To say the reaction to Batman V Superman: Dawn Of Justice has been mixed is an understatement. A handful of positive reviews aside, critics really didn't like this movie. I can't deny that this did temper my expectations somewhat when I sat down to watch it, and perhaps that's one of the reasons I ended up enjoying it so much.
Make no mistake, Zack Snyder's follow up to Man of Steel has a lot of problems. It's messy, disjointed, over-long by a good 20 minutes or so, and - most crucially for purists - offers radically different takes on the iconic DC heroes of its title. But despite all of this, the movie still works pretty well overall.
The performances are a big part of why this is. Ben Affleck is being hailed as our best Batman yet, and while I'm not sure I'd go quite that far (I'll need to see more of him), he is definitely a highlight. This Dark Knight is by far the most brutal, ruthless and borderline psychotic we've ever seen - so if Frank Miller's take on the character isn't your cup of tea, you may not like it very much. Affleck also brings a lot of charm, charisma and a steely conviction to Bruce Wayne.
As Superman, Henry Cavill doesn't come out as well but a lot of that is down to his character taking a back seat to the Caped Crusader. I'm a big supporter of Cavill in this role, but there's no denying he would have benefited from at least another couple of scenes that allowed for more emotional engagement.
Jesse Eisenberg's Lex Luthor is certainly... different. While I appreciated what they were going for with this take on the classic villain, after a while I must admit he began to get on my nerves a tad. He does emerge as an altogether different beast by the end though, and his final scene is a corker.
The supporting cast all acquit themselves admirably, and yes, Gal Gadot does threaten to steal the film away from the boys with just a few short scenes. Trust me, you will be way more hyped for that solo Wonder Woman movie after seeing her in action.
I'm sure I don't need to sell you on the visuals and action scenes, as these are the things that usually bring Snyder universal acclaim - but he's outdone himself here. The film looks incredible, and the set pieces are sure to leave your heart racing. Obviously the most anticipated moment will be the scrap promised by the title, and it doesn't disappoint. The resolution may seem a bit cheesy to some, but if you're emotionally invested (possibly a big "if") it'll feel earned.
There's more going on aside from superheroes smacking the shit out of each other, though. These typically archetypal characters take a cold, hard look at themselves and their place in the world, and loftier ideas (does mankind really need
Superman religion?) are touched upon. Okay, the movie doesn't quite follow through and answer some of the questions it raises, but with a bit more structure it may have been allowed to.
My biggest issue with Batman V Superman was its disjointedness, which does impede the narrative flow considerably. Scenes seem to be dropped in out of nowhere with little to no connectivity, and it did take me out of the movie on occasion. With so much time dedicated to post production, this really should have been addressed in the edit.
Still, things do eventually get back on track and the last act is a sight to behold. The sheer level of CG carnage on display could be described as a beautiful mess, but I really don't know how any comic fan can watch the Trinity and Doomsday throw down without grinning from ear-to-ear.
One of the biggest criticisms I've come across is that this isn't "fun" or "joyous" enough. I guess that's going to depend on how you define fun, because I had a blast watching this movie. No it's not joke-a-minute with quips and one liners flung out every time one can be squeezed in, because it's a dark, serious tale and is treated as such. You may think it takes itself too seriously, but again, that'll all depend on whether you believe there's a "right" way for these characters to be portrayed or not - and indeed, whether you believe superheroes should be taken seriously, at all.
It's bound to divide fan opinion just as much as it has critics, but if you're a Zack Snyder fan - and a comic book fan - then I believe you will get a lot out of Batman V Superman: Dawn Of Justice. Maybe it's not quite the movie it could (or should) have been, but as long as some of the more valid criticisms are taken on board for future instalments, the groundwork has been laid for a DC Cinematic Universe that really could rival Marvel's.