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Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice Review

Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice
Josh /
Can watch again
Good for kids
Good for dates
Wait for OTT
Bruce Wayne is having trouble trying to be Batman. Superman is having trouble trying to be Clark Kent. However, the guy who's having real trouble trying to be someone else is Zack Snyder. He tries so hard to be Christopher Nolan, it can get embarrassing to watch.

Keeping with Nolan's propensity to make films with brooding protagonists, Snyder gives us two brooding protagonists. They brood, fret, and locate themselves in high altitudes from where they can gaze at the world and ponder why the colours are so low on saturation. Snyder does all he can to give us that dark grimy world which people got tired of in The Dark Knight Rises itself. Meanwhile, in an alternate universe, tiny inconsequential superheroes like Antman and Deadpool are entertaining large audiences while having so much fun themselves. Snyder appears like he would rather watch Fantastic Four four times before he places one light-hearted sequence in a film of his.

It is an unlikely plot. Bruce Wayne (Ben Affleck is good - usual reliable good) hates Superman, and Clark Kent (Henry Cavill is wood - fine, sculpted wood) won't have anything of an extralegal vigilante who isn't apparently following rules. As these two sulk and nurture good amounts of loathing for each other, Lex Luthor (Jesse Eisenberg is the only actor who convinces us on his rather ill-developed character), a young maverick billionaire with less than noble intentions, seizes the opportunity to start off a ram fight between these grown-up brats.

You realise how strange this is when Wayne criticises Superman because he is an alien destroying public property (in that extra-terrestrial war at the end of Man Of Steel). One has to acknowledge that Batman himself has no state license for destruction of public property without prior intimation and yet rams his Batmobile into buildings at will. Consequently, you fail to see why Batman has anything against Superman except that there'd be no story otherwise. And let's not even talk about Kent's issues with Batman being a vigilante beyond the grasp of the government in the same movie where the government has an entire panel to discuss whether Superman means any good.

With these gaping holes in the script, poorly developed characters, and a morbid obsession with darkness for darkness' sake, it is no wonder that the film would get panned. In other news, comic book fans have their own issues with the film. People have waited around fifty years to see Batman and Superman in a movie together, and no one is happy with the final turnout. No back-stories are provided - we don't know what Batman was upto the last few years, nor do we know why Lex Luthor breeds such hatred for Superman, and we have nothing on Wonder Woman (who incidentally draws the most whistles in the hall). The movie just stays in the air with nothing to ground it.

But we have to remember why the studios sign up Snyder. For all his faux depth, the guy is magical with his frames. Right from 300, he has been pushing the boundaries of movie visuals in terms of special effects, cinematography and action choreography. Dawn Of Justice has no scarcity when it comes to breathtaking visuals. Right from the first scene where Bruce's mother's pearls scatter on the screen to the climactic clash where colossal fury is unleashed by the villain, you'll have to keep watching with awe.

The non-critical, non-fan audiences will find this visceral experience enough to justify the ticket cost. As an isolated spectacle film with no context, Dawn Of Justice pulls in the same league as movies like Jurassic World. Nothing to engage, fun to watch, and worth a visit to the theatre (best watched in 3D). However, if you start taking into consideration the context of A-List stars, A-List superheroes, and the shadow of the Dark Knight trilogy, you'll see that the film does no justice to its promise. Ironic that it is called Dawn Of Justice.
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Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (english) reviews
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  • Cast
    Ben Affleck, Henry Cavill, Amy Adams, Jesse Eisenberg, Diane Lane, Laurence Fishburne, Jeremy Irons, Holly Hunter, Gal Gadot
  • Music
    Hans Zimmer, Junkie XL
  • Director
    Zack Snyder
  • Theatres
    Not screening currently in any theatres in Hyderabad.
Kanye on 29th Mar 2016, 4:41am | Permalink
I just want to say... I immensely appreciate both of you (Josh and JayZ) for trying to break down our cinematic approach. I would also like to add that is possibly the only site with honest reviews and a good dose of appropriate humor. Keep it going lol i'll add to the convos later!
Josh on 29th Mar 2016, 7:53am | Permalink
Thank you, Kanye.

