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Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice is many things: bold, original, creative, challenging, and infuriating. Set shortly after Man of Steel, the film picks up with a world adjusting the existence of Superman/ Clark Kent (Henry Cavill), with the mysterious vigilante Batman/Bruce Wayne (Ben Affleck) taking the law into his own hands. When a series of crimes are linked to billionaire Lex Luthor (Jesse Eisenberg), the heroes must work to solve the mystery, clashing in the progress. Sound simple? Not quite, as the film is packed with exposition, and balances multiple character arcs as well as establishing the entire DC Cinematic Universe.

Herny Cavill continues to be an excellent and believable Superman, and Ben Affleck proves to be an excellent Batman, giving the role gravitas and intensity. However, the film’s standout is Gal Gadot’s scene stealing Wonder Woman, a feisty, powerful character that comes to play in major ways. Jesse Eisenberg is entertaining as Lex Luthor in a love it or hate it kind of way, and a meaty side role for Jeremy Irons as Alfred gives the film more emotion, as does Amy Adams’s Lois Lane. These actors do what is required of them: sell a story that is at points ridiculous, and imply character development through nuances when the script is more lightly padded.

Zack Snyder gives some striking imagery and well-crafted action, despite an abundance of CGI and stylized elements. But the film’s core issue is pacing; the film is telling so many stories at once, many of which are hard to follow. If this isn’t enough, some of the characters are thinly drawn, and the emphasis on franchise building doesn’t help. There are genuine moments, specifically with Cavill’s Superman, but the over-padded story, as well as a horribly conceived ending, only detract from what at the center is a good film.

Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice may not have lived up to the hype, but it’s a rousing, exciting time at the movies that’s worth seeing to be part of the conversation. While it’s imperfect, it’s certainly bold, and in a period of what has become monetized blockbusters, that’s most certainly a good thing. Grade: B-

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