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Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice Ultimate Edition Review (Updated)
This post contains spoilers.
A second opinion has been added at the end of this post.
The eagerly anticipated Ultimate Edition of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice has debuted on digital platforms three weeks before it's Blu-Ray release and I have to say, it's one of the best DC Comic movies to date. It is a vast improvement over the theatrical version and it's a lot better than Man of Steel was three years ago. The Ultimate Edition adds thirty minutes of footage that completely changed the movie. The story is better, things make more sense, and the added footage even improved the characterizations that have been criticized so much.
I enjoyed the theatrical version of Batman v Superman. If I had to give it a score, I'd give it a 7/10 or 3 out of 5 stars. I enjoyed the story, the performances, and the action. I loved Ben Affleck as Batman and I felt like he carried the movie. I didn't like the editing at all. It was choppy, scenes didn't make sense, and it severely hurt the credibility of the story once Lex Luthor revealed that everything was his doing. The Ultimate Edition fixed all of the construction problems that held back what should have been an awesome movie.
To sum up the most important added footage:
- The Africa sequence added more footage of Jimmy Olsen and he gets a humorous moment with Lois Lane before he's outed as a CIA agent and killed. We see his CIA bosses order a drone strike. The drone is destroyed by Superman before he saves Lois. The framing of Superman is given a much better explanation when KG Beast is seen burning a pile of bodies to make it look like Superman killed them with his heat vision.
- The woman who testified at the Senate hearing is revealed to be an actress paid off by Lex Luthor to make Superman look bad. She later admits her guilt and is killed by KG Beast.
- The explosion at the Capital is given a better explanation as the wheelchair was lined with lead, preventing Superman from seeing the bomb. It was also revealed that the bomber did not know he was going to die in a suicide bombing during Lois' investigation. Superman is also shown saving people after the explosion.
- Clark Kent actually gets to be Clark Kent through his investigation into Batman and his new violent tactics. This gave more insight into his anger towards Batman.
- Lois Lane's investigation into the Africa incident is given a lot more time, making her a more important part of the story.
Overall, the added footage made everything make more sense and actually improved the characterizations of Lex Luthor, Superman/Clark Kent, and Lois Lane. There's even some more Batman and Alfred scenes to please the fans that enjoyed their parts of the movie. The film flows a lot better because of the improved editing, there's more humor spread throughout the movie, and the improvements to the story make Superman and Batman's conflict hold more meaning. The added footage even managed to improve Jesse Eisenberg's version of Lex Luthor. His villainous plot makes a lot more sense and he felt more like the comic book Lex Luthor. However, I believe the character who benefited the most from the added footage was Superman. He actually felt more like the classic, comic book Superman that fans love. Despite the deconstructive nature of the movie, Superman actually got to be Superman, especially through Clark Kent's investigation into Batman which fueled his anger against him and the added moment of him saving people at the Capital.
I absolutely believe that if Warner Bros. had theatrically released this three hour version, but with a PG-13 rating, then it would've gotten a much more positive response and that response would have turned into more box office success. The idea that they couldn't release a three movie is ridiculous seeing as there have been a number of movies that have pushed three hours and were tremendously successful. Avatar, Titanic, The Dark Knight Rises, Interstellar, The Lord of the Rings Trilogy, The Hobbit Trilogy, Django Unchained, and Transformers: Age of Extinction were all box office hits at almost or above three hours. Some of them crossed a billion dollars and Age of Extinction crossed that mark with HORRIBLE REVIEWS. A Batman/Superman movie at three hours with positive reviews would have been a bigger hit and WB would've had a billion dollar success to build on for the rest of the DC movies. I also think that the Ultimate cut vindicates Zack Snyder and if I could apologize to him, I would. He made an awesome movie that Warner Bros. chickened out of releasing because they thought it was "too long." I believe that the success of this movie will help the hype for Justice League since we see what Zack Snyder can do with these characters free from studio fear. If Suicide Squad and Wonder Woman are hits, then DC's reputation will only improve even more. I put this movie in the pantheon of great DC Comic movies along with Richard Donner's two Superman films, Tim Burton's Batman films, and Chris Nolan's Dark Knight Trilogy. There are some minor issues that linger that I won't waste time getting into because they're very nit-picky stuff that can easily be ignored or explained away. I implore all fans, whether they hated it or loved it, to watch this movie and judge for themselves.
