Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice Ultimate Edition (2016)
Directed by: Zack Snyder
Written by: Chris Terrio, David S Goyer
Starring: Amy Adams, Ben Affleck, Gal Gadot, Henry Cavill, Jesse Eisenberg, Laurence Fishburn
In a controversial year, with several controversial films released, Batman V Superman is up there with Ghostbusters and Warners other tentpole comic book blockbuster, Suicide Squad, for dividing opinion. Dawn of Justice in particular being in people’s cross hairs. Even so, it seems to have done decent business at the box office, and it hasn’t halted any plans for the forthcoming DC superhero slate either. In fact we’ve recently been treated to the new Justice League trailer, and unlike the promo’s for BvS, this looks ridiculously entertaining. But as Dawn of Justice makes its way on to home video, Zack Snyder has thrown together the ‘Ultimate Edition’ of Batman V Superman. Answering a couple of questions, joining a few dots, and adding unnecessary explanatory padding make up this Ultimate Edition. It’s a misleading sub, sub-title.
The extra scenes are hit and miss. Some just seem to repeat the points already raised, or that you can fathom out for yourself as the story unravels. It does feel like some of these explanatory scenes were originally left out for a good reason. It seems somewhat condescending to the audience, that it is felt the need to spell it out for you was required. On the other hand, some of the additional scenes work. They’re nothing major but they clear up silly little questions of minor plot holes, such as why Batman brands the thugs he’s recently pummeled, and the ties between Lex Luthor (played with eccentric, manic glee by Jesse Eisenberg) and the Russian gangster get a little more light shed on them as well, but the additional subplot is not necessary to the overall outcome of Luthor’s schemes. There’s also a nice touch of Superman helping out survivors of an explosion in which he just seems to do nothing in the theatrical version. Overall it could have been a little lighter in terms of the extra footage, but some of it does add to the experience, and if you’re not bored by the time Batman and Superman finally face off, you’ve got the patience of a saint. Now that’s not to say what happens prior to that point is dull, but it takes so long to get there, your average blockbuster has finished by that point.
The irony with this film is it gets to the actual Batman v Superman, and after all that build up, it feels quite rushed. For a film billed as Batman v Superman, you’d have thought they may have locked horns within the amount of time it takes to watch almost any other film, and when they finally dust up, it’s few minutes of them battering the crap out of each other before the most ridiculous of circumstances unites them against a common enemy and they become best friends. Cue one of the better parts of the ensuing long big punch up with manky orc-alike, Doomsday. Wonder Woman’s entrance is as fantastic as it is a surprise (assuming you haven’t seen any trailers), with an arse kicking theme tune to boot, and she shows the boys how its done. Gal Gadot makes the most of the screen time she gets and almost steals the show. Doomsday looks like an off scale Lord of the Rings reject, who goes up against the trio, mirroring a storyline that I’ve seen done with much more finesse in an animated feature. But this is to get to an ending which will likely be where the new Justice League film takes off. And if the film is as good as its trailer suggests, then Batman v Superman succeeds in setting up the DC cinematic universe. Ben Affleck steps in to the cape and cowl (albeit far too briefly in contrast to the length of the film), and perhaps delivers the greatest screen Batman we’ve been given to date. It would be easy to follow that with a comparison of previous Batmen, but Affleck ticks a lot of boxes, even if the suit does look like he’s been spending too much time at the all you can eat carvery. Henry Cavill once again makes a great Superman, but much like Man of Steel, it feels like there’s no difference between Kal-El and his alter ego Clark Kent. It may get bogged down at times, but with these iterations of the classic DC characters, the forthcoming films should be something to look forward too.
Much like Man of Steel, it’s accompanied by yet another excellent Hans Zimmer score, who is this time passing the torch to Fury Road’s JXL. Each main character has their own theme, with the aforementioned Wonder Woman theme absolutely belting out a vicious guitar driven war cry, whereas Superman once again has that wonderful rising theme, which proves to be quite emotive, but also has bit of a darker edge. While Batman’s cues aren’t quite as memorable, we’re treated to a loud, bombastic classical score of extreme pomp for Lex Luthor, which couldn’t be any more fitting for an ego such as his.
The theatrical version is the real Ultimate Edition. Yes it has caused a rift in the nerd/time continuum, but the extra 30 minutes is not necessary in an already lengthy film and takes some of the enjoyment out of it. Snyder takes some flack for his overly stylish films, but like Watchmen, he’s given us an enjoyable, if somewhat serious superhero film, with not as much slow mo, but he has cranked up the lens flare. BvS feels like a lengthy support act for what will be the Justice League’s main event. Stick to the theatrical cut, for a great take on the dark knight, but if you want Superman’s presence to have a bit more weight, then you’re perhaps better off with the Ultimate Edition, but it’s safe to say, if you were not a fan of the theatrical version, then this is not going to win you over.
Ultimate Edition Rating:
Theatrical Cut Rating: