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Batman & Superman v. The Audience

I’m about to give away the biggest spoiler imaginable regarding this multimillion dollar movie: it sucks. That’s not a word I usually employ but I can’t think of a better way to describe my reaction to the overblown, overlong, poorly written film awkwardly titled Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. It’s built on the foundation of a bad idea (pitting two larger-than-life superheroes against each other) and goes downhill from there.

My biggest complaint is that the brain trust behind Batman v Superman has managed to drain all the fun out of these characters and their world. I thought superhero movies were supposed to be fun.

I don’t even understand the premise, which has Bruce Wayne/ Batman blaming Superman for the cataclysm at the end of Zack Snyder’s previous movie…and spending the rest of the picture finding a way to destroy him. Affleck spends the entire film expressing one emotion: unrelenting anger.

Henry Cavill cuts a fine figure as Superman/Clark Kent but he too has little to work with. I was trying to figure out why he doesn’t “own” the role, as others like George Reeves and Christopher Reeve have in the past. Then I figured out the problem: writers Chris Terrio and David S. Goyer haven’t imbued him with any personality. It would take a superhuman actor to breathe life into such a two-dimensional part. And, as usual in a Christopher Nolan production, there is virtually no humor to be found…except in the dryly witty portrayal of Alfred by Jeremy Irons.

Jesse Eisenberg-Amy Adams-680

Courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures ™ & © DC Comics

I usually like Jesse Eisenberg but I found his portrayal of the psychopathic Lex Luthor to be utterly monotonous. There is no color, shading, or nuance: just one note over and over again. Other good actors, including Amy Adams, Laurence Fishburne, Diane Lane, Holly Hunter, Harry Lennix, and a blink-and-you’ll-miss-him Joe Morton are wasted as well.

I feel sorry for kids and families who will be sucked into seeing this blockbuster. Parents will have a hard time explaining the grimly dark, confusing story to their children. Don’t kids deserve to cheer for a superhero in this kind of movie? Director Zack Snyder and company don’t seem to think so.

My daughter just asked me if there was anything I did like about Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and I had to answer, honestly: no.

Leonard Maltin is one of the world’s most respected film critics and historians. He is best known for his widely-used reference work Leonard Maltin’s Movie Guide and its companion volume Leonard Maltin’s Classic Movie Guide, now in its third edition, as well as his thirty-year run on television’s Entertainment Tonight. He teaches at the USC School of Cinematic Arts and appears regularly on Reelz Channel and Turner Classic Movies. His books include The 151 Best Movies You’ve Never Seen, Of Mice and Magic: A History of American Animated Cartoons, The Great Movie Comedians, The Disney Films, The Art of the Cinematographer, Movie Comedy Teams, The Great American Broadcast, and Leonard Maltin’s Movie Encyclopedia. He served two terms as President of the Los Angeles Film Critics Association, is a voting member of the National Film Registry, and was appointed by the Librarian of Congress to sit on the Board of Directors of the National Film Preservation Foundation. He hosted and co-produced the popular Walt Disney Treasures DVD series and has appeared on innumerable television programs and documentaries. He has been the recipient of awards from the American Society of Cinematographers, the Telluride Film Festival, Anthology Film Archives, and San Diego’s Comic-Con International. Perhaps the pinnacle of his career was his appearance in a now-classic episode of South Park. (Or was it Carmela consulting his Movie Guide on an episode of The Sopranos?) He holds court at leonardmaltin.com. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook; you can also listen to him on his weekly podcast: Maltin on Movies. — [Artwork by Drew Friedman]

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