Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice Ultimate Edition, Ben Affleck, Gal Gadot, Henry Cavill

Movie Review: Batman vs. Superman – Dawn of Justice: Ultimate Edition (2016) *Does 30 More Minutes Make it Good?*

Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice, Batman, Superman, Ben Affleck, Henry Cavill
In a year that’s given us a lot of great films already, there have been a few disappointments, but none more so than Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice.  The first pairing of the biggest characters in comics was a befuddling, out-of-character, mess with plot holes you could throw Doomsday through.  It’s an unfortunate start to the DCEU.  I’m an optimist about the recent reshuffling in the creative powers that be, and that Warner Brothers appointed Geoff Johns to run the DCEU as Kevin Feige does the MCU is an encouraging sign.  When it was announced, that there would be an R-Rated version of the bloated BvS that would add 30 minutes onto it’s running time (which is now 3 hours 2 minutes if you’re scoring at home), most assumed it was a cash grab to try to eke more money out of the film WB has dubbed a financial disappointment.  Before we go any further, spoiler warnings below.
Ben Affleck, Batman, Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice

I did NOT like the theatrical cut of BvS which I think I make pretty clear in my review (you can read that here, and it might be a good place to start as I am not planning on retreading old ground).  It made absolutely no sense whatsoever, and was so boring I nearly fell asleep during the last hour of non-stop explosions.  While I cannot bring myself to say I like Batman vs. Superman, or that it was redeemed, the Ultimate Cut is the version of the film you should see if you are going to watch it.  It is much, much, much better than the theatrical cut, but cannot solve all the film’s woes.

I’m going to focus in this review on what is different between the cuts.  I think my problems with the tone of the film and Jesse Eisenberg’s hideous performance as Lex Luthor were made pretty clear in my initial review, and those opinions remain largely unchanged.  What was the 30 minutes that were cut?  Almost without exception (the exception being the more brutal fight scenes that earned it the R-Rating), what was cut was narrative connective tissue.  In other words, the things that connect the whole plot together so it makes sense.  While I don’t like the plot of BvS, I finally understand it (mostly).  I don’t know if it was Snyder’s decision or Warner Brothers, but the decision was clearly made to choose to keep the explosive third act in place and gut the first act.  This gives you little to no idea what’s going on in the second act, then the third is just noise.

Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice, Batman, Superman, Ben Affleck, Henry Cavill, Lois Lane, Amy Adams

The first hour of the film following the rescue of Lois by Superman in Africa (still inexcusable throwing away a character like Jimmy Olsen in a meaningless death after a minute of screen time), is a detective story.  When you watch the theatrical cut, you get the feeling that hearings and backlash against Superman are a general trend born out of multiple events.  The entire thing is about the African incident.  Both Lois Lane and Bruce Wayne investigate the incident and trace everything back to Lex Luthor.  He doesn’t just pop up at a cocktail party, he’s clearly established as the guiding hand behind the movement to bring down Superman piece by piece.  Why, is not entirely established other than Lex has some daddy issues mixed with having read Paradise Lost way too many times.  Making all roads lead to Lex makes things make so much more sense later on, and had they gotten an actor who didn’t decide to go insane onscreen (which isn’t Luthor’s persona), it might have even moved me to give the film a positive score.  But there are too many wince-inducing moments for me to tip it up to positive territory.

The dream sequence Batman has (the Knightfall sequence) is a part of several he has over the course of the film, one of which is established as being his being lifted aloft by bats as a child which I thought was one of the dumbest things in the film.  Being a dream makes it marginally better.  I’m still wanting an explanation as to why Batman is using lethal force.  If it’s explained as something than happened in the wake of Robin’s death, I can begin to see that, but one of Bruce’s cardinal tenants is no fatalities and this Batman does not share that opinion, nor does Superman if Lois is in danger.  In terms of an actor suffering from the cuts, Amy Adams had a huge hunk of her performance cut, which is a shame, because the parallel investigations by Lois and Bruce are well-done.

Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice, Batman, Superman, Ben Affleck, Henry Cavill

To me, this film should have been an hour shorter.  We didn’t need an African incident to set up a whole negativity campaign against Superman.  The best and most affecting scene in the movie is placing Bruce Wayne in the battle of Metropolis as Zod and Superman decimate the city during the climax of Man of Steel.  Even though I liked that film, the collateral damage was disturbing, and I thought that if they had used the loss of a huge number of Wayne employees, part of Bruce’s family, as motivation for him hating Superman, that would have been much more compelling.  Doomsday wasn’t needed.  Wonder Woman was just great, but she wasn’t really needed either.  This should have been about the responsibility of the power inherent in a being like Superman and the lives lost when he has to engage in an urban area.  This is something Captain America: Civil War explored and explored far, far better.

Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice, Batman, Superman, Ben Affleck, Henry Cavill

An interesting final note: the last shot of the movie has been changed.  In the theatrical version, the last shot is of the film in the theatrical cut had the earth-shaking on top of Superman’s coffin telegraphing his resurrection before we even get to Justice League, but in the extended cut that shaking isn’t there.  I also did love Bruce’s scene with Lex where he takes the air out of his sails (before the gibbering about the New Gods coming) by telling him he’s being transferred to Arkham.  If you want to know every single change made you can visit Screen Rant’s detailed breakdown here :

Ultimately, Batman vs. Superman failed.  It established an intriguing new Batman and Alfred (by far the movie’s highlights) but this forty-something Batman doesn’t seem to hold to his ideals.  If an explanation for that is forthcoming in the future, I can forgive that, but Batman’s non-lethal policy is integral to who he is.  Poor Henry Cavill got stuck with a Superman that while so likable in Man of Steel, so warm and charismatic, is reduced to a lost and sullen prude.  Gal Gadot was very good as Wonder Woman in her scenes and it really was never the actors (save Eisenberg) who were the problem with the film.  It was the script, the pacing and the direction.  The script makes a lot more sense in the Ultimate Edition, but the problems I mentioned in my initial review and with the enormous running time are just too much to fix.  But, again, if you want to see this movie, see THIS version.  At the very least, it makes a lick of sense.

To close out, instead of the real trailer, here’s pretty much the problems with that are unfixable courtesy of Screen Junkies’ Brutally Honest Trailer for the film:

9 thoughts on “Movie Review: Batman vs. Superman – Dawn of Justice: Ultimate Edition (2016) *Does 30 More Minutes Make it Good?*”

  1. Normally I would say that the blame must lie with the studio and not the director, but I’ve read some interviews with Snyder, and he doesn’t seem well. Is the best way I can put it. I’m not going to watch this movie again in any form, but I believe you that it’s an improvement. The film could have easily cleared a billion, and been fairly well-liked, if it had made sense, and if Doomsday hadn’t come storming in, trying to top the fight between Batman and Superman, which was supposed to the the centerpiece of the film. It wasn’t just that the Doomsday battle was all CGI with no emotional stakes. The bigger problem was that it felt like a bait and switch to most people, and if (for the sake of argument) you happened to be emotionally invested in the central conflict, the catharsis was already over. It would have been like if General Grievous had risen from the dead to challenge Luke and Vader, after the Emperor had already been thrown down the reactor shaft. It actually could have been Maul who rose from the dead, and it still would not have worked.

    The film is called Batman v Superman, and Batman fighting Superman should have been the must-see action movie event of the century. But they decided to release a film that was nonsensical, so that they could have the characters fight Doomsday for forty five minutes at the end.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Superman had 27 lines in the theatrical cut. I don’t know if you watched the brutally honest trailer at the bottom of the review, but it really really really nails pretty much every problem with the film. The best thing I can say about the Ultimate Edition is that it makes sense. Not great sense, but there’s a logical progression the theatrical cut lacked entirely. That they pulled all that connective material in favor of more explosions was ridiculous. That they felt they needed a new incident to give mankind pause to Superman after the destruction at the end of Man of Steel, was ridiculous. There’s a little more of Wayne in Metropolis watching his people get destroyed in Zod’s rampage, and it’s really powerful. I think having Wayne attack him in public for his collateral damage, while Superman counters with his distaste for Batman’s methods would have been enough for a taut, two-hour film leading to the promised fight. You didn’t need Lex, Doomsday, Wonder Woman or any of the other stuff. You had a perfectly good reason these two would clash and that should have been the entirety of the film. I honestly don’t know what Justice League is going to look like, but I would be surprised if Snyder was involved in any more DCEU films past it. The rumors that Affleck’s solo film will take place in Arkham Asylum a’la the video game series is exciting. That’s a place that hasn’t been fully explored on film and then you have every excuse to use his entire rogues gallery. I’m hoping hoping hoping for Suicide Squad, and I really like that we’re only going to see Batman from the point of the villains. I think that’s a really smart choice.


      1. Wow. A Batman movie set in Arkham would be… disturbing. I’m suddenly getting flashbacks to that old Dave McKean graphic novel. In addition to being one of the greatest pieces of comic art ever produced (it’s so good, there are almost no words) it haunted my nightmares when I was a kid. If this rumor is true, Affleck can being in as many villains as he wants. Arkham Asylum solves the problem.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Exactly. That was one of the best Batman gns. Putting the Arkham video games in that setting let them have that freedom to use a lot of rogues without it feeling overcrowded like it does when they try to use too many on the outside.


      3. I’m not a gamer, but I gather that at least some of the Arkham games are pretty epic in scope. But not every Batman movie needs to be about all of Gotham, under the threat of being eradicated. I’d love to see a smaller scale movie. I’d love to see a tighter, more atmospheric movie set in the Batman universe, and the Arkham corner of the universe would be perfect. I suppose I’m only dreaming.


      4. No I think Arkham is a place that has only gotten glimpses in film; I think the idea of setting a whole film there is brilliant. The Arkham trilogy is the best Batman media adaptation shy of the Nolan films and the Animated Series. That’s how good it is.


  2. And yet Suicide Squad looks fantastic, and I am daring to hope. I can’t help it. I love DC. I don’t see the reshoots as problematic… the film might only be PG-13, but humor can only be this concept’s friend. I don’t know if the promos are accurate, but this looks like the first superhero movie since The Dark Knight that doesn’t feel like a superhero movie.


      1. Of course you’re right. And Suicide Squad is kind of in the same category, because it’s not such a well known property. And I gather Batman is just going to be a cameo, and the ads are not playing up Joker like I would have thought. The other characters are not exactly household names, I’m not sure the general public is even all that familiar with Harley Quinn. Yet interest in the movie is through the roof. Fingers crossed.


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