NOTE: This review will reference minor spoilers from Batman v Superman. If you haven't seen it and want to avoid all spoilers, click away now!
Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice is less a movie about a fight between Batman and Superman than it is a two-and-a-half-hour trailer for the Justice League and its respective heroes' solo movies. Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice is less a sequel to 2013's Man of Steel than it is a Batman-centric movie. Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice is less a movie than it is Zack Snyder taking multiple different elements from a range of stories, putting them into a mixing bowl and hoping that they make a delicious cake.
To cut to the chase: Batman v Superman is bad. Really bad.
Perhaps the biggest mistake that a piece of entertainment can make, be it a movie, TV show, book, comic book - anything that is at all scripted - is to have a narrative that doesn't make sense. Batman v Superman's narrative is more of a mess than a rebellious teenager's bedroom, with a complete lack of coherency from start to finish.
It's worth putting some of this down to the editing, which is painstakingly awful at every single turn. The first twenty minutes, most notably, cuts between a handful of different scenes and locations and characters, none of which really makes any sense or has much connection to each other, and as a result, there is very little flow.
But almost all of the blame should be placed squarely at the feet of writers Chris Terrio and David S. Goyer. Terrio has an Oscar for Best Writing, but based on this, I can't grasp why. I've not seen Argo, and I'm sure Terrio deserved it for that movie, but there is no evidence here that he deserves any recognition for writing, save for perhaps a Razzie.
There is no structure whatsoever to this story. Nearly every single action taken by every single character feels completely unearned, featured solely for the purpose of pushing this contrived and nonsense plot forward into the next absurdity. Lex Luthor's plan, for example, revolves around wanting to stop Superman, but his reasoning for it changes at least twice before the two even meet - Clark Kent meets Luthor early on, but it takes nearly two hours for the Man of Steel to encounter him - before his desire does a complete 180 with zero explanation whatsoever. By the end, it's switched back to what he originally wanted but for an entirely different reason than any of those previously stated. It's silliness at its absolute worst.
Batman v Superman is effectively formed of two separate movies. The first 80 minutes or so are more political thriller than a superhero movie; the remainder is a complete mishmash of action and CGI and a whole bunch of scenes devoid of any logic, not that the first half has much anyway. Both of these halves had potential, but neither succeeded even on a surface level. The first part of the movie does some decent work establishing that people don't like Superman, and that he may need to be held accountable by the government, but the reasoning becomes extended beyond the complete destruction of Metropolis in Man of Steel yet isn't fully explained. Within the first fifteen minutes, Superman goes to Africa to save Lois, and the next hour is spent vaguely referencing an incident that we don't get to see nor learn at all what happened that incited this public outcry. There was genuinely no reason to introduce another reason to dislike Superman, particularly when the entire basis for Bruce Wayne's hatred of him develops from the destruction of Metropolis and is established before we even see Superman.
The second half of the movie throws this out of the window completely, and goes for spectacle above story. But it's not even a spectacle, because aside from one action sequence involving Batman and some nameless, faceless thugs - and yes, it was featured in the trailer - the action is really poor. The battle between the two heroes is a complete disappointment, with the fight lasting five minutes at most, seemingly existing purely because the studio wanted them to fight and ending in such a dumb way that would have caused me to snap and walk out of the cinema, had I not already endured two hours of this insanity. A deep, frustrated sigh sufficed.
This all leads to the final fight with Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman battling Doomsday and I can't even quantify how awful this is. There is no possible way I can spoil the battle itself, because I genuinely don't understand what happened. This was fifteen minutes of a CGI monster firing CGI lasers with CGI lightning and CGI smoke surrounding it. Granted, this sequence was at least somewhat exciting, far more so than almost every other scene that preceded and followed it but it was utterly, utterly horrible to watch.
The only saving grace this movie has is Ben Affleck's Batman. Considering that when he was cast in the role, virtually everyone with access to the internet was concerned that he would be awful, for him to be the one highlight is both impressive and a demonstration of how bad this movie really is. That probably sells Affleck short, which would be wrong. He does a fantastic job, particularly as Bruce Wayne, who gets a lot of focus before we even see Batman. Bruce is probably the only thing about this snooze-fest that is well-written, and even then, there are issues - at one point, Superman is innocent of something that happens but he is still blamed for it by Bruce, despite it being made public that Superman wasn't responsible.
But Affleck is great at conveying the dislike that Bruce has towards the Man of Steel and just the general restrained anger he possesses after a long time operating as the Bat. In comparison, Henry Cavill is uninspired and blank as Clark Kent; that's not to criticise too much, because I feel that it is somewhat effective, but that character is so dull that it's difficult to care.
Jesse Eisenberg does a good job of playing the Lex Luthor that we see, but this Lex is such an appalling character and his tone is so over the top insane that he immediately provokes hatred, but not because he's such an evil villain. He is so incessantly annoying and Joker-like that it becomes impossible to take him seriously, even though he's clearly hyper-intelligent. Couple that with the fact that not a single thing he does makes any sense, and everything to do with the character falls flat on its face.
Gail Gadot is fine as Wonder Woman, but that character is so underdeveloped and so underused that she fades into the background. Amy Adams' Lois Lane is so unnecessary and causes so many problems for Superman that the plot becomes bloated with her involvement. Late in the third act, for instance, she becomes a damsel in distress by her own design, and once that happens, all respect for the character is lost. She serves no purpose but to cause problems, and that's not a purpose that's needed.
With Batman v Superman setting up the next few films that are building up to the Justice League, cameo appearances from The Flash, Aquaman and Cyborg are all shoehorned in, and it's so blatantly forced that it's like watching Warner Bros. putting a large piece of text on the screen saying "We are doing a movie about The Flash, Aquaman and Cyborg" and nothing else. Even the characters' logos feature for no reason at all other than to incite glee from the hardcore DC fans. That is not a way to create a movie, much less tease upcoming releases.
There is such a lack of awareness of what makes a great movie that consumes the entirety of the extensive 151 minute runtime. The tone is all over the place, and it does in part come down to some poor editing, but Zack Snyder evidently has no idea on how to create the kind of movie that he wants to create. Scenes go from one tone to another, killing the momentum of the first and making the other entirely wasteful.
My knowledge of the comic book iterations of all of these characters is extremely limited, but based on what I do know, Snyder, Terrio, Goyer - whoever - display no real awareness of who these characters are. Instead, they opt to use any character to serve whatever purpose that the movie calls for, and I can't understand how Warner Bros. can possibly expect to build a universe of these characters when none of them are actual characters, just plot devices.
There is so little to like about this movie that my optimism for the DC Cinematic Universe, which was pretty low to begin with, has been virtually extinguished. Watching it is a chore, and though these movies aren't supposed to be the light-hearted fun that the MCU possesses, it's virtually impossible to actually enjoy Batman v Superman on any level.
Not even two of the greatest superheroes ever can save this travesty.