“What makes a movie bad?” It’s a surprisingly difficult question to answer. There are many subjective reasons as to why a person wouldn’t like a movie: Maybe they’re uninterested in the genre, perhaps they think the plot too confusing for their taste or the characters too unrelatable to themselves, or maybe it’s because of the distracting elderly couple incessantly babbling to each other in the seats in front of them. Regardless, some movies are just objectively bad, and Batman V. Superman: Dawn of Justice is one of them. The film opens with a bang, as a group of giant alien robot monsters destroy the city of Metropolis while attempting to kill Superman. Both of the titular heroes are present for this five-minute opening, saving numerous citizens from the widespread destruction. These action-packed moments filled with collapsing skyscrapers and explosions are at the very least visually interesting. The sequence ends and things slow down. A lot. We are transported to a Metropolis eighteen months in the future, rebuilt and attempting to deal with the destructive ramifications of Superman’s and Batman’s heroic endeavors. The two are seen as vigilantes, one a god from an alien world, and the other a man from the underworld.
After setting up this main premise, the film spends about two hours exploring it (kind of). The film never really scrapes any further than the surface surrounding the bigger questions it raises like What responsibilities does a super hero have to the people? When is a hero justified to kill? Should a hero represent the judgement of the people as a whole rather than making decisions on his own? Unfortunately, the film drops these intriguing questions as soon as it raises them, instead choosing to confusedly switch between the point of view of Batman and Superman in a series of horribly bland and unoriginal sub-plots.
As a result, the all-star cast is barely given any material to work with. Ben Affleck’s batman is barely distinguishable from Christian Bale’s in the Dark Knight Trilogy. Henry Cavill’s Superman is dull and uninteresting. Gal Gadot, known for her part in The Fast and Furious franchise, gives a stand out performance as Wonder Woman. Amy Adams is dreadfully disused as Lois Lane, here to give the audience explanation of the overly-complicated sub-plots regarding Jesse Eisenbergh’s Lex Luthor and his cliché attempts at ruining Superman’s heroic name. Eisenbergh, known for his breakout role as Mark Zuckerberg in The Social Network is the only member of the cast who is overtly mediocre, choosing to portray Luthor as a demented over-the-top Saturday morning cartoon villain, despite the film’s overall serious tone.
The film’s trouble with tone may be representative of its most major misstep. In attempting to encompass all types of super hero film in one, the film is a complete mess of confused intentions. It never really seems sure of what it wants to be, meandering between being a slick and serious super hero drama, while at other times an over-the-top action comedy. Director Zack Snyder can’t even seem to decide which superhero it’s about. He not only includes Batman and Superman, but also adds in cameos from the Flash, Aquaman, and Wonder Woman, building hype for the upcoming Justice League revival (that I frankly wish I was able to watch instead). As a result, Batman V Superman is an objectively bad movie, proving itself to be nothing more than a cash-grab, carelessly forcing two separate superhero franchises together into a two and half-hour monstrosity.