Despite it balls-out, larger-than-life, brain-burning action hero delirium, DC’s Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice has some moments of stunning beauty that are worth the eye strain and numb bum.
It’s a concept that has a real stickiness; Batman sets out to end Superman.
Seems Superman (Cavill) was present when a calamity in the desert went down in which the good guys died. He is now under suspicion of being anti-people, or worse, anti-American, and Batman (Affleck) takes it upon himself to set things right, growling all the while.
Seriously, if there is anything we know about Superman, it is that he stands for truth, justice and the American way, period, full stop. He cannot act otherwise, his caring response to evil and injustice is to conquer it even if it means reversing the rotation of the earth.
It makes zero sense within the DC universe that has been constructed to think he’s gone off target. It’s impossible, like altering DNA.
Batman is going through a difficult time, an existential crisis, mourning the death when he was young, of his mother and uncovering the reason he has an affinity to bats. (And it’s so simple, its genius.) Batman has plenty of pent-up rage and Superman looks to him like dinner.
Meanwhile a kind of sexy, swaggering Lex Luthor (Eisenberg) is a colourfully psycho tech mogul. He’s created a virtual village for his world domination experiments and is the toast of Gotham and Metropolis. One of his pet projects is collecting kryptonite to be used to torture Superman who is of course, beyond allergic to the green stuff.
Its two hours and 31 minutes of tonally uneven, visually jarring, hellaciously noisy action, but behind the bluster things actually happen.
For instance, we meet the bodacious Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot) who is dressed for fantasy but is solidly capable, equal to the boys. We catch non-speaking glimpses of several Hollywood stars that are going to be appearing soon, very soon, in their own spin-offs and gather for … I can say no more.
Problems: Women, as is usual for these films, are vulnerable beings, to be rescued by the heavily muscled granite-jawed super hero. That’s the time honoured lens through which a women is seen and there is nothing here to suggest development or 2016.
Diane Lane plays Martha Kent, Superman / Clark Kent’s earthly mother, another weak, objectified female role. Amy Adams as Lois Lane, dashes around in a skin tight skirt and stilettos traversing an array of land – and building scapes. She gets into scrapes.
Watch the Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice Trailer
That’s one of the reasons action films are iffy for me and many, women are falsified.
What I truly appreciate about this film is patches of utter beauty. At points the screen morphs from rectangle to square perfectly framing gorgeous images, good, evil, earthy, monsters and humans, whathaveyou. You marvel at spectacles of wonder in nice Instagram-worthy square frames.
But for the most part, the rectangle parts, it’s shot so tightly with so much going on that it’s hard to distinguish what’s happening. You literally can’t see it because it’s too close. The noise and seat rumbling is major.
In all it’s a romp, as these things are, and I bear it no grudges.