I don’t know why Zack Snyder keeps getting second chances. Sucker Punch, Watchmen, Man of Steel – the choice Director for those who find Michael Bay too intellectual has again let us down.
The plot of Batman v Superman needs no explanation because everything you need to know is either in the title or in any of the one-too-many trailers that got released, all culminating in a film that is just that, a giant trailer. Promising better things to come with fleeting allusions to other Justice League members, in and of themselves some of the film’s best moments, Batman v Superman is a collection of half-completed thoughts, grumbled musings by a conveyer-belt of DC icons, and explosions, so many explosions.
Scenes in the film barely last beyond two minutes with the creators seemingly unable to string out a concept or conversation beyond a tired exchange. Had they done so, many of the film’s central sequences would not have taken place, with key plot developments, including the long-awaited titular fight, delayed all too long and over all too quickly, happening only because one character interrupted another character or because someone just plain refused to stop and listen for two seconds to what someone else was trying to explain.
Visually the film is a pastiche of some of Christopher Nolan’s strongest contributions to the superhero genre, at once alluding shallowly to his grim stylings and betraying Snyder’s lack of originality or innovation. Anyone who sees this film, the majority of whom will have already seen at least one of Nolan’s pictures, will quickly grow tired with speechless rehashes of the deaths of Bruce’s parents and his becoming Batman. There are several dream sequences throughout Batman v Superman which, aside from establishing that Batman is (surprise) a little unhinged, contribute little to the plot. The barely conceived, incoherent concepts and storylines do not make the film multi-layered nor revelationary, only confusing and woefully patchy.
If you were to take two of the many random scenes from this film and put them together you’d be hard-pressed to convince a first-time viewer that they were both from the same movie. Kicking off with the destruction of Wayne tower, featured in Man of Steel but told from Bruce Wayne’s point of view in one of the film’s more exciting sequences, Batman (Ben Affleck) becomes obsessed with ensuring self-appointed superhero shenanigans no longer result in collateral damage. Soon after, he and Superman (Henry Cavill) are demolishing an entire industrial complex. In the next scene, there’s someone completely different wrecking the city.
Obsessed with addressing the political dimensions of vigilante justice, explored more aptly in Nolan’s Batman trilogy, Snyder is content to cover grandiose themes with one-liners and awkward exposition, squandering talents like Jeremy Irons and Laurence Fishburne with meandering supporting roles. Almost every feature of this film is part of a much larger superficial effort to pack the picture with umpteenth promo grabs and story-strands to convince you Batman v Superman is some grand, illustrious epic. Well, it’s not.
There are two shining lights here– Lex Luthor (Jesse Eisenberg) and Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot). Portraying a twenty-something tech-billionaire is what Jesse Eisenberg does best and his maniacal attempts to engineer the ultimate showdown are among the few comic reprieves. Gadot is superb in each of her sequences and has an on-screen presence to match her male co-stars despite regrettably little time on screen and an hour-long stretch where she doesn’t appear at all.
Not a huge step above smashing action figures together, Batman v Superman is very little style and even less substance.
Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice is in cinemas now