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Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice spoiler-free review: a big piece of plotted swiss cheese

This review is spoiler-free. Any plot points or characters in this review have either already been shown in trailers, or talked about in cast/crew interviews.

DC Comics has finally given us a big screen clash of their two largest characters. It’s something fans have been waiting for years, the ultimate battle between Batman and Superman. “Who will win?” the internet asks on a daily basis, but “Is it any good?” is the question we should all be asking.

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Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (BvS) takes place after the 2013 Man of Steel (MoS) Superman flick. We’re introduced to Bruce Wayne (Ben Affleck) and given a small glimpse of how he became Batman — thankfully the movies skips over most of the info we already know. This then leads into the battle between Superman (Henry Cavill) and General Zod in MoS and the ramifications of their actions.

Ben Affleck is Batman in a Bruce Wayne suit

These two intergalactic gods destroyed half of Metropolis and a Wayne Enterprises building. Understandably, Bruce Wayne is pretty pissed off about that. From then onwards we’re constantly shown scenes of him looking dark and broody and basically just being Batman. Ben Affleck is Batman in a Bruce Wayne suit.

Not only Wayne, but many citizens and the government is concerned about beings running around and destroying cities.

We’ve seen a lot of the footage and scenes in all of the trailers leading up to the movie, from the introduction of Lex Luthor (Jesse Eisenberg), Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot), and the eventual fight not only between Batman and Superman, but their eventual showdown against Doomsday as well. Even with all of the trailers and promos, there are still interesting scenes you’ve yet to see.

The concept of BvS is a simple one and one that should have been easy to pull off: Batman fights Superman and plot. The problem, however, is that the plot is full of more holes than an old pair of underwear, and smells the same too.

While trying to dissect this movie, where do I even begin?

Firstly, as we know, Lex Luthor is one of the big bads in the movie. We know he’s ‘evil’ because he’s Lex Luthor. That’s always been established in the Superman comics. This, however, doesn’t give credence to his actions as a villain. We’re not told why he wants these two heroes to fight, what the purpose is, or anything else really. It’s a villain ripped straight out of 1940s comics books. Surely by now storytelling has evolved to make villains more interesting?

We could have had an evil Mark Zuckerberg, but instead we’re given an ‘evil’ Donald Trump

If there’s one thing I can say about Eisenberg’s portrayal of Lex Luthor is that he’s an excellent Lex Luthor. No, scrap that. Eisenberg is an excellent Joker. His mannerisms, speech, and actions feel more akin to the Clown Prince than the psychotic head of a multi-billion dollar corporate empire. We could have had an evil Mark Zuckerberg, but instead we’re given an ‘evil’ Donald Trump.

At least the Dark Knight is the most interesting character in the movie. Affleck does a decent job of the portrayal, but it’s not as good as Christian Bale’s performance from the Christopher Nolan trilogy. He also appears to be too large for the Batman suit and his own clothes, often strutting around like a Dude Bro in a shirt that’s two sizes too small.

Superman is as Superman as ever; boring, stale, and a character that isn’t easy to put onto the big screen. I can understand he needs to be gimped in some way to make him more relatable, but he just feels stupid.

The most frustrating character in BvS is Lois Lane. She is actually Superman’s Kryptonite and is constantly in trouble or doing something stupid. The movie would feel a lot more fluid without her in it. Maybe it’s time to remove her from movie canon?

I understand this movie is a soft-launch for the upcoming Justice League title, but did those team members really have to be shoehorned into the narrative? The way they feature is so awkward and inorganic. Not to mention they’re already been given iconic symbols, but they’re not heroes yet? It’s just a mess.

Even with its flaws, BvS is still an action movie and it comes out shining in that department

And here’s the overall problem with BvS, which may explain where all of the plot holes come from. BvS has a pretty large story, but a limited run time of around two and a half hours. Everything is just crammed in with fast scenes, and a combination of cluttered scenes and one just sitting in a lull. The first two-thirds of the movie are incredibly choppy and some of the fights may be difficult to keep up with. There are more things that don’t make sense, but I won’t spoil them here.

Even with its flaws, BvS is still an action movie and it comes out shining in that department. The fights, however few there really are, were all choreographed well with plenty of things breaking, smashing, explosions, fists, and shattering of buildings. If you’re there for the explosions then you won’t be disappointed.

In fact, the mere concept and the chance to see Batman square off against the god-like Superman on the big screen was a thrill to behold and is something that may redeem the movie.

There’s a fantastic scene with the Batmobile that’s sure to please any and all audiences around. Not to mention Gadot is fantastic in the role of Wonder Woman.

If the movie had come out a few years earlier, it would be the superhero movie others aspire to, but in this day and age of Marvel and DC’s own titles, it doesn’t feel as polished as it could have been.

The hype machine worked, but Warner Brother’s decision to put so much marketing into the movie may just backfire.

Zack Snyder has confirmed there will be an R-rated director’s cut of the movie coming out on DVD and Blu-ray. The question is, should you waste your time seeing an unfinished version of BvS now, or a (hopefully) more coherent one later?

Verdict: Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice is not a great superhero movie by any stretch, but it is a good one. Unfortunately the overall package falls victim to an incoherent plot, lack of character motivations, and choppy editing. It does at least have epic battles and explosions.

Score: 6.5/10

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