Possible spoiler in the last paragraph.
Rated PG-13. Running time: 2 hours 31 min.
Our content ratings: Violence 5; Language 1; Sex/Nudity 1.
Our star rating (1-5): 3.5
Learn to do good; seek justice, rescue the oppressed, defend the orphan, plead for the widow.
You might think that the two great DC Comics heroes would work together because of their mutual fight against injustice, but not so. The villainous Lex Luthor, played by the scene stealing Jesse Eisenberg, does his best through his intricate plotting to turn these superheroes against each other. Unknowingly aiding him is U.S. Senator June Finch (Holly Hunter), a congresswoman who is concerned that Superman is too powerful, operating outside the law and should be held accountable for the vast amount of damage his crime-fighting has caused. During his rescue in Africa of Lois Lane (Amy Adams). from terrorists several villagers were killed. The Senator becomes head of the committee investigating the Man of Steel.
Bruce Wayne has witnessed the death of friends caused by Superman’s battle against the super villain Zod. Batman (Ben Affleck)’s dark character, we see, was shaped by the event which he witnessed as a young boy, the brutal murder of his parents on the streets of Gotham by a robber. The millionaire’s dreams are still haunted by the tragedy. Also he comes to see Superman as a rival as well as irresponsible.
Superman (Henry Cavill), on his part, regards the Dark Knight as a dangerous vigilante. Of course, when they do face off, director Zack Snyder and his writers have to even the playing field, lest there be no contest between the extraterrestrial Man of Steel able to leap over tall buildings and the Earthling Dark Knight who must rely on his cunning and super weapons (supplied by his genius of a butler Alfred (Jeremy Irons) made possible by his limitless supply of money. Enter the old plot device, Kryptonite, around which Superman loses his super powers. With his power diminished, the two can pound away at each other and smash up their surroundings to the hearts’ content of the special effects crew and the audience. The filmmakers also, looking to a future spin off, later in the film bring out Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot) to join in the fray.
The favorite superheroes of my childhood have come a long way from the flat, simplistic characterization of their comic book originals. Little wonder that fans now grown up are still attracted to the more complex characters today. In addition, over the years much has been written of how Super Man is similar to Jesus Christ, both being extra terrestrials sent to Earth by a loving father, and possessing great powers which they use only for good. The scene in this new film in which Superman is killed will add to this. Superman’s body being lovingly embraced and lowered to those waiting below is modeled after the traditional paintings of Christ being lowered from the cross, and also paintings and sculptures known as The Pieta. Lots to think about in this long spectacular.
This review with a set of discussion questions will be in the May issue of VP.