- Directed by Zack Snyder
- Written by Chris Terrio & David S. Goyer
- Starring Henry Cavill, Ben Affleck, Gal Gadot, Amy Adams, Jeremy Irons, Jesse Eisenberg, Holly Hunter and Laurence Fishburne and more…
Fearing the actions of a god-like Super Hero left unchecked, Gotham City’s own formidable, forceful vigilante takes on Metropolis’s most revered, modern-day savior, while the world wrestles with what sort of hero it really needs. And with Batman and Superman at war with one another, a new threat quickly arises, putting mankind in greater danger than it’s ever known before.
‘Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice’ the Ultimate Edition is available on DVD and Blu-Ray in the UK from 1st August!
My full, in-depth review of the theatrical cut is available here!
I’m (hopefully) not going to repeat myself from my first review of the film. Please feel free to read that review first before coming back to my thoughts on this expanded edition.
In my eyes it was inevitable that ‘Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice’ would receive a directors or ‘ultimate’ cut given that Zack Snyders films generally always get them. I was prepared for it. I expected it. Most of all I wanted it.
I gave the theatrical cut of the film four stars but by no means am I ignorant of its faults. Neither am I ignorant of the fact that some faults cannot be fixed simply by adding more runtime.
That being said the ‘Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice’ Ultimate Edition (henceforth ‘Bvs:DOJ’ for the sake of word count) goes a long way to fixing it’s issues.
For many the most flawed aspect of the theatrical cut was the story. I felt able to fill in many of the gaps through reading the prequel comics but many struggled to do the same.
‘BvS:DOJ’ Ultimate Edition sets out to fill in the gaps for the viewer. Speaking with Collider back in March director Zack Snyder stated that he turned in a three hour cut of the film to Warner Bros. He was promptly asked to shave that cut down to the 2.5hr version we all saw in cinemas.
Hindsight being a beautiful thing I now disagree with several of the editing choices in the theatrical cut. There are still throwaway moments in the Ultimate Edition which are purely here for the joy of Easter eggs. However much of the additional material feels integral to making the film work.
Many of us fans and critics picked up on a lack of development for Clark Kent as a character on top of the perceived mishandling of Superman. I say perceived as we don’t know what is in store for the character in ‘Justice League’. Ultimately this version doesn’t miraculously change the deconstructed Superman and make him the true Man of Steel. It does inject a whole lot more character in to him and take him a step closer to becoming the hero.
Clark Kent is given an entire sub-plot to investigate Batman. We saw a little of his intrigue with the vigilante in the theatrical cut but here it is fully explored. We’re able to see Clark the investigative journalist and Clark the boyfriend in earnest for the first time. It really counterbalances the Batman/Bruce Wayne aspects of the film making it a true co-headliner. The theatrical cut ultimately swayed towards Batman.
Most hope for Superman fans will come in the aftermath of the bombing on Capitol Hill. In the Ultimate Edition we’re given a glimpse of Superman pulling victims from the burning building. It’s a small moment but one which really aims to portray him in a more positive light. Moments like this easily lift the film from it’s dark and moody tones and would have proven a hit with many naysayers.
Story aside much of the criticism of the film was heaped in the direction of Jessie Eisenberg. There’s no way the Ultimate Edition could change his approach to the character. What it does do is make his motivations much more straightforward. His characterisation is still more megalomaniac teen than mastermind billionaire CEO though.
The theatrical cut only implied his manipulation of the characters superficially leading towards their grand battle. The Ultimate Edition really spells it out for us. Beginning with the expansion of the Africa scenes Lex’s manipulations all play out on screen. Beginning with framing Superman for the deaths in Africa, Lex is able to turn his attentions to Batman.
The theatrical cut gave us the Bat-brand and told us how those marked with it were killed in prison. The Ultimate Edition gave us scenes in which Lex’s goons used inside men to commit murders of the branded inmates. Lex then uses this to coax Clark in to his investigation of Batman.
Interestingly in a throwaway moment we also learn that Clark was personally requested to cover the party at Lex’s house. The same party Bruce Wayne is so personally invited to.
These are the biggest improvements to the film. The fight sequences are genuinely barely touched bar the addition of some blood. Much hype was made about the addition of naming Jimmy Olsen and Jena Malone potentially as Barbara Gordon. Both are very small moments in the film and sadly Malone is in fact a Star Labs scientist and not the future Oracle. Their moments equate to the soft bonus additions rather than required moments in the story.
The changes to the story also equate to changes to the editing of the film overall. Where the theatrical cut felt choppy the Ultimate Edition gives scenes time to breathe and play out naturally. The film feels much more cohesive and you get the impression that Snyder and co had some idea of what they wanted to achieve.
My only qualm at this stage: we STILL don’t get to see Batman raid Lexcorp to steal the Kryptonite.
In hindsight I would go back and downgrade my review of the theatrical cut to 3/5. Undoubtedly the Ultimate Edition far exceeds its precedessor in story and structure and deserves the 4/5 that I am going to give it.
It’s surplus to requirement but the CGI, score and all other aspects of the film remain intact from my initial impressions. Wonder Woman is still a highlight and Batman still ultimately comes off the better character.
‘BvS:DOJ’ Ultimate Cut is a genuine improvement on the cinema release. We’re unlikely to ever know the real culprit or culprits behind the choices made in bringing the film to cinema. At this point why should we care? Ultimately what exists are two versions of a film which really aimed to change the genre for the better. Whether is succeeded or failed is entirely subjective.
My advice: watch, enjoy and come back for ‘Suicide Squad’ on August 5th, 2016.