Review: Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice

sddefault Man of Steel was and continues to be a very divisive film. So much so that many people will decide to close this window with my next sentence. I loved that film. No, it wasn't perfect and there are some aspects I very much disliked but it was the first Superman movie I enjoyed and the first time I cared about the character. It was also the first time we saw him truly fight at this power level and that was a joy to behold. I mention all of this because those that hated that film are ready to hate BvS mostly due to Snyder. Well let me tell you as a big fan of Man of Steel... I was not a fan of BvS. While it has a lot of great scenes and sequences it is also mess mired in itself.

Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice is not a sequel to Man of Steel and I appreciate that. However it does deal with its direct impact on their world and thereby serves as the introduction to their world at large.

From the top, it opens with a very classy retelling of the murder of Bruce Wayne's parents. Very little is changed and one could argue no one really needs to see this again but the way it was filmed was fantastic. It might be one of my favorite parts of the movie to be honest. Afterward the movie continues to be very Bruce centric as we are shown the Metropolis incident from the eyes of Bruce Wayne (Ben Affleck). He's on the ground, trying to get to a building he owns to get his people out off there while the World Engine is pounding the city to dust. Hoo boy, from the perspective of the people on the ground I can totally understand a hatred of Superman (Henry Cavill). If you had issues with the 9/11-ish imagery from MoS you will have a fit in these sequence. It is very visceral, very disturbing. Bruce Wayne running around in it is great because at no point do you think "Look at Ben Affleck go!" No, this dude was born to play this role. That's right, suck it, haters! Ben Affleck is perfection and I couldn't be happier with this casting choice... but I digress. This scene plays out to show us why Batman wants to take a fight to Superman's door. From here I'll go spoiler free but know that from here the movie starts to get stuck in it's own mess of plot strings.

So let's hit on the big players. Superman/Clark Kent isn't much different from the guy we saw in Man of Steel and that's not ok. It was fine when he was starting out and was entirely unsure of who he was and what he was doing but now he's out there being a good guy and he's still 100% unsure of himself. Rather mopey and there's next to no growth of character between films. This left me entirely disinterested in him and his love affair with Lois Lane (Amy Adams). Though I still love her as Lois, I have to admit. We also get a bit more of Perry White (Lawrence Fishburne) and he was a joy to watch.

Gal Gadot's Wonder Woman is... interesting. In civilian clothes she looks entirely unassuming. Just Diana Prince here, attractive rich woman... or something. However when she shows up as Wonder Woman in full armor it is game on! She was a true warrior and loved the fight. She's perfectly at home in combat. So was she the perfect casting choice? Almost. She can't deliver a line to save her life. Some might avoid saying this because of her accent but I was one of the people that was happy to have a WW with an accent. However her accent is what you'll pay attention to as she delivers all her lines with zero emotion other than guttural yelling in combat. She has a film coming up and now I'm more than a bit worried about it.

So how was Jesse Eisenberg? Another huge point of contention among fans. From the trailers I thought I would love him. Turns out not so much. Have you seen the videos of Weird Gamer Guy, Onyx the Fortuitous? If not hit that link. Lex was like that guy but toned down a bit. I expected quirky but I didn't expect this. Yes, he was a scheming Machiavellian super villain and that was great, but he was also that guy and that was not great at all. It was entirely not a good way to go with him and it turned me off quite a bit.

As stated I won't spoil the plot but there is a lot of plot going on. A hell of a lot of strings to pull at, some makes sense and some make zero sense at all. It's not hard to follow but it's not fun to do so either. It's a convoluted film that isn't just introducing us to the universe it's trying to tell a really bizarre story while introducing plot elements in order to give reason for the scenes they want to make. Knowing WB this was certainly a film outline written by committee with others brought in to string it all together. I went in ready to love this movie and left struggling to like it.

Superman with no growth, Batman with a lack of moral center, Wonder Woman with a terrible actress, Lex that needs meds and a convoluted script. Well... the effects were great and the action was fantastic. However this leaves me far less enthused about what they've dubbed the DC Extended Universe. There was a ton of effort put into this movie and I don't think it really pays off. Opening weekend will be great but I expect a huge drop off after that.

