Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice

Bland, chaotic and crowded, Batman V Superman is another example of just how inferior DC is to Marvel films.

For the hordes of comic book fans and the millions that will swarm multiplexes this weekend, Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice has a lot to offer but perhaps a little too much. That’s the biggest problem with this film – the problem of plenty; and there are plenty of problems.

Starting with that mixed message in the title, the entire film feels like an array of events that doesn’t add up to the sum of its parts. So to establish the first part of that title, the narrative takes a long time setting up a ferocious enmity between two of the most popular superheroes in the DC Comics universe. But before they start pummeling each other, prepare to spend over two hours trying to figure out exactly what the heck is going on. It doesn’t help that the story, up until that point, is a patchwork of incoherence in time and place. Part of that problem is how serious this film tries to be. Look no further than the recent and exceptionally well made Deadpool, Marvel’s game changer in superhero films. As a stark comparison, there is absolutely no humour or joy to be found in this film, owing to which, returning director Zack Snyder’s offering is a visual and tonal bleach, and as captivating as a black and white photo of a rainbow. Now throw in Snyder’s penchant for slow motion shots (I counted three scenes of shell casings hitting the ground in slomo), annoying lens flare and  the shaky cam effect, in addition to watching this in 3D and you can expect no less than a disorienting headache.

Equally futile is the writing and how this is edited into the storyline. Chronologically, Batman V Superman begins during the final battle between Superman and General Zod in Man of Steel. We see this from the perspective of Bruce Wayne, and he’s furious that civilians are caught up in the ensuing collateral damage. Or is he jealous that he is no longer the only superhero in town? That’s an important question and we’ll get to that later. Meanwhile, what should have been a seamless continuation from the previous film begins with an introduction to Wayne’s childhood tragedy. This is how the film opens, yet the intent is not meant to be a refresher to Batman’s origins. Since we already know how his parents died, the only other reason I can think of is how his mother’s name is used to determine the outcome of the titular battle. Right off the bat (excuse the pun) I’ll say that this is the pinnacle of all that is dumb in the film and one of several face-palm moments.

Dumbing it down further, Batman V Superman has a lot of characters and instances that are absolutely vague. Additionally, a lot of the running time is used to telegraph upcoming spinoff films. This is evident when Wayne acquires classified information on metahumans (DC’s version of mutants), one of which is the age defying Wonder Woman squeezed in as eye candy. Several more appear in single scenes but their inclusion is nothing more than a heads-up to kick start 2017’s Justice League films; in other words, DC’s lobbying to Marvel’s Avengers. Therein lies the second part of the title – Dawn of Justice. DC’s struggle to play catchup is as evident as the bland delivery from everyone in the film. Henry Cavill looks great in the Superman suit. That’s it. Jesse Eisenberg’s Lex Luther is never the super villain he is meant to be (try a cross between the Joker and the psychotic Penguin). Amy Adams as Lame (or is it Lois) Lane walks around with a mystery bullet for two-thirds of the film. And Ben Affleck as the new Batman…well maybe there’s scope for a better written spinoff. Until then it suffices to say that Ben was better when he was blind as a bat.

For fanboys, it doesn’t matter which T-shirt you wear to the cinema. DC’s acronym might as well be ‘Disappointment Continues’. That’s ample reason to lose your shirt.

Rating: ★★☆☆☆

About Lloyd Bayer

Besides his passion for travelling, photography and scuba diving, Lloyd is a prolific film critic having contributed hundreds of film reviews to web and print journals, including IMDb and local daily Khaleej Times.