Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice Ultimate Edition, 2016.
Directed by Zack Snyder.
Starring Ben Affleck, Henry Cavill, Amy Adams, Jesse Eisenberg, Gal Gadot, Diane Lane, Laurence Fishburne, Jeremy Irons, Holly Hunter, Scoot McNairy, Tao Okamoto, Lauren Cohan, Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Ray Fisher, Jena Malone, Ezra Miller and Callan Mulvey.
In “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice,” fearing the actions of a god-like Super Hero left unchecked, Gotham City’s own formidable, forceful vigilante takes on Metropolis’s most revered, modern-day savior, while the world wrestles with what sort of hero it really needs. And with Batman and Superman at war with one another, a new threat quickly arises, putting mankind in greater danger than it’s ever known before.
In 2003, Mark Steven Johnson released a version of Daredevil that wasn’t his vision. What was theatrically released was a movie cut together by a studio committee, bowing down to everything written on the feedback forms following preview screenings. Gone was the plot involving Matt Murdock investigating a crime that led to Daredevil’s showdown with The Kingpin and Bullseye, and in its place was a romantic comedy about Daredevil falling in love with Elektra. It wasn’t received well by critics or audiences, and was highlighted as a movie that was everything wrong with the Hollywood comic book adaptation at the time. A couple of years later, however, Johnson released Daredevil: The Director’s Cut which reinstated all of the Murdock scenes (involving a borderline good performance from rapper Coolio) and was a much better movie. The plot now made sense and the characters felt more fleshed out. The dire CGI action and slightly-silly origin story were intact, but the whole thing felt better. What was a two star movie was now a three star movie.
When Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice – Ultimate Edition was announced prior to the film’s theatrical release, a lot of fans held their hat on it as some sort of saviour. It’s fair to say that the theatrical cut of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice wasn’t as well received as many would have predicted, and its poor box office return backed that up. But for every issue laid out in the film’s criticisms – the poor pacing, the gaping plot holes, the mediocre performances – there was always that silver lining of ‘it will be fixed in the extended cut’. Even those fans who liked it salivated at the prospect of thirty extra minutes to fix any of their niggling issues.
Well now it’s here. So, does Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice – Ultimate Edition improve the pacing, fix plot holes and provide more time for better performances?
In short: no, yes and no.
In reality, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice – Ultimate Edition doesn’t do much to change or improve the theatrical cut, nor does the R-rating (which is still a 12 here in the UK) give the blood-thirsty Deadpool fans something to bite into. The violence is still the same as it was in the original cut, but now a character drops an F-bomb. The story is largely unchanged or altered, but it does add scenes featuring Jena Malone as a non-descript scientist. For all the pyro and ballyhoo about who Malone is playing in the movie (with rumours ranging from Robin to Batgirl), she has just two scenes in this three hour epic – and one of those scenes is her on the phone.
These two scenes, however, do tie into one of the bigger improvements on the theatrical cut: it gives Amy Adam’s Lois Lane a purpose. In the theatrical cut she’s on a case, but it’s ultimately redundant as it leads to nothing. The Ultimate Edition does resolve this issue, and her investigation actually affects the outcome of the plot – albeit in a rather small capacity. So in terms of fixing a couple of niggling plot holes, the Ultimate Edition has served some sort of purpose.
But the extra half hour of footage doesn’t add to anything else to Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. It doesn’t add to Batman’s character progression or his motivations. It doesn’t add to Superman’s plight of being an alien alone on this planet. It doesn’t give Lex Luthor’s plan more credence. There isn’t anything added to the nightmare vision of the future. It doesn’t excuse the excessive use of Doomsday. It doesn’t add any drama to the fight between Batman and Superman. It doesn’t even give Wonder Woman any more screen time. In fact, even though there is thirty extra minutes, this writer would struggle to point out any new or extended sequences (Malone’s cameo and Steppenwolf’s introduction notwithstanding).
What I can say though is that Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice – Ultimate Edition is long. Really, really long. The theatrical cut was long, but the Ultimate Edition feels like a lifetime. The major issue with the theatrical cut was the film’s break-neck-yet-incredibly-slow pacing, and an extra thirty minutes of runtime does nothing to alleviate this. At what feels like the mid-point of the movie, only 50 minutes of runtime have expired. When Batman and Superman finally collide in what should be the final reels, there is still a whole hour left. All that is left in between are just scenes of people talking about the plot, which isn’t helped by the film’s dour tone. That is not to say Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice needs jokes or humour, but it needs something lighter to grab hold of to get you through the especially long three-hour runtime. Three hours is a long time to watch sad people be sad.
Perhaps the biggest achievement of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice – Ultimate Edition, however, is it somehow makes Jesse Eisenberg’s Lex Luthor more tolerable. Perhaps it’s because the film features less frenetic editing, but Eisenberg comes off looking like a complete star and his performance is fantastically wacky. Ben Affleck’s Batman is still great, Jeremy Irons provides what little levity there can be and Lawrence Fishborne’s Perry White is nice – but Henry Cavill’s bland Superman is still very boring as is Adams’ Lois Lane. Cavill’s lack of leading man material is really exposed in the film’s longer runtime, and a terribly bad script full of poor character development does nothing to help him. Snyder’s take on the character – an alien rejected by his new home – is a fascinating idea but it’s so poorly executed and it ends up making Superman incredibly unlikeable.
If you liked the theatrical cut of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, then the Ultimate Edition will do nothing to make you love it more but it won’t make you hate it either. However if you didn’t like the theatrical version, the Ultimate Edition probably won’t make you change your mind. Even with the thirty extra minutes, it’s still the same boring and dour movie filled with terrible character choices, hokey dialogue and god-awful ending. The stuff you liked or didn’t like is still there – there’s just more of it. Sadly, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice – Ultimate Edition is not the Daredevil: The Director’s Cut some fans wished for.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ ★ / Movie: ★ ★
Luke Owen is the Deputy Editor of Flickering Myth and the co-host of The Flickering Myth Podcast and Scooperhero News. You can follow him on Twitter @ThisisLukeOwen and read his weekly feature The Week in Star Wars.
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