Thunderous, ponderous, and occasionally exciting, Zack Snyder's Batman v. Superman opens with one of those grim proclamations that the creators of modern superhero movies are so fond of: "There was a time above, a time before," intones the voice of Bruce Wayne (Ben Affleck), over a childhood flashback to his parents' death at the hands of a mugger. He continues: "But things fall apart, things on Earth, and what falls…is fallen."
Look, the guy's a masked vigilante, not a philosopher-poet. Unfortunately, that's just what Batman v. Superman keeps trying to turn him into. And not just Bruce Wayne, but nearly every character in this ultimate superhero match-up gets reams of dialogue about good and evil and man and god and virtue and sacrifice and our fallen, fallen world. By the time Kevin Costner shows up to relate a folksy memory about some drowning horses (don't ask), you might find yourself stifling giggles.
But laughing -- seemingly ever -- is the last thing Snyder wants you to do. The director clearly wants his film to mean something. For much of it, Superman (Henry Cavill) is treated as an absolute -- more a philosophical conundrum than a man. The script draws explicit connections between him and drone warfare, and there are endless discussions about whether we can trust one person to have all that power. As the heroes' differences get egged along by young, irritating tech billionaire Lex Luthor (played by Mark Zuckerberg himself, Jesse Eisenberg), the film spends much of its first half in both literal and figurative slow-motion, as characters mutter and mull and ponder these issues, often in the least compelling ways.