Sunday, April 3, 2016

Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice

I never actually wrote a review of Man of Steel, but if I had I would have given it loads of praise and a high rating. 2013 turned out to be a fine year for superhero films, with Iron Man 3, Man of Steel, The Wolverine, and Thor: The Dark World being released that same year. Man of Steel was the kind of Superman story that people needed to see, not just for the fact that it dared to be bold with DC's flagship character, but because because it finally brought across the full character of Superman. And I do mean character, Man of Steel is the best portrayal of Superman that I've seen since the Superman: Earth One comics. Part of the reason is because he has actual limits outside of red sun-rays, magic and Kryptonite. Because he doesn't move faster than the speed of light, and because he's coming into his own as the titular Man of Steel. He doesn't know that he lives in a "world of cardboard" because he's never had the chance to test the limits of his burgeoning powers. Plus, he doesn't mess around at all, and at the end of the film he did exactly what he needed to do without having to attempt to justify his actions to the audience. You know why he was doing what he did, and you know why he had to do it. If you don't, please watch Man of Steel again and pay closer attention to what's going on.
Spoilers inbound as I'm gonna get into plot analysis.
The film begins with the death of Bruce Wayne's parents, and their funeral. They then proceed to recreate the well-scene from Batman Begins. Bruce Wayne (Played by Ben Affleck) arriving in Metropolis as he attempts to evacuate the Wayne Industries Financial building during the Kryptonian invasion, but General Zod and Superman smash into the building and it collapses before the people within can be saved. Bruce rushes through the debris and dust to the ruins of the building, where he finds a man with his legs crushed beneath a girder. He then rescues a little girl from falling debris. You wanna know how? Because he's Batman!
Eighteen months later, some salvage divers recover a huge chunk of Kryptonite from the wreck of General Zod's terraforming machine and brings it to the shore.
Meanwhile in Nairobi, Lois Lane (Played by Amy Adams) and Jimmy Olsen (Who isn't a teenaged redhead for some reason, played by Michael Cassidy) are out to interview a warlord, but one of the warlords bodyguard's finds a tracker inside and they kill him. Yes, they shoot Jimmy in the head. Jimmy freaking Olsen, Clark Kent's best friend and Daily Planet staff photographer, literally one of the most important supporting characters in the entire universe is killed in the first fifteen minutes of the film.
The warlord takes Lois hostage and threatens to kill her, but gunfight breaks out between the warlords hired mercenaries and his staff soldiers. Clark zooms in in his Superman gear to rescue Lois and beat down the warlord and his men. Lois returns to Metropolis where she recovers a strange bullet from her damaged notebook.
She runs herself a hot bath and soaks nervously for a while before Clark returns home with presents in hand. She and Clark talk for a bit about the prior situation before Clark steps into the bath fully clothed and the camera cuts away.
Meanwhile in Gotham City, the GCPD are responding to a disturbance with possible shots fired. The two officers enter the building where they find a Batarang stuck in the doorframe. In the building's basement they find people locked up in a cage, probably as part of a human-trafficking operation. The people within the cage refuse to be let free until the police check the floor above. There, the police find a man chained to a radiator and branded with the Bat emblem. They also see Batman up in the corner before he flees the scene. I suppose he must have been making sure they knew who he was, since one of the responding officers seems to be a rookie. Maybe they took him by surprise, but he'd had enough time to chain up the one guy and brand him. I suppose Bruce must have been interrogating the guy when the police showed up, but he's supposed to have a police scanner installed in his suit, so unless he turned it off while interrogating the guy (Which isn't something he would do, he's freaking Batman) he was probably doing that on purpose.
Bruce returns to the Batcave where Alfred Pennyworth (Played by Jeremy Irons) is working on a new voice-changer for the Batsuit. I suppose all that death-metal growling has gotten to Bruce after twenty years of fighting crime. Bruce and Alfred share a bit of playful banter that eventually descends into existential despair and poetic speechifying. Nice to see things haven't changed much since The Dark Knight trilogy.
