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BATMAN V SUPERMAN: DAWN OF JUSTICE
3D Blu-ray Edition

Review by Gordon Justesen

Stars: Ben Affleck, Henry Cavill, Amy Adams, Jesse Eisenberg, Diane Lane, Laurence Fishburne, Jeremy Irons, Holly Hunter, Gal Gadot
Director: Zack Snyder
Audio: Dolby Atmos 7.1
Video: Anamorphic Widescreen 2.40:1
Studio: Warner Bros.
Features: See Review
Length: 182 Minutes (Ultimate Edition), 151 Minutes (Theatrical Version)
Release Date: July 19, 2016

Next time they shine your light in the sky, don’t go to it. The bat is dead. Bury it. Consider this mercy.”

TELL ME...DO YOU BLEED?...YOU WILL!”

Film:

Ultimate Edition ****

Theatrical Version ***

For the longest time imaginable, movie and comic book fans have been preciously awaiting the grandaddy of all titan clashes: one between the Man of Steel and The Dark Knight. Sure enough, following the closing of Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy and the rebirth of Superman via Zack Snyder’s Man of Steel, word surfaced that director Snyder would be bringing that long awaited battle to vivid life. Alas, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice finally arrived this year!

Though what seem to overshadow the epic battle itself was the notion that the movie was one of the most heavily debatable and polarizing releases in comic book movie history. Detractors knocked the film for its excessive dark tone and story areas that seem to have been hastily cut. Acknowledging that there were many glaring story holes, I nonetheless eagerly defended the movie after seeing it in theaters, but am more than happy to announce that Snyder’s Ultimate Edition cut, which adds an additional 30 minutes worth of scenes, has made the movie into something definitely worth praising!

This new cut isn’t simply a run of the mill Extended version we’re so used to seeing on endless Blu-ray releases for the sake of selling more copies. No, this is very much a rich reworking of the movie and one that fully represents Snyder’s initial vision. Basically, it fixes any and all story flaws seen in the theatrical version and thus makes the experience much more potent and ultimately satisfying.

The movie opens with a huge bang, as we see the climatic destruction from Man of Steel, only this time from the perspective of Bruce Wayne (Ben Affleck). Arriving in Metropolis to help evacuate employees from one of his business branches, Wayne is too late as the destructive battle between Superman and Zod results in claiming the lives of those he was trying to save. Let’s just say it perfectly sets into motion his mistrust of the man with the red cape.

Nearly two years later, the world has overall mixed feelings about Superman (Henry Cavill). There are many who see him as a savior, while others believe he is nothing more than a false God. Superman’s reputation seems to decrease even further following an incident in Nairobi where he surfaced to save Lois Lane (Amy Adams), but somehow is blamed for many casualties.

Meanwhile, Batman has been hard at work tracking down various scum in and around Gotham City. He does more than strike fear this time around. He actually brands the skin of his latest targets, which indeed happen to be tied to the Nairobi incident. And upon learning of Superman’s primary weakness, in addition to receiving word about a chunk of kryptonite being imported from India, Batman intends on stealing it and using it to end the war he feels Superman started, unaware that insane inventor Lex Luthor (Jesse Eisenberg) is pulling the strings from a distance.

At the same time Clark Kent, going against the orders of boss Perry White (Laurence Fishburne) is conducting his own pursuit of the vigilante Bat. He writes articles that paint Batman in a bad light, condemning his tactics that wind up getting his targets eventually killed by prison inmates on account of the Bat brand. The Daily Planet, meanwhile, is far more interested in publishing anti-Superman pieces.

Also brought into the mix is antiques dealer Diana Prince (Gal Gadot). She crosses Wayne’s path a couple times during a couple of gala events. But given Ms. Prince’s true identity, we know she isn’t here by accident.

As an action spectacle, Snyder as expected spares no expense. The titular showdown is quite enthralling, with Batman donning a visually effective armored suit and the two throwing down some brutal blows. The big highlight, though, is a fight scene late in the movie in which The Dark Knight takes down an army of Luthor’s henchman in a warehouse that is hands down the absolute best Batman fight sequence ever captured on film (and even more outstanding in the Ultimate Edition, which displays quite a bit of blood on an R rated level).

