Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice Review

I’m a few days late behind this one. Everyone and their dog has been shouting their piece about Batman V Superman, it almost feels unnecessary to jump in this late. But it’s the biggest film of the year so far so I better review it.

Batman V Superman: Dawn Of Justice stars Ben Affleck, Henry Cavill, Amy Adams, Jesse Eisenberg, Jeremy Irons and Gal Gadot and is directed by Zack Snyder. BvS follows Batman (Affleck) as he tries to put down Superman (Cavill) in order to keep the world safe.

Let’s try and start with the good. A lot of the cast do good work. Ben Affleck fights off all of the criticism that was levelled at him when he was announced (go back and look at those tweets, it’s appalling how people attacked him) and turns in a very good performance as Bruce Wayne. Yes Bruce Wayne, any buffed up guy with a strong jaw and a smoker’s voice can play Batman and sadly he’s hardly in the film. Henry Cavill stands around being wooden for most of the run time, which is only heightened by the complete lack of chemistry between him and on-screen girlfriend Amy Adams. Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman does nothing until the final five minutes and Jesse Eisenberg is completely off as a mincing, stuttering Lex Luthor. The only really good actor is Jeremy Irons as Alfred, and that’s mainly down to Irons being a superb in basically any film he does.

And…that’s about it. Let’s get to work on the bad. EVERYTHING ELSE.

The main problem with the film is it’s script. In short, it’s ridiculous. Batman versus Superman is not a film title, it’s a scene. We already saw the “God versus Rich Badass” scenario in the first Avengers film, it was Thor against Iron Man. Although here, we don’t even get that. For a good two-thirds of the film it’s Bruce Wayne versus Clark Kent instead. Some lines, especially the one that makes Batman and Superman join up against another bad guy who pops out of nowhere (mainly for the fans, because NO ONE else will have heard of him) is hysterically dumb and contrived, it feels more like a spoof of superhero films than one that’s meant to be taken seriously. When we finally get to the last half an hour Zack Snyder remembers he was meant to be making a superhero film and tries to fit in as much explosions and punching as he can, until it becomes desensitising.

Another problem is the film’s length. BvS is 151 minutes long, way too long for what the film comes down to. Apparently there is an extra thirty minutes that Snyder took out of the cinema release, I guess that’s where all the plot is because there is nothing but the thinnest of plots in those two and half hours. It makes the film feel stuck in a weird limbo; it’s both overlong and too edited.

It’s wide knowledge that the film has been gutted, bringing it down from an 18 to a 12a rating and especially in the fight scenes the editing is extensive. It reminds me of Quantum of Solace, there is no pain. People are being thrown through walls and bones are breaking, but there is no “feedback”, no visceral connection between audience and screen. Again, it becomes comical about how much violence gets dished out and how little we feel involved in the action.

And since DC and Warner Bros. are wanting to set up ANOTHER BLOODY SUPERHERO FRANCHISE, BvS houses several little Easter Eggs as to who will be in their next two to three films. It’s so tiresome nowadays, why not focus on making the film that’s actually out good rather than just cutting your losses and trying to make money back with your next couple of films?

Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice is plainly bad. It was insanely overhyped, it’s badly in need of an editor and manages to make a film about two of the best crimefighters going toe-to-toe with each other incredibly boring. I know we’re still in the beginning of 2016, but I bet this will be on my Worst-Of list at the end of the year.

Score: 2/10 A fan service film if ever I saw one.

Zootropolis Review

After the runaway hit of Frozen back in 2013 and their collaboration with Pixar on last year’s smash Inside Out, it was going to be a big ask for Disney to top themselves in 2016. Their new film, Zootropolis is out this week, so how does it compare to what some people are considering to be the best in Disney’s line-up?

Zootropolis stars Ginnifer Goodwin, Jason Bateman, Idris Elba and JK Simmons and is directed by Byron Howard and Rich Moore. Zootropolis (also known as Zootopia in other places) follows Judy Hopps (Goodwin), the first rabbit police officer to be hired in the city of Zootropolis. She has to team up with the fox con-artist Nic Wilder (Bateman) to solve a missing mammal’s case.

The film has a great cast, with the previously mentioned Idris Elba and JK Simmons, but also has great actors and comedians in the smaller roles. Octavia Spencer, Jenny Slate and Tommy Chong are good actors, and a small role for Shakira as a singing gazelle, but the standouts are Goodwin and Bateman. The main duo have a great chemistry as Hopps and Wilder and bounce off each other well in the downtime between them.

As usual with Disney films, the animation is one of the film’s strong points. All of the characters in the film are mammals, and while they are not photo-realistic, the attention to detail is superb. You can make out the individual hairs of Hopps and Wilder (who bears an uncanny resemblance to a previous Disney fox) and each animal’s animation structure makes it a joy just to watch them move around the film’s sets.

The city of Zootropolis is nicely designed, even though we don’t get to see a lot of it. It calls to mind Fritz Lang’s 1927 Metropolis, with high skyscrapers and bridges connecting them all together. The city is split between different climates; the arctic tundra, the desert and the rainforest. Throughout the film we travel to the different sections of the city and just like the animation, it all looks grand.

The jokes are good, but I feel that Zootropolis might be found to be boring by its younger audience. I was in a packed theatre, filled with both kids and adults, but on average the adults were laughing more than the kids. The slapstick was enough to set the kids laughing, but these were few and far between. Of course, with Disney you get your adult aimed jokes; we get a spectacular Godfather spoof with a possum who looks like a rodent version of Marlon Brando, a sly dig at Frozen‘s inescapable hit song (now I’ve reminded you of it, it’s going to be in your head for a while) and a Breaking Bad reference (complete with Walter White and Jesse Pinkman), but every time I found myself thinking, “kids won’t get this reference”.

Come to think of it, I think it might only be the anthropomorphic animals that make it kids based. Zootropolis has PG rating for “mild threat” and even at points it made me jump. Several big predators turn “savage” and start attacking other smaller animals, clawing them and leaving them with scars, and even nearly killing some. I know that Disney is seen as a kids company, but it’s great when they go dark and they definitely go further out than they have before in Zootropolis.

Just like previous Disney films, Zootropolis takes an overarching theme and litters the film with subtext. I won’t spoil the main points but the film would be a treat to analyse; feminism, transgender themes, immigration and race are all explored within the film. Disney likes to touch upon topical subjects and transposes them to an animated feature for it to be easily taken in by an audience and just like the older Disney films, Zootropolis will make you think long and hard on its themes after you leave the cinema.

In the end, Zootropolis is good. It isn’t on an Inside Out level of greatness and it might bore the younger viewers, but it does stand up on its own as a good film.

Score: 8/10 A solid Disney entry. Just be wary of taking viewers who might be too young for it.