“You’re going to go to war,” says Alfred (Jeremy Irons). “That son of a b#@ch brought the war to us,” replies Bruce Wayne (Ben Affleck) who’s getting ready to go up against Superman (Henry Cavill) in the superhero action film, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.
Following the catastrophic fight between Superman and General Zod which left buildings in shambles and hundreds dead and injured, Bruce Wayne sees Superman as a threat to the future of mankind. Fearing the being from another planet with powers that could destroy the entire planet, Bruce who’s much older than Superman (he’s been crime fighting for over twenty years while the alien from Krypton fought Zod only two years ago) begins to train like he never has before, even building a special Batsuit for the upcoming fight. While preparing for the grudge match of a lifetime, Wayne is also investigating the brilliant philanthropist Lex Luthor (Jesse Eisenberg) who he suspects is involved with some shady dealings and might have in his possession the one item that will help weaken the Man of Steel enough to beat him.
Meanwhile in Metropolis, Clark Kent has become obsessed with the Gotham vigilante known as the Batman. Believing him to be too cruel and vicious, Kent tries to convince his chief editor and boss Perry White (Laurence Fishburne) to let him write a story slamming the Bat. But Perry has no interest in the Bat now that Superman’s actions are being questioned by certain senators and other politicians after an incident in the desert of a foreign country where a whole tribe was almost wiped out. It seems Kent’s colleague and girlfriend Lois Lane (Amy Adams) was following a story and got in over her head so Superman had to once again come to the rescue.
As the world questions whether Superman is friend or foe, the two superhero titans get ready to go up against each other all while being unknowingly maneuvered and finally pushed into a fight to the death by Luthor who has his own agenda and secret weapon.
Dark, tedious, and overlong, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice is an unimpressive set up and launching pad to the upcoming Justice League movie. The pacing and tone of the film is heavy and ponderous, taking over an hour to finally get started on the main story which doesn’t really need much of a set up in the first place. The opening scene, which is one of the better ones in the film, conveys well enough Bruce Wayne’s reasons to dislike and fear the powers of Superman.
Henry Cavill looks and sounds the part of Superman but is very rigid and stiff this time out in his performance as the flying superhero. Unlike his first film, Man of Steel, which gave his character an interesting internal struggle to find out who he really was, what he wanted to do with his powers, and how he couldn’t just bury them but instead felt the need to use them to help and save people, here Cavill just stands and poses as though he’s doing a photo shoot for GQ. There’s nothing in the script to provide him with any real substance to this iconic character in this second outing. In fact, it’s the first time in cinema history that Superman comes off self-righteous and pompous.
Ben Affleck is solid as an older, brooding, and very distrustful Bruce Wayne who sees the Man of Steel not as a hero but as a potentially lethal threat to humanity who must be destroyed. Not in the same league as Christian Bale or Michael Keaton, Affleck is effective however at bringing both the billionaire Bruce Wayne and the Caped Crusader to the screen.
Jesse Eisenberg is horribly miscast as Lex Luthor, the brilliant scientist and evil mastermind whose main goal it seems is to help arrange and cause the fight between Batman and Superman. Why he wants this battle of caped superheroes is never made clear except that he hates Superman for being all powerful. Eisenberg delivers an over-the-top, silly, and outright annoying performance which feels as though it belongs in another movie all together.
The film’s action scenes are loud and explosive but lack any real energy or intensity with the overuse of CGI and slow motion. Director Zack Snyder (300, Man of Steel, Watchmen) relies too much on the special effects and chaotic action scenes which simply aren’t that exciting or original. The final battle (which has been teased in trailers) between Doomsday and the three superheroes – Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot) – is the best and only engaging action sequence in the film.
Laborious and uninspired, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice is a painfully slow, much too serious, and fairly unentertaining superhero film that fails to add anything new or interesting to the genre.
MPAA Rating: PG – 13 for intense sequences of violence and action throughout, and some sensuality
Running Time: 153 minutes
Release Date: March 25, 2016