Many directors like to say proudly that they pay no attention to film scribes. Admirable, as that may be, it’s highly doubtful that a filmmaker who has divided critics so intensely in the past decade could remain utterly oblivious to the first flood of reviews to his film. That man if, of course, Zack Snyder, the director of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. Although he would never admit it publicly, Snyder was on a mission to prove a few doubters wrong with this spectacular superhero showdown.
Sadly, it seems he has failed.
The embargo on critics’ reviews was lifted last night at 10pm (UK time) and Dawn of Justice has not fared terribly well. In fact, what is most worrying for Snyder and Warner Bros. is that the movie currently sits on a bleak 37% aggregate score on Rotten Tomatoes, with a 46 score on Metacritic. Why do these scores matter? They are an indication of the general level of feeling from critics and whether studios, directors or fans like it or not, critics retain a degree of influence on how well a film does.
— Screen Rant (@screenrant) March 23, 2016
Let’s have a look at what they’re saying about Batman v Superman. Minor warning: if you’re really, really looking forward to this film, we suggest you turn back now – things are about to get ugly.
The Wrap: “That face-off between two comics legends becomes but one in a series of big things bashing into other big things, which is what Snyder and writers Chris Terrio and David S. Goyer mistake for storytelling. The trio do manage to cough up an acceptable number of ooh-that’s-cool moments, and fans who will be satisfied with those will be satisfied with those, but any other ideas and characters the movie might offer get lost in the rubble.”
Chicago Tribune: “Snyder is not without skills, or ideas, but when a critic finds himself at odds with almost every aspect of a director’s visual approach to material like this, material like this becomes pretty joyless.”
Consequence of Sound: “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice isn’t a film. It’s a two-and-a-half-hour movie trailer. Better yet, it’s one of those videos that pop up on screens before a ride at Universal Studios, where all the actors speak to you and keep hinting at bigger things to come — you know, like a ride? Basically, it’s everything the SEO-friendly title promises — and more.”
indieWIRE: “Rather than focusing on a cataclysmic showdown between pop culture’s most famous men in tights, Zack Snyder’s flashy, cacophonous follow-up to 2013’s “Man of Steel” is basically one long teaser for the next installment.”
The Guardian: “It’s tough to take all the hardcore emoting seriously, particularly as the emotional heavy lifting is designed to be done by the occasional maudlin line in brief pauses between the explosions. For a film so concerned with its characters’ inner lives, there’s a fundamental disconnect going on here – enough to make you yearn for the lighter touch of the Marvel films.”
The Hollywood Reporter: “The villain here, Jesse Eisenberg’s Lex Luthor, is so intensely annoying that, very early on, you wish Batman and Superman would just patch up their differences and join forces to put the squirrely rascal out of his, and our, misery.”
ScreenCrush: “In Snyder’s formulation, protecting the world from evil isn’t a gift or a calling; it’s a burden. And that feeling is reflected in the movie itself, a burdensome 150-minute slog about two men fighting over who is in the right when both are very clearly in the wrong.”
Empire: There are moments that make the whole enterprise worthwhile, and introduces an intriguing new Batman. But it’s also cluttered and narratively wonky; a few jokes wouldn’t have gone amiss, either.
Birth.Movies.Death: “To say that Superman v Batman: Dawn of Justice is a bad movie doesn’t go far enough. This film feels like Zack Snyder hobbling the entire upcoming DC Movieverse before it gets started. It’s almost crazy how flimsy and poorly constructed the first hour of the film is. Snyder and his editors seem to have inserted scenes haphazardly; while most take place in what seem to be chronological order there is no flow from one scene to another. The movie hops around from Batman to Superman to Lex Luthor to Lois Lane willy nilly, with no regard for the pacing or with building any kind of momentum.”
Of course, in the interest of balance, there has been a flurry of positive reviews to the film as well, saving it from utter critical annihilation.
RogerEbert.com: “There are a few brilliantly realized moments, the acting is mostly strong despite the weak script (Affleck and Cavill are both superb—Affleck unexpectedly so), and there’s enough mythic raw material sunk deep in every scene that you can piece together a classic in your mind if you’re feeling charitable; but if you aren’t, “Batman v. Superman” will seem like a missed opportunity.”
Chicago Sun-Times: “When it sings, “Dawn of Justice” is a wonder. When it drags, it still looks good and offers hints of a better scene just around the corner.”
Rolling Stone: “Better than Man of Steel but below the high bar set by Nolan’s Dark Knight, Dawn of Justice is still a colossus, the stuff that DC Comics dreams are made of for that kid in all of us who yearns to see Batman and Superman suit up and go in for the kill.”
Following The Nerd: Affleck will convert even his more adamant detractors, Cavill has grown into the role and Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman will leave you wanting more of the character. It’s a vibrant, adrenaline thumping powerhouse of a movie. It builds towards the next movies but never to the detriment of the current one, something more than one Marvel film and indeed Man of Steel have been guilty of. [Read their full review here]
USA Today: “BvS will please those either waiting for the two main players to lock horns on a movie screen, or those who’ve just been pining for Wonder Woman forever. And for the nerdier crowds, a fleeting glimpse at other superheroes hints this is the Dawn of something potentially sensational.”
Variety: “Snyder has set a Sisyphean task for himself. That this very long, very brooding, often exhilarating and sometimes scattered epic succeeds as often it does therefore has to be seen as an achievement.”