Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice : 2 (out of 10)
Summary: it's terrible. Don't see it.
It's almost hard to believe that Batman v Superman is so bad a movie as it turned out to be. Sure, the trailers were bad, the early reports were awful, and the reviews have been apocalyptic; but the cast was strong, the budget was more than adequate, and Zack Snyder has proven capable of at least basic mediocrity in the past. Unfortunately, Snyder managed to make his worst film yet.
The plot fits into three major stories: a Superman movie involving Lex Luthor and a personal crisis of faith based on how the world perceives him; a Batman origin movie asking how far he will go to protect his world when the rules change; and a superhero-vs-monster summer blockbuster tent-pole. None of these plots were unworkable, but none were given a chance to breathe; rather, these plots were tossed into a blender, parts scooped out more-or-less randomly, and placed into sequential order, plus or minus a few dream sequences. What comes out is tonally, thematically, and (oddly) visually inconsistent and jittery. It just plain doesn't fit together; the stories undermine each other, the protagonists never have a chance to do anything but react, and we're never given a chance to even think about what's going on.
The actors are mostly acceptable. Ben Affleck plays an okay Batman and a pretty-good Bruce Wayne; Henry Cavill is still a perfectly acceptable Superman; Gal Gadot is given little enough characterization to make her kick-ass moments, well, kick ass; Amy Adams may have had her character become a victim, but she at least tries to make something of her role; and Jesse Eisenberg, well, his Lex Luthor is a frigging embarrassment, but that's mostly the writing's fault, at least he tried. As for the secondary cast, well, they don't get enough screen time to be relevant, so it's best not to worry much about poor Laurence Fishburne or Holly Hunter.
The visuals were in large part based on The Dark Knight Returns, which is iconic for a reason; and much of the time they were at least workable, if not inspired. There was one Batman fight scene that reminded me of the Arkham Asylum series of video games, which was worth something; and the otherworldly movements of Superman were eerie and messianic in an impressive way. But the fight scenes were pretty much terrible, in the same way as in Man of Steel, where the only real way that we can keep track of who's winning a fight is with hit point bars.
Some good points: well, they showed the Captain America trailer before the movie, does that count? I liked Alfred. Oh, and LEGO Batman looks cool.
Some bad points:
The timeline didn't work, in a rather lazy fashion. We had things like there being time for a congressional hearing before Superman was able to return from an African nation, or weeks of Superman "lost in the wilderness" while nothing else happens at all. I don't like it when things go too fast and too slow.
The "Superman as Jesus vs Devil" thing was clearly the focus of a lot of discussion, but Snyder failed to actually come to any conclusions about it except that it made for the occasional interesting visual. Take a side, man!
There's a part in the movie where we watch Youtube videos introducing other DC Universe superheroes. They were vaguely interesting, but were handled terribly. I think that they would have made a good DVD special feature; instead, they were tossed into an already-too-long film, breaking what flow we had finally managed to put together.
Some more bad points: there was a lot of casual cruelty for a movie marketed at children. Snyder managed to make Batman into both a passive puppet and a cruel torturer and murderer. Holly Hunter made up the entirety of Congress. Neil Degrasse Tyson put his face in this movie on purpose. Nobody knows how to flee from an apocalypse. After spending the whole movie complaining about the property damage done to Metropolis in the first movie, we end up doing more property damage in this movie.
Snyder killed a major Superman character in the first 10 minutes of the movie just to show off how "gritty" he could be. Batman is a terrible detective. The Daily Planet gets its news from CNN. The government just gives Lex Luthor the body of General Zod from the first movie; and Kryptonian security is a joke. They didn't even bother to explain why Lex Luthor is insane.
There were ~6 endings and ~3 beginnings. Too many dream sequences. Lex's plot was about 3x more complicated than necessary. That network tap. Why didn't Wonder Woman get to do more? And...
Okay, I should stop.
Rating: 2/10 (* 1/2 out of 4); I think I've managed to avoid seeing any worse superhero movies to date, and hopefully this will help remind me in the future.