Thursday, July 7, 2016


Warning: Here be spoilers.

There’s nothing like a shiny new car, and in March of this year, Warner Bros. rolled out what they hoped to be the Cadillac of superhero films with their super-opus BATMAN V. SUPERMAN: DAWN OF JUSTICE. But the film, which promised the long-awaited showdown between two of the most popular characters in fiction, was met with mediocre to dismal reviews (read Reel Speak’s review HERE), and the bad-word-of-mouth from critics and fans kept the film from reaching the coveted $1 billion mark, and just like that the new car was sputtering down the road.

The criticisms of the film were many, including a non-existent plot, choppy editing, poor sense-of-place, bizarre dream sequences, characters doing things for no reason and an overall joyless experience. Perhaps not deaf to the legitimate complaints from critics and fans, Warner’s and director Zack Snyder are offering a new cut of the film, entitled ULTIMATE EDITION, which carries 30 extra minutes of movie (beefing up the run time to over three hours), along with a new R-rating (the theatrical version was PG13), and an assumed promise of the many issues being resolved.

It must be made clear that the ULTIMATE EDITION isn’t much of a director’s cut, as it doesn’t re-tool scenes or replace anything. It instead extends a lot of scenes and enters in new ones which offer more exposition and some better character moments…and flesh out things that were merely mentioned in one or two lines in the theatrical version. The bulk of the extra time goes to the investigative reporting by reporters Clark Kent (Henry Cavill), and Lois Lane (Amy Adams), with Kent tracking down the Batman (Ben Affleck) and Lois trying to get to the bottom of an incident in the desert in which Superman is framed for murder. The new scenes with Lois take her to an FBI lab, where actress Jena Malone, who was cut completely from the theatrical edition, finally gets to appear as a lab technician. Unfortunately for Lois, her investigation, which wasn’t all that compelling or interesting in the original version, does more harm than good as the extra material makes it easier for the characters to realize that the villain Lex Luthor (Jesse Eisenberg), was the one responsible for the Superman framing and the bombing of the U.S. Capitol (a major incident in the film). The new scenes make Luthor’s guilt very obvious, which makes his overall plan in the story even dumber.

Clark Kent’s investigation scenes fare much better, as they offer a chance to see Superman acting like a human being instead of the thug Snyder has portrayed him as over two films. Cavill gets to show some compassion to people and families of Gotham, and his reasons for wanting to battle the Bat, which came out of nowhere in the theatrical cut, are a little more palpable. Clark’s compassion nearly makes Batman a villain in the film and long-time fans of the Bat may take issue. The best addition to the film comes courtesy of Clark’s added scenes, as it allows the film to firmly establish the close proximity of the film’s two primary locations…Metropolis and Gotham City; as opposed to the theatrical version which didn’t establish this until the movie was almost over.

Other added scenes include a quick shot of yet another super-villain who vanishes just as quickly as he (or it) appears, which adds nothing to the overall story and teases another movie. There are also added scenes involving a supposed witness to the alleged Superman-murder in the desert, and the family of a criminal Batman had put away…which only bring the movie back to the same place as the original cut did. There’s also too much time given to a football game between Metropolis and Gotham, and photographer Jimmy Olsen, which adds nothing. The new R-rating is a soft-R, as the only graphic parts seem to be two new F-bombs and Ben Affleck’s ass.

ULTIMATE EDITION does fix a few problems on the outside, but the core issues are still there. The film still feels like many scenes are appearing out of order, and a major continuity mistake, in which Clark appears in a place he isn’t supposed to be, was not fixed. The other issues such as poor sense-of-place (we never know where we're at), and the wacko dream sequences remain as they are not explained or even helped, and the film still lacks any joyous moment or rallying point to get our hearts behind. Warner Bros. and Zack Snyder haven’t fixed much, and have instead hammered out the dents in a car with a broken engine.


BATMAN V. SUPERMAN: DAWN OF JUSTICE – ULTIMATE EDITION is now available for digital download and streaming services. The blu-ray will be released July 19th.

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