Film Review: Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice

BATMAN v SUPERMAN: DAWN OF JUSTICE

Zack Snyder’s Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice has the look and feel of an epic blockbuster, even if the reality does not quite match the expectation.

Following the devastation in Metropolis a year and a half ago, Bruce Wayne is angered that Superman’s power is going unchecked. As Clark Kent and Wayne clash, Lex Luthor puts his plans into motion…

Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice is a film many comic book fans would have been waiting for. And yet it isn’t; Man of Steel will never welcome the adoration of 1978’s Superman and there is yet another Batman following the success of the Christopher Nolan trilogy. With expectations readjusted, then, director Zack Snyder’s film is a different beast than the superhero movie to end all superhero movies.

Snyder builds momentum to big moments in the film at a leisurely pace. There are short sequences in Batman V Superman that could easily have been cut – the training sequence serves little purpose, for example. The building of tension is successful to a certain extent, although the film relies on an invested viewer who will wait for the pay off. At times it feels as if Snyder does not have a tight grip on the narrative. Part of the problem is that this film is not a stand-alone picture; it is used to set up the DC franchise of superhero films. This is evident in sequences throughout the film, as if the picture is laying the groundwork for something more.

When the action does arrive, it is well executed for the most part. The use of CGI, although well executed, is too prominent. Nevertheless, action sequences do generate excitement. With Bruce Wayne overwhelmed with anger and stress and Clark Kent given little to play with, the real highlight of the film is the introduction of Wonder Woman. If her spin-off movie has a decent script, no doubt it will be excellent. Visuals in Batman V Superman are highly stylised, and the score is one of the best elements of the film. The dialogue is not fantastic, and there is a lack of care given to the plotting. For all its bluster, the film suffers because the narrative does not match the production values.

Ben Affleck makes a decent Batman, ably assisted by Jeremy Irons’ Alfred. Amy Adams reprises her role as Lois Lane with gusto, but Henry Cavill is given little meat in the script. Jesse Eisenberg’s Lex Luthor will not be to everyone’s tastes, but his depiction is more palatable than Kevin Spacey’s in Superman Returns. Gal Gadot is well cast as Wonder Woman.

Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice is not a classic superhero movie, but it does have redeeming qualities. DC fans should enjoy the more serious tone of the film, even if it is not exactly what they were hoping for.

Previews: Pete’s Dragon Trailer, The Witch and more!

Lots to see in this week’s preview of coming attractions, including the new Pete’s Dragon trailer, a featurette on The Witch, and more…

Pete’s Dragon Trailer

Here is the new Pete’s Dragon trailer. The film is a remake of the 1977 live action-animation adventure. Starring Robert Redford and Bryce Dallas Howard, the film is an interesting next feature from Ain’t Them Bodies Saints helmer David Lowery. Pete’s Dragon hits UK cinemas on 12th August 2016.

The Witch Featurette

The Witch looks like a genuinely unsettling film. In this featurette, writer-director Robert Eggers speaks about creating a New England horror story. Viewers will be familiar with the setting from films such as The Crucible; it will be interesting to see what Eggers does with this. The Witch is released on UK screens on 11th March 2016.

The Hunstman: Winter’s War Poster

The Huntsman Winter's War Poster

It appears that Snow White and the Huntsman prequel The Hunstman: Winter’s War will have the same visual flair. The film sees the return of Charlize Theron and Chris Hemsworth, who are joined by Emily Blunt and Jessica Chastain. The Huntsman: Winter’s War is out in UK cinemas on 4th April 2016.

Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice Trailer

This is the final trailer for Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice. Zack Snyder’s highly anticipated film sees the return of the Man of Steel cast, plus a host of other DC characters. Ben Affleck is this incarnation’s Batman; it will be interesting to see how he fairs against previous portrayals of the iconic character. Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice hits UK screens on 25th March 2016.

Zootropolis Trailer

Well this looks enchanting. Zootropolis is the latest animated feature from Disney. The film is about a police officer bunny who teams up with a scam artist fox to solve a case. If this isn’t enough to convince you (which, frankly, it should be), the film features the voices of Ginnifer Goodwin, Jason Bateman and Idris Elba. Zootropolis releases in UK cinemas on 25th March 2016.

The New Superhero Movies

With the release of Avengers: Age of Ultron last week, superhero movie season has just begun.Back in the late 1970-mid-1990s era, audiences were lucky to get one big comic book adaptation a year. Now, this is the tentpole genre, with several new superhero movies being released each year. Both Marvel and DC Movies have revealed a busy slate for the coming years. The reality is, however, that the new superhero hero movies are unlikely to be ‘new’ at all, with the plethora of remakes, spin-offs and reboots that are due to come out in the next few years.