Across the Delaware Bay in Metropolis, Clark is cooking breakfast for himself and Lois when he finds out about Bruce's exploits of the previous night. Bruce is no longer known as Batman, but instead "The Bat" as he's taken a much more brutal approach to crime-fighting as time has gone on. I suppose repeated encounters with The Joker over the years must have altered his approach to crime-fighting. The news states that this is the second person to bear the Bat-brand to be found. The news confirms that the man was a sex-trafficker and the first bearer of the Bat-brand was a child predator who was almost killed in prison. This makes Clark start thinking about other superheroes and their approaches to fighting crime.
Meanwhile, Lex Luthor (Played by Jesse Eisenberg) is goofing off in the Lexcorp gym with his employees when he meets with Senator June Finch (Played by Holly Hunter. Yes, that Holly Hunter from The Incredibles) Here it is revealed that this version of Lex Luthor is in fact Alexander Luthor Jr. No, not the new clone body Luthor made after being killed from Kryptonite exposure, just the son of the original Lex Luthor. As far as we can tell, anyways. For all I know, this could literally be the Lex Jr. from the comics. I'll get to this later.
He shows the senator around his lab after hastily donning a white coat. He shows her a sample of Kryptonite that his repair crew found in the ruins of Metropolis, and video of them testing the shard on the body of General Zod (Played by Michael Shannon, no relation to myself). Even dead, they can't damage Zod's body with conventional Earth tech, but the Kryptonite shard was able to not only pierce the skin of the deceased Kryptonian, but also caused a lot of damage to the bodies cellular structure, since the mineral gives off a lot of radiation. The conclusion they come to is that they can use the mineral against Kryptonians in the event that more come to invade, or that Superman turns evil. Lex brings up the massive Kryptonite chunk that the salvage-divers found in the Indian Ocean, and comes to the crux of the matter. He wants an import license to bring the huge Kryptonite chunk into the States. Because it's radioactive, he can't just bring it in normally. He sells this to the senator by telling her that he doesn't want a Nazi-esque Kryptonian regime for future generations to grow up in. While Superman is the only Kryptonian currently on the planet, Lex brings up that there are probably others, not just Kryptonians out there. This introduces us to the "meta-human thesis", the idea that superhumans walk the planet without the knowledge of the rest of humanity. Something which was probably brought up when they realized Superman had been on Earth for almost all of his life without anyone knowing who or what he was.
At the Superman monument in Metropolis, Wallace Keefe, (Played by Scoot McNairy) the man who was pinned by the beam that Bruce saved in the beginning of the film is now in a wheelchair because his legs were amputated. He climbs up onto the statue of the Man of Steel in Heroes Park and defaces it with a can of red paint.
Over at the Daily Planet, Lois is getting a call back from the crime lab about the bullet in her notebook, and Perry White (Played by Lawrence Fishburne) is trying to assign Clark to report on sports, but Clark wants to report on vigilantism. The problem is that vigilantes don't sell papers anymore, the exact opposite of what they do in New York City. Office-bunny Jenny Jurwich (Played by Rebecca Buller) sees a story on the news about Keefe's defacement of the Superman statue with the words "False God" now plastered on its chest in red paint. This causes Perry to go into full-on J. Jonah Jameson mode and start suggesting headlines such as "End of Love Affair With Man In The Sky?"
Lex Luthor begins negotiation with Senator Finch's aide about what he wants to begin experimentation. Luthor demands access to the body of General Zod, and his ship. He then begins harvesting genetic material from Zod's body.
Meanwhile, in the local fight-club, Bruce Wayne has bet on a boxer who takes down some guy who looks like a cross between Brock Lesnar and John Cena. He's there because he's looking to steal some data from the Russian guy who bet on the dude who seriously looks like Randy Orton and The Undertaker were fused together. Bruce cashes in his bet and clones the guys phone.
