Leave it to Zack Snyder to pull another Watchmen on us. As noted in our past review of the theatrical release of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, the film did not get much critical success. In spite of the overall box office take, the film was considered a bit of a disaster. It has been hard to find anyone inside or outside the fan community who doesn’t have something negative to say about the film.
Batman v Superman Theatrical Release Criticisms
It was panned as being too dark and confusing. Scenes were just pieced together and the film did not flow comfortably and was difficult to follow. There was news early on of a possible director’s cut of the film. An almost four hour cut that was closer to the original vision Snyder had for an epic clash of this magnitude. Proponents of the film were excited that the film might get a second chance to fulfill its promise. Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice Ultimate Edition delivers on a lot of those promises.
As it turns out, the theatrical release suffered from many things, most of all poor editing. In order to get the film to a reasonable length, nearly thirty minutes was cut. Unfortunately for movie goers, most of it was crucial to the plot and flow. This Ultimate Edition adds either key scenes or extended others revealing vital points and other things that make it far more enjoyable and easier to understand.
Where Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice went wrong
The film overall suffers from too many comic book story adaptations. Even though Snyder relied heavily on Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns and Dan Jurgens’ Death of Superman to tell this story, it feels as if there was very little originality to it. Trying to retell stories that have already been told is often a difficult task, especially when adapting them to a big screen epic. Fans have waited decades for this battle of titans to make it to theaters and were duped by a poor retelling to two classic comic book stories. That doesn’t mean this cut of the film isn’t enjoyable. It explains a lot of points that were simply dropped from the original release and makes the film easier to follow, so it’s less confusing.
Both the theatrical release and the Ultimate Edition are just lengthy set ups for the battle between Batman and Superman and the reveal of Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman. Fans were also treated to cameos by Aquaman, Cyborg and Flash which unfortunately didn’t get altered or extended treatments. There are several other payouts for watching this just over three hour cut. Characters like Jimmy Olsen are clearly defined along with the highly speculated role of Jenna Malone who sadly does not have anything to do with Batgirl, but does has a key role in Lois Lane’s investigation into who set up Superman. Speaking of, that entire plot point is more clearly explained and leaves you less confused as to how Lex Luthor plans to destroy the Man of Steel.
If you’re looking for the light to be shined on everything wrong with this film, you’re still going to be disappointed. Although this extended cut does improve on this clearly flawed film it doesn’t fix everything wrong. Those who lined up to rail against this movie aren’t going to see much to change their minds. Those who liked it are going to like it even more. But it is easy to see the improvements made by this reedit in the same way Watchmen‘s extended edition gained more praise than its original release.
So the debate continues, was this actually a good film that was the victim of Internet haters? Or was it accurately and fairly judged? It is really hard for this reviewer to say. Personally, I enjoyed both versions of the film and I can identify the issues with it and still find it entertaining. Fans awaited this film for years and Zack Snyder did his level best to deliver an epic. Opponents of Snyder and DC Comics also did their level best to bash the film at every opportunity. Whether it ultimately affected the final release will be in doubt for some time.