPERMAN
She was my world and you took her from me.

     John Boorman's Excalibur is one of Zack Snyder's favourite films (for very obvious reasons) and it would appear that Arthurian elements are sprinkled throughout BvS and this is how his love of Excalibur may have been applied to his films including Batman v Superman.

Excalibur probably more than anything, which is one of my favorite movies of all time. The thing that I love, it's very operatic.

Excerpt from darkhorse.com interview with Zack Snyder about 300


The cool thing about this movie is that it's not a kid's movie," says Snyder as we settle down to watch the Arthurian epic at his offices on the Warner Bros. lot.

The Dungeons and Dragons-obsessed boy, who would grow up to bring new levels of sophisticated graphic mobility to the sword-and-sandal epic (300) and the caped-crusader saga (Watchmen), recalls the feeling of seeing the oft-told tale get a decidedly adult treatment. "Everyone thinks, 'Oh, it's a movie about King Arthur, it's gotta be accessible.' But no. This went further than I thought it would."

What has stayed with Snyder over the years and perhaps influenced him the most as a director is the film's then-eyebrow-raising bloodletting. "I guess when I come to a part in my movies where there's an opportunity for it to be gory, I say, 'Okay, let's film that.' It's not my aesthetic to use trickery to get around it. In Watchmen, I always felt the truth of being a superhero is that people frickin' get killed. And that's what Excalibur is. It's violent because that's what it was like."

Excerpt from an interview with Zack Snyder by Robert Abele for The Directors Guild of America Quarterly

     I also think I may have spotted a Rorschach like ink blotter blood stain on the ground. That could have been my imagination or a cruel prank played by Snyder. I also thought the bright lights under the theatre's marquee above the Waynes juxtaposed with the dark shadows underneath them is probably a telling sign.

     The importance of these opening scenes may be a little lost across the multiple versions of Batman because most of us are already aware of these events and their place in the Batman mythology and it it may feel a little like its just like the opening of another Batman film. But Zack Snyder is a visual artist and his story, the story of Batman v Superman and who is characters are, how they connect has started at the very least he is making it clear that this is his Batman.

     These opening scenes are deceptively important, not only do they set the tone of the film, remind us of who the Batman is, bridge the past with the now (and possibly the future), let us know that this is a different Batman but and possibly most critically - remind us of the human tragedy that has befallen Bruce Wayne, the significance of his loss, how it turns him and the dark path it sets him on as a result. Somewhere deep down beyond the the haze of anger and darkness brought on by a lifetime of tragedy and war – there is a boy who lost his parents Martha and Thomas Wayne.

ALFRED
That's how it starts, Sir
the fever.
The rage, the feeling of powerlessness
That turns good men cruel.

Batman Unleashed
     Ben Affleck gets the look and mood of both Bruce Wayne and Batman right – a little lumpy (his Gucci suits do not fit as well as tailored suits should) in some areas but otherwise faultless as far I am concerned. His toys and gadgets are frikkin awesome! However this brings me to the only complaint I have about Batman v Superman and that is the way the Batmobile enters the Batcave. Looks cool - but lets down the credibility built up around the Batman and his gadgets.

BATMAN V SUPERMAN: DAWN OF JUSTICE   BEN AFFLECK as Bruce Wayne/Batman
BEN AFFLECK as Bruce Wayne/Batman in Warner Bros. Pictures' action adventure "BATMAN v SUPERMAN: DAWN OF JUSTICE," a Warner Bros. Pictures release. [ZOOM]

     But! And I think this is the bit people are struggling with - Ben Affleck's Batman isn't the fractured man split between the duality of Bruce Wayne sophisticated frivolous Playboy and a masked crusader – he his a wholly angry man haunted by the past. A brooding, multi millionaire that uses the Bat for his hunt - the sparkle of the man only occasionally breaking the surface when a hunt of another kind is afoot.

BATMAN v SUPERMAN: DAWN OF JUSTICE GAL GADOT as Diana Prince/Wonder Woman and BEN AFFLECK as Bruce Wayne/Batman
GAL GADOT as Diana Prince/Wonder Woman and BEN AFFLECK as Bruce Wayne/Batman in Warner Bros. Pictures' action adventure "BATMAN v SUPERMAN: DAWN OF JUSTICE," a Warner Bros. Pictures release. [ZOOM]
     He has lost his way and lives in a world where even his toys get more acknowledgement than his human contacts or relationships.

     Affleck's action scenes are engrossing and combined with Snyder filming him echoing iconic moments of the Bat from across his comic legacy are outstanding. His fight scenes are meticulously planned and executed as one would hope of the Batman.


NEWSREADER
Justice turned dark across the harbour....


      In his introduction we finally get to see a perfectly executed reveal of a hero that operates under the principle of instilling fear into criminals and that's exactly what he does as he deals with a very ghastly real world problem – he is less man and more a dread figure from a horror film, like an Alien (by Alien I mean the xenomorph from Ridley Scott or James Cameron's films) or Jaws. And I loved it. He is all kinds of serious bad ass.



