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Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice


Stars: Ben Affleck, Henry Cavill, Amy Adams, Jesse Eisenberg, Jeremy Irons, Holly Hunter, Gal Gadot, Laurence Fishburne, Diane Lane, Kevin Costner, Scoot McNairy

Director: Zack Snyder

There's no soul in this 'Justice League' prequel, which never makes up its mind as to what kind of superhero film it wants to be.
And, less forgivably, its special effects are far from special.

In olden Hollywood times, when movie monsters started to lose their box-office pull, the studios decided to pit them against each other; thus, for example, Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man or Godzilla against almost anyone. We go to see such clashes if only to find out who wins.

So it is to be, it seems, with modern superheroes. The Avengers have assembled. Captain America v Iron Man is waiting in the wings. One can only hope it's a bit less humourless than this one, full of sound and fury and blazing action to bolster its puny plot; if it's sometimes difficult to tell what the hell is going on in the early stages, the answer may be not very much.

Cavill is upright and forthright if a little colourless, as Clark Kent/Superman, still in love with Lois Lane (a now rather mature Adams), while Affleck is a grim and grizzled Batman - a very dark knight indeed: even his costume looks dusty.

Irons takes over from Michael Caine as Bruce Wayne's man Alfred, but is given little worthwhile to do. On the other hand, Eisenberg, a very quirky Lex Luthor, offers the usual play-it-for-laughs villain amid all this seriousness.

Lane and Costner contribute guest shots as Superman's foster-parents, and she does get one of the film's few good lines when rescued by Batman, who says he's a friend of her son. 'Yes,' she says. 'I knew. It was the cloak.'

Following a noisy climactic battle with the inevitable invincible monster that even throws in Wonder Woman (Gadot) for good measure, the film seems to have about four endings before it finally dribbles to a halt. All in all, it's mildly entertaining, but at the same time a bit of a mess.

David Quinlan

USA 2016. UK Distributor: Warner Brothers. Colour by deluxe.
152 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: 12A.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 0, Violence/Horror 1, Drugs 0, Swearing 0.

Review date: 24 Mar 2016