[easyreview title= "Review of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice" cat1title="Rob's Rating" cat1detail="Overall Review" cat1rating="2.5" overall= false]

Review: Son of Batman

SonOfBatman DC’s latest animated feature, Son of Batman, serves as the next installment of stellar animation of familiar comic book superheroes. The movie introduces the audience to Bruce Wayne’s son, Damian. Bruce is unaware of his son until Talia al Ghul drops the boy into his lap after some dangerous circumstances arrive. The movie begins with a surprisingly brutal attack on Ra’s al Ghul’s League of Shadows compound by a mysterious figure, later to be revealed as Deathstroke. In order to keep her young son safe, Talia rushes him off to Gotham City to finally meet his father. While on patrol Batman is greeted by his former lover and introduced to his offspring. The movie follows both father and son as they try and reconcile their two vastly different outlooks on life, and come together as a team. A number of Batman’s familiar allies make an appearance throughout; most notably Alfred. The consummate dry witted butler has some of the best comedic lines in any of the DC animated films to date.

After being put in the care of the Batman, Damian refuses to simply allow for Deathstroke to run free. He takes it upon himself to go after the sword wielding/gun totting sociopath. Damian’s violent ways, gained from his time with the League of Shadows, is really put on display here. There are moments that really push the envelope and frankly, were highly enjoyable. All the while, Batman works to bring his son to revelation that killing someone just makes him a criminal. This the crux of their budding relationship. Every one of the Batman’s previous sidekicks have taken up the non-killing aspect rather quickly, for Damian things run much deeper.

In the end, Batman and Damian take on Deathstroke and his ninja-like henchmen. Bad guys lose and the good guys win. Damian embraces his legacy, and Batman has a new Robin; all is right in the world. Per usual, a fun romp with plenty of bloody violence, quick one-liners, and familiar faces. The story, while not complex is just simplistic enough to make for one of DC’s best animated films to date. I look forward to seeing more of Damian chop it up as the bloodthirsty sidekick to the stoic Batman.

[easyreview title= "Review of Son of Batman" cat1title="Jay's Rating" cat1detail="Overall Review" cat1rating="4.0" overall= false]

Review: Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox

Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox

Since 2007 DC has been releasing some pretty awesome direct-to-video films based on many of their popular characters and storylines. Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox, the 17th film in the DC Animated Universe, continues this tradition with an all-star cast, good storytelling and great animation.  It is an adaptation of the Flashpoint story arc by Geoff Johns and Andy Kubert which, in effect reset the DC Comics Universe timeline and created the New 52 continuity, a relaunched, remixed and revamped version of all DC Comics. The film opens with a flashback into Barry Allen’s origin as a young man coming home later than expected only to find that his mother has been killed.  Flash forward to the present and we see Allen as the Flash thwarting an ambush from some of his rouges gallery including Captains Cold, Boomerang, Mirror Master, and The Top (editor note: The Flash has some terrible villains).  Eobard Thawne, a.k.a. Professor Zoom, reveals himself to be the mastermind of the ambush and Flash, with the help of the rest of the Justice League, defeats the goons.  Upon his defeat, Professor Zoom gets under Flash’s skin and vows his revenge.  The next day, Barry wakes to find himself in a reality where his mother is alive, he has no powers, and the world is caught in the middle of a brutal war between Aquaman and Wonder Woman’s respective forces.

The animation in this film is top notch and some of the best in the DCAU.  Fans of the Young Justice TV show will feel right at home with Phil Bourassa’s anime influenced character designs.  With the scarlet speedster blurring through the screen, to the destroyed beauty of the world in the wake of the war, and the shocking crimson dripping from a severed head, this movie is a visual delight.

You read that right, a severed head.  This movie is the darkest entry in the DCAU to date.  Characters will die and die in violent ways.  This is not for children.

The voice work, led by Justin Chambers as the Flash, is excellent. He helps sell the audience that The Flash can and should have a star vehicle.  He and Kevin McKidd as a bitter, alcoholic Thomas Wayne carry the film and have a good chemistry.   Andrea Romano has once again brought together a phenomenal cast including, Michael B. Jordan, C. Thomas Howell, Nathan Fillion, Ron Pearlman, Kevin Conroy, Carey Elwes, Vanessa Marshall, Steve Blum, Jennifer Hale, and Dana Delaney (back as Lois Lane).  The entire cast gives a great performance, even if most of them only get a line or two.

With Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox, DC continues to outshine all others with its animated offerings. This film is worthy to be in any comic fan’s collection.