Back at The Daily Planet, Clark is trying to sell the story about Batman fighting crime on the docks to Perry. He mentions how the police actually help Batman out, and Perry shoots him down since news about crime-waves in Gotham and Batman fighting them isn't really news anymore. Clark tries to get Perry interested, but Perry shoots him down.
Lois walks into the conference-room with the bullet from the firefight and the news that the crime-lab couldn't figure out where the bullet came from. At all. Not on the white market, the grey market or the black market. Perry begrudgingly gets her a flight to Washington DC to talk to the Secretary of Defense, who hasn't been returning her calls or emails.
Senator Finch goes to Luthor's house to tell him that she's blocking his import license because she thinks (Rightly so) that he wants to use it to assassinate Superman. Luthor tries to hard-sell it one more time, but she doesn't buy it.
Bruce has a nightmare about blood and a giant bat bursting out of his parents' mausoleum before waking up.
In Washington, Lois ambushes Calvin Swanwick (Played by Harry Lennix), the Defense Secretary with questions about the bullet, but he brushes them off.
Bruce and Alfred discuss the data recovered from the Russian. Bruce has figured out that the data is being transmitted to Luthor's residence. Bruce wants to break into the house as Batman and steal the data, but Alfred mentions that he can get the job done as Bruce Wayne as well. Since Luthor has invited Bruce to the party, he begrudgingly accepts.
At the party, Clark is covering it for The Daily Planet. There, he meets Bruce Wayne and Lex Luthor. Clark's super-hearing picks up on Bruce's communications with Alfred and he follows him through the party to the server-room downstairs where Bruce plants a device to gather data from the server. As he's waiting, Luthor's assistant walks in on him, and he has to act drunk and confused to get away with being down there.
Bruce goes upstairs to mingle with the people where he meets Clark, who begins grilling him about his opinions on how Batman handles crime in Gotham. Bruce turns this back on him, saying that they were too quick to accept Superman as a hero, before they're interrupted by Luthor, who formally introduces them. Luthor goes over to talk to the governor and Bruce rushes off back to the server-room to retrieve his device, and Clark trails behind him. However, he sees on the television in the kitchen that there's a factory fire in Juarez during the Day of the Dead celebration, so he abandons the party and his pursuit of Bruce to rescue people from the fire.
Bruce finds that his device has been stolen, and a mysterious woman in red (Gal Gadot) appears to have taken it. Bruce suspects she took it, but she drives off before he can catch her.
The film continues into a montage of Superman doing super-things, and various people giving their opinions on him, featuring Neal deGrasse Tyson of all people!
The montage ends with an interview with Senator Finch, being asked if she thinks the risks of having a Superman outweigh the benefits, but she just says the question is moot since Superman is. They don't have a choice anymore. Clark sees this, and it weighs on him.
Lex Luthor pays Wallace Keefe's bail and gives him a new wheelchair, and a platform at the Senate Select Committee on Superman.
Perry confronts Clark about how he hasn't written anything about Luthor's party or football, but has in fact written a story about Batman. Clark tries to explain his position to Perry, but he doesn't want to hear it. This isn't the age of heroic reporters anymore, Perry says, and Clark needs to stop trying to break non-news.
Bruce tracks down the woman in red to a museum (because he's Batman) and confronts her about stealing his device. She gives it back to him since she can't crack the encryption on the data Bruce recovered.
Bruce takes the drive back to the Batcave and begins decryption, but falls asleep at his computer.
Within a nightmare, Bruce sees a future where Superman has formed an army and taken over the world. Bruce tries to get his hands on the chunk of Kryptonite that Luthor had recovered, but Superman's army captures him and brings him in front of The Man of Steel, where we find out that in this nightmare, Clark blames Bruce for the death of a woman he loves.
Bruce awakens with a start to find The Flash (Played by Ezra Miller and decked out in the same kind of gear that Grant Gustin's Flash was wearing in last week's episode of Supergirl) straining to bring Bruce a message from the future before being sucked back to his own time. The message is rather puzzling, but simple. Lois Lane is the key to whatever it going to happen in the future and Bruce was right about someone. Barry mentioned that he was too early, so I suppose he was going to try again later.
