Batman (Ben Affleck) and Superman (Henry Cavill) face off in a fight sparked by the damage done to Wayne Enterprises during Superman’s fight to save the world from General Zod (Michael Shannon) in Man of Steel. Of course, things are not so simple, with Lex Luthor (Jesse Eisenberg) skewing the odds in an attempt to gain ultimate power and destroy Superman forever, and the world turning on their alien messiah after attacks on humans. As well as this, Wonder Woman (Gal Godot) is out to get a stolen photo back.
The first blockbuster of 2016 is finally here, and DC Comics fans around the world are sure to flock to the cinema to see two of their favourite superheroes fight it out in Zack Snyder tinted darkness. The trouble is that the script is a mess, the editing jumpy and the characters that we know and love are there in body, but somehow not in spirit.
It is Ben Affleck who is arguably under the most scrutiny here, being the most recent actor to don the cowl of the Bat, and take on crime in Gotham. The good news is that Affleck does fine with what he is given, the bad news is that what he is given is paper thin and doesn’t quite resemble the Batman that we know and love. Henry Cavill dons his tights for another lack lustre performance as Superman/Clark Kent, Gal Godot looks pretty in dresses, and kicks some ass as Wonder Woman, and Jesse Eisenberg brings the arrogance, twitchiness and manic megalomania as a super annoying and over the top Lex Luthor. The rest of the cast features Diane Lane, Scoot McNairy, Amy Adams, Jeremy Irons and Holly Hunter.
The immediate trouble with Batman Vs Superman: Dawn of Justice is the screenplay, written by Chris Terrio and David S. Goyer. The problem of no-one quite knowing what to do with superman continues, and although Ben Affleck dons the Batsuit, he is never quite convincing as Batman. As well as this, Batman succeeds when he features in a film that celebrates him, and the fact that he is a masked human, out doing what he believes to be right; this film doesn’t seem to like Batman, much less celebrate him, so the character quickly falls flat. Elsewhere, the story of Batman Vs Superman: Dawn of Justice has massive plot holes – not helped by some incredibly jumpy editing – and more often than not, doesn’t make a lick of sense. This would be fine if the film was fun, but any potential joyfulness in the film is quickly eroded. The first 90 minutes are filled with clunky exposition and it seems the characters have never heard of internet searches, since a whole section of the film could have been avoided with a quick trip to Google.
Director Zack Snyder once again turns up the ridiculous factor and turns down the lights with Batman Vs Superman: Dawn of Justice, with much of the action taking place in near darkness, making it as muddled as the fights in any Transformers film you care to mention. The performances are fine for the most part, but the film is badly paced – making the 153 minute running time almost torturous – and there is a serious lack of enjoyment coming from the screen, making a film that is dark in tone feel dull and uninteresting. As well as this, character motivations are unclear, with loyalties changing at the mention of mere words, and the final act is so overly filled with city destroying fights – again, shot in darkness – that it is often hard to tell who is where, and why.
In all, Batman Vs Superman: Dawn of Justice is everything that we feared; too long, badly paced, badly written with a sincere lack of celebration that two of the world’s most beloved superheroes are duking it out on the big screen for the first time. Batman Vs Superman: Dawn of Justice proves that the script is the key to making any movie great, but this is sadly absent here, and the performances are not enough to save the film from the fact that this Superman is bland, and this Batman is not the character we love. Add to this an absence of light and enough plotholes to fill the Albert Hall and Batman Vs Superman: Dawn of Justice goes from brilliant to boring. The characters, the audience and the concept deserved better.