Synopsis: Following the destruction of Metropolis during Man of Steel, Batman vows to take down Superman by any means necessary.
Director: Zack Snyder
Starring: Ben Affleck, Henry Cavill, Amy Adams, Jesse Eisenberg, Gal Gadot
Genre: Fantasy / Thriller
Release date: March 25
Running time: 153 mins
The clumsy, bolted-together title tells you everything you need to know.
Ostensibly a sequel to 2013’s Man of Steel, Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice is hell-bent on replicating the success of Marvel’s Avengers franchise by kick-starting D.C.’s own comics-based super-team, the Justice League. But though it delivers on the titular superhero smackdown, the surrounding movie is something of a mess.
The performances are excellent at least
After a brief recap of Batman’s origin story (parents gunned down, subsequent discovery of bat cave, etc) the film opens with Bruce Wayne (Ben Affleck) frantically trying to save his employees during the destruction of Metropolis that occurred at the climax of Man of Steel.
Determining that Superman (Henry Cavill) is too dangerous to be allowed to continue unchecked, Bruce/Batman vows to take him down. Meanwhile, evil genius Lex Luthor (Jesse Eisenberg) concocts his own scheme to rid himself of Superman and sets about acquiring a chunk of green Kryptonite.
First the good news: the performances are excellent, with Affleck proving perhaps the best screen incarnation of Batman to date, his look clearly modeled on Frank Miller’s seminal graphic novel The Dark Knight Returns.
Similarly, Eisenberg is an inspired choice for Luthor and provides a fresh take on the role, twitching with psychotic energy, while Gal Gadot makes the most of her limited screen-time as Diana Prince / Wonder Woman.
Incoherent plot and CGI overload
On top of that, returning director Zack Snyder does at least deliver on the fight sequences and the titular battle doesn’t disappoint, even if it does take forever to arrive.
Unfortunately, everything surrounding that central fight is a complete and utter mess, thanks to an incoherent plot, frequently muffled dialogue and an over-stuffed script that’s burdened by its need to set up future Justice League movies and their attendant franchises.
In addition, the pacing is painfully slow and the climax suffers from severe CGI overload, degenerating into a lot of flashing red light accompanied by an ear-splitting racket (it doesn’t help that the rest of the film is so drab that it feels like every scene takes place in darkness, even when it’s meant to be daylight).
As if that wasn’t bad enough, the film also indulges in a series of truly awful dream sequences that seem to imply that Batman has somehow acquired pre-cog powers, with one possible future involving him striding around in a dust-coat, firing a machine-gun at bat-creatures.
No sense of fun
However, the film’s biggest problem is that, in seeking to achieve a darker tone, Snyder and co-writers Chris Terrio and David S. Goyer have ensured that the film remains frustratingly po-faced throughout.
Put simply, it lacks emotional impact and has no sense of fun, something that the Marvel movies seem to have hard-wired into their DNA at this point.
Despite strong performances and solid action scenes, this is a decidedly disappointing experience that will leave you largely indifferent to the prospects of the next instalment.