Batman v Superman is a disappointing film that succeeds only in one thing: inducing apathy. At one point, I was genuinely excited to see where the DC cinematic universe would go. After seeing this film, most of that was taken away.
There isn't any time for that silly character depth, after all! We have to move from one glamorous locale to the next. And set up the Justice League movie. And have needlessly complicated ways to try to get the two superheroes to fight each other - even though they're already headed in that direction. And then go to another glamorous locale. And block out the sun. And stop anyone from smiling or telling jokes, because brooding and darkness are where it's at - for the entire time, as levity isn't necessary in a movie about a guy dressed as a bat does a Rocky-style training montage to get ready for a fight against a human-looking alien in a blue and red suit.
Okay, so it doesn't get either Batman or Superman - either as their earlier iterations or as new ones for this series - it's filled to the brim with darkness, it has a needlessly overcomplicated plot, and it tries to rush the whole Justice League thing. Does it do anything well? The action we do get - the last 25 minutes - is at least somewhat enjoyable. Production values keep it at least looking good for most of the time. Batman's hand-to-hand combat scenes are miles above what they were in the Christopher Nolan films, so that's something. The problem comes mostly from what happens in the action scenes - there's almost nothing we haven't seen before, in better movies - and that the nighttime setting and less-than-stellar cinematography keeps us from seeing everything clearly.
Yes, even its high points come with caveats. Some of its logic and character motivations are absurd and make no sense, but we don't have time to talk about it because we're whisked away to the next scene, most taking place somewhere across the city or maybe not even in the same area code. Ben Affleck might turn in the best performance here, but he often looks sleepy when playing Bruce Wayne and, well, you can't do too much acting behind a mask. Speaking of sleeping, the film has several dream sequences, which add up to almost nothing, except that they feel like the final remnants of a longer cut - like when you purge your DVD shelf, but somehow Eastern Promises always avoids getting put in the Goodwill box. I don't need you anymore!
Jesse Eisenberg is going to disappoint a lot of people with his neurotic, fast-talking performance as Alexander "Lex" Luthor. He doesn't fit the tone of the rest of the movie for one, but mostly his existence is what causes many of the other plot-related problems to exist. Cut him out of the screenplay and we actually have a Batman versus Superman movie. Maybe then the likes of Holly Hunter, Laurence Fishburne, Diane Lane, Jeremy Irons, Scoot McNairy - and even to a large extent Gal Gadot, whose brief scenes provide some of the film's only joy - would get something interesting to do. Or we could take our protagonists seriously and establish them as more than shallow caricatures.
Batman v Superman is a disappointing film that succeeds only in one thing: inducing apathy. At one point, I was genuinely excited to see where the DC movie universe would go. After seeing this film, most of that was taken away. Only the final half hour does any of that - and the points that do are in the trailer. Mostly, this is a film that's bloated - but not detailed enough for the bloat to be explored, since even at 2.5 hours it's been trimmed almost as tightly as it could be - pretty dull, a gigantic mess, and contains mediocre acting, faulty logic, poor characters, and only about 25 minutes at are actually even remotely entertaining.
At least Mega Shark versus Giant Octopus didn't try to overstep its bounds.
Bottom Line: A bloated film that does nothing for it subject matter other than turn audiences against it, Batman v Superman is a terrible way to start the DC movie universe.
Recommendation: The important elements are in the trailer, so maybe save yourself the 2.5 hours of joyless build-up and just watch that.
If you want more of Matthew "Marter" Parkinson, you can follow him on the Twitter @Martertweet and check out his weekly movie podcast.