BATMAN V SUPERMAN: DAWN OF JUSTICE – ULTIMATE EDITION
(PG-13 and R)
MOVIE: **** (out of 5)
BLU-RAY EXPERIENCE: ***1/2 (out of 5)
Ben Affleck as BRUCE WAYNE / BATMAN
Henry Cavill as CLARK KENT / SUPERMAN
Amy Adams as LOIS LANE
Jesse Eisenberg as LEX LUTHOR
Diane Lane as MARTHA KENT
Laurence Fishburne as PERRY WHITE
Jeremy Irons as ALFRED
Holly Hunter as SENATOR FINCH
Gal Gadot as DIANA PRINCE / WONDER WOMAN
Scoot McNairy as WALLACE KEEFE
Studio: Warner Bros.
Directed by: Zack Snyder
BY KEVIN CARR
After months of speculation and online angst, “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice” came out this past March. It opened to a massive box office weekend (which broke March records) and topped off its theatrical run with a worldwide total approaching $900 million.
However, this success was marred by caustic reviews and even more angst by those who did not like this version of DC’s biggest superheroes. Some of this was spillover from the less-than-perfect reception of Zack Snyder’s “Man of Steel”; more of it was general issues these reviewers had with Snyder’s handling of the entire lead-up to the “Justice League” movie.
I broke with online tradition and found myself thoroughly enjoying “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.” Did it have its problems? Sure, they were there. Superman was still portrayed as too dark and brooding for my tastes, and Jesse Eisenberg’s manic approach to Lex Luthor was pretty terrible. However, Ben Affleck’s Batman (and Bruce Wayne) was one of the best one I’ve seen in a while (yes, even better than Christian Bale). Additionally, the action slugfest for the last 45 minutes of the movie was quite good, and Snyder’s handling of the lead-up to “The Justice League” was surprisingly even.
Still, I think a lot of critics reacted to this film the way they reacted to “Iron Man 2,” which back-ended a lot of set-up for “The Avengers” into its running time because there was nowhere else they could fit it in. Set-up for a more complex movie has to go somewhere, and both “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice” and “Iron Man 2” suffered for the cause.
Now, the full three-hour version of the film is available on DVD and Blu-ray, as well as being On Demand. “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice – Ultimate Edition” features thirty minutes of new material and some R-rated action. On the whole, this version is a more complete movie, taking time to show subplots and exposition that was glossed over in the theatrical cut.
New material ranges from a single line here and there (like a reporter next to Clark Kent referring to Lex Luthor and Ben Affleck as the “let them eat cake crowd”) to entire side-stories. It is these side stories that enrich the film better. They give Lois Lane a little more to do than just be a damsel in distress. She actually is chasing a story through a chunk of the film, just as Bruce Wayne is given a greater chance to show he is the greatest detective on the planet.
Some of these new storylines drag and complicate the plot, particularly a conspiracy that dovetails into Lois’s trip to the Middle East, which is what gets Superman in trouble in the first place. It is the better cut of the film, and it’s worth checking out anew on for home viewing.
The R-rated content, much like Warner’s other recent PG-13-to-R release, “The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies,” which featured a lot of added digital blood and a just a few edited-out graphic moments. This set isn’t worth getting because of the R-rated material, but more for the longer and more whole plot.
The 3D Blu-ray set only includes the theatrical cut in 3D (which is understandable because the R-rated material hadn’t been mastered in 3D for theaters), which is on its own disc. There’s also the three-hour Ultimate Edition cut on its own disc. Finally, the 2D disc of the theatrical cut includes all the bonus material in this release.
The variety of features is limited as all eleven pieces of material are basic behind-the-scenes videos. There’s no commentary, still gallery or even trailer selection available. However, the eleven featurettes ranging from seven to twenty minutes offer a pretty strong insight into the picture (and would likely have been intertwined with a Warner Bros. branching commentary we’ve seen before).
These featurettes include basic making-of spotlights: “Uniting the World’s Finest” which looks at the how the main DC superheroes were finally assembled for the big screen; “Gods and Men: A Meeting of Giants” which examines the history of the struggle between Batman and Superman starting with Frank Miller’s “The Dark Knight Returns”; “The Warrior, The Myth, The Wonder” takes a look at the history and cinematic future of Wonder Woman; “Accelerating Design: The New Batmobile” which is a half-hour “Top Gear” style look at Batman’s new ride; and “Batcave: Legacy of The Lair” which looks at the new design of the Batcave.
There are also character featurettes for the main heroes (and villain) that we see on screen; “Superman: Complexity & Truth” which spotlights Henry Cavill’s Man of Steel; “Batman: Austerity & Rage” which looks at Ben Affleck’s transformation into the Batman; “Wonder Woman: Grace & Power” which looks at the development of Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman; “The Empire of Luthor” looks at the development and execution of Jesse Eisenberg’s Lex Luthor.
Fun featurettes include “The Might and the Power of a Punch” which examines the science behind the slugfest in the film and “Save the Bats” which features a conservation project from the filmmakers to help endangered and threatened bat species in North America.