Critics have praised Ben Affleck's portrayal of the Dark Knight in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, but slammed the film for being too bleak, not making sense and lacking a great villain.

Zach Snyder's ultra-hyped superhero film is this week's biggest blockbuster release and one of the biggest superhero films of the year, featuring Affleck's Batman and Henry Cavill's Superman on screen together for the first time.

While Affleck's casting to replace Christian Bale in the role caused an outcry, critics have praised his performance as "brutal".

"When we do see Batman, he is absolutely brutal and Affleck really nails it as both the Dark Knight and Bruce Wayne," wrote IGN in a review that awarded the film 6.8 out of 10.


"The movie simply has more energy whenever Batman is onscreen. You're left suspecting Zack Snyder really wanted to just make a Batman movie but was saddled with Superman because the backlash over Man of Steel's finale had to be addressed."

But The Hollywood Reporter criticised the film's tone, saying it was "imposing, but it's not fun". It also criticised the film's villain, Lex Luthor, played by Jesse Eisenberg.

"He's so intensely annoying that, very early on, you wish Batman and Superman would just patch up their differences and join forces to put the squirrely rascal out of his, and our, misery," THR said.

Jesse Eisenberg, left, and Amy Adams in a scene from Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.
Jesse Eisenberg, left, and Amy Adams in a scene from Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.

The Guardian

gave the film three stars out of five, calling it "both overstuffed and abnormally extended" but admitting it was likely to be "monstrously popular".

Forbes simply called it a "beautiful disaster".

"It is one of the most visually beautiful comic book movies you have ever seen. The picture is filled with moments of visual poetry and pure cinema in a way that resembles one glorious splash page after another," wrote the website's reviewer.

But there were plenty of critics willing to hack into the film.

"If there's any justice, dawning or otherwise, at the multiplex, audiences will reject Zack Snyder's lumbering, dead-on-arrival superhero mélange, a $250 million tombstone for a genre in dire need of a break," wrote TimeOut.

"In Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, the Dark Knight and the Man of Steel duke it out and the audience loses," said the Miami Herald.

And this from The Telegraph: "No major blockbuster in years has been this incoherently structured, this seemingly uninterested in telling a story with clarity and purpose."

At this early stage, it has a 46 per cent rating on Metacritic, and 32 per cent on Rotten Tomatoes, although these ratings are likely to change as more reviews are posted online.

* Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice opens in NZ theatres tomorrow. Check back then for our official review.