If I'm allowed to make a joke, I'm waiting for Akon and Eminem to join to the conversation, too :)
Josh on 28th Mar 2016, 12:11pm | Permalink
I don't think we have that much of a multiplex market. It makes sense in Bollywood because of the numbers and the high ticket prices (around 300 INR per ticket as opposed to our 150 and Chennai's 120) but without those numbers and the high prices, multiplex films can't work in our context.

And I have a couple of questions for you.

Will our multiplex audience watch a film about common people? What I observe in our movies is the protagonist is usually a megalomaniac messiah or a very very wealthy charmer often taking off to Europe or Australia (if not living there already). Do you suppose we like to watch stories of common people belonging to the lower or middle classes?

Secondly - Gopala Gopala was a hit, yes. Drushyam wasn't particularly so. In both cases, however, did you think the movie was made well? Did anyone carry the message that Gopala Gopala was trying to convey? My question is - even in these offbeat situations, do we actually make good films? I feel, the issue is simply a lack of talent. Someone as resourceful as Venkatesh seems unable to source good directing talent. Why do you think is that the case?
Jayz on 29th Mar 2016, 8:26pm | Permalink
So to summarise what I understand from you is....we are at fault...we and tge directors...we are not mature enough to understand the intricate sensitivities of some subjects...
Josh on 30th Mar 2016, 9:25am | Permalink
I wouldn't get into the fault and blame terminology. All I'm saying is movie stars are small fry. All individuals are small fry. In a democracy and a moderately free market economy, it's the society as a whole that wields true power and it is the society (including you and me but not solely us) that is responsible for its lot.
Jayz on 30th Mar 2016, 11:43am | Permalink
I will attack you when you write your next review....:-P...cheers
Jayz on 30th Mar 2016, 1:13pm | Permalink
Its not over....the space here on this page is I thought I would continue when your next review is out
Josh on 30th Mar 2016, 12:52pm | Permalink
Oh, the discussion is over? Okay, I have to collate this stuff and start off my long overdue blog.

Cheers! :)
Jayz on 28th Mar 2016, 1:00pm | Permalink
I agree with next question is about the negative potrayal of gays, objectification of women ,africans ( or generally darl skinned people) and white people( like foreigners are money minded machines)....even though our directors and actors make masala movies, why cant they add a message of not making fun of them....or is it the case of them not knowing about them in they show gays are perverted sex addicts who cant resist any man...while they are like any of us who just love a person of opposite gender....Bollywood doesn't do that a lot anymore...why cant our guys follow suit?
Josh on 29th Mar 2016, 7:52am | Permalink
Once again, our film makers are giving us what we watch. And we are very conveniently racist, misogynist, and ethnocentric among other things. But we Telugus aren't alone in this. It is practically human nature to be too faithful to one's own group and derogatory to or skeptical of members of any other group. This is further accentuated when the other group in question happens to be smaller in numbers.

You may say that the west isn't that way but you need to look at how Donald Trump may just be the Republican candidate for American President. A tribal disregard for other groups is instinctive human nature.

Equal and ethical treatment of all human beings is an elevated ideal that needs to be cultivated in people in order for them to overcome the primal urge for hatred towards the other and respect everyone's rights.
The western society lays premium emphasis on this because of their (not unique but greatly publicised) history of oppression and because they are highly multi-cultural and multi ethnic.

And further, because they are very large economies. Once there is wealth and mixed groups contributing to the wealth, you're both ethically and economically inclined to value rights and liberties of every person irrespective of their group memberships. This is what you come across in some pockets of urban India.

That piece of hypothesis was necessary to explain why Bollywood manages to look very sensitive. That is because the Hindi film industry, by which I mean the people who produce and direct, are a different economic class as opposed to much of the country. Immensely wealthy, and frequently interacting with the west, these folks attempt to maintain a lifestyle and a value system which they feel is more civilised. This isn't unlike NRIs refusing to eat Biryani without a spoon and fork.

