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It's been nearly two years since Superman's (Henry Cavill) colossal battle with Zod (Michael Shannon) devastated the city of Metropolis. The loss of life and collateral damage left many feeling angry and helpless, including crime-fighting billionaire, Bruce Wayne (Ben Affleck). Convinced that Superman is now a threat to humanity, Batman embarks on a personal vendetta to end his reign on Earth, while the conniving Lex Luthor (Jesse Eisenberg) launches his own crusade against the Man of Steel. (From WB’s official synopsis)

 Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice
Readers will have to excuse the brevity of this part of my review, but I honestly couldn’t see a reason to spend too much time being critical of this particular film. First of all, the review copy arrived late enough that there wasn’t really enough time until its release to give Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice my fullest ruminations. Secondly, following Zach Snyder’s Man of Steel (2013) (and, to a lesser extent, Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight Rises, 2012), I’m just not interested in the direction that DC’s new movie universe is heading. Snyder’s brand of iconic, large-scale superheroing has plenty of ardent fans and, this many months after release, I won’t really have anything to add to this discussion. Also, given the fact that this extended version was already released for digital download, even discussion of the differences between cuts is a stale point. What I can offer is my brief thoughts as an ‘outsider’ for this particular series and a more in-depth look at this Blu-ray’s technical and supplemental material.

So, briefly, I didn’t like this movie. It is muddled, gloomy, overstuffed, dumb without acknowledging its dumbness, and too boring to be a satisfying culmination of years of childhood fantasies (Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman meeting on the silver screen is enough to stir butterflies within the stomachs of even the most cynical comic fan). However, even in my apathy, I have to admit that Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice was more entertaining than I thought it would be, especially when it is embracing the things that make it unique among other big budget superhero crossovers. Like Snyder’s take on Watchmen (a property that served his skillset better, despite him spectacularly missing the point of Alan Moore and David Gibbon’s original work), Batman v Superman is likable – or at least respectable – in the parts that wholly embrace something different. Batman’s completely nonsensical nightmare/fantasy/future vision sequence (cool idea, horrible storytelling), Superman’s odd lack of empathy, Jesse Eisenberg's obnoxiously unhinged portrayal of Lex Luthor (perhaps the first Lex Luthor to have a real evil plan in five decades-worth of movies), and the dreamy qualities of the Superman rescue montage aren’t things I particularly enjoyed, per se, but they make the squirm-inducing 182-minute runtime tolerable. There’s still an awful lot of incomprehensible action sequences and eye-rolling “moralistic” speeches to cull to get to the borderline entertaining moments. Frankly, I’d rather just cut through the setup and get right to a feature-length version of Batman’s Apokolips dream next time.

 Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice

Video


Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice was shot using an array of digital HD rigs (Arri Alexa XT and GoPro HD, for example) alongside 35mm and IMAX film cameras. Despite the extensive digital effects work, colour grading, and post-conversion 3D (though I am reviewing only the 2D BD release), Snyder and cinematographer Larry Fong appear to have been aiming for a generally ‘filmic’ appearance. Fine grain structure is apparent throughout much of the movie, even within many of the shots that seem to be created entirely in a computer. The analogue (or faux-analogue) look is punched up with lots of diffused lighting, soft background focus, and lens flares. All of these elements, as well as the constant presence of digitally-rendered smoke/dust and general darkness, should make it difficult to discern the small details, yet, this 2.40:1, 1080p transfer is constantly sharp (there are minor edge haloes throughout the darkest shots) and brimming with complex texture. The butt-numbing 182-minute runtime and lossless soundtrack may have caused some minor compression artefacts (blocking and banding in dark backgrounds, but I didn’t notice anything outstanding or distracting. The hideous grey, brown, and teal colour schemes are consistent and the occasional red or lavender highlights pop well. Unlike Nolan’s latter two Dark Knight movies, which also used IMAX cameras for certain sequences, this Blu-ray maintains the same 2.40:1 aspect ratio for its entire duration.

 Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice

Audio


Crumbling buildings! Pavement-shredding car chases! Alien laser eyes! Earth-shattering explosions! Batman v Superman is presented in big, bombastic Dolby Atmos sound, though this review refers to the Dolby TrueHD 7.1 core audio. There are no signs of compression or distortion and the directional movement is spectacular. I suppose there isn’t a lot of subtlety, but the elemental separation is tight even during boisterous, music-heavy action scenes. Junkie XL and Hans Zimmer collaborated on this particular score, which is appropriately dramatic and exciting in equal measure. It doesn’t have the discordant appeal of Zimmer’s Dark Knight score or the grandeur of his Man of Steel score, rather, it sits firmly between the two extremes. The mixed-media approach makes sense, given the dueling properties of the two headline characters. The full orchestrations are the most expressive moments, particularly Lex Luthor’s piano-heavy waltz and Wonder Woman’s pseudo-Grecian guitar rock.

 Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice

Extras


  • Uniting the World’s Finest (15:10, HD) – A somewhat fluffy look at the comics behind the movie, how they were adapted to the big screen, and what DC is lining up for Suicide Squad and Justice League, including interviews with the cast & crew.
  • Gods and Men: A Meeting of Giants (12:30, HD) – A light exploration of Batman and Superman’s history of rivalry and friendship, as well as the differences between these characters and their other movie counterparts.
  • The Warrior, The Myth, The Wonder (21:20, HD) – This featurette feels a bit like an extended ad for the upcoming Wonder Woman movie, but it’s okay, because it’s actually a pretty good primer on the character and it eloquently explains her importance to pop culture and feminist identity.
  • Accelerating Design: The New Batmobile (22:50, HD) – This made-for-TV-esque featurette breaks down the design and capabilities of Batman’s new car. Seeing what it can do makes me sad that it isn’t featured better in the movie.
  • Superman: Complexity & Truth (7:10, HD) – A look at the character, costume, and stunts of Superman.
  • Batman: Austerity & Rage (8:20, HD) – A companion piece concerning the new Batman’s wardrobe and personality.
  • Wonder Woman: Grace & Power (6:50, HD) – Again, another companion piece focused on Wonder Woman.
  • Batcave: Legacy of the Lair (7:10, HD) – On designing Batman’s underground lair.
  • The Might and the Power of a Punch (5:20, HD) – Another weirdly made-for-TV-esque look at the pseudo-science of Batman and Superman’s fight.
  • The Empire of Luthor (12:30, HD) – The villain gets his due in this featurette about Lex’s history and the changes made to the character for this movie.
  • Save the Bats (4:40, HD) – A public service announcement raising awareness for protecting real-world bats.


 Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice

Overall


Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice isn’t for me and I don’t like it. But it is great if you do, because it at least has a personality. I seriously doubt this particular franchise machine can be reined in, even following bad reviews and disappointing box office (only in the current box office climate could nearly a billion dollars be a ‘box office disappointment’), but, if Warner and DC staff can find a way to squeeze Snyder’s more amusing impulses into a more reasonably paced and thoughtful package, Justice League could still seemingly work out. At least in an ‘Elseworlds’ capacity, since these aren’t versions of Superman and Batman that I particularly feel like rooting for (I’m all set for more Wonder Woman, though). This Blu-ray collection looks great, despite the dark and smokey photography, it sounds outstanding, and includes a decent, sort of EPK-ish set of extra features.

 Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice

 Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice
* Note: The above images are taken from the Blu-ray and resized for the page. Full-resolution captures are available by clicking individual images, but due to .jpg compression they are not necessarily representative of the quality of the transfer.


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