Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice

Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice ★★★★½

Ultimate Edition

Much in the vein of Blackhat—which received a little screened and unreleased director's cut that reportedly filled in the blanks, emphasised linearity and causality, and so removed narrative and visual dislocation for better or worse—Batman v Superman's Ultimate Edition, too, eschews its theatrical cut's kaleidoscopic treatment of its plot for a more detailed approach that carefully establishes the machinations of its villain and his manipulation of the titular heroes. It's certainly no worse than the initial cut, as, of course, it is interesting to see what was removed to make this film such a satisfyingly dizzy surprise—and it is nothing if not clear in its politics and the source of the chaos that spins around Superman and the world at large. It really is very good, even if it is the sort of cut that must exist in our times to placate the "Zack Snyder spoiled my childhood by making a complicated film with ambition" Faraci- or "Everything Wrong With .... in X minutes"-types.

Yet, to return to my initial Blackhat comparison, Batman v Superman's theatrical cut is still—much like some views in regards the aforementioned Mann film—somewhat superior, precisely in the sense of abstraction the cutting provides in its folding of events into a chaos of space and time. With that, I think it's also worth saying that there was nothing I did not take away or was unable to extrapolate from the extended cut that I felt went unsuccessfully implied in the version made available for theatres. The initial version boasts an experience that refuses to pander, and with that offers—both visually and narratively—an edit that exercises and accepts the intellectual capacities of its audience to be equal to the film. In assuming this, the whirlwind of the theatrical edit heightens the affective quality of the madness that the extended cut makes explicit; and as a consequence my sense is that truncation effectively generalises and globalises what this latest edition localises in the figure of Luthor.

The generalisations made in the theatrical cut, specifically in its handling of xenophobia and rejection of the alien, as well as its emphasis on the rejection of another's right to self-definition and the willingness to listen to that definition rather than insist on one's own understanding of another—it is elements such as these that get lost thematically in this new cut, that spends most of its added time elaborating on plot and sub-plots with regard to its pro- and antagonists and in doing so de-emphasising its ideas.

With all of this said, the Ultimate Edition is good, great even, if connective tissue and explication are what you are looking for. It delivers a more taut, conspiratorial version of the film. Yet, for me, if the chips were down, I think I'd still favour the theatrical cut, with its offering of a more strange, more mature, and disorientingly abstract treatment of the material.

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