Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice Ultimate Edition 3D Blu-ray Review

Excellent technical presentation of fitfully entertaining superhero bash 'em up 3 Stars

In their first step towards expanding their stable of DC superhero properties into a common cinematic universe, Warner Bros. pits their two biggest franchise characters against each other in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.  This 3D Ultimate Edition Blu-ray release includes three different presentations of the film, each on a separate Blu-ray disc.  It includes a 3D Blu-ray of the two hour and 31 minute PG-13 rated theatrical cut of the film, a 2D Blu-ray of the same theatrical cut of the film, and a 2D Blu-ray of the three hour and 2 minute R-rated “Ultimate Edition” extended cut of the film.

Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016)
Released: 25 Mar 2016
Rated: PG-13
Runtime: 151 min
Director: Zack Snyder
Genre: Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi
Cast: Ben Affleck, Henry Cavill, Amy Adams, Jesse Eisenberg
Writer(s): Chris Terrio, David S. Goyer, Bob Kane (Batman created by), Bill Finger (Batman created by), Jerry Siegel (Superman created by), Joe Shuster (Superman created by)
Plot: Fearing that the actions of Superman are left unchecked, Batman takes on the Man of Steel, while the world wrestles with what kind of a hero it really needs.
IMDB rating: 7.0
MetaScore: 44

Disc Information
Studio: Warner Brothers
Distributed By: N/A
Video Resolution: 1080P/MVC
Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1
Audio: Dolby Atmos, English 5.1 DD, French 5.1 DD, Other
Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish, French, Other
Rating: R
Run Time: 3 Hr. 2 Min.
Package Includes: 3D Blu-ray, Blu-ray, UltraViolet
Case Type: Standard sized Blu-ray case with a double sided hinged tray enclosed in a slipcover with lenticular 3D cover art
Disc Type: BD50 (dual layer)
Region: A
Release Date: 07/19/2016
MSRP: $44.95

The Production: 3/5

Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice

Directed by: Zack Snyder

Starring: Ben Affleck, Henry Cavill, Amy Adams, Jesse Eisenberg, Gal Gadot, Diane Lane, Jeremy Irons, Holly Hunter

Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice picks up where 2013’s Man of Steel left off with the world still recovering from the Kryptonian invasion that ended with Superman defeating General Zod  after a battle that destroyed large swaths of Metropolis and other cities around the globe.  Superman (Cavill) is viewed as a hero by many, but eyed with suspicion by others including wealthy entrepreneur Lex Luthor (Eisenberg), influential US Senator Finch (Hunter) , and masked vigilante Batman (Affleck).  Luthor’s manipulative tactics and obsession with all things Kryptonian combined with a jaded middle-aged Batman’s distrust and concerns about Superman’s destructive powers lead Batman and Superman towards the collision course suggested by the film’s title.

In attempting to duplicate the success of Marvel’s cinematic universe in general and the Avengers films in particular, Warner Bros. jumped to a multi-hero team-up story with their second film out of the gate.  This saddles the film with a lot of baggage.  It not only has to establish the Batman and Wonder Woman characters in this cinematic universe, but it also has to contrive a reason for Batman to find himself at odds with the Man of Steel.  As if that were not enough, the film also awkwardly shoehorns in brief gratuitous introductions of three other heroes who will appear in a future Justice League movie.

The biggest challenge that the film addresses with only partial success involves the establishment of Ben Affleck’s Batman character.  This iteration is a middle aged crime fighter who has become jaded, cynical, and somewhat sadistic after 20 years as a vigilante in Gotham City.  There is a lot of ground to cover for audiences to move from almost any previous comic or cinematic iteration of Batman to the character in this film who literally brands criminals and concludes that he must kill any powerful being if there is even a 1% chance that they will be a threat.   My trouble getting my brain around this version of Batman undermined my ability to buy into the reasons that he would come to blows with Superman which, as the film’s title suggests is the centerpiece of the whole enterprise.  This flaw is still present in the Ultimate Edition extended cut of the film, but it is mitigated by scenes which more clearly illustrate how Batman and Superman are both being manipulated into a conflict with each other.

Setting concerns about the Batman characterization and gratuitous universe building plot baggage aside, the film is well cast and visually interesting.  Affleck makes a good world-weary Dark Knight, Cavill hits the right square but not stupid notes as both Clark Kent and Superman, Gadot is a fittingly regal presence as Wonder Woman, and the unconventional choice of Jesse Eisenberg to play Lex Luthor pays off, yielding the only character in the film who appears to be having any fun at any point in time.  Laurence Fishburne does what he can as Perry White, but he is written as such a clueless hack of an editor that I could not wait for any scene including him to end.  He deserves better.

