THE AISLE SEAT - by Mike McGranaghan
"BATMAN V SUPERMAN: DAWN OF JUSTICE ULTIMATE EDITION"
Before it even hit theaters, it was announced that Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice would hit Blu-ray in a longer, R-rated cut. Mixed reaction to the film made that news a ray of hope for fans who felt the theatrical version didn't quite deliver on its promise. Available July 19, the Ultimate Edition contains a 182-minute cut of the movie, in addition to a large assortment of bonus features. The theatrical version is available on DVD.
Henry Cavill returns as the Man of Steel. He has taken to injecting himself into world affairs, fighting terrorism and such. A U.S. senator (Holly Hunter) thinks he has too much unchecked power. So does Batman (Ben Affleck), who starts looking into Superman's activities, especially once some of them begin to seem questionable. The Dark Knight also has his own issues; he's being criticized in some quarters for his increasingly violent vigilante tactics. What neither initially realize is that Lex Luthor (Jesse Eisenberg) is manipulating both of them for his own evil gain. The two heroes clash, then realize they have to work together to defeat a common enemy. Lois Lane (Amy Adams) gets caught in the middle of their tenuous interactions, while Diana Prince (Gal Gadot) skirts around the edges of things, waiting for her chance to become Wonder Woman.
This longer version of Batman v Superman adds more than thirty minutes to the story. The additions help to establish Lex Luthor's motivations, give Jimmy Olsen something to do before he exits the story, and offer longer glimpses of Diane Lane as Martha Kent. Other moments simply flesh out what was already there, clarifying plot points or ideas. A scene set in Africa, for example, is longer and more detailed. Violence in the picture is a little more graphic than it was in the theatrical cut. An oft-cited criticism was that Batman behaved more brutally in the film than he has in any previous iteration of the character, so this may be troublesome to those who disliked that component. The major addition is a role for Jenna Malone, who plays a character the studio tried to keep secret when it was announced her role had been excised for the theatrical release. (I'll let it be a surprise for anyone who hasn't already Googled it.)
It's unlikely that the extended edition is going to change anybody's mind about Batman v Superman. Those who liked the film will probably appreciate the additions, which expand on things that were truncated to keep the release version at a commercially reasonable length. But an extra half hour can't change certain flaws, such as Ben Affleck's miscasting as the Dark Knight, Jesse Eisenberg's distractingly over-the-top performance as Luthor, or a dull CGI-heavy climax.
Regardless of your opinion of the film itself, the bonus features are impressively thorough and well-produced. There are eleven featurettes, ranging from five to twenty-two minutes in length. They feature cast and crew discussing the movie in depth, and cover individual characters, their comic histories, the Batmobile and Batcave, the staging of a key fight scene, and director Zack Snyder's campaign to save real-life bats. Of key interest to many will be the segment entitled “Uniting the World's Finest,” which looks at the creation of the DC Cinematic Universe. It features the first footage from next year's Wonder Woman movie, in addition to the upcoming Suicide Squad.
Picture and sound quality on the Blu-ray are excellent. The theatrical cut is included on a second Blu-Ray. A DVD and digital copy are in the pack, as well.
Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice Ultimate Edition is rated R for sequences of violence. The running time is 3 hours and 2 minutes.
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