As the review embargo for DC’s second foray into an extended cinematic universe dropped, tensions were high, fans praying Batman v Superman would receive the high praise they dearly want to hear.
Unfortunately, while initial reactions were incredibly positive - comparing the film to Marvel’s very own flagship film The Avengers - the critics have been less than impressed by Zack Snyder’s superhero brawler.
In one of the more positive reviews, The Independent’s Geoffrey Macnab praised the cast and initial build up, yet said how “in the final reel, the film begins to unravel”. The Guardian’s Andrew Pulver was equally content with the film, saying “all in all, job done, just about.”
Conversely, The Telegraph's self-confessed Man of Steel fan Robbie Collin tore into its sequel, stating “No major blockbuster in years has been this incoherently structured”. Forbes’ resident superhero aficionado Scott Mendelson was also less positive about the film, describing how the convoluted plot “will hurt your brain”.
In the final reel, the film begins to unravel. The fight sequences and explosions are well enough choreographed but can’t help but feel anticlimactic. The plotting becomes ever more simplistic. It’s as if the green kryptonite hasn’t just enervated the heroes but the filmmakers themselves. There is also a lingering suspicion that both these superheroes work better when they’re flying solo.
It’s tough to take all the hardcore emoting seriously, particularly as the emotional heavy lifting is designed to be done by the occasional maudlin line in brief pauses between the explosions. For a film so concerned with its characters’ inner lives, there’s a fundamental disconnect going on here – enough to make you yearn for the lighter touch of the Marvel films.
No major blockbuster in years has been this incoherently structured, this seemingly uninterested in telling a story with clarity and purpose. It grumbles along for what feels like forever, jinking from subplot to subplot, until two shatteringly expensive-looking fights happen back to back, and the whole thing crunches to a halt.
Poor Henry Cavill is stranded without a life raft, being made to mope regularly and mourn as the world somewhat turns against him. The film may very much be about the idea of Superman, but there is little-to-nothing regarding who this specific Superman is as a human and/or a god from another world. He’s too busy whining about Batman, and Batman is too busy whining about him.
There are moments that make the whole enterprise worthwhile, and introduces an intriguing new Batman. But it’s also cluttered and narratively wonky; a few jokes wouldn’t have gone amiss, either.
This superhero-smorgasbord directed by Zack Snyder melts into an electric soup of CGI. Effects are so overused that any conviction explodes in a giant fireball -- indeed endless fireballs. The result is an enervating two and a half hours.
For his part, Batman is provided with plentiful backstory and psychology, but the mature character, as written, never comes into full bloom; all the same, one can look ahead with some hope to Affleck in the role in future instalments. Cavill is also likeable enough but, again, hamstrung by the twisty, convoluted inventions designed to limit his abilities during long stretches.
If there's any justice, dawning or otherwise, at the multiplex, audiences will reject Zack Snyder's lumbering, dead-on-arrival superhero mélange, a $250 million tombstone for a genre in dire need of a break.
I get that this mano a supermano story line is a sacred text among comic-book aficionados, but Dawn of Justice doesn’t do the tale any favours. It’s overstuffed, confusing, and seriously crippled by Eisenberg’s over-the-top performance. As the megalomaniac tech mogul hell-bent on bringing our heroes to their knees, the actor is a grating cartoon of manic motormouth tics. He might as well be wearing a buzzing neon sign around his neck that says “Crazy Villain.”
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