BATMAN V SUPERMAN: DAWN OF JUSTICE
ULTIMATE EDITION: ½
2016, R, 181 mins.
PG-13, 151 mins.
2016, PG-13, 151 mins.
Full Theatrical Edition Review HERE
Ben Affleck as Bruce Wayne / Batman / Henry Cavill as Clark Kent / Superman / Amy Adams as Lois Lane / Jesse Eisenberg as Lex Luthor / Diane Lane as Martha Kent / Laurence Fishburne as Perry White / Jeremy Irons as Alfred Pennyworth / Holly Hunter as Senator Finch / Gal Gadot as Diana Prince / Wonder Woman / Callan Mulvey as Anatoli Knyazev / Tao Okamoto as Mercy Graves
Directed by Zack Snyder / Written by Chris Terrio and David S. Goyer
BATMAN V SUPERMAN: DAWN OF JUSTICE was easily one of the most divisive super hero films of recent memory in its polarizing (to some) handling of the mythology of both titular characters. Many DC Comics fundamentalists loved it, whereas many others loathed it, and critical consensus seemed to follow suit as well. No other film in 2016 thus far has been as endlessly talked about, scrutinized, and debated in social media circles as much as this one.
I still found
much to admire in the remarkably ambitious, but highly problematic comic
book epic. I appreciated Zack
Snyder’s film for exploring the very notions of what being a costumed
crusader of justice actually means in a highly cynical modern era whose populace
may or may not approve of an all powerful being from the cosmos trying to
save the day. BATMAN V
SUPERMAN was also one of the decidedly rare super hero films that went out
of its way to tackle the notion of the massive amounts of inadvertent
collateral damage that heroes cause in the wake of defending humanity and
the repercussions of such actions. There
was an undeniable thematic complexity and intrigue in the film that far
too many critics - and audience members - overlooked.
Now comes the
BATMAN V SUPERMAN: DAWN OF JUSTICE – ULTIMATE EDITION (that’s a real
mouth full, playing now on digital download with Blu-ray editions hitting
in late July), which perhaps amps up the blood spurting and bone crunching
violence (in some scenes) to somewhat unnecessary levels (this new
iteration of the film has evolved from a PG-13 and into an R rating with
relative ease as a result), but there's also an abundance of noteworthy
and welcome additions to this newly minted 3 hour and 2 minute version
(the theatrical iteration weighed in at a trimmer 2 hours and 33 minutes).
An extra half-hour of new footage seems to have assisted
BATMAN V SUPERMAN with correcting some rather nagging and frustrating
storytelling anomalies and question marks while simultaneously
altering the overall structure of some subplots altogether.
As a whole, BATMAN V SUPERMAN: ULTIMATE EDITION is a more fully
expansive, fleshed out and realized cinematic vision of the immortal DC
Comics characters contained within.
One of the
largest – and most deeply satisfying – alterations with this latest
cut is the whole introductory sequence involving Lois Lane (Amy
Adams) and her investigation in North Africa; it not only makes more actual
sense now, but it also manages to see itself sprinkled expeditiously
throughout the rest of the film in a vastly more rewarding and comprehensible
now given a fuller introduction to Jimmy Olsen (never fully mentioned
by name in the theatrical cut, played by Michael Cassidy) and he has a bit
more screen time in terms of revealing his clandestine work for the CIA and
how he used Lois as a cover to get closer to the Nairomi warlord (Sammi
Rotibi) and his inner circle. There's
also more valuable information given this go around regarding the dicey political
situation that brought Lois to the country in the first place and, more
significantly, how Anatoli Knyazev (Callan Mulvey) conspires to make it
appear that Superman murdered people at the compound, which obviously pays
off more handsomely later on in the narrative.
A majority of what’s presented here in this retrofitted opening
really helps BATMAN V SUPERMAN through a number of related story threads
going forward that simply was left to the frustrated imagination in the
The world of
Gotham City and Batman/Bruce Wayne (Ben Affleck) is also afforded more
weight and texture this time. We
have a new geographical introduction to Metropolis’ across-the-harbor neighbor
as a dilapidated ghettoized hellhole, as well as snippets of news
reports that typify the Caped Crusader employing more atypically brutal
methods. This is also
wonderfully complimented by additional scenes involving Clark Kent (Henry
Cavill) journeying to Gotham to superficially cover the sports scene for the
Daily Planet, but secretly he's there to investigate the Dark Knight’s
antics and how many have been negatively impacted by his recent
hot-tempered streak (“He’s mean and he’s hunting,” says one man he comes
across). None of this was present in
the previous version of the film. The ULTIMATE EDITION
rather wisely corrects one of the theatrical cut’s biggest errors in
not giving Clark and his alter ego more valuable screen time, not to
mention that we never really got to see Clark…actually do his job before.
