“Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice,” the sequel to 2013’s ho-hum “Man of Steel,” continues to prove that Zack Snyder does not understand what makes a superhero film work.
The film falls short with wooden dialogue delivered by stiff actors and an excessive use of special effects that attempts to distract from a generic, soulless storyline.
The plot plays out like a chicken with its head cut off. It begins during the final events of “Man of Steel,” when Clark Kent/Superman (Henry Cavill) and General Zod (Michael Shannon) are locked in battle over Metropolis, tearing through buildings like butter and ignoring innocent casualties.
Due to the tragic deaths of his employees, billionaire Bruce Wayne/Batman (Ben Affleck) sees Superman as a threat to the world and vows to take him down.
Meanwhile, Lex Luthor (Jesse Eisenberg) plots his own war against Superman, secretly pitting Batman against the Man of Steel.
It sounds like an intriguing plot, but it doesn’t go any further in exploring these characters or their motives. To detract audiences from too much thinking, Snyder instead fills his movie with explosives and aimless action sequences.
The underdeveloped plot limits what could have been a truly great film. The tension between Batman and Superman ultimately boils over into a simple miscommunication, and the result is a short high school-style street fight.
Eisenberg’s skittish portrayal of Luthor doesn’t do the film any favors, either. He’s not the smooth, complex genius depicted in the comics; rather, he comes off as an immature boy who hasn’t really thought his plan through very well.
To make things worse, Snyder randomly sneaks in scenes that set up future DC films, interrupting the plot progression to plug the upcoming “Justice League” movie and its subsequent spinoffs.
These interruptions feel like tacky advertisements embedded in the film, pauses we have to endure before continuing the current plot.
There are some merits to the film, though. Affleck does a terrific job as Wayne/Batman. At first, it seemed Affleck was too stiff, but he settled into the role and it was soon hard to picture anyone else as the billionaire Dark Knight.
Casting Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman was also pitch perfect. She was enigmatic and seductive, mastering the power of Wonder Woman. Despite her minor role, she certainly stole the show.
In the end, “Batman v Superman” is a sloppy, yet extravagant introduction for the Justice League. When will filmmakers learn that special effects can’t sustain a film as well as strong characters?
The film is a feeble injustice to the iconic superheroes the film so dramatically tries to portray.