Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice

Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice ★★★★★

Ultimate Edition.

Fucking shook. Straight away I can safely say the Ultimate Edition of this movie stands alongside the Kingdom of Heaven: Director's Cut, the Alien 3 Assembly Cut and trillion cuts of Blade Runner as a clear and absolute brilliant film that was destroyed by the distributing studio in the edit room. To the point I can't in any good conscience click "I've watched this film before" because this is absolutely not the film the theatrical cut was.

I didn't hate the theatrical cut. Off memory I'd give it **1/2 or maybe ***. It was a constant barrage of half formed ideas that kept hitting you in the face without any giving you any chance to catch up. But even there it was clear there was something truly special buried underneath.

Oh how little did I know. What was buried underneath was a political thriller and investigation piece crossed with the most DC comics thing ever made. It plays like a complex Watchmen-esque adaptation of some 800 page omnibus collection of an arc from Ed Brubaker, Greg Rucka and Frank Miller with a few guest spots from Grant Morrison to fuck with everyone spaced throughout.

I'd praised Man of Steel for how lore heavy it felt, but this is on a whole other level, the Knightmare sequence is flat out of a Grant Morrison comic from 2007, followed and meshed with immediately by a Flash cameo out of a Marv Wolfman/Gorge Perez comic in 1986, while he's in a costume from an elseworlds comic in 1998... and yes I was able to pick them out from of my own knowledge. Of course that's without stating the obvious that this is an adaptation of both The Dark Knight Returns and The *cough* *cough* of Superman.

The movie retains the social commentary of Kal El as an immigrant from Man of Steel and continues it here at the forefront, as the sole Kryptonian he's blamed for the actions of the militants who tried to terraform the planet. So you have the inherent Jewish immigrant story of Superman's origin now combined with the very modern plights of the American Muslim population told through Superman, if that's not a symbol and call for unity, I don't know what is.

This is also the first time we really get a sense of the sociological impact of Superman and Batman's existence. Outside of the X-Men films which are intrinsically linked to social commentary, superhero films generally tend to skip over how society reacts to the concept of the superhero. Even in Nolan's Batman it's mostly done via rich white people in hotel restaurants, which works for those films, but isn't exactly the sample BvS is going for. Here we not only get it via talking heads of the media akin to Frank Miller's Dark Knight Returns, but through cops, the government, the poor and needy and especially the characters appearing from the comics.

If Superman represents the plight of the immigrant, Batman is the PTSD stricken, xenophobic American collective letting fear and mistrust guide his actions. Despite ostensibly being the villain for three quarters of the runtime Ben Affleck delivers the best iteration of Batman on screen. Broken down, world weary and cynical, but still fiercely intense and at times an absolutely frightening presence. A inspired bit of acting comes from the fact he plays Bruce Wayne's public persona as Ben Affleck and is always visibly dropping the façade often even before he's even finished talking to people. I'm not doing the performance remotely any justice here, but it's the Batman from straight out of the comics.

Cavill isn't given much to show off with, his Superman is carrying a heavy burden, so it's a very introspective performance, the film is constantly taking measures to silence him to the world outside of Lois and Martha. There's even a particularly harsh moment where he's finally given a chance to speak in front of the whole world and the movie takes it away from him just as he opens his mouth.

Zack Snyder once again directs the everloving hell out of this. Cementing the franchise's way of shooting the film from the perspectve of it's lead character, this time in a gorgeous Carravaggio style where crushing blacks seep into the edge of the screen reflecting Batman's poisoned view of the world. The film often evokes classical art in it's shots and it's easy to lose yourself in the film. Even the man's detractors can't deny he makes beautiful looking films and this is up there with Watchmen as one of not only Snyder's best looking films, but in the entire superhero genre. The whole movie is directed with a huge sense of bombast which is aided by the Hans Zimmer and Junkie XL score, constantly pounding you in the head and hitting a crescendo with amazing choir work during the infamous Martha moment.

The Martha moment became kind of a symbol for the film's derision upon release, but thankfully it's been lovingly reclaimed by a lot of the fanbase now. But even in theatres the scene really got to me, it's one of the most profoundly human moments in superhero cinema, right there with the meeting of James McAvoy and Patrick Stewart in X-Men Days of Future Past. It's a truly great scene as far as I'm concerned, the actors sell the absolute hell out of it, especially Affleck's Batman going from blind rage to the shaken and confused child at the night of his parents murder.

Honestly there's so much more of this film to unpack that I'll have to get into in future reviews, I feel like I haven't even cracked the tip of the iceberg. As you can see around the internet the film has already been somewhat reappraised thanks to the release of this new cut and I can only imagine it will grow as time goes on.

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