When I saw the theatrical cut of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice earlier this year, I was disappointed. Though I don’t agree with the intensity of how critics panned it (it’s a mess, but it’s not Fant4stic bad), I nonetheless think it failed of being a satisfactory vehicle for showing the “DC Trinity” together in the big screen for the first time. It did have aspects that were genuinely exciting and entertaining, but they weren’t sufficient to redeem the movie as a whole.
When it was announced that this movie has an R-rated, extended “director’s cut”, there was an anticipation among fans that this would mightily improve the otherwise underwhelming theatrical version. As for me, I was doubtful. True, its problems with pacing, editing, and poorly developed plot points and character arcs would probably be remedied by a director’s cut. However, BvS had other significant flaws that were rooted at its core, making them impossible to address without completely overhauling or changing the movie itself. Examples are the gritty tone that doesn’t mesh with the silly plot points; the shortage of clever or powerful dialogue; the bad characterizations; the missed opportunities; and, to some extent, the inorganic scenes that don’t really fit to the narrative but are just obviously there in order to set up future movies.
After watching the director’s cut recently (actually, it was already two weeks ago; it’s only now that I got around writing about it) – which is dubbed as the “Ultimate Edition” – my pessimism was justified.
This Ultimate Edition has 30 minutes worth of additional content, and rearranges the chronology of some of the scenes. The result? It provides more details and a bit more polished transitions to the story. Plot points make more sense. Lois Lane is shown to do more, providing more legitimacy to her presence in the movie. Clark Kent’s arc gets an upgrade. Lex Luthor’s schemes are more detailed and clarified. And there are more Easter eggs. As for the fight scenes, there aren’t any noteworthy changes or additions – almost all of them made it to the theatrical cut.
But aside from the characters getting fleshed out more and the showing of more scenes to better explain the story, the Ultimate Edition doesn’t really advance the overall quality of the movie. It just made it longer. And if you didn’t like the bleak, dry tone of the movie in the first place, the longer running time will likely just bring you more boredom. Also, all the stupid, unlikable plot details that you might have picked when you watched the theatrical cut remain intact.
In the end, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice Ultimate Edition is a slight improvement of the theatrical cut, and thus, should be the definitive version of this movie (it means that if ever you want to watch or re-watch this movie, you should go with the Ultimate Edition). Nevertheless, re-watching the movie only enforced my initial appraisal of it. Whatever problems the movie has, they go deeper than what an Ultimate Edition can fix.