We know Batman and Superman are largely bullet-proof, but are they critic-proof? Zack Snyder had better hope so.
Zack Snyder’s long-awaited superhero gladiator match, Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice, is finally upon us. The film, which stats Ben Affleck as the Caped Crusader and Henry Cavill as the Man of Steel and sets up DC Comics’ expanded cinematic universe by introducing us to members of their Avengers equivalent The Justice League, is poised to take up to $350 million at the global box office this weekend.
So who cares what the critics think? Well, Warner Bros might once they digest the less-than-enthusiastic reviews Dawn of Justice has had so far. Our own Robbie Collin was left disappointed and confused, to say the least: “The first hour in particular is so haphazardly assembled, I honestly wondered if a reel had gone missing from the projection booth,” he wrote.
But he’s far from alone; after the initial positive premiere reactions, all-out raves are thin on the ground, with many reviews reserving praise for Ben Affleck and certain action sequences and not much else.
Make up your own mind when the film opens on March 25, but in the meantime here’s what the critics thought:
Mark Hughes, Forbes
“I’m a huge fan of Zack Snyder’s Watchmen, and long considered it his best film. Batman v Superman has now taken that crown, however. Instead of typical 1-2-3 predictable storytelling and shot-framing, Snyder time and again chooses more personal approaches, framing action sequences in terms of perspectives… Batman v Superman has big, bold, breathtaking action in a story propelled by character conflicts on a mythic scale. The result is visually stunning, with powerful emotional storytelling and awe-inspiring action spectacle.”
Andrew Pulver, The Guardian
“It’s tough to take all the hardcore emoting seriously, particularly as the emotional heavy lifting is designed to be done by the occasional maudlin line in brief pauses between the explosions. For a film so concerned with its characters’ inner lives, there’s a fundamental disconnect going on here – enough to make you yearn for the lighter touch of the Marvel films.”
Stephanie Zacharek, Time
“There are more than a few dazzling sequences in Batman v Superman, including an apocalyptic dream battle in which spindly, winged terrors, imported straight from a Guillermo del Toro nightmare, buzz menacingly in the margins, while poor Batman gets the batstuffing kicked out of him in the foreground. Incidentally, the brutality of Batman v Superman is the heavy-duty, bone-crunching sort, a factor you might want to consider if you’re thinking of taking very small kids… The stunning and aristocratic Gal Gadot shows up, all too briefly, as Diana Prince/Wonderwoman: It’s a delight to watch her laugh in the face of danger, which is exactly the opposite of the demands placed on poor Cavill and Affleck.”
Richard Roeper, Chicago Sun-Times
“All the Internet resistance to Affleck being cast as Batman seems silly when you see him sharing the screen with Cavill, as Affleck is easily the superior actor. (Cavill is solid, but there’s not all that much difference in his facial expressions registering anger, fear, pain or love. He winces quite a bit.) There’s not a moment when we don’t believe Affleck as Bruce Wayne or as Batman… Jesse Eisenberg’s twitchy, self-conscious mannerisms can be irritating in some performances, but he’s a creepy delight here as Lex Luthor.”
Peter Travers, Rolling Stone
“Snyder, juiced up by Hans Zimmer’s caffeinated score, throws everything at the screen until resistance is futile. Better than Man of Steel but below the high bar set by Nolan’s Dark Knight, Dawn of Justice is still a colossus, the stuff that DC Comics dreams are made of for that kid in all of us who yearns to see Batman and Superman suit up and go in for the kill. Suck on that, Marvel.”
Helen O’Hara, GQ
“Ben Affleck is fine as Batman, once you get past the fact that he’s Ben Affleck in a waistcoat. The problem is the film’s vision of Batman. Fans of the same old beats will be thrilled to see the murder of Bruce Wayne’s parents. Again. And young Bruce falling into a bat cave. Again. For fans of new beats, there’s the fact that this Batman is apparently some sort of demented Oracle, enduring endless, detailed visions of possible pasts and futures complete with fully choreographed fights.”
Nick De Semlyen, Empire
“Following a wonderfully camp training montage in which the Dark Knight furiously pumps Batbarbells and chucks a tyre around, he and Supes go cape-to-cape through the slums of Gotham, a sight to justify the slow and gloomy build-up… It’s here at last, amid the crumbling masonry, that the movie discovers its joie de vivre. Which is why it’s a shame that Snyder feels the need to throw in a hulking, city-smashing Uruk-hai afterwards. A climax to a climax, it’s CGI overkill, making for a generic and exhausting denouement.”
Related Link: View the Full Production Notes for Batman v Superman