Let's cut to the chase. Batman V Superman is a complete and utter mess. It takes the most exciting of concepts and bungles it on almost every level, culminating in a film that is, if you'll believe it, worse than Man Of Steel. At the end of the UK press screening there were pockets of cheers from the crowd and I literally could not hold in an exclamation of "Are you f*cking serious?"
OK, so let's get the good out of the way first so there's at least some grounding for all this.
Jeremy Irons is the best thing in the movie, sardonic and sarcastic as an Alfred weary by his ward's path of self destruction and willing him to settle down (in all meanings of the word). Ben Affleck is fine as Batman, neither the disaster first appreciated nor the defining take the trailers promised. The music, especially the electronic flourishes of Junkie XL, is strong. Biggest of all, for a film that runs for 150 minutes, it doesn't really drag.
And, without even trying, we're already at one of the film's biggest problems. The pacing may be frenetic, but Dawn Of Justice has an absolutely awful approach to narrative. We have four separate, completely disconnected opening sequences that lead into a story that seems completely desensitised from itself and its themes before forcing a fight on us that has passing bearing on the wider plot that leads into more random stuff which by that point you can barely handle. Within this there are four dream sequences posing as reality, two flashbacks to events we saw in full only an hour ago and so much incomprehensible crosscutting I question whether it's even meant to tell a coherent story.
It is, on a basic level, scattershot. We jump from scene to scene with the pace of an ill-conceived Liam Neeson actioner and the care of Divergent. Editor David Brenner's CV is not exactly the most glowing (he's the go-to for latter-day Emmerich and Stone), but he still does an unexpectedly terrible job of reigning in the film. Although, in his defence, a lot of it falls on the screenwriters; the plot's issues probably stem from David Goyer, but Oscar winner Chris Terrio has done a poor job of brushing it up, leaving the talented cast with little freedom.
Oh, the casting. Yeah, as skilled as the actors may be, here they're not great. As I already insinuated, Affleck is nothing specia;, good as Batman but odd as Bruce Wayne. Henry Cavill ups the ante as Superman, giving us a version of the character that kinda feels like, well, Superman (even if the movie plays with his reluctance to kill, as if ten minutes earlier in screentime he hadn't snapped some guy's neck). Jesse Eisenberg is, as originally feared, Mark Zuckerberg but blonde - Lex Luthor a psychopathic scamp with no hidden depths. Gal Gadot does a great job of looking sexy from a distance and is solid in the small bits she's in costume as Wonder Woman, despite being completely unnecessary to the plot. Amy Adams' Lois Lane is about a lot, yet is nothing more than Amy Adams being about a lot. And if there's anyone else you're interesting in seeing, they just aren't in it enough to be worthy of comment.
Speaking of things not being here, you know what shouldn't be in this movie at all? That stupid subtitle and everything it brings with it. The moment Dawn Of Justice was slapped onto the movie this became an overt Justice League prequel, but even me at my most cynical could not have predicted how ham-fisted and frankly offensive that set-up would be; there's a scene in here that is worse on every level than Thor's perfunctory Infinity Stone dip in Avengers: Age Of Ultron. Any moment pertaining to the wider universe is a tacked on addition, slipped into the movie without a care for cohesion (yet more editing problems). Oh, and there's no post credits scene, probably because they stuck what should have been there in the middle of the film, a sequence that to say comes out of nowhere treats emptiness in a harsh way.
But for all the extraneous material, the movie's biggest crime is its complete and utter mishandling of the title bout. Yup, in a movie called Batman V Superman, they couldn't even get the versus right (although the fact the movie has it as V, not Vs, should have been a clue).
Click next to learn the real problem of the film (and just because it's not been said, all of this is spoiler-free).