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Category:    Home > Reviews > Superhero > Action > Drama > Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice - Ultimate Edition (2016/DC Comics/Warner Blu-ray 3D w/Blu-ray 2D Discs)

Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice - Ultimate Edition (2016/DC Comics/Warner Blu-ray 3D w/Blu-ray 2D Discs)

3D Picture: B+ 2D Picture: B+ Sound: B+ Extras: B Film: B+ (Extended)/C+ (Theatrical)

The red capes are coming.. the red capes are coming...

One of the most talked about films of the year in the film and pop culture communities, Zack Snyder's Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice - Ultimate Edition (2016) lands on Blu-ray with a gorgeous showcase-worthy presentation, packed with extras, and a Director's Cut of the film that is 30 minutes longer than the theatrical version, and far superior.

The explosive follow-up picks up during (and right after) Director Zack Snyder's Man of Steel - the first outing with Henry Cavill wearing the red cape, also introduces a new Bruce Wayne/Batman in Hollywood superstar Ben Affleck and the gorgeous model/actress Gal Gadot (the Fast and Furious franchise) as the silver screen's first big budget take on Wonder Woman - a role that has already elevated her to superstardom.

Batman V Superman (2016) does what Marvel did over the course of four years, in that it sets up for the big superhero team blockbuster epic, The Justice League, which is comparable to Marvel's Avengers series and once again will pit Zack Snyder in the director's chair along with principal cast members returning. I would highly suggest watching Man of Steel before you watch this film or you may be a little lost as to who some of the characters are and the essential backstory to Superman (this time around) that helps drive this film.

In addition to setting up the upcoming Justice League feature film, Batman V Superman also sets the stage of various spin-offs in the DC Universe such as a standalone Patty Jenkins directed Wonder Woman movie (we'll be seeing in 2017; already getting great buzz) and other solo films for the characters of Batman, The Flash, Cyborg. and Aquaman (the former three appear in this film as glorified cameos) and David Ayer's upcoming Suicide Squad film, which pits many B-list Batman villains together (and a cameo by the Dark Knight himself) against the iconic Dark Knight.

At the height of the climax in Man of Steel, Kryptonians General Zod (Michael Shannon) and Superman (Cavill) have basically laid the city of Metropolis to waste in the midst of an epic battle over the fate of Humanity. Among the hundreds of casualties lies an angry Bruce Wayne (Affleck), who has lost many employees in the wake of the disaster and forms a grudge against the Man of Steel. Using his alter-persona as Batman, Bruce seeks to call out Superman and face him in an epic battle of wits and muscle. Little do they know, billionaire-psychotic playboy Lex Luthor (played impressively by Jesse Eisenberg) has plans to use Zod's body in a bizarre experiment in an attempt to gain the upper hand and dethrone these God-like characters from their heroic status so he can become top dog.

Along the way, we also encounter Wonder Woman (Gadot) who is exposed after nearly a century in hiding, our damsel in distress Lois Lane (a role reprised by Amy Adams), and the witty butler Alfred (Jeremy Irons taking over the role with ease and knocks it out of the park) - all of which aide in the battle against Luthor. Also starring in the film are actors Diane Lane (as Clark Kent's adopted mother) and Laurence Fishburne (as the snobby Daily Planet Newspaper titan) who both reprise their Man of Steel roles. Some other newcomers to the DC Universe are acclaimed actors Holly Hunter (Raising Arizona) as jaded Senator Finch, Scoot McNairy (Monsters) in a disturbing role that I won't spoil and cameos by Lauren Cohan (The Walking Dead) and Jeffery Dean Morgan (Watchmen) as Bruce Wayne's parents in a flashback sequence.

Also helping bring the film to life behind the scenes are some of today's top names in filmmaking including gorgeous cinematography from Larry Fong (who shot Snyder's Watchmen) and a thrilling score by Hans Zimmer and Junkie XL (Mad Max: Fury Road) which I would definitely suggest listening to it on its own without the film because it's so good. Director Christopher Nolan and his wife Emma Thomas are enlisted as producers with co-screenwriter David S. Goyer - all of whom are no strangers to the Batman universe. Every department is top notch and the film looks and sounds fantastic.

