I don't normally post film reviews, but I'm making an exception for Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016) because if you let the negative reviews of this film put you off, you'll be missing out on a treat.
**I don't think this is a spoilery review, but proceed at your own risk.**
Of course, it's not perfect. Nothing that fulfils so many childhood fantasies using characters that have so many popular incarnations could ever be. Yes, it's a Zack Snyder film, and so it's overblown, over-ambitious, and at times hangs to coherent storytelling with the thinnest of cords. And yes, it's a darker world than the Marvel Cinematic Universe, the lines between good and evil are more blurred, the characters coloured with more grey and less black and white.
But the thing is, I loved it.
I have to give Snyder some credit for trying to wrestle with the more real-world implications of superhero battles on Earth. The fallout of the end of Man of Steel is central to this story, and while the "resolution" of this thread lacks oomph, it's carried throughout the majority of the film in a relatively meaningful way.
For me, it's Batman and Wonder Woman that make this film. Affleck and Gadot provide performances and characterisations that cut through the at times murky narrative, and make me genuinely excited for what is ahead in the DCU. Affleck goes right to the top of cinematic Batmen for me, and Gadot is a triumph in casting, as this could have gone wrong in so many directions.
I have to give special mention to the work done on the Batsuit and cowl, which provides us much more access to Batman's expressions and movements than we've experienced before. And also to Affleck's eye acting, because his eyes act the heck out of a few scenes when he's wearing the full get-up.
The action is sensational, the effects mostly seamless, and the supporting cast - Adams, Eisenberg, Hunter, Irons - all turn in committed performances. Eisenberg's Luthor is not the sour note I feared it might be, but rather an interesting take on a well-worn character.
Again, it's not everything for everyone, but it never could be. I still can't tell if it's the writing or Cavill's performance, or a combination thereof, that makes me find this Superman a bit lacking, but his arc throughout this film definitely leaves us - in a fashion - with a better, more complete Superman than Man of Steel did, and again, the main achievement of this film in my eyes is that it has set Justice League in motion in a way that makes me genuinely excited for the future.
In fact, I enjoyed it so much that I can forgive the teasing of Aquaman playing a role in this film, which he really doesn't. The tastes of what to come with future characters and the Easter Eggs throughout were quite enough in what was already a crowded film, so I'll blame it on marketing rather than the film itself.
So, give this a shot. Go in with an open mind, and make your own judgement. For me - it's a massive step forward for the DC Cinematic Universe.