BRUCE WAYNE
Twenty years of Gotham, Alfred
We have seen what promises are worth,
How many good guys are left!?
How many started that way?

      Affleck's Batman is older, more brutal and experienced much in his tenure as the caped crusader of Gotham. At his core Affleck's Batman is indeed the new serious dark Batman that we have come to know over the last 30 years since Miller's The Dark Knight Returns, this version increasingly bled into the comics before becoming full blown mainstream with Christopher Nolan's The Dark Knight Trilogy and DC's animated films. Full credit to Ben Affleck for his Batman as well as for persevering and finally winning the role he has always wanted (in spite of his 2003 turn as Daredevil).

BATMAN V SUPERMAN: DAWN OF JUSTICE Ben Affleck Batman & Director Zack Snyder on Gotham warehouse set [ZOOM

      But it is clear that this is not a Batman film, in a similar way that Man of Steel was not a “Superman” film but rather a film about Clark finding out who he was (which comes to beautiful fruition in BvS) – Snyder takes us to the opposite side of the spectrum - this Batman has had so much happen in his world that he doesn't know who he is any more. He is a man in need of some faith or belief. I guess a cinematic analogy for both Zack Snyder's Superman (looking for his home), Batman (looking for his humanity) and possibly Justice League may be The Wizard of Oz for an older generation. Holy Cow! I just realised that Laurence Fishburne's Perry White even makes a Wizard of Oz reference in BvS.

PERRY WHITE
Kent!
Where does he go?
Clicks his heels three times
and goes back to Kansas
I suppose.

       As much as Snyder gives us a complex Batman that cries out to be explored - this film is not about Batman it is the sequel to Man of Steel and the springboard to the Justice League - in which the Batman, a broken and twisted man smashes his way in to. Snyder intentionally leaves lots off the table but makes lots of hints teasing at elements of what has turned Bruce Wayne that will hopefully be explored moving on.

BRUCE WAYNE
We are criminals, we have always been criminals Alfred.
Nothing has changed.

ALFRED
Oh. Yes it has Sir.
Everything has changed.

     The Establishing Shot: SUICIDE SQUAD TRAILER - AUGUST 2016               


      Wayne lives in his most enviable residence this time The Glass House designed by Patrick Tatopoulos which seems to draw inspiration from architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe's gorgeous Farnsworth House. Like Bruce Wayne the Glass House is deceptively transparent, whilst you can seemingly see everything it it has hidden depths. I should mention I was charmed that even though the Batcave was ultra modern and clinical it's design was a homage to the earliest Batcave layouts.


My point here being that, and I could be mistaken, but every Batman film so far has Wayne living in a home from the comics. This is first home not part of the mainstream comics continuity - this new temporary home is still on the Wayne Estate but we see Wayne Manor is a dilapidated and destroyed ruin - and all bets are off on where Snyder is taking us - but it looks like there has been A Death in the family.

Batman v Superman Taunting Bruce Wayne [ZOOM]
Bruce Wayne receives taunting notes that push him further into the darkness - written in the style of his most well known nemesis - the Joker.

Batman v Superman Robin's burnt outfit in the Batcave
Batman v Superman Robin's burnt outfit in the Batcave [ZOOM
The picture above is from the Google Street View Experience where you can explore Bruce Wayne's residence - and more - at: http://po.st/Bwayne

BRUCE WAYNE
Maybe it's the Gotham City in me.
We just have a bad history
with freaks dressed like clowns.

Sadly another casualty of this as yet untold back story, apart from Bruce Wayne's hardening and his obvious dislocation from his previous life, is Bruce's relationship with Alfred played by Jeremy Irons. Their relationship has shifted Alfred from witty and caring confidante to acerbic and unwilling accomplice.

BATMAN V SUPERMAN: DAWN OF JUSTICE BEN AFFLECK as Bruce Wayne/Batman and JEREMY IRONS as Alfred
BEN AFFLECK as Bruce Wayne/Batman and JEREMY IRONS as Alfred in Warner Bros. Pictures' action adventure "BATMAN v SUPERMAN: DAWN OF JUSTICE," a Warner Bros. Pictures release. [ZOOM

Batman is broken and angry and can only come into conflict with the world, everything around him and of course Superman.


BATMAN V SUPERMAN: DAWN OF JUSTICE BEN AFFLECK as Batman and HENRY CAVILL as Superman face off on the BATMOBILE
BATMAN V SUPERMAN: DAWN OF JUSTICE BEN AFFLECK as Batman and HENRY CAVILL as Superman face off on the BATMOBILE [ZOOM



Superman home at last.
As I said previously - I wasn't bowled over by Man of Steel. There were many elements I really enjoyed and some I really didn't. But it is clear that Man of Steel had to exist to give us the characters that take the story forward in Batman v SupermanZack Snyder is playing a long game and its paying off marvellously.

