BATMAN v SUPERMAN ULTIMATE CUT Review Author: Ricky Church (Follow @RICHARDCHURCH16)
Date: July 20, 2016
Now that it’s been out a couple of weeks (digitally), just released on Blu-ray/DVD, and we’ve all been given time to digest the Ultimate Edition of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, the question that keeps coming up is: is it better than the theatrical version?
This topic has been discussed at length here on BOF and various other social media sites. You can listen to the latest podcast with Jett and the crew where they discuss their opinions on the extra material, but I am largely in agreement with them. Though the Ultimate Edition is indeed a better cut of the movie, Batman v Superman is still plagued by some of the same problems as the theatrical cut.
I’ll touch on the positives first. For one, the plot was much easier to understand as its made clear that billionaire Lex Luthor is indeed behind everything that happens, going into a greater amount of detail as to how he was able to manipulate Batman and Superman against each other. Though it still would have been nice to get further clarification as to how he created Doomsday, but many of the story beats that were missing from the theatrical cut, like the senate explosion, gain much more depth here. I’d also like to say that, while this version of Lex is not my preferred take on the villain, Jesse Eisenberg’s performance has grown on me a bit with each viewing. That said, there are times where I wish he’d tone down the evil Mark Zuckerberg vibe, but it’s at least not as bad as it was the first couple times I saw the film.
A couple of my initial criticisms were also about the pacing and editing. A lot of that is fixed here since, as I already said, the story is fleshed out more and scenes don’t just end when they begin to get interesting. There is much more of a point to what is being shown than there was before. However, certain scenes continue to stick out like a sore thumb, namely anything having to do with the Justice League build-up. Those scenes still take me right out of the movie as they don’t completely jive with everything else, particularly Wonder Woman viewing the videos of the other heroes.
That scene actually annoys me even more now because it always felt like it was in the wrong place in the film. It comes between Batman lighting up the Batsignal, doing his “Come at me, bro!” moment and then the actual fight starting, completely killing the momentum to the literal title event. The reason it annoys me further is because Zack Snyder had the chance to place the scene elsewhere, but didn’t take it.
The characterizations remain a key criticism with the movie as well. The character to actually gain something from the Ultimate Edition is Superman himself as he’s given his own arc and motivations for going after Batman. It was gratifying to see Clark Kent actually do some investigative reporting, displaying his insight into following a story. There’s much more development for his character and the same can be said for Lois Lane who also gets to do a bit more investigating, linking key pieces of information together, though she unfortunately still remains a damsel in distress in the latter half of the film.
Despite getting flesh out further, Superman’s characterization remains one of the key problems of the film. Let me be clear; I’m okay with a self-reflective Superman who is in doubt during his early career and a characterization that deconstructs one of the most famous superheroes of all time, but this version of Superman is too morose for much of the movie. Hearing him say “No one stays good in this world” breaks my heart as that is something Superman should never, ever say. One of his defining characteristics is his faith in mankind and while there is some legitimacy in testing his faith, nor would Batman v Superman be the first story to follow a similar story beat, it shouldn’t go so far as to say something that drastic and then make a decision to kill a man.
Likewise, Batman’s characterization is a bit of a sore spot as well. While I can get behind some of his arc, namely being so blinded by his rage and helplessness that he doesn’t realize how irrational he’s being, and recognize that Snyder heavily based this interpretation on Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns, it still goes over-the-top with ultra-violence. His explicit killing is more than problematic since it lessens his heroic nature. Now, I understand one of the stronger points of the story was to show how far Batman had fallen, but this made his characterization disingenuous.
While the Ultimate Edition is an improvement over the theatrical cut, it remains the same movie with many of the same flaws. The pacing and editing may make the movie flow much better, but the characterizations of Batman, Superman, Lex Luthor and others is a bit of a sore spot, as does the decision to kill Jimmy Olsen. Does this mean I hate the movie? No, it doesn’t. I do like Batman v Superman and think it undeserving of the thrashing it got by critics and fans, but the reality is that while this is a well-acted and well-shot movie, it is flawed in several areas and could have been much better than what we got in both the theatrical cut and Ultimate Edition. - Ricky Church
BATMAN v SUPERMAN: DAWN OF JUSTICE ULTIMATE EDITION will be availabe on Blu-ray/DVD and digitally now! CLICK HERE for all of BOF's BvS coverage!