Imagine you have five complicated jigsaw puzzles and then threw them on the floor. Then instead of reassembling them or attempting to decipher the pieces into any sense of order, you instead decide to mash all five of them together while wielding a hammer to ensure that even the fat pieces that don’t go with the thin pieces, slot together with no sense of cohesion. This is what Zack Snyder has done with Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. It is a mess, a mess with some moments of quality, but still a total mess.
As someone who enjoyed Man of Steel and the approach it brought for launching a new Superman universe, I can’t help but be disappointed that the sequel all but totally ignores Superman and instead lumbers him with an existential dilemma and once again gets him to answer for his actions, in a scene that can sadly only remind the viewer of Superman IV: The Quest for Peace. He is an afterthought in his own sequel. It must be like going on a second date with someone and them insisting on bringing along a love rival and ignoring you for all evening.
This film belongs to Batman, but not just any Batman, Ben Affleck’s Batman, which was a joy to watch. His Bruce Wayne has the right balance of charm and maleficence and his Batman has some great moments that conjure up, in usual Zack Snyder style, direct panels from infamous comics of the past. Jeremy Irons as Alfred is perfect, half butler, half Oracle and is perhaps the best screen interpretation of the character.
Many people have pointed out that Snyder hates Superman, and on the evidence of this it would appear that is indeed the case as he is no fun at all here. While Cavill is clearly a great fit for the role, it feels that his Clark Kent is just Superman wearing glasses, which sort of defies the point of having an alter-ego. I can’t help but be reminded of Christopher Reeve altering himself physically when adopting the Kent persona, losing inches in height and changing the way he delivers his lines. However both Superman and Kent in this film are totally unmemorable and get completely lost in the mix – especially with Batman being so much more interesting.
Jesse Eisenburg’s Lex Luthor is a real “Marmite” role. You will either like him or hate him in this. I fell in the middle as I could see what he was trying to do and he had moments of good delivery and monologues, but they got lost in the flights of fancy, all of which felt like he wasn’t directed as such, more just filmed. Wonder Woman is good, though barely in it and the DC universe is teased in the most incredibly naff way.
Once again Lois Lane is given things to do to look like she is busy, like giving a child a pretend rake while you’re doing the gardening, which is real shame as Amy Adams is much better than this and when it was announced she was cast as Lois Lane it was an exciting prospect, but she’s really given nothing to do and as with Man of Steel, she is driven of flown to locations simply to react to things.
One thing she is forced to react to is the last twenty minutes of the film (the section wholly spoiled in that horrendous trailer), a CGI nightmare of ‘spolsions, dust and rubble. A total grenade in a computer that does nothing to raise any excitement or interest, suffice to say it goes exactly where you think it will go and feels like a waste of everyone’s time.
As a finished film, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice is a giant bloated mess. All I can think of by way of an analogy is the first victim discovered in Se7en, an obese creature, forced to eat and eat until his stomach burst with a gun held firmly at the back of head, but instead of John Doe’s gun at the back of his head, it’s a gun held by lazy studio suits at Warner Bros who want to rush their universe out before Marvel overtake the market place. However whereas Marvel have spent almost 10 years world building and creating something unique, Warner Bros and DC seem to want to do it all in one film, and the result will undoubtably be their own Doomsday.
I fear that the only way forward with this will either be to just ignore The Justice League (which won’t happen as Justice League is filming now) or to just go with Affleck’s Batman. As it stands right now, this all feels very “Amazing Spider-Man 2”.