The biggest battle Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice's faced was impressing its critics, and despite the best efforts of all parties involved, the movie failed to do just that. Reviews for director Zack Snyder's PG-13 blockbuster are in, and the overall consensus is that he crammed too much into the 152-minute movie. Henry Cavill and Amy Adams reprise their roles as Clark Kent/Superman and Lois Lane, while Ben Affleck, Jesse Eisenberg and Gal Gadot join the cast as Bruce Wayne/Batman, Lex Luthor and Diana Prince/Wonder Woman. In spite of its poor reviews, analysts predict the movie will open with $350 million across 35,000 theaters globally. The superhero flick will easily dethrone Zootopia, which has been No. 1 since its March 4 debut. Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, which leads into the Justice League franchise, also stars Lauren Cohan, Laurence Fishburne, Ray Fisher, Holly Hunter, Jeremy Irons, Diane Lane, Harry Lennix, Jason Mamoa, Ezra Miller, Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Tao Okamoto and Michael Shannon.
Here's what critics are saying about the movie:
• Entertainment Weekly: "Dawn of Justice is big, all right. The brawls are busy and brutal, the story is sprawling in scope, the effects are an embarrassment of pixels, and the performances (well, some of them, at least) couldn't be broader. If it's just size you're after, you won't be disappointed. But at this point in Hollywood's superhero cycle, is that really enough? Snyder has built his career on the supposition that it is. In films like 300, Watchmen, Sucker Punch, and Man of Steel, he's proved to be the kind of filmmaker who cranks every knob as far to the right as it will go. Modulation, economy, and nuance may not be his thing, but at least his movies always look like a billion bucks. And this one does too... Dawn of Justice starts off as an intriguing meditation about two superheroes turning to an all-too-human emotion: hatred out of fear of the unknown. Two and a half hours later it winds up somewhere very far from that—but at the same time, all too familiar. It's another numbing smash-and-bash orgy of CGI mayhem with an ending that leaves the door open wide enough to justify the next 10 installments. Is it too late to demand a rematch?"
• The Wrap: "Genuine surprise is the rock-bottom agenda item for this latest offering from the TimeWarner-DC Comics juggernaut, since it's been designed to launch the company's own set of superhero team-up and solo adventures, following the trail blazed so successfully by the distinguished competition over at Disney/Marvel...(The movie all but hits the pause button for about five minutes to lay the groundwork for sequels to come.) And what of the title's promised skirmish? 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."
• TIME: "As superhero spectacles go...Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice is a grand one, with a mondo-operatic climax and a final shot infused with quivering, exhilarating molecules of grace. It's also not much fun: Barely a minute goes by when there isn't a character or real-life talking head (Charlie Rose and Neil deGrasse Tyson both make cameos) showing up with some droning pronouncement about how humans today, savvy and mistrustful as we are, still need to believe in gods and heroes. The picture is thick with allusions to 'aliens' as enemies of the people, dangerous forces that will only come back stronger when we try to vanquish them. At one point a villain with some crazy ideas intones, 'God is tribal. God takes sides.' All of these statements are intended to provoke thought, of the political or spiritual kind, but they're simultaneously too unshaped and too obvious. Snyder floats them onscreen like ominous nighttime clouds, onto which we can project our own Batsignals of meaning."
• The Hollywood Reporter: "For his part, Batman is provided with plentiful backstory and psychology, but the mature character, as written, never comes into full bloom; all the same, one can look ahead with some hope to Affleck in the role in future installments. Cavill is also likeable enough but, again, hamstrung by the twisty, convoluted inventions designed to limit his abilities during long stretches."
• 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: "The essential clash of ideologies promised by the central conflict—vigilante justice vs. self-sacrificing restraint, night vs. day, Dionysus vs. Apollo—never develops quite as forcefully as it should, and the life-or-death battle between the two icons ultimately comes down to a series of misunderstandings. While Batman v Superman's Dark Knight may be more of a pure punisher than some fans would prefer, Snyder's conception of the character at least feels fully formed. Superman remains something of a work-in-progress."
• Us Weekly: "Snyder botches the only scene fans truly crave: the fight between the classic superheroes. After an intriguing teaser (in which Batman snarls to Superman, 'Do you bleed? You will'), the brawl is a head-scratching letdown. These are two extraordinary men plagued by tormented souls; mommy issues should not be a make-or-break factor. (This is not a spoiler, I swear.) You may not even be capable of seeing the duel, as it's staged in pitch black in the pouring rain. The first Spider-Man movie aside, is that cliché backdrop ever effective?"
Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice is in theaters Friday.