BATMAN V SUPERMAN: DAWN OF JUSTICE HENRY CAVILL as Superman
HENRY CAVILL as Superman in Warner Bros. Pictures' action adventure "BATMAN v SUPERMAN: DAWN OF JUSTICE," a Warner Bros. Pictures release. [ZOOM
     One of the things I struggled with was seeing Superman in his full suit next to real world people he looked odd, epitomised by the scene where he is cuffed and being marched down a corridor by military personnel. The same oddness struck me in a scene from BvS which echoes that scene where Superman walks through the United States Capitol Building, seeing him next to people in business suits was bizarre. But the second time I saw the scene it was a perfect fit. I'm guessing there are many elements that need time to settle and something that Snyder has obviously put work into - to make work as these type of scenes place Superman in our world.

     With BvS Clark Kent has settled into our world, the scenes of his day to day life work. I really struggled with The Daily Planet aspects of Man of Steel, especially Amy Adam's Lois Lane character. There were just too many holes and stretching of the story to keep her character involved. This is not the case with BvS where she brings something of herself to the story rather than the story coming to her. Her relationship with Clark seems to be falling in to place although it would appear that Kryptonite is not Superman's only weakness and the implications of this are hinted at.

     Much like the clever set up and narrative of Skyfall, a story develops around the world created and allows the characters to start defining themselves and they do. I'm not going to spoil the story but I absolutely loved Superman's roll-out and pay-off in Batman v Superman.

     I left the cinema thinking that Superman had surprisingly little screen time in his own film. This is not a bad thing quite the contrary as it takes some of the focus away from him and allows him to breathe as he is absorbed into the wider world Zack Snyder creates - allowing the story and other characters to develop - in this respect part of the magic of Superman is not that he strives to do good but that he inspires others to do good.

BATMAN V SUPERMAN: DAWN OF JUSTICE Jesse Eisenberg as Lex Luthor
Jesse Eisenberg as Lex Luthor in Warner Bros. Pictures' action adventure "BATMAN v SUPERMAN: DAWN OF JUSTICE," a Warner Bros. Pictures release. [ZOOM

     In that respect, much like this review, Batman seems to gets the lions share of screen time, Jesse Eisenberg's damaged maniacal mastermind Lex Luthor gets an engaging modern overhaul and all the scene stealing character quirks & dialogue, Wonder Woman just steals the show full stop and as much as at its heart it is the story of three orphans - we know that at the beginning of Batman v Superman Batman had fallen and loses his way, but rises again after being inspired by Superman. By the end of the film Superman falls as Lex Luthor continues his fall - but this is very much Superman's story.

     Reaching from Man of Steel - orphan alien, small town boy, soul searcher, his rebirth as a big city reporter. And with BvS he really comes into his own and the Superman we know is finally born onto the screen bringing his soul searching metamorphosis journey to an end. It hasn't been an easy journey bringing the most well known comic hero into the modern world and it has challenged many viewers but has added immeasurable gravitas and weight to one of comics mightiest heroes as he answers possibly the most pertinent question posed in the film.

PBS NEWS REPORTER:
Must there be a Superman?

Yes. And I can't wait for his possible return to see where Zack Snyder takes us from here. As a long time DC Comics reader I couldn't be more happy with Batman v Superman and where the DCEU is going. But seriously that Batmobile jump into the Batcave - just no. And as much as Snyder has met the challenge of bringing DC most beloved characters to life and into a real world with Batman v Superman as well as setting the scene for the DC Comic universe like Batman and Superman his real challenge lies ahead. And I'm betting that the real Batman v Superman fight is still coming.

Batman v Superman Presidential Hope like Poster [ZOOM

Fearing the actions of a god-like super hero left unchecked, Gotham City’s own formidable, forceful vigilante takes on Metropolis’s most revered, modern-day saviour, while the world wrestles with what sort of hero it really needs. And with Batman and Superman at war with one another, a new threat quickly arises, putting mankind in greater danger than it’s ever known before.

BATMAN v SUPERMAN DAWN OF JUSTICE hits cinemas nationwide on 25 March 2016


Thank you and goodnight
- From the desk of Craig Grobler


Slideshow: Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice



The Establishing Shot: SOME THOUGHTS ON ZACK SNYDER'S THRILLING EPIC! BATMAN V SUPERMAN: DAWN OF JUSTICE. NO SECRET I LOVED IT AND IT MIGHT JUST BE MY FAVOURITE DC COMIC FILM SO FAR!  – FILM REVIEW


I am Batman
Craig is a retired superhero, an obsessive hobbyist, comics fan, gadget lover & flâneur who knows an unhealthy amount about Ian Fleming's James Bond.

When not watching or making films he takes pictures, eats, drinks, dives, mentally storyboards the greatest film ever made & sometimes utilises owl-themed gadgets to fight crime. 

A list of his 133 favourite films can be found hereIf you would still like to contact Craig please use any of the buttons below: 


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Craig Says...







LEGEND OF THE EAST END Exhibition

Legend of the East End Exhibition

135 Bethnal Green Rd,E2,
28 Aug - 11 Sep 2015
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the alibi film club

The Alibi Cult Film Club

The Alibi ,Dalston, E8 2PB
Every Mon

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