With the keys to DC’s extended universe, director Zack Snyder is once again at the helm as he pits two of DC’s most iconic superheroes against each other, in what should be the biggest cinematic battle in years.
Opening in predictable fashion with a young Bruce Wayne (Brandon Spink) witnessing his parents death, although familiar it’s stylishly done, we then see the aftermath from Man of Steel from adult Bruce’s (Ben Affleck) perspective. Focusing on the devastation of previous battles and introducing us to the latest Batman as he fearlessly runs towards the danger, the film shows the most promise here. Unfortunately, the rest of the blockbuster is an extended look at the trailer (which has already spoiled every major plot point) with excessive dream sequences, shoe-horned in characters, abrupt cuts and in true Snyder style, a bloated, overlong and CGI heavy final act.
The saving grace of the film is Ben Affleck, who (despite the uproar when the announcement was made) gives a note-perfect performance as an older, cynical Batman, who along with butler Alfred (brilliantly played by Jeremy Irons) steals the show and are the only characters worth investing in.
Following on from Man of Steel, we see how the relationship between Clark Kent/Superman (Henry Cavill) and Lois Lane (Amy Adams) is developing and in an improvement to the previous instalment, the pair actually have on-screen chemistry. Sadly, though, Cavill (although looking the part) fails to bring any charisma and life to the role and Adams spends the entire film either waiting to be rescued or desperately searching for a purpose. Also receiving a negative response when announced, but unable to prove doubters wrong, Jesse Eisenberg portrays an unconvincing, manic and fidgety Lex Luthor, which fails to work on any level.
Rather than showcasing what should be an epic battle between two comic book titans, there’s a multitude of cameos and unnecessary, lazy scenes that simply serve as a set-up for upcoming sequels. The Amazing Spider-Man 2 and Avengers: Age of Ultron both suffered as a result of this, a trend that’s becoming routine for the genre.
Amongst the bit parts, Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot) fares best in terms of screen time and gives a promising performance with what she’s given. However, focussing on the task at hand, exploring the titular character’s conflict and having Gadot burst onto the scene with her own solo movie would have been refreshing, rather than being spoon-fed every upcoming character.
Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice at the very least establishes the group dynamic that will form the Justice League (albeit not very subtly). However, following Man of Steel, Zack Snyder fails to course correct. Resulting in another dull addition to the DCEU.