Now, Bruce has been right about a lot of things in his life, so this means Barry isn't necessarily talking about Clark. He could be talking about Maxwell Lorde, or Captain Atom, or any of the other guys who have betrayed the Justice League in the comics.
The decryption process has finished, and he searches for information on "The White Portuguese" and finds out that it's a ship. Bruce tells this to Alfred, and when Alfred doesn't buy that it's bringing in a dirty-bomb, Bruce reveals that it's bringing in the Kryptonite Luthor found, and that he wants to steal it. Alfred wants him to destroy it, but Bruce wants to have it as a failsafe in case Superman turns on the world.
Meanwhile, Clark receives a packet of photos of some of the people that Bruce has branded with "Judge" "Jury" and "Executioner" written on them with the question of "Who's next?" on the final photograph.
Out at the docks, Batman attaches a tracker to the truck that the Kryptonite is in and follows it in The Batmobile, but Superman intercepts him to tell him that he wants him to stop being a vigilante.
Bruce drives the now broken Batmobile back to The Batcave so he can use the instruments there to track the truck to the delivery site.
Swanick tells Lois that he's traced the bullet to Lexcorp, but doesn't want to speak about this on the record.
Meanwhile, The Senate Select Committee on Superman is finally convening, and Clark decides to ask his mother for advice on appearing. She tells him he doesn't have to if he doesn't want to, but Clark decides to show up as The Man of Steel anyways.
At the conference, Wallace Keefe is giving an interview about his opinions of Superman, and Bruce looks through the records to try and figure out why he hasn't been receiving his checks from the victims fund, and he finds out that Keefe has been sending his checks back with rants written all over them.
Luthor tries to convince Senator Finch to support his endeavors before the conference starts, but she shuts him down.
Superman flies down to the capitol building, outside of which the worst people in the human race are protesting him. He goes into the building to speak before the committee, but Keefe's wheelchair explodes, killing everyone in the room except for Superman. Clark begins to beat himself up for not noticing this until the microsecond before the chair exploded.
Luthor returns to Lexcorp to find the building trashed and on fire, with the Kryptonite missing, and a Batarang in its place.
Clark returns to the apartment where he begins his existential crisis, where he realizes he can't save everyone all the time.
Meanwhile, Luthor begins his plans to exploit the Kryptonian technology within the ship. He does this by attaching General Zod's fingerprints to his hands and using those to get into it. Why he couldn't have just taken Zod's body over to the scanner and placed his hand on it, I don't know. Luthor takes command of the ship and begins using the computer to learn about it.
Bruce begins working out in a manner similar to the way Stephen Amell's Oliver Queen does. There's the water pouring down within the lair, pullups with a massive amount of weight on his body, and puling around a lot of weight. I know Arrow copies Batman a lot, but in all my years of reading Batman comics, I've never seen the Batcave with water pouring down inside of it. There's just too much valuable equipment inside there for him to allow that much water to keep pouring into his lair. Plus, having cement floors covered in water when practicing martial-arts
As he works out, he also tests out new Kryptonite-based weapons, from gas-bombs to projectile weapons. When the last of the weapons is finally completed, Bruce looks through the rest of the files he stole from Luthor.
Within them, he finds files on the previously mentioned Barry Allen, a mysterious man with a trident (Jason Momoa) an experiment with cybernetic tech, and a photo of the mysterious women in red, Diana Prince. The problem is that the photo is from the first world war.
Luthor takes Zod's body into the Kryptonian Genesis Chamber and slashes his hand to introduce his genetic material into the mix. I suppose he must have figured out what that would do ahead of time. The issue I bring up is that, instead of Lex just extracting his own blood the usual way, like they do when giving blood, he slashes his hand with a knife. Excuse me, no nerd such as him, a person who works with his hands like that would opt to cut the palm of his hand open instead of using a needle and a blood-bag or just a syringe. Luthor seems like the kinda guy who likes to stay up late working or gaming (He's young, of course he does) and as someone who also likes to do this, I can tell you first hand that cuts on the hand or fingers make it difficult to hold or use a controller or mouse properly when you're in pain and have a bandage on your hand.
