Viewed – 29 March 2016 Cinema, 19 August 2016 Blu-ray
Theatrical & Ultimate Edition
(Updated: 20/08/2016) Not for a long time has a concept made me so nervous. Two of my favourite comic book heroes of all time, pitted against each other? Why? I couldn’t understand the need for it other than an excuse to bring Batman back after the Christopher Nolan trilogy wrapped. I was a big fan of the last Superman movie, Man of Steel and I felt it was exactly the movie we deserved in the modern era, with the shuddering memory of Brian Singer’s Superman Returns pushed from my mind. The casting of Superman with Henry Cavill was also a work of genius. Where did they find this guy?
So we come to the expected sequel and this time the stakes are increased after the fall out from the devastation and destruction at the end of the last movie. Unbeknown to us at the time a certain playboy millionaire was in town by the name of Bruce Wayne (Ben Affleck) who witnesses the destruction. Unaware who this new hero is and witnessing what he is capable of, he vows to step in when a media and government backlash sets out to discredit the man of steel’s name. On hand to further blacken Superman’s image and raise awareness of ‘what if this man was to turn against us?’ is local tycoon Lex Luthor (Jesse Eisenberg) who gradually manipulates everyone including Wayne / Batman until both caped heroes are forced into a confrontation.
Sitting down to the extended ‘ultimate edition’ a few of my issues with this movie got fixed, with more light shed on how Superman becomes so disliked and how Luthor manipulates public opinion against him. However not much has changed as far as the script is concerned and on a second viewing some of those pivotal lines are even more cringe-worthy (‘do you bleed?’ for example…). Also despite more evidence to support Batman wanting to actually kill Superman, it still doesn’t ring true for the character as we have come to know him. However in the hands of director Zack Snyder the whole deal looks incredible and the action throughout is superbly executed with stand outs being a great Batmobile chase and of course the eventual smack down does not disappoint and plays out well … until that is they find a reason to stop. Yeah once you see it it’s pretty corny (even more so on a second viewing ‘why did you say that name?’). Also casting throughout is decent with Holly Hunter on hand as a conflicted Senator, yummy Amy Adams again perfect as Lois Lane and newcomer Gal Gadot damn sexy and bad-ass as Wonder Woman. Jesse Eisenberg is also having a ball as Luthor … but proves rather annoying and overly pantomime.
But the movie still has problems. It’s jam-packed with characters which causes it to feel bloated. A wealth of flashbacks and dream sequences throw in some confusion and just feel lazy. Also the writing stumbles in key areas such as the main narrative and how Luthor seems to know everything (including certain people’s alter-egos), which is not explained (even in the longer cut). There’s also a bit too much setting up for Justice League. With that said … production, style, action, encounters, performances (with a surprisingly spot-on Affleck) and a few bold plot developments still impressed.
The original theatrical cut battled against plot issues for everything it did right. The ultimate edition only slightly improves things with some welcome details helping it all work better – but that doesn’t make for a great movie … just an entertainingly flawed one instead.
Verdict: 3.5 /5