There's one way to stay awake and alert during all 151 minutes of "Batman v Superman": See it in a 4DX theater.
Billed as the "Absolute Cinema Experience," the 4DX is like 3-D but four better. In one of their theaters — like the one that just opened at Regal Cinemas Union Square in New York City — the chairs rock maniacally with the onscreen action. The house lights flash on and off at appropriate moments. I’m even occasionally spritzed with water while the back of my ears get blown gently but firmly with cool air.
But an immersive “Batman v Superman” is still "Batman v Superman."
We only get the first 10 minutes of this nose-diving blockbuster at a press event, but even with this brief taste at a press event it feels like an amusement park ride, only one that, in this case, also boasts cryptic fascist undertones and references to national tragedies. My chair wiggles early and often. When the camera glides up into the sky or down to earth, my seat subtly moves with the images. As young Bruce Wayne’s parents are shot by a random mugger, the theater lights flash brightly, as though some prankster was messing with the light switch. A Wayne Enterprises building crumbles in the cringingly 9/11-ish assault on Metropolis, and as it falls steam rises tastefully from the front of the theater.
“Batman v Superman” is perhaps not the best way to introduce New York City to 4DX. It’s punishingly dense, it’s 151 minutes long and it’s dark and unpleasant, which even the film’s fans would have to admit.
That’s not to say 4DX — like the many, many DC Comics films that will be following in this poorly-reviewed and shruggingly received monstrosity’s wake — is a bust. It just needs the right film: One that’s purely about spectacle, that doesn’t engage the deeper recesses of the brain, that isn’t longer than “Goodfellas.” The whole affair harkens, endearingly, back to the days of William Castle, the huckster who fitted mediocre shockers — “The Tingler,” “House on Haunted Hill,” etc. — with gimmicks, like electrified chairs and crap coming out of the screen, to create an experience more fun and memorable than the movie itself.