Action Adventure

'Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice' Ultimate Edition Blu-ray Review: Clash of the comic book titans

July 19, 2016Ben MK

For over 75 years, Batman and Superman have coexisted in the DC Comics universe, crossing paths — and even trading blows — on multiple occasions. However, even though the last four decades have seen several big screen incarnations of the Caped Crusader and the Man of Steel come and go, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice marks the first cinematic showdown between the two larger-than-life heroes.

And so director Zack Snyder and writers Chris Terrio and David S. Goyer commence "the greatest gladiator match in the history of the world," which has Batman (Ben Affleck) equipping himself with Kryptonite-infused weaponry and donning a mechanized Batsuit to go on the offensive against Superman (Henry Cavill). Meanwhile, Metropolis' number one tech billionaire, Lex Luthor (Jesse Eisenberg), has cooked up an anti-Superman scheme of his own; and with Kryptonian artifacts in his possession, that leaves both Gotham and Metropolis poised for catastrophe.

Despite also serving up appearances from the rest of the Justice League, most notably Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman, the real stars of the film are undoubtedly its bone-crunching action set-pieces. From the titular confrontation, to a gleefully dystopian Mad Max style nightmare sequence, to a battle-to-the-death with a fan-favorite DC villain, there's virtually no stone left unturned when it comes to Batman v Superman's brooding exploration of comic book violence. And that's great news for viewers who see eye-to-eye with Snyder's down-and-dirty visual aesthetic.

Ultimately, though, whether moviegoers see eye-to-eye with Batman v Superman depends on the expectations they bring to it. Expect something in-line with the films of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and you're most likely setting yourself up for disappointment. However, if you took a liking to Man of Steel and consider yourself a fan of the DC comic book universe, then Batman v Superman not only lives up to the hype — it delivers in spades.

Batman v Superman's grim-and-gritty tone is matched by an equally grim-and-gritty-looking Blu-ray presentation. But make no mistake, this 1080p image still manages to shine, delivering finely-tuned picture quality that allows viewers to admire the textural details on Superman's and Batman's suits, as well as the swath of destruction that's cut during the film's climactic battle. And though the movie's visual palette is unmistakably overcast, with no shortage of deep and absorbing blacks, color saturation is still top-notch, with primaries like the red of Superman's cape or the green glow of Kryptonite appearing vibrant and rich. The film also boasts a flat-out stunning Dolby Atmos sound mix, one that perfectly showcases the clash of musical genres found in the score by Junkie XL and Hans Zimmer, and which surrounds viewers in the chaos of the movie's sound design, which consists of everything from explosions and crumbling concrete structures to the thunderous roar of the Batmobile's engines.

In addition to the theatrical cut of the film, Warner's three-disc Ultimate Edition Blu-ray combo pack includes the Ultimate Edition, a half-hour-longer version of the movie that fleshes out the story in bits and pieces, adding tiny scenes and expanding minor plot points. These additions don't add anything substantial to the film's action, though, and the narrative's final hour remains mostly unchanged, save for the reinstatement of a short deleted scene that drops hints for a future installment of the DC Cinematic Universe.

The set also includes an UltraViolet digital copy, a DVD and the following Blu-ray extras:

  • Uniting the World's Finest (15:05) - A look at the film's teaming of Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman, as well as how the movie fits into the rest of the DC Cinematic Universe, from Wonder Woman's big screen future to the upcoming appearances from Aquaman, the Flash, Cyborg and the Suicide Squad.
  • Gods and Men: A Meeting of Giants (12:28) - A look at the history of both Superman and Batman, from the differences in their ideologies and their numerous comic book crossovers to Henry Cavill's and Ben Affleck's portrayal of them and the characters' motivations in Dawn of Justice.
  • The Warrior, The Myth, The Wonder (21:16) - A look at Wonder Woman's history, as told from the perspective of the women's rights movement, from the character's origins during the Suffrage era to her evolution in comics and television over the years.
  • Accelerating Design: The New Batmobile (22:46) - Extreme Sports Commentator Sal Masekela, the creative team behind the new Batmobile, and director Zack Snyder talk about the latest iteration of the iconic vehicle, from its concept and design, to its construction and the final build, to its appearance in the film.
  • Superman: Complexity & Truth (7:08) - A piece about Dawn of Justice's Clark Kent/Superman, from Henry Cavill's portrayal to the costume design and the stunt work.
  • Batman: Austerity & Rage (8:15) - A piece about Dawn of Justice's Bruce Wayne/Batman, from the costume design, the vehicles and the weapons, to Ben Affleck's physical preparation for the role.
  • Wonder Woman: Grace & Power (6:48) - A piece about Dawn of Justice's Diana Prince/Wonder Woman, from Gal Gadot's portrayal and her physical training for the role to the costume design.
  • Batcave: Legacy of The Lair (7:12) - A guided tour of the Batcave, from the Armoury and the Lab to the various design elements and the pieces of technology found within.
  • The Might and the Power of a Punch (5:15) - A featurette highlighting the various skills, weapons and super powers that Batman and Superman bring to their climactic battle.
  • The Empire of Luthor (12:33) - A look at the villainous Lex Luthor, from his comic book origins to Dawn of Justice's reinterpretation of the character and Jesse Eisenberg's portrayal of him.
  • Save the Bats (4:37) - A promo piece for that examines the important ecological role played by bats, as well as how the cast and crew did their part to help save the species.

Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice is available from Warner Bros. Home Entertainment as of July 19th, 2016. The Blu-ray features English Dolby Atmos, French, Spanish and Portuguese Dolby Digital 5.1, and English Dolby Digital 5.1 Descriptive Audio tracks. The film is presented with English SDH, French, Spanish and Portuguese subtitles. The total runtime is 3 Hrs. 2 Mins. (Ultimate Edition) and 2 Hrs. 31 Mins. (Theatrical Version).

* Reviewer's note: Portions of this Blu-ray review were adapted from my original review of the theatrical release, published on March 24th, 2016.

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