Batman vs Superman
Courtesy of Warner Bros.

Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice” is facing a rocky start ahead of its Friday release. The tentpole has met with lukewarm reviews and holds a bleak Rotten Tomatoes percentage (which continues to change as more reviews roll in). The last installments fared far better for these caped crusaders, with “Man of Steel” holding a 56% Fresh rating and “The Dark Knight Rises” holding a Fresh 87%.

Although there are a few positive reviews for Zack Snyder’s film, most are calling out the film for its messy, less-than-spectacular promised clash of comic-book titans.

Variety‘s Andrew Barker says this epic standoff never develops fully, and instead “the life-or-death battle between the two icons ultimately comes down to a series of misunderstandings.” Barker also believes Henry Cavill’s Superman pales in comparison to “the winningly cranky, charismatic presence even when out of costume” of Ben Affleck’s Batman. Visually, the film is a win. For Variety’s full review, click here.

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Eric Kohn of Indiewire echoes some of Barker’s points by calling this messy and “cacophonous” showdown “basically one long teaser for the next installment.” Kohn also pointed out that while the film “doesn’t lack for inspired visuals” because “it’s filled with motion-heavy sequences rich in light and color,” a good deal of the story “reeks of the usual routine.”

Peter Travers of Rolling Stone thought this was a step up from “Man of Steel” but nowhere near Christopher Nolan’s “Dark Knight” franchise. However, even though “Batman v Superman” is probably a dream for most comic-book fans, the “kick-ass revelation” is the “wowza of a Wonder Woman,” played by Gal Gadot.

But Todd McCarthy of the Hollywood Reporter believes the writers threw in the towel on how to integrate Wonder Woman. “With just her sword and shield, she doesn’t seem meant to mix it up with these big guys right off the bat,” he writes. McCarthy also adds that the lead characters are not fully developed, but may be in the next installments.

Entertainment Weekly’s Chris Nashawaty described the film as “overstuffed, confusing and seriously crippled by (Jesse) Eisenberg’s over-the-top performance.”

Jen Yamato of the Daily Beast called the movie a “beautiful mess” that not even Gadot’s Wonder Woman could save.

The Chicago Tribune’s Michael Phillips had one of the harshest reviews, writing “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.”
Vulture’s David Edelstein said “There’s enough going on to keep you watching — and, as I said, to keep fanboys wowed by the scale of the production and pretension. But most people will leave feeling drained and depressed, wondering how a studio can get away with withholding so much.”
“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 Guardian’s Andrew Pulver said.
Stephanie Zacharek from Time said “‘Batman v Superman’ lunges for greatness instead of building toward it: It’s so topheavy with false portent that it buckles under its own weight.”

Mike Ryan of Uproxx said the movie’s inability to provide entertaining escapism on a grim day in world news was particularly disappointing. “I am gobsmacked by just how dull this movie turned out to be,” he wrote.

Matt Singer of Screencrush said, “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.”

Brian Truitt USA Today had a more positive take: “‘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,” he wrote. “And for the nerdier crowds, a fleeting glimpse at other superheroes hints this is the Dawn of something potentially sensational.”

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Somewhat grim reviews won’t necessarily mean this epic caped hero battle will struggle at the box office. The film is projected to surpass $300 million worldwide when it bows this weekend.

“This is basically their ‘Avengers,’” said Jeff Bock, a box office analyst with Exhibitor Relations. “There’s a ton of buzz about it. They need to open bigger than any DC Comics film ever has.”

Fandango reported that it is the fastest-selling superhero film in the ticketer’s history, beating out “The Dark Knight Rises” and “Avengers: Age of Ultron” at the same point in the sales cycle.

Warner Bros. and DC Entertainment’s “Batman v Superman” marches into theaters Friday.

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