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Was it truly the greatest gladiator match in the history of the world?

One of the most anticipated films of the year has finally been released in theatres worldwide. Starring the Dark Knight himself and the Man of Steel alongside many other counterparts so vital to the DC Comics Universe. Director Zack Snyder was put in charge of bringing to life one of the most violent and grim tales of the DC story arcs, but did it truly pay off?

Firstly, let’s bring up our (other) favorite billionaire playboy philanthropist; Bruce Wayne (portrayed by Ben Affleck). For over a year, critics, as well as fans, were not only skeptical about the casting choice, but incredibly worried; considering him an insult to the character even without catching a glimpse of any scene. Luckily, they were wrong. Ben Affleck not only portrays a great Bruce Wayne, he lives this role. One can go as far as to say that he was born to play this specific Bruce Wayne; the darker, grim, angry and tormented Bruce Wayne the comics from the mid 80s and early 90s gave birth to, giving the Batman story arcs a very mature turn. He delivers every line carefully and with just the right tone to not say he was overacting or to not be taking the part seriously. The audience can very well get behind Wayne for he is a believable character, one a viewer can comprehend. However, can the viewers join him in the Batmobile?

As Batman, Ben Affleck struggles, but only slightly. One can spot fragments of Bruce Wayne in the Dark Knight and that is not something one wants to see. Batman, essentially, is Wayne’s alter ego. Unfortunately, one is constantly reminded of him just being Bruce Wayne. That said however, he’s certainly no George Clooney. Affleck still plays Batman with gravitas and with just the right amount of darkness and power the Dark Knight is known for. He doesn’t take trouble from anyone and is his own person, fighting for what he believes in. He is certainly very enjoyable to watch when it comes to beating up soldiers and guards and doing all sorts of bat-sh*t-crazy (pun intended) stunts. Affleck’s Batman certainly needs work for the upcoming films, but it is an overall great portrayal considering the material with which he’s working.

Henry Cavill’s Son of Krypton is just what you’d expect. Until of course, the plot thickens and he becomes a more brooding man with god-like abilities questioning even his own morality and powers. It is certainly nothing new to the franchise per se, but Cavill’s Superman is a likeable character nonetheless. He fits the bill as both Clark Kent and Superman (or for the diehards, Kal El). He works well with what he’s got, but it is a shame that Cavill was confined to two modes when playing Superman; a righteous hero for the people, believing he is doing good and an egotistical all-powerful being believing that only his sense of justice is right. Common and clichéd, but expected as Superman, Cavill should be accepted by the audience.

The main villain, Lex Luthor was a wildcard throughout the entire movie. Nonsensical philosophy and means of gaining power, as well as credibility as a villain certainly was a very big change for the character; one known to be calm, cool, collected, and in fact very sane – no matter what he makes fans believe. Jesse Eisenberg’s Luthor had his own take on the role and the audience can very well be divided on his portrayal. His recklessness and almost Riddler-esque dialogue as well as his mannerisms in general were certainly unexpected and at times a bit cringe-worthy but a welcomed addition to the character. He is a younger Luthor, hence there is room to have the villain more power hungry than usual, therefore leaving out coolness and calmness. Only time will tell if this Luthor is just in a ‘’post-teen angst phase’’ or if this will be as far as character development goes for upcoming films. Eisenberg’s Luthor is enjoyable to watch on screen and is a welcomed first-time portrayal, but lacks some depth and tone.

One of the most anticipated moments of the film was certainly Wonder Woman’s entrance. As expected, it did not disappoint. Gal Gadot’s portrayal of Diana Prince and Wonder Woman are both very well delivered. It is only a shame that she does not have as much screen time. Though it allows the audience to look forward to her upcoming solo movie, where the writer will hopefully delve deeper into her incredible backstory.

The other cameos of The Flash, Aquaman and Cyborg were certainly a very big treat for fans and moviegoers but there is still unfortunately not much to say regarding these characters, as viewers have not seen much of them. The Justice League is coming, just not yet…

One can never doubt the idea of casting the brilliant Jeremy Irons as Alfred Pennyworth. He, just like Affleck, was born to play this role. As a fatherly figure, a strong willed character and the greatest butler ever, Irons delivers every line in the most superb way. He honors even the portrayals of Michael Caine from Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight Trilogy, Michael Gough from Tim Burton’s 1989 Batman and even Alan Napier from the 1960s Batman TV show. Smart, sophisticated and taking bat-sh*t from no one (again, pun intended), Irons’ Pennyworth is a welcomed addition to the depictions of such an iconic and timeless character.

Amy Adams did a good job as Lois Lane but failed to truly showcase the torment she goes through as in the original source material. Granted, they did leave it out of the script. It would have been nice to see the actress’ range when it comes to playing such an emotional and curious character. She is confined to a Mary-Sue and unfortunately does not have room for much else. Adams is convincing nonetheless, considering what she was given to work with.

The film itself was complete eye-candy! Zack Snyder has an appealing aesthetic when it comes to bringing darker worlds and stories to life. The action sequences were well shot and the effects, though sometimes seeming sloppy, honored the source material. Snyder’s colour palette has always been considered a staple (for better or worse) in his movies. The film can be considered fan-service as it may strike a chord with critics. However, speaking as a fan, the movie truly delivers the action and intensity for which one would hope. The stylized action sequences are very enjoyable. Granted, they may seem too fast (as in ‘’blink-and-you-miss’’ sequences), but they remain unique nonetheless.

As the story and script are considered, the film does lack coherence and pacing. The first and second act are well executed but the final act seems rushed due to everything that happens. The climax is predictable but it was certainly new – one that was never introduced in the comics, yet is still welcomed and original.

Batman V. Superman is certainly no masterpiece. It has its flaws and it is unfortunate that the final and most important scenes are slightly rushed (to cram in the entire Justice League). It is an enjoyable movie nonetheless, catering to the fans, not to the critics. It keeps the conversation going regarding the ageless question, “when is too much power dangerous?”, and addresses the subject perfectly – including different perspectives. Meanwhile, it honors the source material, giving it a more realistic approach. Greatest gladiator match thus far.

Written By: Lazaros Kalipolidis

April 2016

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