Disclaimer: As We Live Entertainment has already provided a thoughtful, in-depth analysis and review of the Ultimate Edition from Scott Menzel (which you can find HERE), I have decided to focus my review of this upcoming 4K UHD edition solely on my geektacular response to the Ultimate Edition version of the film itself and the 4K disc statistics and skip the rather lengthy plot synopsis (c’mon folks, it’s a superhero battle royale). With that being said, be aware that my thoughts do contain SPOILERS for those who haven’t had a chance to see the film (for both the theatrical and ultimate edition versions).
The Ultimate Edition of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice isn’t just a great superhero movie; it’s one of my favorite films of 2016 thus far. Believe it or not, that’s saying a lot from someone who couldn’t help but feel disappointed with the version released to theaters this past March. As a 2nd generation lifelong DC Comics fan, the theatrical cut just didn’t feel complete. It was epic in scope and featured impressive battle sequences, but felt severely lacking in character development with the additional burden of an abundance of plot holes. And for the record, I’m not just saying this now that we have a second option; I said it before I even knew there was more movie to be seen. The theatrical cut of the film was, if I might opine, a gorgeous mess of a movie. The characters were right, and much of the visual style was incredible and epic (in typical Snyder fashion), but it all just felt far too rushed. The aforementioned lack of character development made the rivalry between the Man of Steel and the Bat of Gotham not quite believable in the theatrical edition. The action scenes, though certainly well-constructed, seemed hastily edited with a quick-cut style that was overwhelming to follow for much of the fight scenes. With that being said, I still appreciated Zack Snyder’s vision and certainly didn’t feel as if the theatrical cut was a “bad film” by any means (as some DC fanboys will have you believe). Disappointing? Yes. A bad film? No…I will refer you to 80% of the other movies released thus far in 2016 for better examples of that definition.
With the Ultimate Edition of Batman v Superman, we are finally able to witness over 30 minutes of scenes that truly help the film feel like a “complete” experience. It’s not just the small stuff like extended scenes involving Clark Kent investigating “The Bat” in Gotham that enhance the story and set up the characters for a more believable reason to drive their furious smackdown at the climax of the film, though they are certainly integral. It’s also the additional scenes of Bruce’s nightmarish vision of The Flash urgent message about Superman and Lois (albeit at the wrong moment in time), the Batman’s visit to a bald Lex Luthor warning him about joining his “friends” at Arkham Asylum, and the now utterly badass, bone-breaking, batman warehouse beatdown which is beautifully choreographed from start to finish. All of these additional moments, though seemingly slight, make the film a much more immersive and captivating superhero film.
Sure, the film still has a few weak spots (for this reviewer at least), particularly in the overblown climactic battle against Doomsday, which still seems a bit too over-the-top and goofy in places when compared to the dark, often brutal events that preceded it. The strategic and thoughtful pacing is suddenly rocked by a climax that tries a bit too hard to be impressive. And yes, I realize that at some point in the film we needed to see our three heroes team up, but in all honesty, I would have rather seen their partnership saved for a more appropriate installment where much of the film is focused on the teamwork (ala the eventual Justice League film) and not tacked on for “extra” value. This was the ultimately unnecessary “super size” sequence when we just wanted a tasty cinematic treat. It’s a small complaint, in what I would otherwise deem a truly epic and satisfying comic book film that finally brings our favorite superheroes together onscreen for the first time. Ben Affleck, though he had large shoes to fill, delivers possibly the finest cinematic performance of Bruce Wayne/The Dark Knight to date. His vengeful, brooding characterization is one of the best aspects of the film. In addition, Jesse Eisenberg brings a very unique portrayal of Lex Luthor with his obsessive compulsive behaviors, spontaneous mumbling speeches, and bizarre fascination with Jolly Ranchers. It’s an odd performance, one that didn’t quite click with me the first time around, but one that has grown on me in subsequent viewings. The Ultimate Edition of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice gives viewers the complete Director’s vision and receives my highest recommendation!