Second Opinion: I have to say, the more I've watched this movie, the more I've realized that my rose-colored glasses needed to be checked. I still enjoy the hell out of this movie for it's interesting story, the performances, and the awesome action, but I find myself dismayed by the relentlessly dark tone of the movie and I realized that this has become a systematic problem with DC's current films.
Starting with Man of Steel, Warner Brothers and DC have been trying to create their own cinematic universe that can rival Marvel's successful behemoth. Instead of patience and faithfulness to the comics, Zack Snyder (and David Ayer if the critics are right about Suicide Squad) has subverted the very universe he's tried to build which has yielded VERY mixed results. I applaud his efforts to aim high and give us something different from the competition, but he's doing it at the expense of his own creations soul. Once he turned Superman "dark and gritty," the shared universe was placed on a very shaky foundation. Superman is not Batman and his new series of movies should not have been forced through a misunderstood representation of what made Christopher Nolan's Dark Knight Trilogy the tremendous success that it was. Though I like Man of Steel for the same reasons I like BvS, the fact that the movie is "dark and gritty" because the producers think "dark and gritty" equals good is a fundamental misunderstanding of Superman. It's fine to present a darker world that features Superman, but Superman is supposed to be the beacon of light and hope. That's what makes him Superman. Man of Steel and BvS instead present us with a mopey, angry Man of Steel that is disconnected with humanity and the ideals that make him great are only given lip service. Making everything dark just to be the opposite of Marvel and because they think they're being just like Nolan hasn't worked out. Thankfully, Geoff Johns and Jon Berg being put in charge of the DC movies following the aftermath of BvS should provide a unifying voice like Marvel has in Kevin Feige. Everyone involved has already confirmed that the "dark and gritty" experiment is over with Justice League since it's being made as a straight forward, more light-hearted, and fun crowd-pleaser. That is exactly what we need. Wonder Woman looks like it's breaking away from the dark and subversive nature of earlier films as well with what looks like a faithful adaptation of Wonder Woman's origin story.
In my opinion, they should've had more patience and built everything from the ground up instead of smashing 3-4 movies together in Batman v Superman. That movie had to be a Superman sequel, a Batman movie, a Wonder Woman intro, and a setup for Justice League. That's way too much to cram into a movie that you're using to completely jumpstart the rest of the shared universe and not even a three hour version can hide that. Man of Steel would be the first film of course, but then they should've done a Man of Steel sequel that could've just used Superman's storyline from BvS (without killing him), then release a Batman reboot with Ben Affleck that explores his growing rage and the the story could've been about him coming back from the brink of casting aside all of his rules, then his movie could've led into Suicide Squad, then Wonder Woman with scenes in the present book-ending the story, and then Justice League. I'm modeling after Marvel because that's what DC should've done. They had a winning playbook and have elected to ignore it so far. If they had used a "phase" model, then I think the DC Extended Universe would have looked look like this:
1) Man of Steel, Man of Steel 2, Batman, Suicide Squad, Wonder Woman, Justice League
2) Man of Steel 3, Wonder Woman 2, Batman 2, Suicide Squad 2, The Flash, Aquaman, Justice League 2
3) Batman vs. Superman (Batman 3), Shazam, Suicide Squad 3, Green Lantern, Wonder Woman 3, Cyborg, Flash 2, Aquaman 2, Justice League 3 Parts 1 and 2
Patience and faithfulness to the core of each individual hero would have yielded much better results than the forced, ultra "grimdark" movies we've gotten so far. I do have hope that new leadership will bring new success to the DC movies. Hopefully Suicide Squad isn't as bad as people are saying and whatever happens, there's Wonder Woman and Justice League next year. They both look great so far and I hope I end up right.
My new rating for the Batman v Superman Ultimate Cut has replaced the old one.