Monday, August 1, 2016

Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice Ultimate Edition Review

Back when Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice was released in theaters, I came home very late at night (technically very early in the morning) and started furiously typing, explaining my issues with the film and yet the tone wasn't one of them. Everywhere I look I see people tearing down the movie for its grim aesthetic and mostly humorless dialogue, but these aspects actually work as a positive for me rather than a negative. I don't subscribe to the notion that a picture involving superheroes must be light and airy, that I need to feel like I am having fun the entire time in order to enjoy the experience. Just make a good film. Zack Snyder sorta did.

The reasons that I felt compelled to come home and start furiously typing those issues the first time around basically boiled down to two things: pacing and the villain. It may sound impossible to many, but the theatrical cut being 150 minutes long was too short, a film with a scattershot narrative as it desperately tried to build an entire cinematic universe in one story where as Marvel achieved theirs prior to any Avengers team up event by releasing 5 films spanning 4 years. Sure, we may know the Batman character inside and out from the decades of comics, television and film, but it is still up to Snyder to introduce us to THIS Batman and he did so, but at a disservice to his man of steel. Technically serving as a sequel to a film by that very name, Man of Steel, Henry Cavill obviously an integral part of the story of this film and yet his character feels short changed by a lens more focused in on Ben Affleck's brooding bat.

The new Ultimate Edition that was recently released on Blu-ray incorporates thirty minutes of scenes deleted for the theatrical cut and the result of adding them back in is a better film, plain and simple. Even when some scenes feel like they were worthy of deletion, they still enhanced the movie by making the story flow better and the whole ends up being a much more pleasurable watch. Superman is giving a few extra moments too and they help, and I couldn't help but think about what a shame it is that the world didn't get to see this cut initially and perhaps have a slightly better opinion of the movie. Slightly.

See, if you hated the film the first time, the Ultimate Edition will do nothing for you. Perhaps it will actually make you more angry because it's the same tone and style and writing and performances as the movie you already saw, only longer. Therefore, if you belong to that camp, don't take what I say as an endorsement that a revisit with this new look at Batman v Superman will change your mind, because it won't. However, if you are like me and you enjoyed the movie the first time but had reservations, it's entirely possible that this more pleasurably paced picture will cure what ails ya.

As for the villain, I was hoping that Jesse Eisenberg's portrayal of Lex Luthor would win me over with a second look. It was even worse this time. His twitchy, quirky take on the megalomaniac billionaire drives me nuts almost every single time he is in the frame, spare a scene or two where he was giving good dialogue and dropped the ridiculous mannerisms for a moment. That scene where he introduces Clark to Bruce at a party is cringe worthy awful and I still find it baffling that it was something included in the trailer ahead of the film's release, an advertisement meant to draw people into the cinema. For all the good that I find throughout this film, finding myself legitimately excited for the Wonder Woman solo effort after Gal Gadot was introduced as the character here, looking forward to a Batman movie directed by Affleck himself, being optimistic about the first Justice League team up due out next year, the idea of having to see more of Eisenberg as this character brings my enthusiasm down a notch or two.

Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice is never going to be a perfect film, no matter how many different cuts they could release in the future. It is deeply flawed and has already proven to rub many the wrong way with its joyless determination to prove the superhero sub-genre doesn't need to crack jokes and fling colors at our faces for hours, but for me at the very least the additional half hour made me appreciate the movie a little bit more. Enough to bump my original score up by a half star and look forward to what turns out to be an improved cinematic universe going forward.



  1. I'm with you about the tone. I honestly can't believe that's the number 1 fault people have with this movie with Batman's origin being number 2. I mean, A) The Batman film that everybody absolutely praises and loves is you guessed it, dark and nearly humorless and B) Batman's origin was literally the first three minutes of the movie....people seriously are complaining about it?

    As to the Ultimate Edition itself I'm having a struggle with. On one side I really liked the theatrical cut even with all its problems, and it could have been because it was late at night, but I didn't feel as captivated with the UC as I thought I would. In fact I was noticing more aspects about the film that I don't like. I did like the added Clark Kent scenes, but at the same time this edition really told me that these filmmakers really have no idea what to do with Superman, and how to use him. I love Henry Cavill as big blue, however, I'm afraid for his future with DC films if these people are continuing his story. The biggest problem I had with BvS after months of listening to people bash on it is that the characters aren't really the characters we all know and love. I liked everybody's performances in this film (even Jesse's) but I'm starting to see how good this film would have been if the characters were actually right.

    1. Interesting that you actually took issue with the UC Cody. I just felt it really paced the film better, which was a big issue for me the first time around in the theater.

  2. I don't need "light and airy" with a side of cracking jokes. All I want The way these funereal and dour DC movies deconstruct superheroes is like being offered a pizza but, instead of eating it, we have to listen to puritan nutritionist lecture on all the nutritional pitfalls of this cuisine.
    Iron Man fighting Captain America was incredibly dramatic and tense. Hard-tone stuff. But, in the same movie, my inner 12 year old literally went "squeee!!" when Ant Man became Giant Man. None of the ever-so-stern DC movies even know how to spell squeee...

    1. Agree Big Murr, Marvel is misrepresented as being "silly" and "childish" when in reality they are extremely mature films that just so happen to also know how to have a ton of fun.

      I guess for me, I can have fun with dour and funereal cinema as long as it is made really well. In fact I LOVE the dark tone when executed correctly.