With the success of the Avengers movies, it probably was inevitable that we would soon be seeing all-star mashups of DC Comic stars, and that is exactly what we get in Warner Bros’ great hope for a box office behemoth to turn around a couple of disappointing years.

pete hammond review badgeBatman V Superman: Dawn Of Justice pits Batman aka Bruce Wayne against Superman aka Clark Kent, but as I say in my video review above, it is a tricky proposition putting these two forces of good opposite each other in battle. But somehow director Zack Snyder — rebounding from the generally miserable Man Of Steel three years ago as well as the awful Sucker Punch — has made (with the collaboration of screenwriters David S. Goyer and Chris Terrio)  an extremely dark but compelling and complex movie that pits the comic book heroes against each other in ways that make sense — or at least helps carry us through the long setup to the ultimate battles that make this such an Imax-worthy enterprise.  In fact I would say the way to see this movie is in real Imax stadiums, whether it be 2D or 3D. The scope and production value in that format is just stunning, and the aspect ratio changes to scenes actually shot in Imax are awesome.

Another highlight for me was the casting of Ben Affleck, who is the perfect Batman/Bruce Wayne at this point. He won’t make Batman V. Superman: Dawn Of Justiceanyone forget Christian Bale, but this Batman is far more brooding and angry. We understand why he has it in for Superman, blaming him for the tragedy in Metropolis that so affected Wayne Enterprise employees when the building collapsed. Although Superman is presented as a dutiful hero two years after those events and the alien attacks, there is a complexity now where people, particularly Wayne, are asking: Just how much power can one man have for good and is he using it for the greater masses, or himself? I don’t really understand some early critiques of the film from people who seem to want to see their comic superheroes in explicit terms of black and white. This is the rare entry in the genre that provides shades of gray on these iconic figures and seems to be right in line with the world we’re living in now. To that, I say well done.

As for the other actors, Henry Cavill returns for another round in this Man of Steel role but Batman V. Superman: Dawn Of Justiceis given more interesting stuff to play as his alter ego Clark Kent, thus setting up the ultimate showdown between the pair as well as their joining together to fight an even bigger force of evil. Hilariously played by Jesse Eisenberg, the chief villain is Lex Luthor, now a tech giant — a sort of Mark Zuckerberg on steroids. He’s The Social Nitwit, a manic, power-mad force of bad nature who takes sides in the superhero confrontations for his own benefit. Oddly all three of these guys have father issues to deal with, having lost their dads and mentors in very different ways.

At the start of my screening, Snyder appeared begging viewers not to give away any surprises or plot points, so to go on in detail much beyond the basic setup would put me in BATMAN V SUPERMANspoiler jail. Suffice it to say viewer surveys are saying audiences are most looking forward to seeing Wonder Woman aka Diana Prince (Gal Gadot), but you will have to wait over two hours for her emergence in this 153-minute movie. It’s an amusing teaser for Wonder Woman’s own movie, and she acquits herself nicely in battle with Batman and Superman against our mystery villain. (Hint: Warners seems still in love with Godzilla movies.)

The supporting cast is fine. Amy Adams is back as Lois Lane, Diane Lane as Martha Kent and Laurence Fishburne as Daily Planet editor Perry White. Jeremy Irons ably takes on Bruce Wayne’s confidant Alfred, who tells him sagely, “Even you’ve grown too old to die young, not for lack of trying.” Love that line — best and most pointed in the movie. Another Oscar winner, Holly Hunter, turns up as a U.S. senator in charge of hearings on Superman. The Dark Knight trilogy’s Christopher Nolan and Emma Thomas have executive producer credits here. Charles Roven and Deborah Snyder (Zack’s wife) serve as producers. Warner Bros is releasing the film around the world, and it should hit about 30,000 screens. POW!

Do you plan to see Batman V Superman?  Let us know what you think.