So, does bringing together two separate, huge film franchises make for twice the fun, twice the action and twice the blockbuster appeal? Or does it water down the exhilaration and just make the resulting melange less, well… super?
In their individual film worlds Batman (Ben Affleck) and Superman (Henry Cavill) rule their respective roosts, whereas here they have to share the limelight as super hero equals.
Director Zack Snyder excels at big, bad, loud action and there’s certainly plenty of that in the latter stages of this overly-long (two-and-a-half hours plus) movie, but the first scenes concentrate on telling Batman’s backstory, before revisiting the final scenes of Superman: Man of Steel to re-establish our relationship with Clark Kent (Cavill) and Lois Lane (Amy Adams).
At this point, Snyder introduces a ‘gods and demons’ aspect to the whole tale, comparing Batman and Superman with the ancient gods on Mount Olympus, preoccupied with their own concerns and not mindful of mere mortals. This motif is explored by a feisty Senator (Holly Hunter) who believes that although Superman is probably a force for good, he must be called into account for his actions, which have basically resulted in the destruction of most of Metropolis.
This is when the wheels start to come off the whole enterprise as Lex Luthor (a wildly over-acting Jesse Eisenberg) conspires to pit Batman and Superman against each other for no apparent reason whatever. From here, the plot and storyline suffer serious malfunctions with the thrust of the film staggering one step forward before lurching left, right, backwards and downwards.
You’ll wonder what the hell is going on with Wonder Woman, who has apparently wandered into this film from the soundstage next door
It all takes an age to finally, finally resolve itself into one almighty punch-up, which is when Snyder’s action direction skills come to the fore in some pretty explosive scenes (the Batmobile demolishing a series of ships in a boatyard is masterful).
The problem is, by this stage – and despite the best efforts of Affleck and Cavill to keep us on their characters’ respective sides – you’ll be beyond caring why Lex is involved, why Batman’s nightmares keep interrupting the narrative just to show us what a tormented soul he is, why investigative journalist Lois never seems to be making notes or typing copy and just what the hell is going on with Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot) who has apparently wandered into this film from the soundstage next door.
Both Affleck and Cavill are pumped up to the max (just to show off their pecs in one scene each), there is great support from Jeremy Irons as a suitably phlegmatic Alfred and the sets and high-tech gizmos top notch. But without even the faintest breath of a coherent story the resulting movie is a mess.
Adding two superheroes together doesn’t make for twice the movie; here, we have two major characters at a loss to find their story.