New Superhero Movies

There are in fact some new superhero movies set for release – that is to say films that feature characters or concepts that have not been depicted on the big screen before. These include…

Ant-Man

Ant-Man

Marvel’s next cinematic release is Ant-Man, which hits the big screen on 17th July 2015.  Despite not being one of Marvel’s better-known superheroes, Ant-Man first appeared in comics in the early 1960s. Not carrying the same exposure in other media as some other Marvel title characters, it will be interesting to see how Ant-Man fairs with audiences. Nevertheless, Guardians of the Galaxy was not harmed by a lack of mainstream audience consciousness.

Suicide Squad

Director David Ayer has been teasing fans will glimpses of the film on his Twitter account. Although some of the characters have appeared in feature films before (notably the Joker and Lex Luthor), Suicide Squad is classed as one of the new superhero movies because the story of this group has not previously been depicted on the big screen.

Doctor Strange

Benedict Cumberbatch plays the lead role in Marvel’s Doctor Strange. The sorcerer first appeared in marvel comics in 1963. The film, which is set for release on 28th October 2016 in the UK, appears to be an origins story. Which is just as well, given that the superhero is not one of Marvel’s most popular characters.

Wonder Woman

Courtesy of Zack Snyder’s Twitter account http://twitter.com/ZackSnyder

Although there has been a television film (aired in 1974), as well as the famous television series, Wonder Woman has never starred in her own feature film. Perhaps the most iconic of all female superheroes, Wonder Woman will finally take centre stage in her own cinematic release on 23rd June 2017.

Superhero Sequels

This category occupies the majority of forthcoming releases in the comic book adaptation genre. Many of the new superhero movies are sequels to films released in the last few years, including…

Deadpool

Ryan Reynolds reprises his role (from 2009’s X-Men Origins: Wolverine) as the Marvel antihero in Deadpool. It is unclear how much of a crossover there will be with the X-Men series of films. But with the star power of Reynolds and the lure of a R-rating in the US, Deadpool is sure to bring in audiences when it is released on 12th February 2016.

Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice

One of the most anticipated movies of 2016, Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice is a follow-up to 2013’s Man of Steel and seemingly a precursor to DC’s forthcoming The Justice League Part 1 and 2Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice will offer viewers their first look at Ben Affleck as Batman when it is released on 25th March 2016.

Captain America: Civil War

2014’s Captain America: The Winter Soldier was one of the best Marvel films thus far, so expectations are high for its sequel. The film will feature a host of Avengers’ characters, including Iron Man, Black Widow and Hawkeye. It seems to be the closest fix to an Avengers movie until 2018, when Avengers: Infinity War Part 1 is released. Captain America: Civil War will hit the big screen on 29th April 2016.

X-Men: Apocalypse

X-Men Nightcrawler

The follow-up to 201’s X-Men: Days of Future Past, X-Men: Apocalypse sees the return of director Bryan Singer. The film reintroduces a number of characters viewers of the first film series will be familiar with. This time they appear as younger versions, including Kodi Smit-McPhee as Nightcrawler (pictured above). X-Men: Apocalypse will be released on 19th May 2016.

Gambit

Another off-shoot of the X-Men franchise, the character is the subject of his own film when Gambit is released on 7th October 2016. This time around, the character is played by Channing Tatum, following Taylor Kitsch’s turn in the role in X-Men Origins: Wolverine. It has been reported this week that the character may not make an appearance in X-Men: Apocalypse, making it unclear whether Gambit is a sequel that relates to this world, or is a reboot of the character from the 2009 film.

Wolverine 3

The third-standalone Wolverine film is set for release on 2nd March 2017. Star Hugh Jackman indicated on his Instagram account that this would be the last time he would play the role. Little is known about the plot of the film; it does not yet have an official title. Perhaps the three X-Men film released before Wolverine 3 will have some impact in shaping the film.

Guardians of the Galaxy 2

A cinematic adaption one of Marvel’s less-popular franchises, 2014’s Guardians of the Galaxy was a huge worldwide hit. The sequel, when it is released on 28th April 2017, has a lot to live up to. At the moment, it is unclear whether there’ll be any crossover with the Avengers universe, although one of Guardians of the Galaxy 2‘s stars hopes this will be the case.

