To gaggle of geese, murder of crows and implausibility of gnus – which is an actual thing – let me add the aggregate descriptor, a din of superheroes.
The din you hear in the calamitous “Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice” is the sound of fun being sucked out of two DC Comics franchises at the same time.
Impressionistic, bleak, visually murky, narratively random, pervasively violent, often incomprehensible, bombastic and self-serious to a fault this union of the resilient, profitable and admired Batman and dormant and disappointing Superman franchises is a marriage made in fan boy and gal heaven.
But the leave no stone unturned approach of “Man of Steel” director Zack Snyder, and that film’s writer David S. Goyer with “Argo” writer Chris Terrio here, is top heavy at the expense of a dramatic center.
The battle between superheroes – Ben Affleck as a grizzled, war-weary, bulked up Batman in body armor and Henry Cavill as a squinting, unsmiling Superman – was contrived as a man versus God cage match by Jesse Eisenberg’s cartoonish sociopath industrialist Lex Luthor.
It is the storm before the calm of what all involved hope will be a long and lucrative series of DC sequels and spinoffs featuring future Justice League allies Gal Gadot, who appears as Wonder Woman, and Flash and Aquaman, who make cameos.
To synopsize: Bruce Wayne, aka Batman, still, again and forever traumatized by his parents’ murder is obsessed with Superman as a threat to the planet after the latter’s battle with something (presumably Gen. Zod, who makes a posthumous appearance) brings death and chaos to Gotham, which is apparently geographically adjacent to Metropolis.
Batman is publicly viewed as a vigilante and Superman, summoned to testify before Congress, is seen as an alien interfering in human affairs. When Luthor comes across a cache of kryptonite, he sees it as a way to kill two birds with one glowing green stone.
And Batman uses it to great effect in the climactic clash between the superheroes, until they team with Wonder Woman to fight a mindless, shapeless golem-like super villain.
Amy Adams is a note-taking Lois Lane, globe trotting in stilettos and pencil skirt; Eisenberg’s Luthor is an unbalanced version of Heath Ledger’s more focused Joker; and Laurence Fishburne is the Daily Planet editor Perry White forever wondering why Clark Kent hasn’t filed that story yet.
The ponderous, doomsday score, by Hans Zimmer and Dutch electronica artist Junkie XL, is like musical steroids.
That it has taken this long to get these two comic culture icons under one roof speaks lurid, pulpy volumes about the creative compromises that this effort required. The busy, noisy, shiny but empty $250 million result, with its running time of 151 minutes, is far too much, much too late.
** Two stars
With Ben Affleck, Henry Cavill, Amy Adams, Jesse Eisenberg, Diane Lane, Laurence Fishburne, Jeremy Irons, Holly Hunter, Gal Gadot, Scoot McNairy.
Produced by Charles roven, Deborah Snyder.
Written by Chris Terrio, David S. Goyer. Directed by Zack Snyder.
Rated PG-13 for pervasive violence and action, mild sensuality.
Approximate running time: 151 minutes.Tags: Batman, Ben Affleck, Bruce Wayne, DC, Gal Gadot, Henry Cavill, Marvel, Superman, Zack Snyder Posted by