In addition, the movie serves as a huge piece or world building for the DC movie universe, with both a Wonder Woman and Justice League movie coming very soon. We get hints of what to expect in a most intriguing sequence involving that of Aquaman, The Flash and Cyborg. And let’s just say that I’m already more pumped for the future exploits of the Justice League than I was with The Avengers, which is saying a lot.

When news first surfaced about Affleck being cast as Batman, the hate from people was expected and yet still most overwhelming. I, however, knew that Mr. Affleck was going to make people eat their words...and I was right. He owns this role in a way that no other actor has since Michael Keaton, and I couldn’t be happier that he will be returning in the role, as well as writing and directing his own solo Batman project!

Henry Cavill continues to soar (no pun intended) Superman, while Gal Gadot makes a splendid surprise in the role of Wonder Woman. Though not quite up to the standards of Lynda Carter, Gadot makes her presence known and has a most kickass introduction when first appearing in the outfit! There is also a most welcome supporting turn from Jeremy Irons as Alfred, and the byplay he has with Bruce Wayne/Batman definitely harkens back to that of the animated series, as Alfred gets to assist the Bat from the cave while he is in attack mode.

Between the two versions of the movie, the Ultimate Edition is the one to go with. Although I had previously defended the theatrical version, it pretty much doesn’t exist to me now that this new cut exists because it fleshes out all of the flawed story holes that had existed before. The Ultimate Edition, though, ranks as one of the best pieces of movie entertainment this year, and I can’t wait for future movies in the DC universe to surface!

Video ****

Basically, the only downside to this 3D Blu-ray release package is the notion that only the Theatrical Version is available to view in 3D, which I did view and can certainly say that the 3D quality is absolutely superb (even more so than when I saw it theatrically). The visuals truly pop off the screen in pure dynamic form. As for the 2D quality on the Ultimate Edition, it is truly spectacular and ranks as the best Blu-ray presentation I’ve seen so far this year. With a movie so visually charged as this one, Blu-ray is the only format you want to experience it in. The overall detail is sumptuous, right down to the appearances of superhero costumes. The visual effects are a tremendous knockout, as well. And being that a great deal of the movie takes place at night, the overall detail is made even more extremely impressive.

Audio ****

Sound-wise, this is also the Blu-ray release to beat for the year. The 7.1 Dolby Atmos mix is absolutely mind blowing! The action bits are far and away the best of its kind ever captured in HD sound format, with all the channels getting some rocking work...particularly the subwoofer channel. Hans Zimmer’s score sounds nothing short of phenomenal amidst the proceedings and dialogue delivery is terrifically clear and balanced out tremendously well. This will no doubt go down as one of the absolute best sounding Blu-rays in the history of the format!

Features ***1/2

The three disc 3D Blu-ray release from Warner comes complete with an awesome lenticular slipcover, for starters. All of the extras can be found on the third disc, starting with “Uniting the World's Finest", which focuses one the cast and crew discussing the characters and world building of the movie, and we also get a glimpse from Suicide Squad and the upcoming Wonder Woman film. Next up is “Gods and Men: A Meeting of Giants”, which discuses origins of the conflict between Batman and Superman This piece discusses the origins of the Batman/Superman, followed by “The Warrior, the Myth, the Wonder”, which deals with Wonder Woman and explores the character's now 75-year-old story arc. “Accelerating Design: The New Batmobile”, which treats viewers to the new Batmobile in action.

Next is “Superman: Complexity and Truth" (my personal favorite) where we get a glimpse into the greatest superhero ever created! Then we have “Batman: Austerity and Rage”, where we learn how Ben Affleck created a unique version of the Dark Knight. “Wonder Woman: Grace and Power” provides an additional, shorter look at Gadot's Wonder Woman. “Batcave: Legacy of the Lair” takes a look at the newly designed Batcave. “The Might and the Power of a Punch” takes a look at the epic fight itself. “The Empire of Luthor" explores the new take on the legendary villainous character. And lastly, there’s “Save the Bats”, where the cast and crew work to salvage real life bats featured in the movie.

Summary:

With Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, the two iconic comic book characters finally grace the screen together for the first time with fantastic results, courtesy of the wonderful Ultimate Edition. It sets the groundwork for future DC movies perfectly, and is one of the best entertainment packages of the year. And the Blu-ray from Warner is one for the history books!

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