Superhero Reboots

There are two clear superhero reboots scheduled for release in the next two years, although some of the above films may fall into this category. Audiences can look forward to seeing new versions of…

Fantastic Four

The 2005 film Fantastic Four and its 2007 sequel were hardly great fan favourites, so there does not seem to be a great deal of upset at the reboot of the Marvel franchise. What is promising about this new version is the cast, which includes Miles Teller and Michael B. Jordan. With a 2017 sequel already planned, Fantastic Four hits the big screen on 6th August 2015.

Spider-Man

Yes a Spider-Man reboot has already been done, with the sequel to that reboot only being released last year. However a new reboot is scheduled for release in 2017, with a number of actors being discussed for the lead role. Although not much is known about this new film at the moment, Spider-Man will appear in next year’s Captain America: Civil War.

The Future…

This is not the last of this swath of new superhero movies, with both Marvel and DC planning a slate that will continue until at least 2020. These include standalone films for Aquaman and Black Panther, sequels for Thor and others, and reboots such as Green Lantern. After Marvel’s recent dominance of the superhero genre, it will be interesting to see whether DC can regain some of their earlier magic. Despite the apocalyptic action depicted in the films, this is where the real battle lies.

Film Review: Man of Steel

MAN OF STEEL

Man of Steel is a very entertaining blockbuster. Nevertheless, it does not quite reach the zenith of superhero movies set by The Dark Knight trilogy.

As a young boy, Clark realises that he is not like everyone else. As an adult, he drifts, helping people along the way. Clark is determined to find out where he came from and what his purpose is on Earth…

Man of Steel is an ambitious project, considering the success of the first series of Superman films and the lukewarm reception to Superman Returns. Zack Snyder’s film is a success, but not a masterpiece.

Man of Steel is very much a coming of age story, writ large and fantastic. The narrative concerns itself with the past of the title character, and the present of being on the cusp of discovery. The origins tale is told partly through flashbacks. The dialogue is occasionally cheesy, but this perhaps fits in with Superman as the ultra-American hero.

The two dominant themes in Man of Steel are morality and otherness. The emphasis on choosing the right path and so forth was a strain that ran through the earlier series of films. The focus on Clark as an alien however, seems specific to this film. This is dealt with in as natural way as possible, given the topic.

Hallmarks of director Zack Snyder are present throughout the film. His style is particularly noticeable in the frequent action sequences, which are mostly on a grand scale. The very last action scene is a little overlong, but for the most part these sequences are well executed. There is a heavy use of CGI in the film, but this should not come as a great shock to those familiar with the director’s earlier work. 3D works well in Man of Steel as it is not too overt.

Henry Cavill delivers a solid performance in the title role, and Michael Shannon is as strong as ever. Amy Adams, Diane Lane and Kevin Costner provide good support. Hans Zimmer’s score is a highlight.

Man of Steel is a big improvement on Superman Returns. Snyder’s film entertains for its 143-minute running time, although it is not exactly a peerless blockbuster.

Stuff To Look At

This week there is plenty of stuff to look at, including the latest from  Man of SteelThe Bling Ring trailer and more…

Man of Steel

Well doesn’t this latest Man of Steel trailer look exciting? To be honest, the first trailer for the new Superman film was a bit too fishing boat for me. This looks far more appealing, given that it is after all a superhero movie. Man of Steel is out in UK cinemas 14th June 2013.

The Bling Ring

Above is the international version of The Bling Ring trailer. I have seen The Bling Ring and can say with confidence that it is a great film. Sofia Coppola writes and directs the story of the young group of burglars who stole from the homes of Hollywood celebrities. It features the world’s greatest blog Dlisted, which is reason enough to go and see The Bling Ring when it hits UK cinemas on 5th July 2013.

The East

This is one good-looking group of anarchists. The East appears to tap into the proliferation of groups such as Anonymous with this story of an FBI officer who goes undercover to infiltrate a collective known as ‘The East’. The film opens in UK cinemas on 28th June 2013.

Rio 2

Following the success of the 2011 animated movie, sequel Rio 2 has a teaser trailer. Blu and Jewel have had three mini-birds. The teaser gives very little away about the plot, but I’m sure more will be revealed closer to Rio 2‘s release in 2014.

Stuff To Look At

Plenty of movie stuffs this week, including the latest Man of Steel TV spot, Disney’s Big Hero 6, the Coen Brothers’ latest and a Herzog re-release…

Man of Steel

Here is the new Man of Steel TV spot. Although the film looks exciting, the TV spot fails to answer the question everyone is asking; is Gus Gorman in this latest Superman film? Really, that’s what we want to know. Man of Steel, with or without Gus Gorman, is released in UK cinemas on 14th June 2013.

