In the beginning....
I will start by saying this review contains huge spoilers for Batman VS Superman Ultimate Cut. Please don’t read if you want to be surprised.
On July 20th 2013, The director of 300, The watchmen and Man Of Steel, Zack Snyder took to San Diego Comic-Con International and announced plans for a sequel to his 2013 film Man Of Steel. This was met with cheers, but Zack Snyder decided to reveal with the actor Henry Lennix. That superman would be joined by a little known character from the D.C Comics called Batman. The internet went into meltdown. And like fans of the film and comics I wanted more information and so the waiting began. Fast Forward September 26th 2016 and I find myself watching a film that has been in the making since 2013 and the stuff of dreams since I first read Frank Millers cult graphic novel, The Dark Knight Returns
Following on from Christopher Nolan's critically successfully Dark Knight trilogy. The first big Question was who would follow in the steps of Christian Bale's Batman. Would the man himself return? Or would the ending of the Dark Knight Rises, see Joseph Gordon-Levitt take on the Cape and cowl? Turns out Director Zack Snyder gave the keys to the batmobile to Oscar winner and Star of Argo, Gone Girl and Daredevil, Ben Affleck.
About 80% cried out in horror when Ben Affleck was announced and yet there was a corner of the internet that said "remember Heath Ledger? ". referring to the late actor announcement as the Joker and the fans outcry. Which turned out to be misplaced as he gave us arguably the best movie screen villain In the past 20 years. I was in the later camp not just because of Heath proving not to judge until you have seen it. But because I have seen Argo, Gone Girl and Good Will Hunting and knew Ben Affleck could indeed act.
And boy does he bring a new lease of life to the Batman character. His version of the Batman is battle hardened, cynical and clearly shaped by the passing of his mother and father and the events of his life as Gotham's crime fighter. Ben Affleck for me was the star of this film because of all the characters he had the biggest impact on me and his fight scene in the warehouse saving Martha Kent was stunning and it felt like I was watching a live action version of batman from the popular videos games called Arkham Asylum. Was Ben Affleck the perfect batman? Well no sadly, but that isn't his fault. it's just the poor plot development which I will explain later. He did a good job against the Man of Steel. Speaking of which.
Henry Cavill returned as Superman. Straight off the bat (pun intended), I will say he did a good performance but it was just acceptable. I firmly believe he wasn’t given the a chance to shine as much as batman was, despite this being his sequel. This is because Superman isn't doing what he does best, which is saving people, he is worried about people turning on him. He is being asked to defend himself to the world in a court and walks around with more of a scowl than batman. The actor somehow loses his charm and humor a little in this film and it’s the same for Amy Adams's Louis Lane. She is very serious. To be fair the whole cast was very serious bar two exceptions which I will get to. Cavil moment to shine was probably as Clark Kent meeting Bruce Wayne and Lex Luthor and during the battle with Batman in 2nd act of the film and his role in the 3rd act of the film alongside batman and wonder woman.
Wonder Woman is one badass and she brought to life by the wonderful Gal Gadot. Who is one of the newcomers to this movie and a positive role model for women all over. I hope we get our first real strong female character since maybe Ellen Ripley in an action movie. For the most part Wonder Woman is a background character who is in this film to serve as plot development for the story in general and while laying the seeds for a future movie for both herself and the Justice League. She was interesting as Diana Prince/Wonder Woman. She had an air of mystery to her and even tho I knew she was be a force for good. I was left wondering more about her, I simply loved the rock music used as we she her clashes with doomsday created by Lex Luthor.
Ah Lex Luther, if Ben Affleck was highlight of this movie for me. Jesse Eisenberg's Lex Luthor is this movie's WTF. When I heard Jesse Eisenberg was cast to be Lex. I raised my eye at this and waited, and having seen it. I didn’t get it. And I don’t think he did either. Lex came across as the Riddler meets the Joker or the even Mad Hatter. I feel Jesse Eisenberg was playing the wrong role. It's hard to say anything nice here. But I found one thing, he was one two characters who wasn’t serious all the time. As for the other less than serious character, enter Alfred.
Jeremy Irons of Die Hard With a Vengeance fame. Is excellent and nails his scenes with ease. As the trusty Butler to Batman and Bruce Wayne. His Alfred is different from what we have seen before. His Butler is less formal and more snarky and clearly more hands on in Batman's outings controlling the glider and providing support to batman on his missions.
The supporting cast all do a decent job with what they are given by director Zack Snyder. Even if one or two of the supporting characters didn’t really need to be there for example the return Kevin Costner as Clark Kent's father in a dream sequence. But the director saw fit to add him into it. One of the many choices I wasn’t sure about.
When I heard Zack Snyder was going to do Man of Steel I was like "ok, be interested to see what happens with this". And for the most part he does a good job. But here is the thing, Zack is a visual director. He has a good eye for style. Along the way we have some great shots which invokes memories of the real life events of 9/11. I would say this is the scene in which visual director Zack Snyder shined his own bat signal into the sky because it was a fantastic start to a film and all before the titles rolled. he makes the main event between batman vs superman look good and that warehouse scene is truly epic, as batman goes to rescue Martha Kent.
Batman vs Superman has some major weakness here on show.. The film is edited poorly in places and it shows. I felt like parts of the plot was underdeveloped or just down right stupid. The best examples are Lex somehow has appeared to of named the Justice League members and given them their own logos. Or when Batman and Superman put their differences aside. It was because they both had mums call Martha. Might as well had superman say "do you like pizza? Cause I like pizza. Let's be super friends". The Other problem I had were the religious tones in this film? Do we need that in 200 million pound blockbuster film about superheroes. Probably not in my view even if It was to make the final act more powerful. And my final problem is that Zack Snyder took some big Superman and Batman stories and mashed them together and it didn’t fully pay off. As for the Death of Superman comic which they tried to do. That should have been a secret. Doomsday should have been nowhere near the trailer. Because the end pay off would have been much better. Did I cry when Superman died? Well yes but probably not for the right reasons. When Amazing Grace played I found myself morning Spock again. They left things open for a sequel and while I am keen on seeing the next chapter, It's Ben Affleck Batman that has me more excited.
My final thoughts are that you should watch the ultimate cut because that movie is 6.5/10 but if you watch standard cut. You are looking at a very different film with bad problems maybe a 4/10. Does the extra 30 mins make a difference. Yes, oh my god yes. Because it's only 30 minutes of actual missing plot and story development and more Superman in his own sequel. DC and Zack have to lighten up a little and try not to over do it's tones. Speak to your core audience and learn what worked and what didn’t. Don't let studios cut films. People would have sat the extra 30 mins for a good film. People won't sit for a pile of rubbish. I had fun with it but only 2nd time round after watching the ultimate cut.
Ultimate Cut. 6.5/ 10 batarangs.
Theatrical version 4/10 batarangs.