Redemption. That’s a common theme in comic books and for a very good reason. It’s a story we can all relate to and usually one with a happy ending. My first viewing of the theatrical release of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice had anything but a happy ending, but everyone deserves a second chance to redeem themselves. Enter: Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice Ultimate Edition.
I was skeptical, believing that the extra 30 minutes of footage wouldn’t be able to change my mind. How much of the story could they really fix with an added half an hour? With cautious optimism, I played the 3-hour long film and my greatest fears were confirmed. I should preface by saying that I’m not pro-DC or pro-Marvel. Each comic book franchise has its strengths and weaknesses and should be judged as independent works without some silly side-choosing bias tainting your view on the product. Each film, no matter your personal studio preference, needs to be able to stand on its own merit.
When I saw the theatrical version of the film, I was very disappointed. My disappointment extended well beyond the terrible treatment of the characters like Lex Luthor and Lois Lane and dove into the sheer incoherence of the story. No character motivation made sense. The story was constantly moving forward, but it lacked any semblance of narrative justification or explanation for the events that occurred. That just made the escalating series of events feel cheap and forced. The film felt like it was just rushing through a skeleton of a story just to get to the climactic fight scene where our heroes unite to take down the enemy. I felt let down and unfulfilled after watching this in theaters, fearing for the future of any DC film that Zack Snyder would have a part in. Time for redemption.
I was very happily surprised at how much the film was improved with only a half hour of footage was put back into it. I say put back because this Ultimate Edition was really the way the film was originally intended to be viewed. Studios tend to shorten films when they come out in theaters because they don’t have faith in the audience’s patience to sit through a 3+ hour film. Usually, they are right, but in the case of Batman v Superman, they greatly underestimated us. Going into the Ultimate Edition, I knew exactly how long the film was, but it didn’t feel that way at all. Coincidentally, the theatrical version felt much longer simply because of the sheer frustration I felt as I was watching it.
Because I highly encourage you to buy the Blu-ray or get it on video on demand, I will spare you from any spoiling specifics that are in the new Ultimate Edition. I will say that the film makes monumental improvements in the structuring of the story and the plot. We are finally shown the very insidious machinations that lead up to the clash of our caped heroes, and Lex’s masterplan behind it all. Although Lex still keeps all of his eccentricities, this new cut is able to add that layer of “genius” that reminds us of the Lex from the comic books.
Another character that was mostly redeemed was Lois Lane. In the theatrical version, she was just constantly being captured and needing to be saved, with little character development on her part. In this new cut, we are able to see glimpses of the strong, tenacious Lois Lane from the comic books as she investigates all of the suspicious occurrences and even figures out important details about the main plot pitting Batman and Superman against each other. Unfortunately, she still falls into the damsel in distress trope several times, but at least this attempted to make her a well-rounded character instead of just a set piece to make Superman look better when he saves her multiple times.
The visual elements continue to be enjoyable as we are engulfed by Snyder’s signature gritty, faux-noir film style which works beautifully when used to represent Gotham. After seeing in the IMAX originally, I saw it on Blu-ray to see how well it held up, and the conversion was equally impressive. It could still have the same effect if you watched the DVD version of it, but I wouldn’t recommend such a visual heavy film in anything less than Blu-ray.
As far as special features, there are a few explaining the background of Superman, Batman, and their shared history. We also get a behind the scenes look at all the filming and exactly what it took to create Metropolis, Gotham, and the Bat Cave. If you have already seen the theatrical version (as most of you already have), I would recommend checking these special features out before diving into the 3-hour director’s cut since it may offer some insight or clarity into our heroes past that you might not have been aware of. The most interesting special features involve Wonder Woman and her social importance as one of the first female superheroes to have an entire comic book series to be centered around her. Through several celebrity artists and actors, like Margot Robbie, Viola Davis, and Amanda Palmer, we find out the true reach of Wonder Woman and her track record for inspiration. We even get some brief clips of footage for the upcoming film that will only fuel your want for it.
As superheroes have proven on and off, not everyone can be saved. Sometimes there is a lot of collateral damage when you’re trying to work towards the greater good. In this case, the collateral damage would be the theatrical release of Batman v Superman, which never stood a chance. Its savior and the outcome of that greater good comes in the form of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice Ultimate Edition. It has singlehandedly saved a film most people had given up on and restored our faith in the future films of the franchise.
Theatrical Rating: ★★★(3/10 stars)
Ultimate Edition Rating: ★★★★★★ (7/10 stars)
Own Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice Ultimate Edition on Ultra HD Blu-ray Combo Pack, Blu-ray 3D Combo Pack, Blu-ray Combo Pack or DVD on July 19 or Own It Now on Digital HD!