It exists. After years of hype, it finally exists. DC and Warner Bros., for better or worse, unleashed Batman V. Superman: Dawn of Justice upon the world. The movie packs in more flashy visuals, unapologetic absurdity, and over-the-top action than you can throw a Batarang at, but none of it matters because the film expends its energy in all the wrong places. It’s a humorless ride that never, not even once, stops to think that maybe, just maybe, it could use some levity, some balance, that serves as counterweight for the heavy themes and ideas it so desperately wants to convey. But no, apparently it’s above that shit. Don’t get me wrong, though: The film isn’t a complete failure. It contains some awe-inspiring moments that warrant at least one viewing, but it definitely could have been much stronger and much more fun. 

Superman (a wooden Henry Cavill) destroyed Metropolis during his battle with General Zod, claiming lives and dividing the world over the morality of who he is and what he represents. Bruce Wayne (a surprisingly compelling Ben Affleck), a Gotham-based billionaire who doubles as the vigilante known as Batman, sits on the more skeptical side of the Superman issue, posing problems that eventually lead to all-out war between these two titans. Billionaire Lex Luthor (a spasmodic Jesse Eisenberg) pops in to egg on and further incite war between these spandex-clad soldiers, inadvertently uniting them after creating a Kryptonian super-weapon designed to eliminate Superman from the equation.

Explosive and expensive, Batman V. Superman: Dawn of Justice was spawned from the boyish giddiness of a certain Mr. Zack Snyder, who inadvertently neglects substance at every turn to make room for bigger booms, louder bangs, and bombastic dialogue without heft. It’s a movie that busies itself with our entertainment but never our emotional investment, becoming soulless schlock within minutes and refusing to deviate from its self-destructive course. Put bluntly, it’s a towering pile of shit that doesn’t fulfill its initial promise to satisfactorily launch the DC Extended Universe (DCEU).

To make matters worse, the whole enterprise feels thrown together, half-assed, and disjointed without any semblance of cohesion to weave the countless plot threads together. The film makes very little sense, and Snyder appears to make little to no effort to bring new, uninformed viewers into the universe he’s building. Making a movie that is essentially the comic book movie equivalent of an inside joke is neither kind nor fair to the droves of people who show up, shell out, and then miss out. It’s not inclusive and it operates from the boneheaded assumption that everyone who walks into the theater will know what the fuck is happening.

Problems aside, there’s something to be said of its use of Wonder Woman and the implications of her arrival. Gal Gadot’s performance as the mighty Amazonian warrior stands tall as BvS‘s greatest achievement, which is far more than many expected of this almost disastrous story. Snyder throws her into the spotlight, showcasing her super-powered prowess in battle in ways that will absolutely wow its many viewers. Watching her battle Doomsday instilled a sense of wonder in me that I rarely experience, and that’s something. I definitely had to take that into account when I wrote this review.

Batman V. Superman: Dawn of Justice isn’t a missed opportunity as much as it’s a sloppy but honest attempt at entertaining and enthralling viewers who’ve been asking for as much or more for years now.