I watched Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. The first section is a spoiler-free review (I assume you watched the trailers), followed by a spoiler-hidden additional thoughts.
Based on the Rotten Tomatoes low aggregate score of about 30%, and the complaints, I went in with low expectations. I didn't particularly like the trailers. But to my surprise, I enjoyed the film and would give it "thumbs up". So this review is going to have a positive slant. Also, in my audience there was a lot of clapping going on at various scenes - mostly kids. They were loving it.
This film is complex. A first watch yields some confusion because of the bizarre editing of some (unexplained) scenes. I think after 2nd watch, more will be understandable, especially to fans of the comics and animated series episodes.
Perhaps the most disturbing thing I read before seeing the film was a comment that Batman now uses guns and kills people. This is not exactly true. Or is it? In the theatrical versions of Batman, his vehicles have always had firepower, and this doesn't change. In many scenes he grabs rifles and smacks bad guys around with the butt end, and he fires the rifles a few times - which could be simply wounding them, putting them down, but not executing Punisher-style. But the big guns of his Batmobile had to slaughter anything that got hit! The thing is - the film doesn't really show Batman killing. So I won't dwell on it. This Batman is older and fed up, doubting his more righteous path because , as he says, "criminals are like weeds. Pull one up, another grows in its place". Overall I felt this Batman is satisfactorily fair to the character in my eyes and was EASILY the best part of the the film. Some of Batman's (and Alfred's) scenes are stuff we've never seen before in on film, and its always exciting and fun to watch. I enjoyed the nice early focus on Bruce's detective work and planning.
BvS is an amalgamation of at least 3 films' worth of Superman and Justice League concepts and stories. It has to introduce the new Batman and Wonder Woman and Lex Luthor, and allow story #1 to play out, and allow enough time for story #2 to play out. The end result is the film has been heavily cut and edited and yet still has far too many disjointed scenes; also it is too long. I was disappointed that the writers and directer tried to cover so, so many scenes in one film. No wonder it was originally 3+ hours. I don't think it is a spoiler to reveal this - as the trailer did - that a version of Doomsday and
The Death of Superman
storyline is incorporated into this film. This is seriously the worst part of the film. You get your money's worth in spectacle; but its so much less interesting than the first half of the film. Which is par for the course with Zak Snyder's direction, I think; it's the exact same problem I have with Man of Steel. I loved the first half of MoS, but by the ending I felt very dissatisfied. But I've come to enjoy MoS on subsequent Blu-Ray viewings; I suspect that will be true here too. Wait a minute! Didn't Superman Returns also have a super depressing final act? Sorry, but I like the jubilant feeling I used to feel walking out after watching the first two Christopher Reeve Superman films. Or Spider-Man 1 or 2. Also Batman Begins and The Dark Knight! On any of these films, I would walk out of the theater with a spring in my step. But with BvS, the best feeling I could muster was 'that wasn't as bad as I'd feared...".
Jesse Eisenberg plays Lex Luther. I hated him in the trailers. But surprise! At least in my opinion, his version of Luthor is a good one. He is intelligent, crafty, merciless, and he plays the long game and he is behind all of the attacks against our super friends. Yes, I found Eisenberg to be a formidable Luthor. It doesn't bother me that they've tried a fresh angle to the character. It's unfortunate that his wry and bizarre little speeches such as "the red capes are coming!" was the focus -- out of context -- in the trailers. In the film, he's being weird like that on purpose to certain characters. Luthor's ruthlessness is shown in one especially surprising turn of events mid-film; and his disregard for human life is shown in his maniacal long range plan.
Negatives? I didn't really enjoy or understand the multiple visions and dream sequences. It reminded me of Avengers: Age of Ultron and Thor's trip to the pool -- confusing , a change in thematic tone, and evidently just setting up future stuff in the Justice League films. These scenes play out, then there is no explanation and then the normal real-time storyline resumes. Huh?? But after some thought (and googling for answers), I think most of us will understand and grow used to why these sequences are there. Snyder is also playing the long game and planting seeds. However, these scenes hurt the film, and I wish they'd been cut, and better moments not cut. The end of the film mimics Man of Steel's destruction and not-really-very-fun spectacle; dour and a sobering/ depressing mood. Little kids were BAWLING out loud in the audience. Now that is what I call an effectively upsetting ending-- but the rest of us (adults) just watched in silence until a glimmer of hope did finally rise.
I give the film a B-. Compared to how I felt after Man of Steel, X-men 3, Amazing Spider-Man 2, Green Lantern, or Superman III (all disappointing to me of varying degrees), BvS compares more favorably.
Spoiler Comments Next:
I hated Doomsday's inclusion in this film. He looked stupid. He looked fake. His origin is changed. There wasn't enough time for him in this film! And Superman dies?! Again, just too much. I wish that whole Death of Superman/ Doomsday thing would be forgotten. I had been hoping one of Darkseid's minions would be a final enemy, since Darkseid was clearly prefigured by the dreams of parademons, and Luthor's final statements. Also, why is Batman having dreams of parademons , and how does Luthor know that Darkseid is out there? How? It makes no sense to me. I assume the Krypton Ship gave him this knowledge?
That being stated, I did like Superman's decision to fly Doomsday into outer space, and the nuke by the USA. The weakened Superman (what is the reference for that? TDKR? Can't remember). Cool scenes. But then back to dark and gloomy dark CGI fest in Gotham. I enjoyed Wonder Woman's role in the battle, and loved seeing her magic lasso.
I referrred to Luthor's Senate bombing above. When Holly Hunter's character realized that "Grandma's Peach tea" was there on the desk (GROSS!) - and then Mercy Graves noticed Luthor was not in attendance - well, this was one of the best scenes of the whole film to me. Tragic. Poor Clark, surviving it but unable to save those people who burned around him in that moment.
When The Flash appeared to warn Bruce - I wasn't sure who that was supposed to be. It didn't exactly look like the Flash to me, and we haven't been introduced to the character yet. I've since investigated, he warns Bruce to find the stone (Kryptonite?) NOPE he says "Am I too Soon?", which is pretty awesome - a warning from the future! ... and the key is Lois, and to "find us" (the other future JL members). Else, the Knightmare vision of Superman w/Darkseid will come true, I assume? Finally, I was excited to see the footage of other metahumans like Aquaman and Flash and Cyborg. I think the most impressive of these was Cyborg's dad's footage trying to save his son.