Jenny starts selling a story to The Daily Planet about whether or not Superman knew about the bomb. Meanwhile, Clark is off climbing in the mountains when the ghost of Johnathan Kent (Played by Kevin Costner) shows up to talk to him about how actions have consequences, and you can't always do something about those consequences.
Luthor's men kidnap Lois and Martha to lure Clark to the Lexcorp building, while Bruce suits up in his biggest, baddest Batsuit so he can finally confront Clark.
Luthor pushes Lois off the building, and Clark rescues her before confronting Luthor, who reveals that he's kidnapped Clark's mother, Martha as well. His men have orders to kill her in an hour unless Clark brings Luthor the head of Batman. Clark, knowing that Bruce is a great detective and not wanting to kill him, decides to extend an olive-branch in the hopes of being able to work together and save his mother. Bruce however has decided Superman needs to die, and begins his assault. Eventually, Clark has enough of his crap and punches him, but Bruce uses his Kryptonite gas-grenades to disable Clark's powers.
Lois commandeers The Daily Planet's helicopter to get to Gotham and the location of the battle fast enough to hopefully defuse the situation.
Clark manages to last long enough against him for the Kryptonite to wear off, but Bruce just pulls out another grenade and disables Clark again, which is enough for him to drag Clark to where he keeps his Kryptonite spear. As he's preparing to behead Clark with the Kryptonite blade, Clark begs him to save his mother. The same way Thomas Wayne was pleading for the life of his wife. At that moment, Bruce's vision of what Superman is shatters. That was when he realized that Superman doesn't see himself as above the human race. That he's not an aloof, godlike figure. That he's just a man, a man who wants to save his mother.
This was the point in time where The Bat became Batman once more. Where everything he started fighting for came flooding back to him. Where The Dark Knight returned.
Bruce throws the spear away and helps Clark to his feet.
Meanwhile, power has started surging within Metropolis, and Diana has noticed this. Within the Lexcorp building, the ship drains even more of the city's power as Luthor's unholy creation spawns.
Clark and Bruce hash out the situation, finally agreeing to have Clark handle the situation at the ship and letting Bruce find Martha Kent. Bruce strips off his damaged Bat-Buster armor and puts on a new cowl so he can increase his maneuverability in combat. Bruce flies off in The Bat-Wing while Clark flies back to Metropolis. Lois throws the Kryptonite spear into a deep pool of water so it can't be recovered to harm Clark.
Bruce tracks down Luthor's men who are holding Martha captive and beats them up, saving Martha.
Clark arrives in Metropolis to shut down Luthor's experiment, but it's too late. Luthor's creation arises, and the city goes dark.
The monster begins to fight Clark, who tries to fly it up and out of the city, but it gets free and punches him into Heroes Park. The monster smashes a slab on Clark's back, and tosses him bodily through the statue of Superman in the center of the park and into a skyscraper.
The military sends in a squadron of helicopters to try and destroy the creature, but they fail, and only succeed in making the monster even stronger. Diana, about to take a flight out of the city on Ferris Air, sees the monster on the news and books it back to Metropolis to help out with the fight against it.
Clark tries once more to fly the creature into space and away from the planet, but the government interferes and decides to nuke the monster. This weakens Superman, leaving him drifting in space, and makes the monster stronger as it re-enters the atmosphere.
Bruce flies in on The Bat-Wing and sees that the monster has survived the nuclear explosion. The thing begins shooting beams from its eyes, and that's when Bruce realizes the thing is Kryptonian, and can only be killed with Kryptonite. The only Kryptonite weapon left is the spear. Bruce decides to lure the monster back to Gotham's docks so he can get to the spear and get it out of the population-center of Metropolis, but just outside of the building, the monster shoots The Bat-Wing down, leaving Bruce open to its attack, but Wonder Woman blocks the beams with her bracelets, and sends a shockwave back at the monster. Clark, who had drifted into the sunlight, flies in at top-speed and tackles the monster away.
