“From director Zack Snyder comes Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, starring Ben Affleck as Batman/Bruce Wayne and Henry Cavill as Superman/Clark Kent in the characters’ first big-screen pairing.
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. “[Warner Bros.]
Shortly before Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice debuted in theaters, Warner Bros. announced a director’s cut for release on home video. Dubbed the “Ultimate Edition,” this version of the film contains 30 minutes of new footage, bringing the total runtime to a whopping three hours. Oh, and it is rated R.
The theatrical version of Batman v Superman was torn apart by critics, while fans were extremely polarized. Some of the frequent complaints include the film’s poor editing and pacing, as well as unclear character motivations and plot points. However, the Ultimate Edition promises to resolves these issues. Does it succeed?
Personally, I enjoyed the theatrical cut of Batman v Superman. It was a lot of fun, it was visually stunning, and the acting was great. However, it is far from a perfect movie. My biggest issues with the film were the editing and the pacing. The way some scenes were arranged was jarring, while key elements – such as the Africa subplot and Superman’s development – were poorly handled. It was difficult to follow the movie’s main narrative at times as a result – at least for the first hour or so. (You can check out my full review HERE.)
With that being said, I am happy to say that the Ultimate Edition has fixed my biggest problems with the movie. While still imperfect, it is a major improvement over what we saw in theaters. The overall story is cohesive, and it is so much easier to follow. The Africa subplot is fully realized, and it actually makes sense within the film’s context. Lex Luthor’s overall plan is made perfectly clear.
Also, the Ultimate Edition puts more focus on Superman/Clark Kent. We see Clark investigate the Batman in Gotham as a Daily Planet journalist; this side of the character was sorely underused in the theatrical cut. Also, we get to see his reaction to the immediate aftermath of the Senate bombing. Essentially, if you had issues with how Superman was portrayed in the theatrical cut, I think the Ultimate Edition will make you happier.
The Ultimate Edition really allows plenty of breathing room for Batman v Superman. It takes the time to develop its characters and story without feeling rushed, which is important given how much the film tackles. There are some extra scenes that aren’t exactly needed; for example, there’s a shower scene with Bruce Wayne, the Lois and Clark bathtub scene is extended, and there are a few new shots from the Batman/Superman fight. While they’re not bad at all, they don’t really contribute to the story at all. Oh, and I totally forgot that this cut is rated R. Some of the violence is bloodier and longer; remove the blood, and it can easily be PG-13.
And now, for the billion dollar question: If you did not like the theatrical version of Batman v Superman, should you give it another shot with the Ultimate Edition? Personally, I think it depends on what your problems with the film were to begin with. If you did not like the dark tone, Batman killing people or Jimmy Olsen’s death, then this cut probably won’t change your mind. But if the editing and/or pacing were what turned you off, then the Ultimate Edition fixes both. It is very much an extended cut of Batman v Superman and is, quite simply, a complete film.
To rehash, there’s plenty to love in both versions of Batman v Superman. The acting is great – Ben Affleck is truly the perfect Batman – while the score is beautiful. The visual effects are stunning, with the Trinity’s fight with Doomsday being a highlight. Zack Snyder’s directorial work here is top-notch, and it makes me extremely excited to see his take on the Justice League.
As for flaws…again, the Ultimate Edition isn’t perfect. I can always find a few nitpicks here and there. For example, the lead-in to the Justice League cameos scene is still a bit abrupt. While most of the film’s editing is improved by the Ultimate Edition, it could have been smoother here. Also, I would have liked to know more about the Robin who had died. Having Bruce or Alfred mention him by name would have been nice.
And regarding the “Batman kills people thing”…I personally don’t like seeing Batman go this far in his war on crime. However, it makes perfect sense within the context of the story. We have a guy who has been fighting criminals for 20 years, seeing the worst of humanity. And after being set off by the Black Zero event, Bruce became reckless and really went into a dark place, resulting in him being careless about criminals’ lives (“new rules”). Basically, Bruce is in an extremely dark point in his life. However, his faith in humanity is restored by Superman’s sacrifice (“Men are still good…”), and presumably, this will lead to him re-instating his “no kill” rule. To me, that’s a beautiful character arc.
Finally, to reiterate what other people have said, it is stunning just how much was cut from the movie. The Ultimate Edition has a lot of important scenes, from Clark Kent’s Daily Planet work to the Africa sequence to some revelations about the Senate bombing. Without them, the story doesn’t work nearly as well. It really makes you wonder what Warner Bros. was thinking. You can tell that these edits were rushed merely to bring the film down to a 2 hour and 30 minute runtime. I really hope we don’t have another scenario like this with Justice League next year.
In conclusion, I really, really love the Ultimate Edition of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. This cut takes the movie from “good” to “great.” It resolved many of my original issues with the film, and it actually works from a storytelling perspective. I know that it would’ve been unrealistic, given the rating and runtime, but this is the cut that Warner Bros. should have released in theaters. It’s a shame that audiences were only treated to an abbreviated version of this story. But if you want to see the complete, “ultimate” tale, here it is.
Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice – Ultimate Edition is available now on digital download. The Blu-Ray/DVD will be released on July 19th.
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