Lex Luthor is sitting in his lab and plotting. He doesn't want the power to destroy this Gotham/Superman's Metropolis, like Bane in The Dark Knight Rises, or like Zod in Man of Steel. He doesn't want Batman's money, or Superman's powers, or fame and fortune.
No, inexplicably, what Lex Luthor (Jesse Eisenberg) wants above all things is to enjoy a 45 minute fight between two titans of comic book pop culture (he has a timer to ensure absolute accuracy). He wants blue and black, God v Man, Day v Night, Batman v Superman. Why does he want this? I can only assume he's hoping to make Warner bros. a fortune on this utterly incomprehensible DC film spin-off.
The story picks up from the final showdown between Superman (Henry Cavill) and General Zod in the climax of Man of Steel. In the opening scenes of Batman v Superman, (a kind of sequel) the superheroes are brought together for the first time as Bruce Wayne (Ben Affleck) hurries through the shattered city streets and into 9/11 style dust clouds, attempting to evacuate his office workers as the battle for the sky rages above him.
The first of very many pained-yet-determined expressions comes over Affleck's face, as he looks furiously into the sky and decides that this man who is above the law (like himself) must be stopped. Relying heavily on Christopher Nolan's angsty films, Affleck's Batman comes complete with the tortured background and damaged personality that renders him a charisma-free zone. Coupled with Cavill's stern demeanour, they are an unrelentingly grim pairing which make the audience beg for the lighthearted touch of the Marvel films.
By the end, everything is a mess. A giant bony creature busting with nuclear power has hatched from a spaceship and is crawling King Kong style over skyscrapers. A spear must be rescued by the inevitably in-need-of-saving Lois Lane (Amy Adams), who chooses to wear heels for the entire thing (please, Zack Snyder, let your ladies run about in trainers, it's only fair). Lex Luthor has carried out his evil plots to get Superman and Batman to fight, and our two superheroes have discovered that their mothers have the same name. Which changes everything. And Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot) has decided that after 100 years hiding in art galleries, she's going to put in an appearance, prompting the only joke in the entire film when our two gladiators ask 'is she with you?'
Lex Luthor is right about one thing, which is that watching director Zack Snyder merge the stylistically and schematically different Batman and Superman in a fighting scene is interesting, not least of all because for the first time ever in a comic book film, the audience doesn't know who to root for. And the twitching, restless and revolting Jesse Eisenberg is a delight to watch. But the lack of a sensible plot means that no matter how spectacular the visual effects and how heart-racingly vicious the fight scenes, the film is as messy and unenjoyable as a post-apocalyptic Gotham.
Review by Helena Kealey
|What||Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice review|
|Where||Various Locations | MAP|
|Nearest tube||Leicester Square (underground)|
24 Mar 16 – 31 May 16, Times Vary
|Website||Click here for more|