Batman v Superman: A cacophony of slam and bang

Batman and Superman go head-to-head

Batman and Superman go head-to-head

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Heroes rise and fall in Batman V Superman: Dawn Of Justice, a super-powered smackdown involving two of DC Comics' most popular characters that neatly tees up a blitzkrieg of Justice League features and blockbuster spin-offs.

With Zack Snyder, director of Man Of Steel, at the helm, every frame is crammed to bursting with artfully composed destruction.

Gun barrels unleash spinning cylinders of hot metal in lustrous slow motion, a female victim tumbles to the floor amidst a cascade of milky white pearls from her broken necklace, exploding vehicles pirouette through the nighttime air during a high-velocity chase.

While visuals stage a full-scale assault on the eyes, Oscar-winning composer Hans Zimmer cranks up the volume in collaboration with Dutch producer Junkie XL.

If nothing else, Batman V Superman delivers a cacophony of slam and bang.

Screenwriters Chris Terrio and David S Goyer haven't scrimped on character development or narrative, knitting together sinewy subplots with flashbacks and dream sequences involving Thomas Wayne (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) and Jonathan Kent (Kevin Costner) to embellish the origin stories of the titular combatants.

Henry Cavill reprises his role as Superman

Henry Cavill reprises his role as Superman

Unquestionably, there is a leaner two-hour film lurking within this bloated beast, but brevity has never been one of Snyder's virtues.

The world struggles to come to terms with the arrival of Metropolis' modern-day messiah, Superman (Henry Cavill).

A committee led by Senator June Finch (Holly Hunter) asks uncomfortable questions about the god-like protector and his ability to crush humanity.

Martha Kent (Diane Lane) tells her son that he doesn't owe the human race anything but Clark's heart belongs to Daily Planet co-worker Lois Lane (Amy Adams).

"I don't know if it's possible for you to love me - and be you," she worries.

Unfortunately, tortured vigilante Batman (Ben Affleck) holds Superman accountable for the deaths of the innocent and declares war.

"Maybe it's just Gotham City and me - we have a bad history with freaks dressed as clowns," snarls the orphaned philanthropist, who is aided by his sardonic butler Alfred (Jeremy Irons).

While the two crimefighters are locked in battle, inflamed by the scheming of Lex Luthor (Jesse Eisenberg), a new threat arises.

When all hope seems lost, Amazonian warrior Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot) enters the fray...

Batman V Superman: Dawn Of Justice aims for a similarly downbeat tone to Christopher Nolan's Dark Knight trilogy, replete with explosions of bone-crunching violence.

Action sequences are robust but the miasma of digital effects sometimes reduces skirmishes to a blur.

Snappy dialogue sounds like it has been torn from the pages of comic books and Affleck and Cavill engage in a battle of topless posturing and chisel-jawed stoicism.

Eisenberg's twitchy, psychotic archnemesis stays the right side of pantomime - just.

"Nobody cares about Clark Kent taking on the Batman," screams Daily Planet editor-in-chief Perry White (Laurence Fishburne).

I beg to differ.