Batman/Superman v IMAX 3D

Batman/Superman v IMAX 3D

Update 3/27/16: Ben Affleck looks impressive in giant-screen IMAX.

BatmanAspectRatioComparisonIn 2 1/2-hours of “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice” there is about 10-minutes of footage shot in the full IMAX large-screen film format spread across four different scenes, half of which is the last five-minutes of the movie. Most of it makes a visually dramatic impact (see film frame comparison at right), especially the scenes in the final minutes showing cornfields, a procession, cannons being fired in slow-motion, and that extreme close-up of Ben Affleck as Bruce Wayne.

The first couple of minutes during the opening titles showing a montage of Wayne’s childhood that led him to become Batman as an adult is also filmed in full-screen IMAX, as are two other shorter sequences in the middle of the film in which Batman and Superman confront each other. IMAX showings of the movie generated an opening weekend record of $36 mil. worldwide on an overall $424 million worldwide gross ($170 mil. in the U.S., an all-time record for a Warner Bros release, any superhero movie, and a March opening weekend).

<Review continues below the following behind-the-frame 105-second behind-the-scenes video about the IMAX used in the movie…>

All those scenes and the entire movie is also in 3D but the 3D — very disappointingly — is seldom obvious and even less often makes much of an impact.

BatmanSupermanPosterThis is not a surprise since director Zack Snyder, who demonstrated he knows how to use 3D effectively in “Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga’Hoole,” scaled the depth back significantly in the 2 1/2-hour “Man of Steel” in 2013, the predecessor to “Batman v Superman.”

As a reminder, Bryan Singer utilized 3D more effectively in the 20-minutes he converted to 3D for “Superman Returns” ten years ago in 2006.

Another missed opportunity is the soundtrack which screams for the seat-rattling score available in IMAX venues as was demonstrated just a week ago in “The Divergent Series: Allegiant.”

And once again Snyder, who defined indulgence in the nonetheless spectacular use of IMAX moments in “Sucker Punch,” over-indulges here when the last half-hour turns into a Transformers-like interminable battle with Superman and Batman have to enlist the aid of Wonder Woman to take on a slime-y giant monster mash-up of Lex Luther and a creature from Krypton (as mind-numbing as Snyder’s overdone Superman vs Zod in “Man of Steel”).

Batman v Superman director Zack Snyder with IMAX Camera
Batman v Superman director Zack Snyder with IMAX Camera

The initial concept of the movie seems a rather clever fun-poking at “Man of Steel,” with Batman apparently being upset that Superman’s last mega-fistfight with interplanetary gods destroyed thousands of innocent victims in the buildings of Metropolis where the combatants were tossing each other.

The problem is that this movie ends up the exact same way, with thousands more innocent victims apparently dying in yet another cage match among titans, this time including Batman.

And once again there is a complete lack of humor, an element that makes the Marvel superhero movies so enjoyable.

Perhaps for all these reasons, “Batman v Superman” got even lower critical support (29%) than “Man of Steel” (56%), but a similar audience approval disparity rating of 75% appeal vs 73%, respectively.

The best moments in the movie are the brief re-appearances of Clark Kent’s parents (Diane Lane and Kevin Costner) and when Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot) shows up in her patriotic garb ready to save the day for the first time in a century. If only Russell Crowe would have also returned.

And if only Snyder would have fully utilized all the power of IMAX and 3D.

— By Scott Hettrick