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Whoever Wins, We Lose 

Batman and Superman together save nothing

"Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice" is not a movie. It might look like a movie and its 151-minute run time suggests that things of importance happen, but not really. "BvS" is actually a two-and-a-half-hour trailer for the upcoming "Justice League" movie, packaged so viewers who are expecting something fun and entertaining might drop $20.

The story is simple, yet plot movement makes up the entire running time of the film. Superman (Henry Cavill) is catching grief for the amount of destruction he brought down on Metropolis and Smallville in "Man of Steel." The government thinks Superman might need some sort of oversight, but really, they just want to know where his head is. Billionaire industrialist Lex Luthor (Jesse Eisenberg) was abused by his dad which made him quit believing in God, so he basically thinks one can either be a good person and weak or powerful and evil. He thinks Superman is going to destroy the world.

Meanwhile, Bruce Wayne (a.k.a: The Batman; a.k.a.: Ben Affleck; a.k.a: Batfleck) watched Metropolis as it was destroyed from the ground, complete with heavy-handed 9/11 imagery. Wayne thinks that Superman is a dark and terrible alien god who must be stopped before the entire world burns at his whim. He is having full-blown insane visions of an apocalyptic future where Superman rules a scorched and dusty world. "BvS" takes place in a time after Wayne Manor has been destroyed by an unknown calamity and Robin murdered by a gleefully insane Joker. In other words, Wayne is in a bad place psychologically. Furthermore, the usually warm and balancing butler, Alfred Pennyworth, is a cold and bitter cypher of the character he normally is.

Lex Luthor manufactures a situation to get Batman and Superman to fight, but he also manufactures the supervillain Doomsday through around a dozen pointless plot contrivances. This isn't a spoiler since the trailer actually shows Luthor make Doomsday and set everything in motion, basically spoiling the entire through line of the movie. Every story beat in this movie is shown in the 120-second trailer.

This new DC Comics film universe imagines Batman's Gotham City and Superman's Metropolis across a bay from each other, yet neither city is stylized enough to be memorable. This Gotham doesn't have the gothic creepiness of Tim Burton's "Batman" films or Christopher Nolan's Chicago-inspired vision of the city. This Metropolis is a non-descript metal and glass city that is shot lighter than Gotham is, but still has no character of its own.

DC Films has been jealous of Marvel Studios' business model for years, wishing they had their own extended universe to play around in. They keep trying to launch franchises like "Green Lantern" and "Superman Returns," only to find the most success in Nolan's "Batman" trilogy and "Man of Steel." Both series were successful portraying the DC Universe under a darker and more realistic lens, but "BvS" is a humorless exercise in excess. There are people getting shot in the face, caged sex slaves and just about every horrific manner of human depravity under the sun.

This is not a fun superhero movie. Superman is cold, distant and there is zero character development or personality. Henry Cavill was delightful in the new "Man from UNCLE" flick and pretty great on Showtime's "The Tudors," so it's a shame he is cast as the flat and bland Superman. Even as Clark Kent he is devoid of charisma and about as exciting as a loaf of white bread.

Batman is a ball of dangerous rage and Affleck does justice to the role, but everything else is so tone deaf and boring that it's just glitter on a sinking ship.

Amy Adams is wasted as Lois Lane, with Diane Lane, Lawrence Fishburne and Gal Gadot (as Wonder Woman) basically given extended cameos. Jesse Eisenberg is given more to do as a twitchy and excitable Lex Luthor, but his performance mashes up his Mark Zuckerberg with an impression of screenwriter Max Landis, creating a villain so annoying and shrill as to be borderline unwatchable.

Superhero movies don't have to be fun, but they need to be actual movies and this one doesn't qualify. There is no structure, with every scene leading to a completely unconnected one, rendering the entire film a formless void of beautifully composed shots with no center, as if the movie was a $250 million music video for a band that hasn't recorded a song yet..

"Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice"

Dir. Zack Snyder

Grade: D

Now Playing at Old Mill Stadium 16 & IMAX

About The Author

Jared Rasic

Film critic and author of food, arts and culture stories for the Source Weekly since 2010.
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