Well, Zack Snyder can fuck right off, can't he? #BatmanvSuperman— Stuart Ian Burns (@feelinglistless) April 6, 2016
Film It was nice to be able to finally tweet that with some authority now that I've finally seen this unspeakable pile for myself. Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice more than lives up to its current 29% at Rotten Tomatoes and critical vitriol which surrounded its release. Make no mistake, this is an awful, awful travesty of a film and the characters it's based on and Warner Bros should be (a) embarrassed that they thought it wouldn't be greeted with the non-welcome that it has by critics and would be a major hit on the scale of Star Wars, Jurassic World and the MARVEL films and (b) really need to think seriously about how they proceed with the rest of this series.
I'll keep this short because I'm most likely not going to say anything you haven't read or heard already. Narrative wise, it's a mess, shooting backwards and forwards between half communicated themes, too many characters having too little screen time, story threads which falter and force the characters to be two steps behind the audience, action scenes which are generally incoherent, some startlingly inept and obvious dialogue, in Lex Luthor a deeply irritating to watch and poor executed antagonist and a general feeling, as is so often the case with franchise films of a filmmaker trying to bend someone else's mythology to their will rather than celebrating it for what it is.
Two examples of its ineptitude: Lex Luthor just sort of appears. Lex has had screen time before in the forms of Hackman and Spacey, but this version is completely different interpretation than even appears in most comics and so you'd expect some kind of proper introduction to him, how he fits into the world. Instead the first time we see him is when he's trying to shanghai the Kryptonian rocket ship from Man of Steel and convincing the US government to give him access. We have zero sense of who he is, the filmmakers having decided to go with, "Pffr it's Lex Luthor, what more do you need to know?" Quite a lot actually.
Second example: why oh, why does the film fall once again on the old standard of damseling girl friends and family members as someone for the superhero to save? Please stop. It's true that a couple of MARVEL films have been guilty of this too, but there has to be another way of motivating action sequences and create threat. The supervillain manual can't be this limited can it? About the only times it is fair is when the tables are turned by the captor but even that's becoming old hat. The way it's done here too doesn't feel very 12A either. The BBFC's view on what constitutes "moderate violence, threat" has become remarkably relaxed of late.
But the overall problem is that its a single protagonist film trying to be a team film. The story here is about Batman reacting to the fallout from Man of Steel and there's a version of this film which keeps Bruce as our viewpoint character with Superman as a remote figure until the Bat actually has to fight him and its during that fight that he realises, as he does in this film, that they're on the same side and they should be fighting together against a greater threat. Essentially, a similar structure to Buffy's The Zeppo.
Instead, because it thinks world building is showing a bunch of stuff and because they feel like they don't want to short change the audience by giving Henry Cavill a bit more than a cameo, they create tectonic stresses in the structure of the film and end up making Bruce an antagonist who's actually philosophically on the same page as Lex in places (something which it tries but fails to completely justify) which means when he finally does change his mind and that he's actually Superman's friend it doesn't make any actually narrative sense.
All of which said, Wonder Woman is awesome. Somehow amid all the other diarrhea swilling around the place, they get Wonder Woman right. The casting is perfect, Gil Gadot imbued with goddess like baring and temperament and charisma, so much charisma. When she drops in from the sky, everything suddenly falls back into place as the three of them battle the secondary antagonist and it feels like the film it's been trying to be for the previous will crushing two hours. But if it wasn't for Wonder Woman ... Still it's a better film that Fan4stic. Which is something I suppose.