Review: Superman vs Batman: Dawn of Justice: The Ultimate Edition

Batman SupermanStarring Henry Cavill, Ben Affleck, Jesse Eisenberg, Gal Godot, Jeremy Irons, Amy Adams

Directed by Zack Snyder

Warner Bros Blu-ray and digital, out now

Lex Luthor manipulates the Bat against the Cape…

There are certain Director’s Cuts (or whatever they’re entitled) that become the default version for watching – in recent time, I’ve revisited the Assembly Cut of Alien3, and the revised version of the 1998 Mel Gibson noir Payback, and found both to be considerable improvements on the theatrical versions. In the case of Batman vs Superman, the version that can be downloaded or bought on Blu-ray is clearly the movie that the director wanted us to see… but you can also see why Warner Bros. cut half an hour before the film was released.

Putting that half hour back changes what felt like a real mess into something that works on far more levels. There’s considerably more explanation of what Luthor is up to, and plenty of tiny additions – even just a line of dialogue here and there – that make the characters more credible. True, it now takes two whole hours before we get to the title fight – and then it’s hardly changed from the theatrical version, lasting just ten minutes before what will probably stand for many years to come as the weakest resolution of a fight as a coincidence of names stops Bruce Wayne in his tracks. (The new version doesn’t deal with the other stupidity of this sequence regarding Lois.) The fight still doesn’t feel like it’s justified in the context of the movie, but at least we see the machinations that get us there.

The new cut gives us a lot more Clark Kent as well, plus extra scenes with Alfred, both of which make the movie a more rounded experience. I know that Affleck’s portrayal of the Batman annoys some, but I enjoyed seeing him working as a detective, alongside the action sections (and the warehouse scene is even more visceral in this cut). A straight Batman movie in this incarnation should be worth the wait.

As far as the extras go on the Blu-ray, there’s a couple of hours of interview and other material – the Gods and Men featurette gives some insight into Snyder’s view of the DC Universe, and particularly how Superman fits in (although it may make you wonder why he wants to do a Superman film – or now two of them – if he feels this way!). DVD purchasers only get the theatrical version and one of the featurettes: you really do want to get the upgrade for this!

Verdict: Still very uneven, this is a better version of a flawed superhero movie. 7/10

Paul Simpson

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