As a longtime, fully confirmed Zak Snyder hater, I attended a Monday night 3D screening of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice at the Grove with negative expectations. I expected to experience irritation, pain, pique, torment and physical nausea all through it. And most of the film delivered on this stuff, for sure. It’s a tedious, dirge-like thing. The brownish-downish mood from start to finish is really like a virus of some kind. But a few moments struck me favorably, believe it or not, and one in particular — the scene in which Henry Cavill‘s Superman saves the little Mexican girl and is then surrounded and worshipped by a crowd, some wearing Day of the Dead facial makeup — actually melted me down. I was reminded of that scene in Treasure of Sierra Madre when Walter Huston is worshipped for having saved a little boy’s life. There’s another shot of a stranded woman reaching upwards toward a levitating Superman — a shot that reminded me of The Leftovers — that added to a feeling about Superman being a kind of religious figure, which other Superman flicks have run with but never matching the effect that Snyder delivers here.

And I was again won over by Cavill — something about his vibe, even in a role as simplistic as this one, is just easy and embracable. And it’s true — Gal Gadot really does steal her scenes and generally wake the film up. And there’s a passage or two when Hans Zimmer‘s heavy score really turned me around and rocked my ribcage. The Doomsday monster was just another ridiculous Hulk-like Extremo…get the fuck outta here.  But Jesse Eisenberg‘s Lex Luthor is quite spirited and a bit of fun (I was relieved that he doesn’t shave his head until the very end), and Jeremy Irons‘ Alfred is a lot cooler than Michael Caine‘s, no offense. And I have to admit that Snyder really knows how to stage a funeral scene…actually a double funeral. But the last shot in the film — bits of dirt briefly levitating on top of a plain wood coffin — is shameless. If you’re going to kill someone off and bring his long arc to an end, stick to it already. Don’t waffle, don’t fiddle-faddle — play your death card straight.