We now get to see him be an investigative journalist, and
what he uncovers about Batman – even though presented via subtle and
brief scenes – does small miracles for helping to explain Batman’s
turn for the worse (something that diehard fanboys of his vehemently
complained about in the previous cut).
investigative journalism, the ULTIMATE EDITION features a new character
played by Jena Malone that assists Lois at the Daily Planet in
investigating the forensic evidence she gathered during the aforementioned
opening scenes in Nairomi, which further manifests into a more
substantially embellished portrait of Lex Luthor (Jesse Eisenberg) that we
didn’t receive beforehand. Now,
there is a case to be made regarding Eisenberg’s performance as the
classic Superman antagonist (which is neither healed nor hurt by the ULTIMATE
EDITION), but the character himself emerges as someone much more
ruthlessly fiendish and crafty in his vindictiveness against the heroes.
The new cut also makes it abundantly clearer the types of
methodical strings he’s pulling behind the scenes and in the shadows in
terms of conspiring against both heroes to make them want to fight each other.
The ULTIMATE EDITION also clarifies that he was the
soul architect of the Capital Hill bombing and even provides a plausible
explanation as to why Superman – with all of his powers – was unable
to detect a bomb-packed wheelchair that was twenty feet away from him.
Overall, Luthor feels like a more dangerously unstable and cunning
adversary in this new film.
Superman is also
given more to do in the direct aftermath of the bombing as he assists the
wounded before realizing that on-the-spot public opinion is turning on him
and forces him to leave (in the theatrical cut he just…abruptly left,
which paradoxically made him look rather unheroic).
There are other small, but savory and nuanced additions like this
thrown in for resoundingly good measure, like a new beginning and
introduction to that very strange sequence where Clark re-acquaints
himself with his deceased father (Kevin Costner), as well as quieter and more
introspective moments involving Clark making an impromptu late night call
to his Kansas residing mother (Diane Lane) to help him sort through his
nagging doubts about his place in the world (it helps humanize Cavill’s
performance, which some labeled as too robotic). A couple of new individual shots that last a few fleeting seconds
have an understated gravitas and dramatic power, such as one very early on
in the recap of the destruction of Metropolis when Bruce sees a long line
of orphaned children that all hold hands and are being led through the
rubble by a lone adult survivor. There
are also a few momentary shots of the empty streets and businesses of
Metropolis after Superman’s death that – as seemingly nonchalant as
they are – help solidify just how much of an emotionally wrenching
impact his passing has on a city.
SUPERMAN: ULTIMATE EDITION still, as mentioned, doesn’t fully erase many
of the original film’s issues, though.
It ostensibly remains oppressively bleak, dark, and violent, with
even more of the latter evident in this extended cut, which most assuredly
won’t placate the rightful criticisms of many that what’s on screen is
far too dreary and macabre for its own good.
The overall beginning of the climatic Batman and Superman fight
still seems awfully silly (all it would take is Superman saying
“they’re gonna kill my mom” to end it pretty damn quick), and the
manner that the fight abruptly ends still wreaks of eye rolling
contrivance and contains a coincidence that’s still decidedly very hard
to swallow. The infamous
"Knightmare Sequence" in the film – showcasing Batman having a
hellishly apocalyptic vision of a Superman led scorched earth future –
is much more blood spatteringly violent, but just as head-scratchingly
impenetrable for viewers that have never picked up a comic book before.
And don't get me started on the insipidly wrongheaded decision to reveal
Doomsday in the pre-release trailers earlier this year, that still all but
taints the would-be seismic impact of his appearance in both of
What are we ultimately left with in the ULTIMATE EDITION? Simply put, a better BATMAN V SUPERMAN film, and one that seems to connect its narrative dots in a much more cohesive and sustained manner as well as adding much needed character building sequences – some large and obvious, some small and discrete – that fundamentally add texture and weight to these legendary personas. And at three hours, this elongated cut’s forward momentum seems oddly brisker, more nimble footed, and confidently orchestrated than its shorter antecedent. Overall, the plot machinations seem to have a better A to B to C build-up and follow-through. I think the clear-cut superiority of the ULTIMATE EDITION may have even the most staunchly harsh critics of the original version revaluating their stance on it. It’s not a radical departure from the film that was, but the ULTIMATE EDITION should be everyone’s go-to version of BATMAN V SUPERMAN going forward.
I was constantly reminded of something George Lucas once famously said while watching it: “A movie is never finished, only abandoned.” The first BATMAN V SUPERMAN film felt somewhat abandoned. This new version simply feels more finished.
MY YOUTUBE REVIEW:
MY CTV REVIEW OF THE THEATRICAL CUT:
MOVIES TO SEE BEFORE SEEING BATMAN V SUPERMAN: