I already reviewed Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, and suffice it to say that I did not enjoy the film. Nevertheless, knowing that director Zack Snyder’s work has benefited from extended cuts in the past, I thought I’d check out this ultimate edition. And given that I do not wish to write a completely new review for a different version of the film, I’ll try to keep my thoughts on this brief.
This new cut adds about a half-hour’s worth of material to the movie; and it actually works to surprisingly great effect. Most of the new footage is either extensions of existing scenes or smaller new scenes that tie bigger moments together. These additions flesh out the story and make it more functional than the theatrical cut. While there’s still too much plot going on in this picture, the ultimate edition isn’t nearly as structurally erratic as the version shown in theaters. Rather, scenes transition much less abruptly and the narrative is easier to follow.
Regarding characterization, if you didn’t like the portrayal of Batman and Superman in the theatrical cut in terms of what you think these heroes can or can’t do or how they should behave, the ultimate edition won’t change your mind; but it will at least make their motivations more understandable and their behavior a bit more justified and less random; and that goes for Lex Luthor and Lois Lane as well. Basically, what I’m saying is that there’s actual flow in this cut; and given that my main problem with the theatrical version was flow, this improves my opinion considerably.
That being said, the ultimate cut still has many of the same problems as the theatrical cut. It still by and large squanders the concept of Batman and Superman being at odds with each other; it still tries too hard to shoehorn in teasers for future DC movies; and Jesse Eisenberg’s interpretation of Lex Luthor is still not quite successful. Nevertheless, this is clearly a better version of this film. I would go so far as to say that I kind of enjoyed this cut. If you want a reference point, it’s about on par with 1992’s Batman Returns, which is to say that it has problems and is too extreme with the direction it takes, but it’s entertaining and has an approach that you can at least respect, if not quite love.
So that being the case, there’s really no reason that this shouldn’t have been the cut shown in theaters. Ostensibly, Warner Brothers put out the theatrical cut on the theory that a shorter cut means more possible showings in a given day, and thus more money; but the theatrical cut was so ill-received and inspired so little long term love for the DC Extended Universe that I feel it will have wound up costing them money to go the route that they did. Releasing the extended cut instead would have certainly spared the studio the worst of Batman v Superman‘s criticisms and would definitely have gotten more people on board with both this film and the rest of the DC slate. And it’s not like longer movies can’t be blockbusters–the Lord of the Rings trilogy, produced by Warner Brothers’ own sister company, New Line, was proof of that. So yeah, it was a misstep not to put out this ultimate cut.
Anyways, if you’re open to it, I recommend checking this version out if you can. It doesn’t make a bad movie great, but it does make it more or less acceptable, and I’ll take what I can get in that regard.
P.S. This version is rated R, but that seems to be entirely because one person utters the f-word one time. There’s nothing, in terms of violence or gore, that I haven’t seen in many PG-13 movies; and given that some PG-13 movies get away with the f-word anyway, this cut really shouldn’t have been given the rating it got.