For starters, a bit of BATMAN v SUPERMAN: DAWN OF JUSTICE/BOF background info.
I saw the theatrical cut of this film five times in the, um, theater. My original review of the film (which you can read HERE) was written after I had seen it twice: Once during the film’s press junket in LA, and then a few days later at a local press screening in Houston. I did not like BvS all that much at upon my first viewing. My second screening got me to “It’s OK,” and that’s where my opinion stayed even with three more in-theater viewings.
A couple of weeks ago, I watched the “Ultimate Edtion” of BvS when it was released digitally, and you can read my review HERE.
Then the other day, the Blu-ray edition of BATMAN v SUPERMAN: DAWN OF JUSTICE ULTIMATE EDITION arrived on my doorstep thanks to the fine folks from Warner Bros. Home Entertainment. Even though I had already watched this cut of the film a week prior, I decided to give it another looksee – this time with my wife – as well as check out all of the “Extras.” In fact, this review is going to focus not on the film itself, but on the bonus features included. BUT, here are my final (Yeah right!) thoughts on the R-rated, “Ultimate Edition” of BvS…
The extra footage does indeed make BvS a better movie than the one that was released theatrically. Now, does it improve it drastically and make it jump from, say, a “C” to an “A?” (or an "F" to a "C" for that matter) Absolutely not.
The first 2/3 of the film benefits the most from the extra footage – especially narrative and flow of the movie. Specifically, Clark Kent’s motivation for taking on The Batman are now clear. Plus, it was good to see Clark actually doing some, you know, investigative journalism. Other improvements: The whole Africa deal with Superman, Lois investigating Lex Luthor, and seeing Superman doing more “Superman-like” things.
But ultimately, BvS is still BvS – with extra footage or not. For the life of me, I don’t understand how anyone thought the approach to this film – an extremely dark tone and a tremendous amount of violence – was a good idea in the first place. No, I’m not saying that BvS should’ve been light, bright, and tight (or “Marvelized” either), but Warner and Mr. Snyder had to know that something else – something more “mainstream,” if you will – was needed to establish an entire cinematic universe. If BvS had been a self-contained one-off, then that would’ve been more than OK. But it wasn't.
Furthermore, if the 30 minutes of extra footage made BvS a better film, then why wasn’t it the cut that was released into theaters? Well, the answer is simple: There was no way Warner Bros. was going to put a 3 hour, dark and violent, R-rated comic book film – that was technically a Superman movie – into theaters. Not when its primary goal was to establish the DCEU and appeal to the mainstream audience. So it begs the question: Why write a script which would take a 3 hour, R-rated movie to do it justice (no pun intended…but kinda); and, and ultimately, would have to be edited significantly to get a PG-13 rating? It makes no damn sense!
From where I stand, BvS was destined for the response it received from the get-go. From the inclusion of Batman ($$$), to the overwhelming desire to set up a Justice League film (catching up to Marvel), to apparently wanting to “Out-Nolan” Christopher Nolan in terms of making a “dark, serious, and realistic” comic book film, are the most significant missteps.
What would I have done in retrospect?
For starters, I’d have cut out the entire subplot to set up JUSTICE LEAUGE, as that’s the main cause for the film’s convolution. Does this mean that Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman would be eliminated? Possibly. To be honest, Wonder Woman wasn’t really needed in the finale anyway (other than to set up next year’s solo WONDER WOMAN and, of course, JUSTICE LEAGUE films). However, that doesn’t mean Ms. Gadot (who was awesome, no doubt about it) as Diana Prince couldn’t have a small role in the movie.
Secondly, I’d chop the utterly confusing “Knightmare Batman” scene and the whole deal with time-traveling Flash delivering a message of warning to Bruce Wayne.
Thirdly, I’d lighten it up just a tad – especially when it came to Superman, um, Supermanning (for lack of a better term). Again, I’m not saying the thing should be “Marvelized,” but it’s OK for a movie to be fun at times – even a film that wants to be dark and serious.
Fourthly, I would have altered the third act which is clearly the weakest part of BvS. The Doomsday thing was terrible as was shoehorning-in the whole “Death of Superman” storyline from the comics. Even if you went with Doomsday, couldn’t Batman and Superman have defeated the thing without Superman “dying?” Now THAT – Superman’s resurrection – has to be dealt with in JUSTICE LEAGUE, possibly muddling up that film as well. And quite frankly, the whole “Death and Return of Superman” should’ve been a story told in a damn Superman film! But, I shall digress.
AANNDD – probably my biggest issue with this movie – Batman does not blatantly kill. Not even a battle-weary, tired, broken, Goddamn Batman! Period. *sigh*
Look, I could go on and on about BvS and the things I loved, liked, hated and would have changed. Let me also say this: I may not agree with Zack Snyder's vision for BvS, but I'll defend his right to make it. Why? Because I'm a HUGE supporter of filmmakers making the film they want to make. And if I've said it once I've said it a hundred times, I DO NOT hate BvS, no matter how critical of it I have been.
But enough of that, OK? CLICK HERE for my take on the "Extras."
BATMAN v SUPERMAN: DAWN OF JUSTICE ULTIMATE EDITION will be availabe on Blu-ray on JULY 19, 2016 and is available digitally now! CLICK HERE for all of BOF's BvS coverage!