Batman V. Superman (referred to from hereon as BvS) isn’t the great film many had hoped it would be, but it’s also not a terrible one. Directed by Zack Snyder, details the initial violent encounters between the Dark Knight (Ben Affleck) and the Man of Steel (Henry Cavill), and takes us through to their eventual reconciliation, and friendship.
As previously shown in Man of Steel, Metropolis has been leveled by Superman’s battle with General Zod. In the intervening eighteen months, Superman has become a controversial figure; worshipped by some, and seen as a global threat by others. Meanwhile, Batman is aging, and acrimonious. Superman is quickly suspicious of the Dark Knight who has no use for civil rights. Though the two superheroes don’t realize it yet, they’re both being manipulated by the brilliant tech billionaire Lex Luthor (Jesse Eisenberg) to accomplish his own reprehensible ends.
Snyder establishes why both superheroes question the others legitimacy. Batman watched friends die as a result of Superman’s battle with Zod in Man of Steel. He’s also worried about the possibility of Superman turning against his adopted planet. Meanwhile, sees the Dark Knight of Gotham as a dangerous vigilante. To even the playing field when the two do battle, Snyder introduces Kryptonite into the equation. With Superman weakened, he, and Batman go at it for an extended sequence. All the while, Lex Luthor continues moving the chess pieces, hoping to execute his latest con.
Given Snyder’s reputation as a visual director, it’s no surprise that BvS shines most during the special effects heavy action sequences. However, the theatrical cut of the film comes up short when it comes to character development. Superman is dull. While Henry Cavill certainly looks the part, he’s given little in the way of emotion. He has no heart. His performance as Clark Kent is stoic. The chemistry between Cavill and Amy Adams’ Lois Lane is in the negative.
Affleck’s Batman/Bruce Wayne is just, underdeveloped. Given little context for his place in the story, the Caped Crusader comes across as little more than an annoying, bitter, rich dude who stomps around in an unwieldy costume. We never really get a sense of who Batman (or Bruce Wayne), really is.
Wonder Woman’s (Gal Gadot) addition to the story feels awkward; done more as preparation for the upcoming Justice League movie, than in service to this film. We are given very little information on her, she’s just there.
Included on the Batman V. Superman: Dawn of Justice – Ultimate Edition is an R-rated Extended Cut that adds thirty minutes of footage not seen in theaters. While this new footage probably won’t do much to change the minds of those who truly hated Zack Snyder’s efforts, others will find that the additional footage makes for a broader, more fleshed out experience.
Several characters whose parts where slimmed down in the theatrical cut, or eliminated altogether, have been restored. Though all of this makes the film a longer slog, it eliminates holes in the narrative, and expands critical conversation. As a result, we get a better sense of Batman/Bruce, Superman/Clark, and the world they live in.
The most important character in the Extended Cut is Kahina Ziri (Wunmi Mosaku), a woman from the fictional African country of Nairomi whose allegations force Superman to answer for himself at hearings chaired by Sen. June Finch (Holly Hunter). While Ziri appears briefly in the theatrical cut, she’s a major presence here, drawing Clark to Gotham. As you might expect, Luthor is behind Ziri’s claims.
We also get a little bit more Wonder Woman, but her character still leaves you wanting more. In general, though, the Extended Cut is worth taking a look at in preparation for the coming Justice League film.
Presented in the 2.40:1 aspect ratio, Warner Brothers has provided a top notch video transfer. Sharpness is impressive, with any softness confined to just a couple of quick interior shots. Colors appear appropriate throughout, and the overall palette leans toward orange and teal. Blacks are dark, and inky. Shadow delineation is on point. Overall, the image is impressive, with no discernable flaws.
Batman V. Superman: Dawn of Justice – Ultimate Edition has an impressive Dolby Atmos soundtrack. If you don’t have Atmos enabled equipment, the Dolby TrueHD 7.1 mix is no less impressive. For the purpose of this review I watched the film in Dolby TrueHD 7.1.
Given the various action scenes, the entire soundscape is given various opportunities to shine. From the opening scene, we are treated to a completely immersive experience. All channels are involved, and the music is dynamic. Dialogue is clear, and appropriately directional. There are absolutely no complaints to be had here.
