Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice Ultimate Edition (2016)

A Little Background: I didn’t go see this film in theaters for several reasons. First, I did not like Man of Steel at all. Second, I am just sick and tired of Hollywood superhero movies. Third, the early critical reaction was pretty rough. And lastly, because I knew there would be a director’s cut and I wanted that version to be my first viewing. Boy, am I glad that I waited. Just a quick note on additional versions of films in general: I am not a fan of extended, unrated, uncut, or special editions of movies. They usually include scenes that were cut for a reason, scenes that were irrelevant to the story. I’ve never liked the extended editions of The Lord of the Rings movies for this very reason. The “director’s cut” however, is exactly how the filmmaker wanted us to view the film. Warner Brothers obviously thought three hours was too long for a comic book blockbuster, which is why they edited out a half-hour of the original cut. The problem is, they eliminated a lot of story and a lot of character development, which was the main critique of the theatrical release. The production company thought they were making this film more commercially accessible, but I think that it came back to bite them in the end. Zack Snyder is not a mass-appeal filmmaker, and he is at his best when he’s not creatively constricted.

The Film: Batman is my favorite superhero by far. Probably because he has no actual super power and his character is based on film noir detectives. For that reason, I was a lot more excited for Batman v Superman than I was for Man of Steel. Let’s start with the cast, while Henry Cavill looks the part, I really don’t think he can act at all. At first, I thought the casting of Ben Affleck was unusual, but I was willing to give him a try. He’s a fantastic actor, he just didn’t seem the “Batman” type. But considering that this portrayal is a more mature and grizzled version of Batman, I thought he was the perfect casting choice. Jesse Eisenberg puzzled me too, but only because I pictured a different version of Lex Luthor. Eisenberg is a very one dimensional actor. But I soon recognized that this is the young-hipster-Zuckerburg adaptation of the character, which Eisenberg nails of course. Jeremy Irons was an idyllic Alfred, Gal Gadot was great, and Scoot McNairy really stood out in the small role as he often does. Overall, I thought this movie was perfect, and maybe the best live-action comic book movie ever. To clarify, there are comic book movies that are better films objectively, The Dark Knight trilogy for instance. But this movie captures the comic book “feel” much like the way that animated movies have been able to do for years. There’s just something about it that’s not as “Hollywood” as the recent slew of “spandex movies,” to quote the great Bill Friedkin. There’s more here, there’s more to the characters and more to the story than we can see immediately on the screen. It gives me hope for the two Justice League movies that Snyder is planning on directing in the near future. Also, Hans Zimmer outdid even himself in this film. The score was thick with variety and he seemed to used more strings than usual, making it very different than his signature bombastic horn-dominated sound.

Three Favorite Things: the controlled pacing of an exhaustive plot, Affleck’s warmly-welcomed addition to the gallery of Batman actors, and a truly great score from Zimmer


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