It’s a lot better than Man of Steel.
Say what you want about Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (out now on DVD) but it’s a far more enjoyable movie than 2013’s gloomy Superman reboot.
A direct sequel to that film, Batman v Superman puts DC’s latest media franchise, the Extended Universe, on a more reassuring path.
The explosive opening sequence addresses the most controversial part of Man of Steel, the hideous battle between Superman (Henry Cavill) and General Zod (Michael Shannon) in which thousands of innocent people in Metropolis die and Superman doesn’t seem to care.
It depicts Zod’s attack from Bruce Wayne’s (Ben Affleck) POV as he races towards one of his company’s buildings just in time to see it collapse.
Three years later, still furious about the atrocity, Wayne thinks Superman is a threat to humanity.
Meanwhile, Superman objects to Batman’s brutal brand of justice in Gotham and orders him to retire.
Driven by his traumatic past, Batman refuses to back down and decides to rid the world of Kal-El once and for all by acquiring some kryptonite enhanced weapons.
What the pair don’t know is that they’re both being manipulated by Lex Luthor (Jesse Eisenberg) who is obsessed with getting the duo to fight.
His reasons? I’m not really sure.
The villain’s motives don’t make much sense to me but maybe that’s intentional. Luthor is paranoid, jittery and his high-energy eccentricity seems to be powered by something a lot stronger than caffeine.
His motives don’t matter anyway. What matters is that these two iconic superheroes are on the big screen together to beat the living daylights out of each other.
In that regard this film delivers.
While undeniably entertaining, Batman v Superman has many of the problems of its predecessor. Most noticeably, the over-serious tone is at odds with the ridiculous premise. Director Zack Snyder offers some gorgeous, artistic visuals – the dreamlike deaths of Wayne’s parents, an empty batsuit looking like a demonic entity – but then he tramples all over them with OTT scenes of mass destruction and lurid CGI.
It’s half Christopher Nolan, half Saturday morning cartoon.
The introduction of Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot) is absurd too, but no way near as funny as our first glimpses of Aquaman (Jason Momoa) and The Flash (Ezra Miller).
Weirdly though, despite its faults, this film works in a way that I like. When it’s good, it’s great, and when it’s bad, it’s bad in hilarious and interesting ways.
I could recommend it for that reason alone, but I also think it’s worth checking out for some of the performances. Ben Affleck is particularly strong as an older, more cynical Batman while Jeremy Irons steals every scene he’s in as a younger, more attractive Alfred.
Maybe DC should have made a Batman-only movie first before leaping into this one.
Batman V Superman: Dawn Of Justice (Cert 12, 151 mins, Warner Home Video, Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Action/Romance, also available to buy DVD £19.99/Blu-ray £26.99/3D Blu-ray £29.99/4K Ultra HD Blu-ray £34.99 or on-demand from various streaming services)
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