English SDH, French, Portuguese, Spanish, Cantonese, Mandarin (Simplified), Mandarin (Traditional), and Thai subtitles are included.
While The Extended Cut (3:02:33) is on Disc Two, all the following extras are on Disc One alongside the Theatrical Cut (2:31:40):
- Uniting the World’s Finest (HD, 15:05) Director Zack Snyder, producers Charles Roven and Deborah Snyder, executive producer/DC Entertainment CCO Geoff Johns, Wonder Woman director Patti Jenkins, Suicide Squad director David Ayer, Suicide Squad producer Richard Suckle, Suicide Squad actors Will Smith, Margot Robbie and Jared Leto, executive producer Wesley Coller, and actors Ben Affleck, Gal Gadot, Jason Momoa, Ezra Miller, Henry Cavill and Ray Fisher discuss the characters in the upcoming Justice League
- Gods and Men: A Meeting of Giants (HD, 12:28) Affleck, Cavill, Johns, Roven, Deborah Snyder, Coller, Zack Snyder, co-producer Curtis Kanemoto, still photographer Clay Enos, and actors Laurence Fishburne and Diane Lane discuss the coming together of Batman, and Superman.
- The Warrior, The Myth, The Wonder (HD, 21:16) Deborah Snyder, Coller, Gadot, Lane, Zack Snyder, Johns, Robbie, Kanemoto, Roven, Jenkins, artists/writers Molly Crabapple and Phil Jimenez, Secret History of Wonder Woman author Jill Lepore, artist Cliff Chiang, “Share the Wonder” online network moderator Jennifer B. White, character creator’s son Pete Marston, artist/educator Carla Gannis, journalist Quinn Norton, media literacy educator Andrea Quijada, musician/author Amanda Palmer, “3rd Wave Fund” executive director Rye Young, cast trainer Mark Twight, Saucy Magazine founder/editor Kristen Taylor, Suicide Squad actor Viola Davis, and comic writer Brian Azzarello. “Warrior” present a brief history of Wonder Woman.
- Accelerating Design: The New Batmobile (HD, 22:46) Hosted by sports commentator Sal Masekela, this featurette includes comments from Zack Snyder, production designer Patrick Tatopoulos, specialty vehicle designer Dennis McCarthy, concept designer Ed Natividad, 2nd unit director/stunt coordinator Damon Caro, set designer (vehicles) Joe Hiura, stunt driver Mike Justus and Batmobile crew Michael Scot Risley. This one is cool if you’re into car design.
- Superman: Complexity and Truth (HD, 7:08) Henry Cavill, Zack Snyder, Deborah Snyder, costume designer Michael Wilkinson and stuntman Albert Valladares offer up some interesting information on the films depiction of Superman.
- Batman: Austerity and Rage (HD, 8:15) Affleck, Zack Snyder, Johns, Wilkinson, Roven, Deborah Snyder, stuntman Richard Cetrone, property master Doug Harlock and actor Jeremy Irons offer up some information on the films depiction of Batman.
- Wonder Woman: Grace and Power (HD, 6:48) Deborah Snyder, Gadot, Twight, Caro, Wilkinson, Harlocker, Zack Snyder, fight choreographers Ryan Watson and Guillermo Grispo, and director of photography Larry Fong offer up interesting information on the films depiction of Wonder Woman.
- Batcave: Legacy of the Lair (HD, 7:12) Deborah Snyder, Tatopoulos, Zack Snyder, Irons, Harlocker, onscreen graphics Gladys Tong, and art director Beat Frutiger discuss the design, and creation of the Batcave.
- The Might and The Power of a Punch (HD, 5:15) An analysis of the final battle between Batman, and Superman.
- The Empire of Luthor (HD, 12:33) Zack Snyder, Johns, Jimenez, Cavill, Roven, Fishburne, Coller, production supervisor Bill Doyle, and actors Holly Hunter, Amy Adams, and Jesse Eisenberg provide information on the films depiction of Lex Luthor.
- Save the Bats (HD, 4:37) A PSA explaining how bats help the planet, and need to be protected.
- DVD copy of the film.
- HD Digital copy of the film.
*”Warner Bros. Home Entertainment provided me with a free copy of the Blu-ray I reviewed in this Blog Post. The opinions I share are my own.”