So these folks are making films that they feel comfortable with. Which is why you often come across Hindi films which are just English movies force fitted to our requirements. Also the multiplex market is making up for its lack of numbers with its high ticket costs and these audiences are mostly the wealthy members of the society (whether generational or nouveau riche) who either have elevated ideals or want to appear that way.

And lets not forget, Karan Johar has a chunk of Bollywood on his palm. Why would they go against gays?
Jayz on 29th Mar 2016, 10:09am | Permalink
You told it very well..but I feel you answered only half of the told why Bollywood doest do it..but why do our guys do it.....I mean our heroes are the proverbial one percenters who enjoy immese wealth and are eduacted abroad...why are they so powerless in these cases....or are they insensitive too.?
Josh on 29th Mar 2016, 6:39pm | Permalink
The thing with the Gail Wynand analogy is that we assume these people are powerful, like Wynand thought of himself. But when he tries to sell an ideal, he goes bankrupt. So, end of the day, it's all business. And it sustains pretty much on what the public want.

Neither the makers nor the stars really want to think about anything outside of the business aspect. I don't know how much sense it makes for us to expect them to behave in a different way. We can say they're scared but I really don't know how I'll behave if I'm likely to lose 3 crore rupees this weekend.

What's obvious is our filmmakers are desperate to make us laugh in the theatres and they know people laugh at gay jokes and racist jokes.
Jayz on 29th Mar 2016, 5:53pm | Permalink
I didnt understand the fountain head analogy because I didnt read it....My point is, not.for them to fight the system,but you know...make them remove those negative stereotypes like telling to the director...", hey man...that gay joke is offensive...lets do it without the joke", or " that joke on Africans sounds very racist...maybe tone down on that racism" ....
Josh on 29th Mar 2016, 4:22pm | Permalink
The heroes may have been educated abroad but like we discussed, it is the directors and producers who really call the shots. They may be filthy rich but it isn't just wealth that shapes the value system of an individual. It is wealth (which allows exploration) and society (which dictates rules). These people (the makers) are from around here and much of what we see in our movies is what they think are likeable.

Assuming a star kid does try to do something (s)he believes in, they quickly realise that the folks here are not particularly receptive to what they are talking about. The system, the society, and (thereby) the market, are far larger than these individuals. That is to say the fans are more powerful than the star.

While everybody around is Babuing them, and gladly plastering cutouts outside their house, they have three choices to choose from - (a) Leave all this and take off (the star kids we don't hear of) (b) Stay and try to do something against the order of the system and struggle with it (Prakash Kovelamudi, Sumanth) (c) Painstakingly embrace and assimilate the order here and reap the benefits of a readymade fanbase and other resources (Venkatesh, Nagarjuna, Mahesh Babu).

I'm no fan of Ayn Rand but Gail Wynand in Fountainhead is a terrific character. He is a media baron who manipulates the news and information dissemination in whichever way he finds convenient. He considers himself all powerful because people buy it and he is making boatloads of money.

However, the moment he picks up an ideal (he espouses the cause of the protagonist Howard Roark who is supposed to be the paragon of goof architecture) and starts preaching this ideal in his papers, his readership starts dwindling. He soon realises he never really had any power. It was always the people who wielded it and he merely sold them what they chose to buy.

The illustration of Wynand is pertinent here, don't you think?
Josh on 28th Mar 2016, 11:59am | Permalink
Now, let's not make the mistake of thinking different films are good films. My favourite Telugu film in recent times (aside from Baahubali) is Race Gurram and it was not an unusual film by any stretch. It was just a very well made mass film.

Suriya and Vikram try to do those roles not because they want to be different but because it is their (poor) estimate that being different sells. It is gimmickry, really, these roles with an unnecessary handicap or some other uncommon trait. Those films barely use them for anything apart from generating a curiosity buzz in order to sell the movie better.

These stars are severely limited by their star status. You should try looking up some interviews of Vikram for the film David or what Suriya said about Madhavan in Irudhi Suttru's (Saala Khadoos in Hindi) audio release. He says he's envious of Madhavan because he isn't shackled by stardom. And you'd think Suriya is happy being the star.

NTR, too, would play those roles if somebody convinced him that they sell. 1 Nenokkadine had a curious hero trait that way (which I thought was pretty decently integrated into the story) and you perhaps aware of the movie's financial returns. These things don't sell in our market.
JayZ on 27th Mar 2016, 7:44am | Permalink
mr. Josh,since I find you the best reviewer on this site with an intrinsic knowledge of good cinema,and since you are the only reviewer who replies to the reader's comments,I would like to ask you your opinions on a lot of things I find wrong in Telugu cinema...should I ask??
Josh on 27th Mar 2016, 11:47am | Permalink
Give me a minute, JayZ. I need to climb down this tamarind tree you got me onto :)

Jokes aside, I'm all for discussion on Cinema. However, I have a request. Can I use this material on my blog? I intend to start one soon and I'm very keen on posting these discussions (including a kickass one I had with Jwalakaumudi).
Jayz on 27th Mar 2016, 12:30pm | Permalink
My first quest....while Bollywood abd other regional cinema are experminenting quite a lot,why is ours still stuck in the 5 songs 6 fights types of the 80s
Josh on 27th Mar 2016, 12:55pm | Permalink
As far as Bollywood goes, it is because of the really large catchment area. In a market that huge you'll find large enough niches to explore. Kashyap figured out this economics equation only recently and he makes perfect sense when he says that it is the same hundred crores that an Akshay Kumar film makes that will be used to finance the studio's smaller but more sensible films.

Regional cinema can't make this claim. Yet, Tamil, Malayalam, Bengali, Marathi, and sometimes even Punjabi and Kannada cinemas are all coming up with pathbreaking work. The more incisive question to ask, then, is why Telugu cinema is not able to compare with its peers.
Jayz on 27th Mar 2016, 3:18pm | Permalink
Ok....why is tollywood lagging behind its peers?Why are young actors like NTR,Ram charan,Naga Chaitanya,Ram etc do the same movies over and over, even though they are young and have the financial resources( read rich daddies) to experiment with new concepts.I am particularly disappointed with NTR,because unlike Charan and Chaitanya, he can act.
Jayz on 27th Mar 2016, 12:27pm | Permalink
Sure....In words of Mr brahmi....vadukondi...vadukunnodiki vadukunnantha
Josh on 27th Mar 2016, 6:59pm | Permalink
Couldn't find a reply button to that comment.

Anyway, you're possibly expecting the wrong people to make the right choices. Stars are the among the least powerful decision makers. They play safe. Suriya and Vikram in Tamil, for instance. They did good films before they became stars but much of their recent work is negligible. Even Mohanlal makes too many bad films of late. What you expect from stars is template entertainment and not much else.

Cinema is primarily a director's work. The producer is of comparable importance, too. They are the ones most responsible for the decision making involved in a film. Now if there is no directing talent in a society, there will be poor cinema. But two states of roughly 10 crore population put together are statistically bound to have talent. It is something else that's the problem.

Where does the buck stop, then? Who are the most important pieces in this game? The audience. Producers want to make movies that audience will watch. Stars want to be in movies that fans will go gaga over. It's all for the people really. What we watch will be made for us.

More importantly, coming to the issue of talent, what kind of talent is nurtured in a society where every newborn is a doctor or an engineer or a collector?
Jayz on 27th Mar 2016, 11:16pm | Permalink
By audience you mean the fan base..right? Because most multiplex audience do appreciate talent and Oopiri...and a few recent Venkatesh films...
Jayz on 27th Mar 2016, 11:13pm | Permalink
Atleast Surya and vikram experiment a bit woth their brothers..they may not be good movies but atleast they our industry guys like NTR who is around for a decade and a half never tried to may say nannaku prematho is a bit difderent but ot was a regular revenge drama,where the hero sported a "cool look" and hung out with his cronies in London while rammayya vastavayya had NTR doing the se stuff but im a " student(lol) " avatar and hanging out with his chamchas in Hyd.My point is,NTR, with a considerable film pedigree, decent fan following,and producers backing never did anything other than template films.Dhanush,with similar attributes experiments a lot.I could never imagine NTR playing a schizophrenic or a siamese twin...thoughts??
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