The M verdict on Batman v Superman: Dawn Of Justice
This is a case of don't believe the hype... from either side.
First fan reactions from the United States were glowing - like a Kryptonian's eye lasers.
Then the critics' reactions suggested this film was an affront to humanity.
Neither are right.
Now, I love a bit of Batman and this movie is definitely better than Man Of Steel - but I'm also tired of the CGI mess that too many action films disintegrate into. Especially in 3D. (It rarely works well. Less so for anyone who already wears glasses)
Director Zack Snyder personally asked us (via a filmed intro) to not give spoilers. I'll comply. Spoiler-free it is. So...
THE GOOD STUFF
The opening shows a different perspective of Man Of Steel's final battle in Metropolis - during which Superman and Zod smash and zap through buildings (presumably killing thousands) - and it hits on many levels.
It shows just how terrifying such a battle would be from a mortal's street-bound POV and gives Bruce Wayne a legitimate reason to hate Superman.
It's also director Zack Snyder directing in a realistic setting – always better than his CGI tableaus.
It would be good to see Snyder return to a whole film shot in the real world as he did for 2004s Dawn Of The Dead.
THE NEW GUYS
Ben Affleck may have a rubbish back tattoo but he's good here. Mostly as Bruce Wayne, but he's good.
He and Jeremy Irons' Alfred are like two grizzled veterans and are both fond of a tipple or three.
Alfred is never far from a tumbler of whiskey. Bruce can polish off a bottle or two of wine. It's the Boozy Duo. (Now there's the sequel we need.)
Plus, this Bruce Wayne is far from living a monk-like existence, as the girl in the bed proves.
Gal Gadot is also very cool as Diana Prince, aka Wonder Woman. She and Affleck have chemistry and it's a shame we don't get more of their slinky cat and mouse game.
Also, their own action scenes rock.
Special mention to Holly Hunter as the Senator leading the charge to reevaluate Superman. A great character who is neither hero nor a villain but highlights the aftermath of disastrous super-heroics.
It's a very serious film. Or at least it takes itself very seriously. Too seriously in parts. So much so that when the film's one true joke happens, it's jarring. But it is a great line.
THE BATH EDIT
There's a scene with Amy Adams (who plays Lois Lane) in a bathtub. It's an absolute triumph of editing skill that they keep the scene PG.
THE NOT GREAT STUFF
The costumes for Supes and Bats look painfully tight to the point of hunching, unable to exhale and with an inability to walk properly.
Really. The scene where Superman walks into Congress looks like he has mobility at only the neck and wrists. Or is hoping to reach a bathroom soon.
I still don't buy Henry Cavill as Superman. Clark Kent? Sure. In fact, his Clark is more Superman-like than his Superman. As the guy in blue, he lacks presence, not helped by looking unable to breathe in his outfit.
It also doesn't help that Ben Affleck is at least two inches taller.
Also, when Cavill uses his angry face, he looks like Brit character actor David Jason. (It's not a super look.)
(Above: Not Henry Cavill)
The quality of the CGI is there (mostly). The use of it is not. It is shovelled onto the finale. Slathered to the point that it hardly has any weight – physical or dramatic.
While it does not feel like a two-and-a-half-hour film, it does feel like a film that had a half-hour yanked from it.
The continuity is very strange, there are plot holes and blatant product placements. But it is by no means the worst offender.
There are a number of dream sequences that are bizarre additions. Batman's is particularly baffling.
Why fill the time with this rather than actual plot points? One can only guess that it cost so much to film, it was too expensive to jettison.
It is also damn long in a way that you'd hope would mean something.
To then have no conclusion (in this film, at least) makes it all the more pointless.
This version of Lex is about the laziest casting you can think of.
Jesse Eisenburg is really good at playing various degrees of fidgety neurotic.
The idea appeared to have been to turn Lex into a Mark Zuckerberg-type.
So to then cast the guy that played Mark Zuckerberg is depressingly basic thinking.
It doesn't help that his motivations are not those of a genius. He just wants to disrupt with no clear endgame. Batman has a clearer motivation to kill Superman.
This is considered a make or break film for the hopeful DC Cinematic universe. They want what their rival Marvel has.
As such, it feels like somebody pressed the panic button and started taking from a bunch of iconic Superman and Batman storylines.
As though some exec rang down and said: "Who knows if we'll get another opportunity to do this again... THROW IT IN."
And really. Whoever decided to spoil the reveal of Doomsday in an earlier trailer should be visited in the night and have a bat sent up their nightdress.
GUYS, PICK AN ENDING
There is a loooonnnnng Return Of The King-like succession of end points. Your resilience for this will really depend at what point you want the bathroom. "Now? Oh no, now. Now? Is that iiiit.... oh no. There's more..."
TURN ON THE LIGHT
The idea that superheroes have to be grim and gritty to be liked by audiences is antiquated. Marvel has been showing us that for the past eight years.
This grimness has to stop. As does the tarmac colour grading. We're not expecting rainbow unicorns, just less grey would be good.
This is too dark a story for these heroes. And this insistence on having superheroes kill people is too much too. And hard to walk back from.
What are they going to do should another director take over? Say "Oops" and hope it's all forgotten about?
It has some good moments. But it also has some ridiculously bad moments, some utterly nonsensical. It's what used to be known as a curate's egg: Good in parts, rotten in others.
Go for the Affleck, stay for the Gadot.
It's better than Man of Steel but nobody will leave this expecting a multitude of sequels. Or wanting them if this bleak path is to continue.