The Movie: Full disclosure: I hate, hate, hated Man of Steel. It was pretty, but I thought it was tone-deaf and completely missed the point of the character (plus it was a sloppy script with weak performances). So when Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice was released, I didn’t even bother seeing it, instead just assuming that all the voices shouting it down were valid. But when I received this review copy, I realized that I couldn’t honestly evaluate the Ultimate Edition with its extra 30 minutes of footage, without having seen the Theatrical Release. Oh, how I suffer for you people. (Surprise!) Turns out I agreed with most of the naysayers, but (Surprise, again!) not quite to the extent that I thought I would. For example, the structure was extremely sloppy (again) lurching from scene to scene without adequate transitions and there were a number of plot points that weren’t really set up in ways that made sense. The performances were better than I expected, particularly Ben Affleck‘s, which made the overall nonsense a little easier to swallow; so I can see how some viewers might overlook the small stuff, turn off their brains, and really enjoy it. I couldn’t, but I can see how some might. I did like the nod to Excalibur in the opening rehash of the Wayne Family Murder, which then gets visually referenced in the end when Superman and Doomsday impale each other on their spears just like Arthur and Mordred. It doesn’t really mean anything to the overall themes of the film, but it’s a nice moment, nonetheless. The good news about the Ultimate Edition is that a number of the issues the Theatrical Release had are fixed. In fact, twenty minutes of the additional footage is slotted into the first hour and thirteen minutes of the original, bumping that opening salvo up to about 90 solid minutes. This goes miles towards making the film more watchable as the scenes are allowed to breathe just a little more, which helps develop character; the transitions are much smoother, giving us reasons to shift from plot point to plot point instead of seemingly random jumps; and plot points like Superman being blamed for the deaths in Africa are clarified (the bodies were burnt after they were shot, whereas the theatrical cut didn’t mention that, making it seem the government thought Superman shot everybody in the village…). In fact, there’s an entire subplot regarding the woman who testified before the Senate committee being a paid stooge for Luthor who ends up on the run and ultimately murdered. There are also clear indications that Luthor knows all along that Superman is Clark Kent and Batman is Bruce Wayne, rather than just having that info surprisingly revealed in the end. He’s why Clark and Bruce are both at the library charity gathering, and he’s clearly responsible for goading Clark to investigate Batman as well as framing Superman for the African killings and implementing him in the Senate bombing (by the way, the Ultimate Edition features scenes of Superman actually helping save people after the bombing, instead of just moping in the explosion as everyone dies around him and then disappearing to the great white north). There’s also a reason Supes didn’t notice the bomb, as it is revealed that the wheelchair had a lead interior which kept him from noticing it. Sure, that’s a stretch, but at least there’s an attempt at an explanation other than Superman being a doofus. So the first two hours of the Ultimate Edition are much stronger than the Theatrical Cut, but the final hour still suffers from the same pacing and logic issues that undermined the film; for example, why would Batman be the one to go save Martha when there was only ten minutes left to find her, get there, and fight a gaggle of henchmen, when Superman could have rescued her in seconds — and then why does it take Superman 10 minutes to fly across the bay to confront Luthor at the last second?? That’s not a real question. I know why Snyder did it this way. So we can watch Batman kill more people and Superman can be melodramatic. Basically, the first two hours are solid – more solid than before, at least – but the last hour is still an empty violence-fest with a Batman/Superman fight that feels more like roid-rage than actual plot development. And is it just me, but does Doomsday look exactly like The Amazing Bulk when he comes out of that cocoon? I understand that the film was sold on the premise of Batman fighting Superman, but when the actual story provides every opportunity for them to sidestep that expectation but ignores them so we can watch the testosterone-drenched slugfest that no one in their right mind thinks is going to actually go anywhere, it’s kind of insulting to the audience and the histories of the characters. There are plenty of reasons the characters could have fought. Snyder and company just opted for the least interesting and most simple-minded choice. And don’t get me started on that stupid-as-fuck Martha Moment and the fact that Pa Kent has been retroactively turned into an inspiration for Superman’s heroism instead of the guy who killed himself and suggested Clark should have let a busload of kids die just to keep his secret safe. Jesus Christ. Oh yeah. Wonder Woman is in this too! For a bit. She’s pretty cool. The Discs: The two Blu-ray discs feature both the Theatrical Cut (PG-13 and 151 minutes) and the Ultimate Edition (R for “Sequences of Violence” and 182 minutes), with all the extras contained on the Theatrical Cut disc. Both versions are featured in a gorgeous 1080p HD transfer with a Dolby Atmos soundtrack remixed for home theaters. Being poor as shit with a crap sound system, this didn’t really do much for me, but word on the street is that it’s awesome. There’s also a DVD with the theatrical release for you sorry souls who still live in the past. The Extras: Uniting the World’s Finest (15:03): This feature is actually pretty interesting in that it gives us a more detailed glimpse at all of the characters who will be making up the Justice League in the upcoming films and also provides some scenes from the upcoming Wonder Woman film due in 2017 (and touches on Suicide Squad, as well). We don’t see much, of course, but are treated to a few behind-the-scenes moments with Aquaman (Jason Momoa), Flash (Ezra Miller), and Cyborg (Ray Fisher). To be honest, the most positive things I took from this are that Wonder Woman looks amazing, and Ezra Miller is a super Flash nerd. There were a couple of moments where both Zack Snyder and Geoff Johns said