This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.
Joe Campbell’s review published on Letterboxd:
This review may contain spoilers.
I hadn't seen Batman V. Superman since watching it in theaters five years ago when I turned on the extended cut this time. Revisiting my review from then, I was surprised to find I have more or less the same thoughts now. There is the heart of an interesting story in here...it's got a bunch of problems that ultimately break the movie...it's pretty damn cool to watch...it isn't as smart as it thinks it is.
Instead of breaking down everything in another review parroting myself, I'm going to run down a list of changes I think could significantly improve the movie without completely ripping out the footboards and starting from scratch.
Cut Lex Luthor
Entirely. Out of the movie. If you need to, use him in a couple scenes playing with Zod's body then use him to tease Steppenwolf at the end.
Keep the contention tightly between Batman and Superman without an external force pulling the strings. Batman as is has plenty of motivation to go after the Superman. You can keep in the Kryptonite subplot and Ma Kent kidnapping but have Batman be at the center of all of it. It already fits his antagonistic persona in this movie and it simplifies things significantly. You don't need Lex, and he weighs everything down.
Cut Wonder Woman
Or once again, reduce her to a cameo tease for future movies. This is admittedly a small problem, as Gal Gadot is great! But she's an extraneous third party who I kept forgetting was in this until she was on screen, and she's also involved in that aweful Justice League hard drive tease that grinds the movie to a halt for no good reason.
Have Batman kill Superman
No Lex Luthor means no Doomsday, which keeps the focus on Batman vs Superman. You still get a dead Superman in the end and Batman still has to take the responsibility of the Justice League in his own hands. It also places the weight of Superman's death squarely on Batman's shoulders, and seeing the fallout of his fatal decision gives you room for realistic growth.
Also you get to cut out that "Martha!" moment which is every bit as hilariously awful as I remember it being.
Don't make Batman V Superman until after Man of Steel 2.
Okay this is a bit of a stretch but look...I don't like Snyder's vision of Superman. I don't find the tortured, moping version of him interesting, and I don't need Superman throwing out lines like "I'll take you in without breaking you, which is more than you deserve," to make him threatening. But all that aside he needs to function for his role in this movie. And going from Man of Steel to this, he doesn't work.
Man of Steel was all about fear of Superman, and his own self doubt and fears. By the end he gets the cape and it ends on a hopeful note that he's going to become the hero he needs to be...
...then Batman V Superman is all about how he's apparently adored as a savior figure and his reputation is being sullied and people fear him. And he's still tortured and self doubting.
We're told that between movies he's been acting like the traditional Superman we know and love but we don't see it except for a montage an hour into the movie undercut with dialogue about how controversial he is. If we aren't going to get a sense of who this Superman is, we need an interim movie with him just...being Superman, building trust, facing off against a stock baddie. Hell, make that your Lex Luthor movie! That way the gut punch smear campaign against Supes in Batman V Superman actually means something.
For this image to work, Snyder needs the original Superman, but Snyder clearly has no interest in the original Superman.
Not one thing is going to fix this movie, and there's enough going for it that I can almost see how it works. Batman might be the one thing that more or less comes through unscathed, and Snyder knows how to shoot the hell out of a movie.
And that might be why it's so frustrating to me. Snyder's DCEU movies so far have been so close to being something really interesting, but he's always weighed down by his worst impulses and bloated scripts. I'm sure his Justice League will be entertaining despite its four hour runtime, but at this point I think he needs to make movies that are less, not more.