The major thing that sets this film apart from other comic book films and specifically the Marvel Studios productions is how dark the film especially is in this ultimate edition. Comparable thematically to Snyder's previous adaptation of Alan Moore's Watchmen, which is arguably the darkest superhero film out there. Scenes of realistic terrorism, more intense violence, characters losing limbs or the use of them, and a more 'adult' tone that no doubt made some people scoff or dislike the film after more upbeat superhero outings of late such as Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy and Ant-Man (both reviewed elsewhere on this site). What I think Snyder was trying to do here was craft a realistic approach to a highly stylized world, with larger than life characters that make us wonder what they would be like in our current society if they truly existed.

Batman is older, grizzled, angry at his current disposition (which takes a note from the classic Frank Miller graphic novel The Dark Knight Returns that is required reading for Bat-fans, the original source of the two title characters at serious odds) and isn't afraid to brand or even kill 20 some bad guys to form his own unique brand of justice.

Other incarnations of the character, specifically the recent Christian Bale take on the character, made him more tactical and efficient whilst here there are several moments where we see even Batman himself needs some saving from time to time, whether it be by the grace of Wonder Woman's shield from a deadly blast or the aide of trusted butler Alfred (Irons) who comes to his rescue with some sage-like advice or precise directions in a heated time of need.

It's no mystery that Christopher Nolan's Dark Knight Trilogy is still in the public conscience with the second installment in that trilogy being so particularly successful, it's debatable as to whether audiences were ready to see a new actor play the character or not after only four years since The Dark Knight Rises. I can only imagine the immense stress that Snyder has had to be under in the making of these films and the unrealistic fan speculation and expectations. Some people go way too far when they criticize comic book properties in the form of hate mail and even death threats to some creators.

However, the funny thing about this film as compared to others, is how many people hated so many things about it (specifically the casting of Affleck at first), and then later came back and apologized for the hideous things they were saying when they actually saw the Director's Cut. When the film came out in theaters in late March 2016, everybody and their brother was saying how much they hated it (due mainly to several plot holes in the theatrical version in Lex Luthor's storyline) and the bad word of mouth ended up affecting the box office (though I think it's safe to say that Warner didn't lose much on the film after international sales). Then a mere three months later, we have this longer version (which corrected many issues in the theatrical cut) that, once released digitally in early July, has again changed the opinions of many fanboys, some who even went as far as personally writing letters to Snyder apologizing.

Presented in 1080p high definition (9.99 Mbps) MVC-encoded 3-D - Full Resolution digital High Definition image and standard Blu-ray disc, the film looks and sounds fantastic with a widescreen aspect ratio of 2.39:1 and a stunning, lossless Dolby Atmos 11.1 track that pushes the limits of the format in addition to a great sounding Dolby TrueHD 7.1 (48kHz, 24-bit) track mixdown as well. Accompanying that are obviously several multiple language tracks which are presented in the more standard, lossy Dolby Digital 5.1 mix. The 3D Blu-ray is the nicest looking of the bunch, with stunning image clarity and clever 3-D filmmaking that brings up subtle atmospheric things in the film (the rain for example) and make it pop. The 3D Blu-ray is presented in 1080p high definition with the same audio channels as the Blu-ray disc. A 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray has also been issued that we hope to see down the line.

In this edition, we are given both the Extended and Theatrical versions on Blu-ray and digital UltraViolet Copy that all share the same widescreen aspect ratio and sound mix as the Blu-ray. The UV copy is what it is - a compressed version of the film with nothing to write home about presentation-wise in comparison to these other formats.

There are several great special features on this release including:

Uniting the World's Finest

Gods and Men: A Meeting of Giants

The Warrior, The Myth, The Wonder

Accelerating Design: The New Bat mobile

Superman: Complexity & Truth

Batman: Austerity & Rage

Wonder Woman: Grace & Power

Batcave: Legacy of the Lair

The Might and the Power of a Punch

The Empire of Luthor

Save the Bats

While by no means a short film, the Ultimate Edition runs around three hours, I think it's a huge step forward for DC and I'm very excited to see what's coming up for them next. My best advice if you're seeing this for the first time is to go in with an open mind and shut out all of the negative reviews and form your own opinion. In this reviewer's eyes, the film is a huge hit.

- James Lockhart



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