By Michael Kaye
There's been a slight change of plans. I was originally planning on publishing an editorial for Neon Demon concerning director Nicolas Winding Refn and which comic book property would best be suited for him today. Unfortunately, life got in the way, so that'll be postponed to Thursday. In the meantime, we get to talk about something awesome. It's not often that a major studio releases a director's cut for a big budget blockbuster, unless that director is either named Ridley Scott or Zack Snyder. This practice of releasing extended versions on home video is par for the course for Snyder, and the results are usually significantly better than their theatrical counterparts. The latest film to get this treatment is the official pilot of the DC Films Universe, Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice - Ultimate Edition.
Here's the story. Fearing the actions of a god-like superhero 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.
If you remember my original review, you know that I enjoyed the theatrical cut of the film. But now that I've finally seen the film Zack Snyder intended to make, I never wanna see the theatrical cut ever again! Yeah, this movie is damn near perfect, where almost every problem I had from the previous version has been taken care of, and the ones that still linger are mere mole hills compared to the mountains of praise I give this movie.
This review's gonna be a little different. I'm not just gonna rehash my opinion of the movie as a whole. If that's all you want, just go back and read the original review. This time, I'm simply going to address the negatives I had the first time, and how the Ultimate Edition fixed them.
First off, let me re-address the common criticisms of Jesse Eisenberg's portrayal of Lex Luthor. A lot of people complained that in the theatrical cut, Lex's plan to get Batman and Superman to fight didn't make a whole lot of sense, and now I finally understand why. The Ultimate Edition has given the Africa scene some much needed context. Now we actually get to see how Lex framed Superman for killing those people in the desert, and they show a great deal of news footage on TV covering everything surrounding how the world is reacting to what they believe Superman has done.
Speaking of Superman, Clark Kent is actually a three dimensional character in this version. Because the movie has 30 additional minutes to breathe, the weaving of David S. Goyer's Man of Steel 2 story and Chris Terrio's Dawn of Justice screenplay feels more organic. Whereas the theatrical cut seemed a little too one sided in terms of the conflict between Batman and Superman, this version lets us see Clark traveling across Metropolis and Gotham City, investigating Batman's actions, trampling on civil liberties and taking the law into his own hands. Parallel to that subplot, we get to see a little more of Bruce's story, and they actually show footage of him breaking into LexCorp and stealing the Kryptonite imported from the White Portuguese.
Finally, as far as the pacing and editing, this film, while 30 minutes longer, feels so much more cohesive than the theatrical cut. With the inclusion of everything that I mentioned before, many scenes that seemed out of place at first are now put into better context. For example, the one moment that everybody and their mother (no pun intended) loved to pick apart, and that's the goddamn "MARTHA!" scene. I've already explained in my first review that the point of that scene was a wake up call to Bruce, when he realizes that Alfred was right: Superman is NOT his enemy. And the reason why this works even better in the Ultimate Edition is because we get more time to spend with Clark, and he shares a couple very important scenes with his mother.
As I wrap up this review, I want to address the scapegoat reason why some people hated this movie, at least before the Ultimate Edition was released. Warner Bros., acting ever so reactionary as usual, was under the assumption that people didn't like the darker tone of this movie, and now are bending over backwards to ensure that Justice League, as well as future DC films are brighter and more fun, like the Marvel Cinematic Universe. While that was one issue, the real problem was simply not telling a coherent narrative. As long as you make a good movie, nothing else matters, and I hope that's the lesson they take away from Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice - Ultimate Edition.
So those were my thoughts, and now I wanna hear from you guys! What did you think of Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice - Ultimate Edition, and how does it compare to the theatrical cut? Drop your thoughts in the comments below, and stay tuned for my next review, where I travel back to 1982, and help E.T. The Extra Terrestrial phone home!