Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016)

Tell me, do you read reviews? *whispers* You will!

Director: Zack Snyder
Running Time: 151 Minutes
Starring: Ben Affleck, Henry Cavill, Amy Adams, Jesse Eisenberg, Diane Lane, Laurence Fishburne, Jeremy Irons, Holly Hunter, Gal Gadot, Scoot McNairy, Callan Mulvey, Tao Okamoto

Considering the popularity they've endured for decades, it's a bit surprising Batman and Superman haven't already met on the big screen. While it's unsurprising a Superman film paved the way to such a meeting, it's doubtful many fans could have expected the results to be so dour, only letting up for a forced romantic embrace, and for Perry White and Alfred's quips (the only personality traits of these characters).

Following the Black Zero event which left Metropolis in ruins, Superman (Henry Cavill) is left as a controversial figure. While many consider him a beacon of hope, Bruce Wayne (Ben Affleck) has his reservations. Believing it's dangerous for such a super-powered being to be left unchecked, he wages a one-man war as his alter-ego, Batman. While this is occurring, Senator Finch (Holly Hunter) believes Superman should be made to answer for his actions, and Lex Luthor (Jesse Eisenberg) plans for a deterrent against the Kryptonian.

As things open up on Man of Steel's destructive ending, from the perspective of Bruce Wayne, it's clear the consequences of said event will be tackled. With Holly Hunter's Senator Finch looking to call out Superman for what he's done, it's good to see one of the more controversial set-pieces of late will be addressed. But it feels contradictory when Batman engages in a car chase with a disregard for any potential casualties, while the final fight is carelessly destructive. As visually impressive as they are to witness, it feels like Zack Snyder hasn't learnt a thing.

But this isn't the only moment where David S. Goyer and Chris Terrio's screenplay is needlessly contradictory. During the much anticipated title fight, Superman claims he doesn't want to kill Batman, and says he doesn't have time to fight. Despite this, he more than willingly throws the Caped Crusader through walls, and chucks him at a pretty far distance.

The combination of Snyder's scattershot approach and the abundance of material leaves the narrative unnecessarily jumbled and often convoluted. The many subplots litter the picture, only serving to make it feel overlong, despite noticeable gaps in the narrative. While there's nothing wrong with building a wider world for these characters to play in, the attempts feel crammed, resembling the same missteps Iron Man 2 suffered from.

Playing a more veteran, grizzled variety of the Caped Crusader than seen onscreen, Ben Affleck is clearly putting everything into his role. While it's commonplace to see a Batman haunted by his past, the motivation and untrustworthy nature built through unmentioned losses and betrayals are refreshing to witness. This version of the Dark Knight has clearly experienced a lot through his tenure protecting Gotham City, and in regards to Affleck, it's certain to be remembered more than 2003's unfortunate Daredevil. While the characters more brutal tactics may feel jarring to some, it fits well into the dour tone already established in this Universe. Plus, the voice modulation used for the Bat voice is a neat inclusion.

On the opposing side, Henry Cavill remains terrific in portraying Krypton's last son. This Superman is clearly trying to do the right thing, he's just unfortunately prone to rushing in head-first, particularly for his loved ones. It's a shame Gal Gadot's small inclusion as Wonder Woman has been spoiled by the trailers, but it doesn't take away from how well the character is teased. She's also notable for being the film's only prominent female character not either tormented by a male figure, or made into a damsel in distress.

And then there's Jesse Eisenberg. As he dons an awful wig and gives off a gaudy performance, The Social Network star resembles a relic from the Joel Schumacher era. What's clearly intended to be an unnerving portrayal instead comes off as irritating, feeling like a poor attempt to mimic Jim Carrey's The Riddler. Doomsday fares no better, resembling a Ninja Turtle from the 2014 film, animated by the special effects team behind The Hobbit trilogy.

One of the films biggest draws lies in the title, promising a dust up between DC's top heroes. While the visual action is great to behold, it's unfortunate how things are rushed through, reaching the disappointing conclusion before you know it. It still fares better than the final fight, which plays with generic material much more than its proceedings managed to. Special mention should go to Hans Zimmer and Junkie XL's score, which proves effective throughout the entire picture.

If you've always wanted to witness Lex Luthor tricking somebody into drinking his urine, then this is the film for you. Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice is a film with many good moments, which are unfortunately broken up by many less than stellar parts. It's far from a disaster in the vein of Green Lantern or 2015's Fantastic Four, but for the first cinematic meeting of DC's biggest icons? It's a shame it couldn't have been better.