BATMAN V SUPERMAN: DAWN OF JUSTICE (2016, Zack Snyder)
It’s not inherently wrong to make a graceless blockbuster that sits inert like a rock weighted down by the chains of a gargantuan budget, four-quadrant appeal desperation, and fealty to the lord of comic book fandom. But if you’re going to saddle audiences with this amount of artless sludge, clouded by a humorless and sexless fog of self-righteousness, then you must justify it — you must have a point such that there’s no other way to tell the story than through decibel-exploding punishment.
Snyder, I’m afraid, has no such point or justification. In the beginning of this aircraft-carrier-sized superhero ship, Chris Terrio’s screenplay flirts with some interesting subject matter, equating the corruption of power with terrorism. The questions that poses regarding identities and worth of pure heroism are provocative, but such philosophies are squashed as soon as Snyder’s worst impulses take over in the second half, bloating this pitch-black MMA fight with a CG puke-fest, and a host of reasons for the franchise to continue until every dollar is bled dry from the lemming-like mob of brainwashed superhero junkies who line up dutifully to escape from the true impotence of their realistic lives.
Never one to miss an opportunity as a talented fish in a mediocre pond, Jesse Eisenberg comes out the best as Lex Luthor. He’s no Gene Hackman, but who is? Instead, Eisenberg plays Luthor as a ticking bomb of coiled insanity, one seizure away from shrieking until his throat burns up. Cavill and Affleck get swallowed by costumes and green screen, while Gal Gadot finds new ways to be an unbelievable bore when delivering lines. Nothing else sticks, as countless chances for the story to seep into fascinating nooks are wasted, dragged away from their original paths by a formulaic freight train charging along the central track, maintaining not only a dark, colorless, jagged visual palate but a morose sensibility worn down by a culture of excess, ego, bravado, and violence. This isn’t the dawn of justice; it’s the aging dead end of a genre.