Director: Zack Snyder
Cast: Ben Affleck, Henry Cavill, Amy Adams
Release Date: On 4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray 3D, Blu-ray & DVD July 19, 2016
A Review By: Kevin Lovell
Film Rating (Ultimate): 9/10
Disc Rating: 9/10
In “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice,” fearing the actions of a god-like Super Hero left unchecked, Gotham City’s own formidable, forceful vigilante takes on Metropolis’s most revered, modern-day savior, while the world wrestles with what sort of hero it really needs. And with Batman and Superman at war with one another, a new threat quickly arises, putting mankind in greater danger than it’s ever known before.
IMPORTANT NOTICE: Warner Bros. Home Entertainment provided me with a free copy of the Blu-ray I reviewed in this Post. The opinions I share are my own.
‘Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice’ serves as the follow up to 2013’s ‘Man of Steel’ and expands on the world we were introduced to within. After witnessing the catastrophic events that concluded ‘Man of Steel’ through the eyes of Bruce Wayne/Batman (Affleck), the film picks up eighteen months later and follows Clark Kent/Superman (Cavill) as he continues to find his place within our world and through the course of his new job as a reporter at the Daily Planet he becomes concerned by the increasingly brutal actions of the vigilante known as the Batman whose violent approach to criminals in Gotham seems to be its own reign of terror in Clark’s eyes. Meanwhile, Batman’s own doubts about Superman continue to build and his fear for what the alien’s potential wrath could do to humanity should he become unhinged results in his belief that the only way to protect his world is to take down the invader and his nearly unlimited power before it’s too late. Unfortunately for the conniving young genius Lex Luthor (Eisenberg) who quite clearly has his own dastardly agenda, this turn of events couldn’t be more perfect.
Directed by Zack Snyder (Man of Steel, Watchmen) from a script by David S. Goyer (Man of Steel, Batman Begins) and Chris Terrio (Argo), Snyder does a fantastic job at the helm of ‘Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice’ and guides the film with an obvious passion for the characters and their DC Comics origins that may be slightly lost on some casual viewers, but certainly won’t go unnoticed by the fellow DC fans. The film also includes a number of talented actors comprising a notable cast that includes many returning individuals from ‘Man of Steel’ in addition to a healthy collection of newcomers to the franchise. Featuring Ben Affleck, Henry Cavill, Amy Adams, Jesse Eisenberg, Laurence Fishburne, Jeremy Irons, Holly Hunter, Gal Gadot and many more, nearly all of whom delivering notable and perfectly fitting performances in each of their respective roles, especially Affleck and Eisenberg who I though delivered outstanding performances as Batman and Lex respectively, entirely unworthy of the harsh criticism I’ve seen of each.
The Theatrical Version of ‘Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice’ was met with an unfortunate barrage of hatred upon its release, but any fan of these characters or their world(s) should not let that deter you for a moment. It provides an intense and gloomy exploration of a dark and troubling time in the lives of these heroes and the tone of the film perfectly represents that, making the wise choice of approaching the content with the utmost sincerity and in a realistic manner as opposed to making fun of a situation and period which isn’t the slightest bit humorous. As a huge fan of the DC Comics universe myself, I was able to appreciate all of the goose bump inducing teases and reflections of the comics thrown into the mix and most fellow fans should have the same experience with many moments. Those without much knowledge of these characters aside from their previous film or television incarnations may be understandably frustrated in a few instances, but should still be quite cable of following the storyline without issue, especially for those who didn’t jump in prior to viewing ‘Man of Steel’ which the film is largely a sequel to.
The newly released ‘Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice Ultimate Edition’ included on the Blu-ray release reintegrates 30 additional minutes of footage back into the film and the result is an entirely different (and superior) beast. Following the pattern of a few previous films Snyder directed (namely Watchmen & Sucker Punch) this Ultimate Edition is without question a vastly superior version of the film and the thirty additional minutes cut back into the story expands nearly every aspect of it and provides reason and motivation to the actions of many characters, in addition to building the intensity a great deal as the R rating allows for the action to reach the intense (and occasionally quite brutal) level Snyder obviously intended for, yet never taking things to a gory or even exceptionally bloody level in the process. The Ultimate Edition also grants Clark Kent/Superman a fair amount more screen time as with the time constraints lifted, he is no longer forced to take a back seat in order to allow us our introduction to franchise newcomer Bruce Wayne/Batman and the two now have far more balanced storylines that also allows for more emotion and reasoning behind their inevitable battle. The moves and conniving plans of Lex Luthor are also more thoroughly seen and explained within the Ultimate Edition and the resulting effect is a drastically more fearsome and brilliant villain than he had initially appeared to be.