Being hailed as the first 100GB disc to hit the home video market, this 4K UHD edition of Batman v Superman is simply stunning to behold. The 2160P presentation is crystal clear; presenting both Metropolis and Gotham City in lifelike clarity and depth that appears almost tangible for the viewer. But, like most 4K UHD discs that have arrived so far, the real difference is in the High Dynamic Range (HDR). Even a film with such a dark, gothic, color palette, is brought to incredible life via HDR, an advantage the 4K disc clearly has over the standard Blu-Ray edition. Skin tones and textures appear as if you’re seeing them in real life, with pristine fine object detail to behold and a muted, almost gray, production design that is pleasing to the eye. There isn’t a single instance of dirt, debris, or artifacts throughout, making for a true gem of a transfer. The crystal clear detail is especially evident and impressive in Batman’s costume, cowl, and armor. The fine texturing of Superman’s suit and Wonder Woman’s shield are also worth mentioning, with costume facets and plating that is so intricate that individual threads and design choices can be enjoyed with improved clarity at home. This is as good as it gets folks!
The 7.1 Dolby TrueHD audio track for Batman v Superman is equally as impressive as the video transfer. Viewers will feel completely immersed in this comic book world, from the dusty sandstorm brutality of Batman’s foreshadowing Knightmare vision in the desert to the final epic battle against Doomsday, you’ll feel enveloped by the sound design throughout the entire home video experience. The warehouse fight in particular, with Batman taking on a slew of Luthor’s thugs, offers up plenty of bone-breaking, knuckle-crunching excitement for audiophiles. The track regularly balances dialogue, the amazing score, and background effects with ease, making for a terrific audio experience at home.
Warner Bros. Home Entertainment has provided fans of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice with a vast array of entertaining bonus features to accompany this 4K UHD release (though they are all included on the Blu-Ray discs that accompany this set. From a fascinating look at the design and physical production of the Batmobile to various featurettes on the DC characters being brought to life on the big screen, there is something for everyone here. Here’s a breakdown of what’s included:
- Accelerating Design: The New Batmobile (HD short documentary)
- The Warrior, the Myth, the Wonder (HD featurette & interviews)
- Uniting the World’s Finest (HD featurette)
- The Empire of Luthor (HD featurette on Jesse Eisenberg’s portrayal)
- Gods and Men: A Meeting of Giants (HD featurette with cast & crew details on the film)
- Superman: Complexity & Truth (HD featurette with Henry Cavill on Superman’s design & his performance)
- Batman: Austerity & Rage (HD featurette with Ben Affleck on Batman’s design & his performance)
- Wonder Woman: Grace & Power (HD featurette with Gal Gadot on Wonder Woman’s design & her performance)
- Batcave: Legacy of the Lair (HD featurette on the newly designed batcave)
- The Might and the Power of the a Punch (HD featurette on the fight sequences)
- Save the Bats (HD featurette on Bat’s and how we can help to save them)
This 4K UHD Blu-Ray combo pack edition from Warner Bros. Home Entertainment features the theatrical poster for the film (one of many) with Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman front and center showcasing their united front. This edition comes with a nice, glossy slipcover indicating the 4K UHD, Blu-Ray, and digital copy discs included within. On the back of the packaging you’ll find a plot synopsis, a list of bonus features, and technical specifications for the film. Inside of the case are a 4K Ultra High Definition disc, and an insert featuring the Ultraviolet HD digital copy code of the film. It’s important to note that there are several retailer exclusives for this release available, including a Best Buy steelbook, a Target lenticular digibook, a 3D version, and much more.
The Ultimate Edition of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice isn’t just a great superhero movie; it’s one of my favorite films of 2016 thus far. With this Director’s Cut version of the film, we are finally able to witness over 30 minutes of scenes that truly help the film feel like a “complete” experience. All of these additional moments, though seemingly slight, make for a much more immersive and captivating superhero film than we saw in theaters earlier this year. The 2160P presentation on the 4K UHD disc is crystal clear; with a lifelike clarity and depth that appears almost tangible for the viewer. But the real difference with the 4K disc is in the High Dynamic Range (HDR), which offers up a more vivid and haunting experience on home video. The 7.1 Dolby TrueHD audio provides an incredibly immersive soundscape that brings all the batmobile revving, knuckle-crunching action to life on a 4K television. This Ultimate Edition of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice gives viewers the complete Director’s vision, resulting in one of my favorite cinematic experiences of the year so far, and receives my highest recommendation!
4K UHD Blu-Ray Review- Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (Ultimate Edition)
Distributor: Warner Bros. Home Entertainment
Street Date: July 19th 2016
Technical Specifications: 2160P Video, Color, 2.40:1 Aspect Ratio, 7.1 Dolby TrueHD Audio
Runtime: 151 Minutes (Theatrical Cut), 182 Minutes (Ultimate Edition)