*Spoilers… be warned*
Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice is a controversial film. Some love it. Most hate it. VultureHound‘s review of the theatrical cut can be found here.
But if you want to know about the Ultimate Edition, we should start with the following question:
‘Do you know what the worst thing about the theatrical cut of Dawn of Justice was?’
It wasn’t that it was questionably edited and poorly written.
It wasn’t that the fight between the titular heroes was only eight minutes long and ended because their mother’s had the same name (neither of which change here, in case you were wondering).
It wasn’t that Superman, the world’s greatest superhero was stabbed through the fucking chest and died (seriously, what the fuck?!), in what was Henry Cavill’s second outing as the character, two films into DC’s Extended (cinematic) Universe, after he’d spent a good two hours being scorned by the public, having the shit kicked into him by Batman and Doomsday and getting nuked by the President of the United States.
It wasn’t even that they used ‘v’ instead of ‘vs’, suggesting this would be some elongated, dull and nonsensical court case.
It was that these characters, who have been around for seventy-five years and act as modern mythology of a sort, showed up together in a film for the first time in cinematic history, alongside Wonder Woman, who has never before appeared in a feature film, and the end result was… disappointing.
So after we had raged and complained about what should have been something we loved, we looked to the future; to Zach Snyder’s promised ‘Ultimate Cut’. There, he assured us, the issues would be fixed; we would see his ‘actual’ vision for the film, with thirty minutes extra footage, rounding the film out at 182 minutes long.
Then, on August 1st, it was released to the public. Unfortunately it’s still pretty bad. But not quite as bad as the theatrical version.
The Ultimate Edition does away with some of that horrible editing, and allows you to watch a film that actually flows properly, and for the most part tells a comprehensible story.
The dream sequences and Justice League cameos are still very misplaced; but we get to see more of Superman’s supporting cast’s story; Lois Lane’s quest to find out who manufactured the unmarked bullet is still a little pointless, but does actually have some meaning this time around. And Jimmy Olsen (Superman’s best friend in the comics) actually has time to introduce himself… before he gets shot in the head.
Even Clark Kent gets more of a focus, and you can see his frustration with the ‘Bat vigilante’ steadily growing throughout the film. Unfortunately, like in the theatrical cut, when he throws on the costume, he’s not written like the Superman people know and love, so much as a depressed thug, so it’s of little comfort.
Essentially, the Ultimate Edition reiterates what we all already know. That the problems were less to do with the people working on the film (the cast and crew), and more to do with the guys who orchestrated it; namely director Zach Snyder and screenwriters David S. Goyer and Chris Terrio, who, whilst providing a film that is visually stunning, clearly don’t understand Superman enough to produce a meaningful exploration of his character and think that adding more blood splatter to the people Batman beats on (or, you know, murders) is what makes a good movie. And I’m saying that as someone who thought, like Ryan states in his review of the theatrical cut, that this is one of the best cinematic Batmen to date.
Even worse, it turns out that all of the irrelevant Justice League set up didn’t make it into the film, and here, we get yet another throw-away scene in which Lex Luthor bows to Steppenwolf, the apparent villain of next year’s Justice League. And while it does perhaps explain why Lex gets crazier the further the film progresses, at this point, who really cares?
In short, the Ultimate Edition of Dawn of Justice fixes a few of the films flaws, but contains so many others that it’s still, in a word, disappointing.
Dir: Zach Snyder
Cast: Ben Affleck, Henry Cavill, Amy Adams, Jesse Eisenberg, Diane Lane, Laurence Fishburne, Jeremy Irons, Holly Hunter, Gal Gadot
Prd: Deborah Snyder, Charles Roven
DOP: Larry Fong
Music: Hans Zimmer, Junkie XL
Runtime: 182 minutes
Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice: Ultimate Edition is available on Blu-Ray and DVD now.