Movie Review - Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice
By Ben Gruchow
March 29, 2016
There is one element of the film that is wholly successful and even satisfying, and that is Hans Zimmer’s thunderous score work. It’s a natural evolution from both Snyder’s previous film and the Nolan Batman films (which creates an unsteady rift with the fact that this movie clearly exists outside of that universe, but whatever). I may not be much impressed by the sight of Wayne/Batman seeing an unusual photo and e-mailing the subject of the photo with a plainspoken question off the bat (what detective work!), but I can certainly remember the pounding, aggressive percussion section that gears up when the subject discovers larger details of the story. Zimmer likes to produce leitmotifs in his superhero films, and what he’s given us here makes the grade. So much of this score is marginalized or neutralized by the visuals operating at the same level of “GRAND. EPIC.” but credit given where it’s due.
Consider what has been produced here. This is two and a half hours of posturing and sophomoric brutality posing as complicated emotion. Much of the film is built and marketed around two or three action sequences that seem designed to appeal strictly to the reptilian part of our brain, the one that reacts to body-crushing and bone-breaking violence with appreciation and glee. Vast sums of money have been poured into a project designed to appeal to a subhuman desire to see people destroy each other and swaths of property.
That this has happened in the context of a “superhero” film is not necessarily an indictment. That it’s been done with such a dim level of intellect and such an insistence on being “serious” while faintly pretending to be about anything challenging is annoying and juvenile, but whatever. Listen, I like movies that toy with expectations for the genre. I have no issue with grim films that depict suffering and violence, as long as it’s treated with the right amount of empathy and humanism. This is not that. It’s a sideshow meant to consecrate a world where the good guys are bodybuilders, the bad guys are skinny geeks, and the women are either damsels or sexualized and scantily-clad warriors, all of it executed with a staggering amount of misplaced self-righteousness.
On the level of technical craftsmanship, acting, special effects, and set design, Dawn of Justice is busy and unexceptional. On the level of music, it’s accomplished. On the level of what it represents and what it claims to be about, it’s something we should collectively and culturally turn away from and ignore the existence of.