stupid shit, but what can you do? Sorry Zack, but I’m pretty sure a lot of people actually realize that Superman, Batman, and the rest exist in the same shared universe. And Geoff, when you say that a lot of people didn’t really grow up with Cyborg, so he’s kind of new, then point out that he was created in 1980, you’re really just talking about yourself and old fogies like us. For most of the people watching this, Cyborg has been around their whole lives. Gods and Men: A Meeting of Giants (12:26): This one does a decent job of touching on the comic book histories of both Superman and Batman, especially highlighting their comic book team-ups and the development of their ideological differences with the post-Crisis world and John Byrne’s Man of Steel. Then it’s on to Snyder again talking about the movie versions, Ben Affleck discussing his older, angrier take on Bruce Wayne and Batman, and Henry Cavill talking about how Superman is really just trying to do the right thing. It’s basically a lot of statements of the obvious. The Warrior, The Myth, The Wonder (21:15): Now this is interesting, not so much for what’s included – although there’s a lot of good material here – but for what is not mentioned at all. There’s a lot of time spent discussing the comic book origins of Wonder Woman and her development through the decades. Comic artist and writer, Phil Jimenez provides a lot of nice insight into the character and how she’s changed with the times. There’s also a brief discussion about Wonder Woman’s creator, William Moulton Marston, inventor of the lie-detector and advocate for the suffragette movement. He sounds like a really cool guy! Then they completely forget to mention his open three-way relationship with his wife and another woman, the fact that he had kids with both of them, and he was also involved in the early bondage scene. There’s a reason that Wonder Woman’s main weapon is a lasso and that she would lose her powers when bound by a man. It wasn’t all kink, though, as the stories were also about female empowerment. But there was definitely some kink. Not that you’d know by watching this. Instead, we get some good discussion of the way WW serves as a template for changing gender roles and empowerment for everyone who finds a little something to love with Wonder Woman. Then it’s on to a discussion of this movie and blah, blah, blah. Accelerating Design: The New Batmobile (22:45): I’m not a car guy, so this was super boring. But if you want to know about the design of the new Batmobile, this is the extra for you. Superman: Complexity & Truth (7:06): These next three featurettes seem like they’re going to be about the characters and their psychologies, but really that’s a bait and switch so we can talk about their awesome costumes! Clark wears plain clothes and plaids! Snyder had a Joseph Campbell quote threaded into the Superman suit in Kryptonian! Batman: Austerity & Rage (8:14): Batman is full of rage! So Ben Affleck exercised so much he’s got a whole new bodytype! He’s got a lot of new muscle mass! His costume is grey! And he’s got a mech-suit! No mention as to why the mech suit has a cape. Weird, really. Wonder Woman: Grace & Power (6:46): Wonder Woman is graceful and powerful! Gal Gadot worked out a lot, but apparently put on no muscle mass! She trained to use a sword! The character is 3000 years old so her armor and weapons are aged and battle-worn! Wait. She’s 3000 years old? That’s interesting, at least. Batcave: Legacy of the Lair (7:11): Designing the Batcave! The most interesting thing here is that most of the cave set is practical with CG highlights. It’s a great design, to be honest, and it’s kind of interesting to hear about the design work. The Might and the Power of a Punch (5:13): This is a point-by-point breakdown of the big Batman v Superman fight, with diagrams, schematics, and SPOILERS galore. It looks at what weapons are used, the physics of the assaults, and just how powerful and damaging the fight would be if it were real. Kind of cool in a Soldier of Fortune kind of way, but it really emphasizes the fact that the fight is over-the-top masturbatorily ridiculous. The Empire of Luthor (12:32): A look at the history of Luthor the character in the comics, without paying too much attention to the details. There’s some discussion of how John Byrne, again, kicked off the modern interpretation of Luthor that this film picks up on and twists into an obscene cartoon. Jesse Eisenberg talks like he’s a serious actor, then we see the performance and have to wonder what the fuck is going on in his head. Save the Bats (4:35): The best part of the extras. And the shortest extra. Since this movie has Batman in it, we get a short featurette about bat conservation. I like it. It points out the importance of bats to the ecosystem and the dangers of white nose syndrome. To find out more and maybe do some good, go to savebats.org and check out the hashtag #savethebats. Thank fuck we didn’t have another glorified ad for the tastelessly named Gym Jones (although Snyder wears their tasteless t-shirt in many interviews). Final Thoughts: Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice – The Ultimate Edition isn’t the train wreck that many might be expecting. Instead of doubling down on the stupid and just shoveling in more bad writing and bad editing, the film actually adds elements that make this a better film than the original release. It’s not a film that I’m going to watch over and over – hell, I may never watch it again – but it was worth a look as a first-time viewer and might be worth renting if you thought there could possibly have been a good film somewhere in the bones of the cinematic release. Gal Gadot shines as Wonder Woman, if not as Diana Prince. Ben Affleck does a good job capturing a psychologically bent (if not broken) version of Batman that we haven’t seen on screen before. Henry Cavill is the same as he ever was, with most of his expressions varying between “sad puppy” and “what’s that smell?” And Jesse Eisenberg is tolerable as a spastic Lex Luthor whose plans actually seem to have a little more purpose in the Ultimate Edition. A little. Overall, I’d have to say, sure. Give it a watch. There’s not enough here for me to want to own it, but if you already loved the Theatrical Release, you’re gonna fucking love this even more. Array Share this:TweetShare on TumblrLike this:Like Loading... Related Dignan Great review. Still can’t decide if I want to delve back into the ‘murderverse’ after Man of Steel and watch this.