Director: Zack Snyder
Starring: Ben Affleck, Henry Cavill, Amy Adams, Jesse Eisenberg, Diane Lane, Laurence Fishburne, Jeremy Irons, Gia Gadot, Holly Hunter
Written by: Chris Terrio, David S. Goyer, (based on the Batman characters created) Bob Kane, Bill Finger, (based on the Superman characters created) Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster
Running Time: 151 mins
Release date: 25th March 2016
After years of hype (and it has been years), we finally get to see the fight of the century. Man versus God. Icon versus icon. DC comics big time entry into the superhero cinematic universe has to be as good, if not better than those created by Marvel, who have managed to capture the market for big blockbuster thrills. Has this delivered what audience have been waiting for? Absolutely not. This should be called Boreman v Boringman instead.
The world is still undecided whether Superman is a hero or a villain after destroying half of Metropolis, Bruce Wayne has already declared that he is a menace that has to be stopped. With a government senator wanting the Man of Steel to face charges of criminal damages and Lex Luther wanting to be in possession of the alien craft in exchange for Superman to appear in front of a senate meeting, Bruce Wayne is discovering sinister goings-on within Gotham that could link to a chance encounter with the man from Krypton.
It would be easier to start with the things that work in this movie, than those that don’t. Critics of the franchise weren’t particularly happy with the choice of Ben Affleck as the Dark Knight, stepping into huge shoes left vacant by Christian Bale. However, Affleck more than rises to the challenge and delivers possibly the best Wayne yet,a man constantly struggling with demons of revenge. Along with Jeremy Irons as Alfred, the pair ignites the screen every time they appear, which sadly is not often enough. Gia Gadot’s Diana Prince/Wonder Woman is a delight and she too brings something special to the otherwise messy plot structure, showing plenty of promise when her stand-alone movie is released next year.
As for the rest of the film, it is an almighty mess. At a bum-numbingly 151 minutes long, it outstays its welcome by at least 40 minutes. In that time, director Zack Synder, whose return to the Superman arena after the crash-bang-walloping bore of Man of Steel, hasn’t learnt any lessons from the 2013 film. Visually, he delivers his films like some overlong music video with plenty of camera tricks and slow motion. What he tends to forget are the important things that make a film, like plot and character development.
When things start getting a little slow, he throws another subplot in, in the vain hope that no one will notice the occasional lulls, and if that doesn’t work, he then gets his CGI department to blow things up on a mammoth scale. Exactly like Man of Steel, the final 40 minutes is like watching a giant fireworks display. Plenty of whizzes and bangs but amounting to nothing.
The storyline is incoherent to the extreme. We never get to the real heart of why characters do what they do. Bruce Wayne obviously has some hostility towards Superman for killing off his employees during the battle with General Zod, yet he is quite willing to go around torturing bad guys and branding them with a bat mark, which leads to their death in prison. Superman does his hero bit, saving victims from burning buildings or floods, yet the government, instead of celebrating him, demands answers for his actions when he wasn’t the one trying to destroy the planet but save it.
Then there’s Lex Luther. Played by Jesse Eisenberg, he is no longer coming across as a criminal genius, more like a kid who has had far too much sugar. His confusing babbling doesn’t help matters, becoming increasingly annoying. Why, when confronting Luther, doesn’t Superman just pick him up and throw him in prison? Instead, he allows him to manically muttering on, giving him time to release all hell on the city.
Amy Adams’ Lois Lane seems a completely lost cause. As many of you know, I am a huge fan of Adams, yet here she is wasted, placing her as the damsel-in-distress instead of allowing the great actress to develop a strong, positive role model for women. Henry Cavill’s Superman lacks any character at all. Even as Clark Kent, he comes across exactly the same as his alter-ego. At least, Christopher Reeve made his Clark a bumbling baffoon so that no one could tell the difference.
After nearly two hours of contrivances, plot twists that aren’t really twists and more effects than in the whole of the Lord Of The Rings trilogy, we get the big showdown. Exciting? Actually, no. It’s just kore smash-bang-wallop that goes on far too long and ends with the most laughable reason to stop fighting ever (without giving anything away, it’s a bit like saying “You like Chinese food? I like Chinese food!) Which then leads to even more explosions and destruction on an even bigger scale. Sorry, but that’s not enough in my book.
Batman V Superman wants to be where the Marvel Cinematic Universe is, yet he fails on all counts. Marvel allows characters to develop and change, it has humour, it has genuine thrills and twists that shock. When the final scene is shown here, you really don’t care at all and instead of leaving the cinema feeling thoroughly entertained and surprised, you come out completely non-plussed. Missed opportunity? Massively!