Big Hero 6

Here is the first look at Disney Animation’s Big Hero 6. I want to live in San Fransokyo, it looks amazing! The film is about a robotics prodigy who finds himself in the grips of  criminal plot that threatens the city. Big Hero 6 is due for release in the US on 7th November 2014.

Inside Llewyn Davis

Ethan and Joel Coen’s Inside Llewyn Davis is about a young folk singer in 1960s New York. The film stars Oscar Isaac, Carey Mulligan and Justin Timberlake. But who knows, the breakout star may be the cat in the first seen in this trailer. Inside Llewyn Davis is due for release in UK cinemas on 24th January 2014.

The World’s End

Edgar Wright’s latest offering is The World’s End, starring past collaborators Simon Pegg and Nick Frost. The film seems like exactly what one would expect from the trio; comedy and some very strange shenanigans. The World’s End hits UK screens on 19th July 2013.

The Internship

The Internship reunites Owen Wilson and Vince Vaughn. The comedy is about two advertising salesmen who start an internship at Google. The trailer reminds me of that episode of Friends where Chandler starts an internship at an ad agency and he’s so much older than the rest of the interns. The Internship is out in UK cinemas on 4th July 2013.

About Time

Here is the first trailer for Richard Curtis’ latest film, About Time. The comedy stars Bill Nighy, Rachel McAdams and Domhall Gleeson. I’m getting Groundhog Day vibes from the trailer, although I think the film is going to weigh heavy on the whole consequences theme. About Time is released in UK cinemas on 6th September 2013.

Aguirre, Wrath of God

I wish Werner Herzog was narrating this trailer. Werner Herzog should narrate everything. Anyway, the director’s 1972 film Aguirre, Wrath of God gets a re-release as part of the BFI’s retrospective of Herzog in June. Aguirre, Wrath of God will be screened at the BFI and selected UK venues from 7th June 2013.

Stuff To Look At

The post in which I wax lyrical about new movie trailers. And inform you of the films set for release this summer. And get annoyed when I find out film characters share my name. The audacity…

Summer of Cinema 2013

Two weeks ago I went to the launch of ‘Summer of Cinema 2013’ to hear about upcoming releases and enjoy a mini burger (I love miniature food). There is lots to see this summer, from the big blockbusters (Man of Steel, Star Trek Into Darkness) to films by Robert Redford and Sofia Coppola. Check out the compilation above.

Epic

Epic has a rather impressive cast voicing its characters. Among others, Colin Farrell, Amanda Seyfried and Christoph Waltz lend their voices. Beyonce voices a character called ‘Princess Tara’. Contrary to popular belief, this is not actually by nickname. Although I am not happy about the use of my name, I will reserve judgement until I see how this character plays out. Epic is released is UK cinemas on 22nd May 2013.

Much Ado About Nothing

A departure from vampires and superheroes, Joss Whedon directs a contemporary update of Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing. Shot in twelve days and starring some of Whedon’s previous collaborators, the film is a far cry from the filmmaker’s recent output. I am looking forward to this foray into Shakespeare; it will be interesting to see if Whedon can handle it as well as he does big-budget comic book fare. Much Ado About Nothing is released on 14th June 2013.

The Seasoning House

Well, The Seasoning House is certainly not about the abode of spices. This revenge thriller looks pretty brutal. The Seasoning House is the directorial debut of special effects designer Paul Hyett. The film is out in cinemas on 21st June 2013.

In Fear

This trailer is almost haunting. It’s definitely the music. In Fear is a British horror film starring Alice Englert. It looks like a warning never ever to go on a car journey, and not just because they make you feel a bit queasy. Perhaps this is just me. In Fear is due for release in Autumn 2013.

Byzantium

Neil Jordan knows vampires. That’s why I am looking forward to Byzantium, unlike some other recent vampire flicks *cough Twilight cough*. Starring Gemma Arterton and Saoirse Ronan, Byzantium is released in UK cinemas on 31st May 2013.

Thor: The Dark World

For the first minute-plus of this trailer I must have been in the majority of people thinking ‘yeah, but where the hell is Loki? I know Tom Hiddleston is in this film’. Looking rather bedraggled, Avenger Assemble‘s fantastic antagonist finally makes an appearance. Thor: The Dark World hits the big screen in the UK on 30th October 2013.