Together, the three of them conclude that the monster feeds on being attacked. Bruce loads his last Kryptonite grenade and Diana and Clark try to distract the monster while Lois tries to recover the spear, but she gets trapped under the water by falling debris. Clark rescues her and recovers the spear at the cost of his own strength. Diana restrains the monster with her lasso, and Bruce disables the monster for a while with his last Kryptonite grenade. As Diana holds the monster in place and as Bruce distracts it, Clark is the only one close enough to the spear to get to it, and flies it straight into the monster. With the last bit of its strength, the monster impales Clark, and the two of them die.
At Clark's funeral, it's revealed that Clark was going to propose to Lois before he died. With Superman and Clark Kent dead, Bruce and Diana attend his funeral, and decide to start forming a league of superheroes in case something like this happens in the future.
I'll be honest, I wasn't too optimistic looking into this film. I thought that DC was rushing to a Justice League film without developing the characters properly just to try and cash in on the Avengers craze. When the movie started off, I thought that it was just going to be a carbon-copy of the origin in Christopher Nolan's Dark Knight trilogy, but as time went on, I realized that it wasn't actually a reboot of the Nolan series, but a sequel. You see, at one point in time Bruce mentions to Alfred that they've "always been criminals". Considering the striking similarities to the origin in the Nolan films, plus the fact that Bruce mentions Gotham's history with The Joker and possibly Two-Face, as well as the date of death for Thomas and Martha Wayne, and the fact that Bruce has been Batman for almost twenty years, it slots into the existing Nolan mythos almost perfectly. At least if you discount The Dark Knight Rises, which is actually a good thing. I didn't hate The Dark Knight Rises, but it wasn't the sequel I had been hoping for. This movie, however, fits perfectly into The Dark Knight's universe, and actually makes a lot of sense as a sequel. Sure, a few things would probably need to be ret-conned to make it work 100%, but it wouldn't take much to make it work.
All I hope for now is that the Batman film Ben Affleck is writing is a sequel to Dawn of Justice and not a prequel to Man of Steel. Leave the prequels for the Wonder Woman film and nothing else. From here on out, work on building up to the Justice League film, and please keep up this pace.
While Wonder Woman isn't particularly well-explained, she's freaking Wonder Woman. Wonder Woman is one of DC's most popular superheroes. If you don't know who she is, welcome to modern pop-culture, my name is Alex Shannon, and we're reviewing a DC Comics movie today! Besides, Marvel got away with exactly the same thing when they introduced Black Widow and Hawkeye alike without giving them much background, and it worked out fine. At least until Age of Ultron rolled around.
All in all, I loved this film, just like I loved Man of Steel. Just like I loved The Dark Knight films. At this moment in time, I could not be more pumped to see the rest of the Justice League on the big-screen, or Suicide Squad for that matter. I was worried that DC was rushing into this too quickly, but if they keep this up they're looking at possibly out-doing the DC Television Universe, maybe even the Marvel Cinematic Universe! This is coming from a life-long, die hard Marvel fanboy too.
The pacing is amazing, the action is awesome and the costume design is just beautiful. I want to find an armored Batman figure because that suit is just so freaking cool!
The one issue I can find is that they've pulled out Jesse Eisenberg a little too early. Yes, he looks exactly like Lex Jr., but I wish they'd saved him for later, and maybe used Kevin Spacey as the current Luthor. Plus, it seems like his performance wavers wildly between a younger, more energetic Lex Luthor and a toned-down version of Jack Nickelson's Joker. I'll say this though, at least we actually got to see the eccentic, mastermind, paranoid billionaire Lex Luthor finally instead of the incredibly watered-down versions of the character we've seen in the past. With tighter direction of the character and Kevin Spacey, Luthor might have turned out a lot better. But that's not a big enough issue to bring the whole film down for me.
In the end, I give Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice a 10.0* rating.

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