Sacrifices must be made for the greater good in “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice,” a tiresome yet entertaining spectacle from director Zack Snyder, a sequel to his 2013 film, “Man of Steel.” The story picks up two years later, as Superman (Henry Cavill) has become a controversial figure, following the destruction of Metropolis, and has entered the radar of a shadowy vigilante.
In the city of Gotham, billionaire Bruce Wayne (Ben Affleck) has become disgusted by the potential danger Superman represents to the citizens of the world. In Metropolis, Clark Kent (Cavill) struggles with the public’s opinion of Superman, maintaining his relationship with reporter Lois Lane (Amy Adams), as businessman Lex Luthor (Jesse Eisenberg) formulates his own plan to pit the Man of Steel against the Bat. Soon, Batman prepares to hunt down Superman in a climactic battle that will shape the future of earth and justice.
The question – who would win in a fight between Batman and Superman? – is one with origins in arguments on the elementary school playground. Finally playing out on the big screen, filmmakers have delivered a titanic battle that examines the similarities and differences in philosophy between the two heroes, with varying degrees of success and failure in the presentation. Initially, one of the biggest issues does not stem from the film’s characters or style, but instead its length and neglectful attention to pacing.
The problem is not a result of the overall film being too long; despite its two and a half hour run time the filmmakers still lack adequate space for the immense number of storylines they are trying to tell. The result is two films, a sequel for Superman and a debut for Batman, each competing for screen time, and thereby disrupting the film’s pacing, creating a bloated, slow start that leaves audiences disinterested, unsure of which direction the story is heading.
However, the writers bring the story around partway into the film, suddenly and explosively weaving the subplots into an overarching narrative. For the next hour, the film improves in both pacing and presentation; the action becomes easier to follow, and the story more interesting. Affleck as Batman is particularly noteworthy, as the actor disappears into his role. And Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman, despite her limited screen time, is a welcomed addition to the cast.
Of course these presentations are not without their flaws. Eisenberg’s portrayal of Lex Luthor initially chews enough scenery to repulse audiences, but the character is gradually shown to be complicated and psychotic. This is a major issue throughout the entire film: There are numerous flaws in the beginning that eventually improve, only to drop off into an enjoyable, yet overblown, climax.
With massive superhero action and a story that gradually improves from a slow start, director Zack Snyder’s “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice” portrays a grandiose matchup between the two superhero titans, with mixed results. Audiences may be deterred by faults in the story and pacing, but others will surely be wowed by the fighting and spectacle.
My grade: 6.5 out of 10 stars.
(Timothy Hogg is a copy editor for The Derrick./The News-Herald. He has a minor in film and media studies from Slippery Rock University. Readers may contact him by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.)