Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice may be the first superhero movie to require subtitles. I'm not talking about the ones that translate the film into other languages. This film needs something to let you know what the hell is going on throughout the movie.
Batman (Ben Affleck) hates Superman (Henry Cavill) and Superman hates Batman. Why exactly? I don't want to spoil anything if you haven't seen the movie (or bore you if you have). However, if you're a fan of the comic book tale, you probably have a much better answer to that question. Either way, you're probably really upset at the on-screen depiction. After all, director Zack Snyder (Man of Steel) soaks up a lot of screen time with pricey action scenes that paint both heroes as angry and frankly, kind of douchey.
In some ways, it feels like a ticket for Batman v Superman should have come with a required reading list. Otherwise, you may leave the movie sort of confused. And really, who wants that in a superhero movie? That could be why Warner Bros. released Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice Ultimate Edition. This version features the 3-hour director's cut, which makes a bit more sense. It's also rated R for some reason. Do either of those things make it a better movie? Barely.
Although some of those additions do make the movie easy to decipher, so much could have been clipped. I could come up with this crazy list of parts that could have been taken out, but that would probably require me to watch the movie again. I don't really want to do that. However, I will say this: Is there anyone who doesn't know how Batman's parents died at this point? Enough with it already.
Besides the length, the film has other issues, including Supes himself. Henry Cavill is like a piece of wood. He's a good looking piece of wood, but he just can't carry a movie that requires him to do more than look good. Well, at least he looks good because the CGI does not. Not all of it, but some of it was kind of laughable and that's just not acceptable when there are so many superhero movies that are worthy of multiple viewings.
Okay, deep breaths. Despite my ramblings, there are plenty of good things here. Batfleck was surprisingly entertaining, Jeremy Irons made a good (although underutilized) Alfred, and Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot) elevated every scene she was in. Unfortunately, she's just not in a lot of them. In fact, it was sort of a waste to introduce her this way, but part of me liked the tease. Speaking of which, she unleashed a peek at several other DC characters that will be coming to a theater near you at some point. And despite what's going on here, this made me very excited for DC's future on-screen.
There's also some fun action, but it takes almost half the movie to get to any of it. By then, it's hard to care -- or stay awake.
Need more about the actual movie? Really? Check out Matthew Passantino's theatrical review of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.
Like the film itself, the 2.40:1 image for Batman v Superman isn't perfect. First of all, the 3D is only available on the Theatrical version. That means if you want to enjoy those in-your-face effects, you may be a little confused throughout -- and that 3D isn't exactly helping matters, either. Batman v Superman is so dark, which is typically a nightmare for 3D fans. This is true for portions of this 3D presentation as well. Although the 3D displayed some very nice depth and a bit of floating debris, the effects made the image soft and even a little dull in spots.
It's enjoyable in 2D, but also very dark, grainy, and gritty. Of course, that's the way it's supposed to be. After all, this is one dark movie. It has a really dark palette. That definitely takes away from the typical superhero pop, but Zack Snyder has his style -- and it works in some spots. There are also a few brighter moments to ogle here and there. For instance, that moment towards the beginning of the film, when we see the islanders scavenging for Kryptonite is quite glorious. Otherwise, expect a lot of darkness. That said, even with that grainy, dark image, Batman v Superman is a big, ole piece of eye candy. There's a lot of detail here, mainly on Superman and Batman's super-outfits, Superman's chiseled good looks, and Bruce Wayne's facial hair.
Not sure I can fully recommend this movie, but I need to give credit where it's due. Batman v Superman is filled with action, which doesn't always make sense, but it does make for a kick-ass Dolby Atmos track. The mix features sky-high explosions, gunfire from every angle, crumbling buildings raining down from above, aircraft swooping overhead, and plenty of crazy car chases. It's an incredibly immersive, active mix that uses the surrounds and height channels quite often and quite wisely. There are a lot of loud moments, moments where Hans Zimmer's soundtrack is the star, and others where the dialogue stands out. It's a pretty great track, even if the movie doesn't always match up.
It should be noted that this set's 3D and 2D Ultimate Edition discs don't have any special features. Everything included is on the disc with the 2D Theatrical version of Batman v Superman. Super fans will love all of the little tidbits featured here, including separate shorts on cast and crew, the Batmobile, Lex Luthor, each character's superpowers, and more. The most surprising thing (besides the lack of a director's commentary) is that there are so many Wonder Woman-centric special features. I'm certainly not complaining, but it's interesting, considering her short stint in the movie. If you're left wanting more, the character gets a full 21 minutes, with another 7 on Gal Gadot. We even get a peek at her upcoming stand-alone movie in "Uniting the World's Finest."
Batman v Superman isn't the eye-gouging people are making it out to be, but it's certainly a disappointment. It takes two monumental characters, puts them in an epic battle, throws in the Amazon princess -- and still manages to be really boring. Much of that has to do with director Zack Snyder opting for style over substance. It doesn't help that the film is showing off that style for a whopping 151 minutes (182 minutes, if you want it to make some sense). The actual Blu-ray is good from an AV standpoint, with the Dolby Atmos track being a particular standout. Just don't bother with the 3D. It actually manages to make the film even more of a mess. Now that's a superpower!
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