Overall, ‘Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice Ultimate Edition’ is without question a vastly superior version of the film and even as a fan of the Theatrical Edition, the added 30 minutes included in this Ultimate Edition and the lack of restrictions with the edition’s R rating allows for a more thoroughly constructed film that now balances quite perfectly. Director Zack Snyder’s Ultimate Edition is phenomenal and only improves upon the few faults the theatrical cut suffered, allowing us to explore the true depth of these heroes and villains as he intended. I would highly recommend any fellow fan of DC Comics or these particular characters give this one a shot, and even those who caught it on the big screen and weren’t overly impressed with the theatrical cut may find themselves pleasantly shocked with the Ultimate Edition. Fellow fans of the Theatrical Cut on the other hand can safely make a blind purchase and prepare themselves for an even more amazing experience.
The Blu-ray 3D release of ‘Batman v Superman: Dawn Of Justice’ features a full 1080p High Definition MVC encoded 3D presentation of the Theatrical Version utilizing the film’s original 2.40:1 Cinemascope Aspect Ratio. The 3D presentation looks pretty great as a whole and delivers a smooth, detailed presentation with plenty of depth and contrast. Holding up beautifully at nearly every point and providing some solid pop out effects with guns and vehicles pointed forward and more, while suffering no notable faults for the most part throughout aside from a few brief instances of crosstalk that are minimal and don’t detract from the overall viewing experience. Overall, this is a gorgeous 3D video presentation that delivers a solid presentation and a fairly impressive 3D experience.
The standard Blu-ray discs (included with both the 3D and Standard Blu-ray Combo Pack releases of the film) feature a full 1080p High Definition AVC encoded presentation of the Theatrical Version on one disc and the Ultimate Edition on the second, both utilizing the film’s original 2.40:1 Cinemascope Aspect Ratio. The video presentation on the Ultimate Edition disc (the only 2D edition I viewed) looks fantastic and delivers a sharp and detailed video presentation with no notable faults to be found within. It holds up impressively even during the numerous fast moving and/or darkly lit sequences and never results in anything occurring on screen to become negatively affected or rendered indiscernible. Overall, this is a wonderful high definition video presentation that should easily please.
The Blu-ray release features a Dolby Atmos (Dolby TrueHD 7.1 channel compatible) soundtrack on each of the included versions; 3D Theatrical, 2D Theatrical & Ultimate Edition. Please note that this review pertains solely to the lossless Dolby TrueHD 7.1 audio presentation. This lossless multichannel soundtrack sounds phenomenal, delivering a crisp, clean, discrete and wildly aggressive audio presentation from start to finish. Constantly utilizing all seven available channels in order to immerse the viewer within the score, in addition to sending a plethora of bullets, debris and plenty of other action and/or destruction related auditory effects whizzing throughout the various channels, while also managing to provide the subwoofer an adequate workout as it shakes the walls during some of the more explosive moments and never fails to deliver a hearty kick each time Superman takes flight. All the while this incredibly active soundtrack never results in any dialogue which may be occurring simultaneously with the action to become distorted, let alone rendered inaudible. Overall, this is an outstanding Dolby Atmos (Dolby TrueHD 7.1 channel compatible) soundtrack that should be a real treat for casual viewers and audiophiles alike.
The Blu-ray release of ‘Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice Ultimate Edition’ includes hours of informative and entertaining bonus content (especially for the fellow DC Comic fans), the entirety of which can be found on the 2D Theatrical Disc in either Blu-ray release. Included on the release are a number of in depth Behind the Scenes Featurettes exploring different aspects of the film as well as its characters and what was required in bringing them to life, including behind the scenes footage, interviews/comments with the cast and crew, glimpses at upcoming projects and more. The included Featurettes are: ‘Uniting the World’s Finest’ (running approximately 15 minutes in length), ‘Gods and Men: A Meeting of Giants’ (running approximately 12 minutes), ‘The Warrior, The Myth, The Wonder’ (approximately 21 minutes), ‘Accelerating Design: The New Batmobile’ (23 minutes), ‘Superman: Complexity & Truth’ (7 minutes), ‘Batman: Austerity & Rage’ (8 minutes), ‘Wonder Woman: Grace & Power’ (7 minutes), ‘Batcave: Legacy of the Lair’ (7 minutes), ‘The Might and Power of a Punch’ (5 minutes), and ‘The Empire of Luthor’ (13 minutes). A look at a ‘Save the Bats’ foundation supported by the film is also included (5 minutes).