'Batman V. Superman' Is A Gorgeous Mess [Video Review]

Nearly three years after Man of Steel, Zack Snyder is back with Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice, an ambitious film that not only attempts to play out the aftermath of the attack on Metropolis in the last movie, but also set up Warner Bros' DC Universe film franchise. Batman v Superman is a overlong, poorly plotted, thinly characterized, painfully dour mess, but it's a gorgeously shot mess that has the kind of spectacle and grandeur that you'd hope for from a major big budget release.

Hit the jump to see my full video review.

Let's start with some of the good things about Batman v. Superman. Larry Fong's cinematography is nothing short of amazing, and Zack Snyder continues to prove he has a great eye for iconic tableaus and breathtaking visuals. With several sequences of this movie shot in full IMAX, the images are so razor sharp that they look like they could cut you.

I was also a fan of the score, which was done by Hans Zimmer and Junkie XL. It has great callbacks to the original score for Man of Steel, but also has some nice synth elements that make it its own thing.

Finally, in the few action scenes we see that feature Batman, we finally get to see Batman move. Former Batmans have always been restricted by the suit, but using a decent combo of practical effects and CG, Snyder allows this Batman to really kick ass. That is, when we see him do so.

So what's not to like about this movie? Nearly everything else.

The plot, such as it is, features Superman being forced to confront the results of his actions from Man of Steel. And in fact, one of the interesting questions the movie raises is how humanity would deal with the arrival of a powerful alien being. People most likely would have vastly differing reactions to it and its effects on society would be profound. But the implications of this are not explored in any meaningful way – instead, the movie throws a bunch of other plot contrivances at us to get us to the point where Batman needs to confront Superman, and to set up other DC films.

The plot is less a plot, and more a sequence of events that happens to take place in consecutive order. Things happen, people do things, sometimes their action make sense – other times, they are totally baffling. When the big confrontation between Batman and Superman finally comes, after a massive buildup, the resolution of it is so dumb, so brief, and relies on such a silly coincidence that I truly believe it is actively insulting to the audience.

Putting aside the titular main conflict, lots of people will wonder how Affleck does as Bruce Wayne. Overall, I'd say most of the performances are fine, but most of what is being asked of these people is just to glower or look pensive and concerned. The movie only gets any humor from Jesse Eisenberg's crazy, off-the-wall performance as Lex Luthor, which feels like it comes straight out of a completely different film.

This movie is dark. And it is no fun at all. If you're looking for the wise-cracking or the light tone of any of the Marvel movies, you should definitely look elsewhere.

That's not necessarily a bad thing. There's a place for an ultra-dark, ultra-violent take like this in our culture. But between the opening sequences, in which we see a murder play out in slow motion, followed by a replay of the 9/11-esque city-destroying imagery from Man of Steel, all the way to the indiscriminate killing that appears to happen from our heroes throughout, I didn't really want to stay in this world any longer than I had to. By the end, I was exhausted from the sheer drudgery of it all.

I think there was a pretty solid version of this movie that didn't have Batman, Wonder woman, or any of the other universe-building elements that feel so forced. But instead what we got is something that embodies the worst elements of franchise filmmaking today. It rapidly introduces a bunch of characters with poorly defined motivations, and seems more concerned with future installaments than it does with this one.

As a result, Batman v Superman is among the worst superhero films of our modern era, but it's not dramatically worse than films like, say, Thor 2 or Green Lantern. Its only crime is that it is playing that characters that are truly beloved, and by shoving them into this loud, bloated mess, it makes it difficult to remember why we fell in love with them in the first place. It's the anti-Deadpool, a movie that doesn't know how to poke fun at its own self-seriousness, and it suffocates its audience under the weight of its incoherence.