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DC v Critics: Dawn of A Positive Review

Critics tore into Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, tearing apart Zack Snyder’s latest work. With a 29% rotten rating on Rotten Tomatoes, and generally negative reviews from all kinds of critics (from Time’s Stephanie Zacharek to’s Alex Abad-Santos), the general movie-going populace should have been influenced to believe that the movie was total rubbish, even before they had sampled the latest in what seems to be shaping up into a generation of cinema that is slowly being defined by the “superhero” genre. Then, despite the worst Friday-Sunday dip in history, the movie made 420 million US dollars. The critics, may, have been wrong.

On it’s face, Batman v Superman (BvS) is not a bad movie. It’s actually pretty good, and it managed to accomplish what Warner Bros. set out to do in the first place, all the while doing it to the tune of Hans Zimmer’s marvellous (and weirdly unappreciated) Original Soundtrack (OST). BvS suffered from doing what it was designed to do, as a litmus test for WB’s upcoming 10 DC Comics movies in the next 7 years, the movie was built up to a giant expectation fuelled by a 150 million dollar ad campaign and most importantly, as a foundation stone for WB to build the backstories for the DC Trinity (the nigh unbeatable triumvirate of Batman, Wonder Woman & Superman). This is vastly important, because the Trinity form the founder core of The Justice League of America (JLA, or Justice League), DC Comics’ hero collective, something akin to Marvel’s The Avengers Initiative. However, Disney’s Marvel started setting up for Avengers (2012) with Iron Man (2008), and then released a spew of movies over the next 4 years to establish their characters. WB had to set up Justice League (2017) with just Man of Steel (2013) and BvS (2016). It led to the movie ultimately having to cram the nearly twenty hours it deserved into two, which obviously meant omissions and severe plot changes from the original comic line. Consequently, most comic buffs worth their salt (yours truly included) walked out of the theatre with a look of vague confusion on their faces, while your normal moviegoer was utterly perplexed.

It is imperative to know that a vast majority of the movie’s flaws stem from the studio trying to do too much in terms of story, and the only reason there is such a vast disparity between critics (29%) and moviegoers(83%) is because critics are incapable of adequately judging this movie primarily because most critics don’t have an experience with comic lore, and so the idea of what WB & DC are trying to do, has completely gone over their heads. It in no way counts against them, but in my opinion a large proportion of the negative criticism finds its basis in this.

The movie did not entirely fail, and the idea of the JLA has indeed been seeded, and the whole set up has been somewhat established, so even if the storyline is a little botched, its okay because the movie is fun, tremendously well-executed (except for the weird clay monster oddity that somehow passes for the feared entity of Doomsday, a being that in comic lore, cannot stay dead).

Henry Cavill as Clark Kent (aka Superman) is, despite his lack of dialogue, remarkably human, yet effortlessly godlike, in a a graceful way, something that has come to define the Man of Steel of the comics. Ben Affleck (an extremely controversial choice, given his absolute butchering of Daredevil, so many years ago that only we fanboys still feel angst about it) is a unique Batman, where all his predecessors have played the Caped Crusader (from Bale to Keaton & Clooney) as a dark vigilante who patrols from the shadows and who has been fighting crime for a relatively short while, he has played the Bat differently. Affleck’s Dark Knight is a veteran, who has fought evil for over 20 years and is highly cynical, extremely decisive, painfully ruthless and rather than patrol from the shadows, almost seems to be a part of the darkness, a shadow himself. And let’s face it, Affleck’s 6’ 4” built frame is the closest to the Batman of the comics that any actor has been so far. The real shocker and powerhouse is Gal Gadot’s masterful, efficient and elegant Diana Prince (aka Wonder Woman) which has redefined the image of the Amazon Warrior Princess, something that has been based on a 50-year-old television show and animated movies and cartoons. Jesse Eisenberg’s Alexander Joseph “Lex” Luthor is unique, destructive, psychopathic, sociopathic, cunning, violently power-hungry, energetic, scheming, and manipulative, your typical, quintessential comic book villain come to life. HIs joking, almost sardonic manner is remarkable and a delight to watch.

As aforementioned, the OST is phenomenal, accentuating and gorgeous and while the cinematography leaves something to be desired and is somewhat lacking in consistency of movement and perspective, the editing and production as a whole is definitely above average. But this movie isn’t all butterflies, unicorns, fairies and rainbows, it has its fair share of annoying flaws. Chief among them are Batman’s primary moral code being violated (this is especially harrowing as a transgression, since Batman is built as a character on the murder by gun of his parents in front of his eyes, and it builds an uncrossable line in Bruce Wayne’s psyche where he never uses guns; in the movie he does.) I was shocked, saddened and horrified. A whole lot of storylines from across the multiverses of DC’s multiverses have been carelessly abandoned and character back stories have been mercilessly disfigured and ripped to shreds in some cases.

On a whole, unless you are a comic buff/geek/nerd/fanboy/fangirl, its a movie you will enjoy despite its flaws. If you are any of the comic somethings, you will love it because its the Trinity and there are massive comic lore Easter Eggs.

The best thing to do is to ignore all one-star and negative reviews, watch the movie and judge for yourself. But if you ask me and take my word for it, it was pretty awesome.

- Rushabh Kapasi

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