One area where the film does deliver the goods is in its super hero action sequences.  The action and fight sequences in this film are top notch with great cinematography, fight choreography, stunts, and seamless special effects of the practical and digital varieties.

Video: 4.5/5

3D Rating: 4/5

All three versions of the film are presented in a 2.4:1 scope aspect ratio with no variation in the aspect ratio for the scenes that were shot in the IMAX format.  The 3D presentation is MVC encoded.  The 2D Theatrical and Ultimate Edition extended cuts are encoded with the AVC codec.

The look of the film is heavily stylized which makes assessing its video quality a bit tricky.  It was shot in multiple film and digital formats ranging from Super 16 up to IMAX, and contrast and grain appear to be purposefully manipulated for stylistic effect by Snyder and cinematographer Larry Fong.  The scenes intended to exhibit heavy grain resolve the grain accurately, so the encode is solid.  It is lit and shot in such a purposefully unglamorous way, that it does not necessarily make for reference home theater demo material, but it appears very consistent with the presentation I saw in theaters.

I had avoided the 3D presentation of this film in theaters since I was wary of its prospects to impress based on previous disappointing 3D conversions of dark and stylized films.  Based on the 3D presentation on this Blu-ray release, that was a false assumption on my part.  Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice features an above average 3D conversion with clever use of depth in many sequences.  The prologue scene features shots of Ben Affleck moving through smoke which can be a tricky proposition to get right in a 2D-3D conversion process.  It is handled impressively here.  There were a few ghosting artifacts, more prevalent in the film’s final act, that prevented me from giving it a top rating for 3D presentation, but it was overall very solid and worth a look for stereoptic aficionados.

Audio: 4/5

All three versions of the film feature a Dolby Atmos encoding of the English language soundtrack carried by a 7.1 Dolby TrueHD audio track on the disc.  I was only able to listen through a 5.1 downmix of the undecoded Dolby TrueHD track.  The mix is very aggressive in a number of ways, especially during the plentiful action sequences.  The percussive music score, a collaboration between Hans Zimmer and Junkie XL blending traditional and electronic instrumentation, falls short of the best lossless presentations I have heard due to what sounds like some dynamic limiting/compression, but dialog and effects still sound very good.

Special Features: 4/5

The Blu-ray with the 3D Theatrical Cut of the film includes no promos or extras.

The Blu-ray with the extended “Ultimate Edition” of the film starts with a skippable promo for the Direct to Video Batman: The Killing Joke movie when first played, but has no special features accessible from the disc menu.

The disc including the 2D Theatrical Cut of the film includes the following skippable promos when it is first played:

  • Suicide Squad Theatrical Trailer
  • Warner Digital Movies Promo

It also includes the following collection of featurettes with an above average number of substantive interviews and behind the scenes footage mixed with the usual quasi promotional electronic press kit material:

Uniting the World’s Finest (15:04)  is an overview of the DC Universe and how it is being adapted into a cinematic universe.  It includes discussions of existing films and sneak previews of forthcoming ones.  It is essentially a promotional puff piece, but worth a look for folks interested in pre-release footage of Suicide Squad or Wonder Woman.  On-camera comments are provided by Director/Producer Zack Snyder, Gal Gadot (“Wonder Woman”) , DC Entertainment Chief Creative Officer and Executive Producer Geoff Johns, Ben Affleck (“Batman”), Wonder Woman Director/Producer Patty Jenkins, Jason Momoa (“Aquaman”), Producer Deborah Snyder, Ezra Miller (“The Flash”), Producer Charles Roven, Ray Fisher (“Cyborg”), Suicide Squad Director David Ayer, Sucide Squad Producer Richard Suckle, Will Smith (“Deadshot”), Jared Leto (“The Joker”), Margot Robbie (“Harley Quinn”), Executive Producer Wesley Coller, and Henry Cavill (“Superman”).

Gods and Men: A Meeting of Giants (12:25) Looks at the history of Batman and Superman including their past team-ups and rivalries in comics and other media, concluding with how they were finally brought together in a live action film.  On-camera comments are provided by Affleck, Cavill, Johns, Roven, Laurence Fishburne (“Perry White”), Co-Producer Curtis Kanemoto, Deborah Snyder, Zack Snyder, Still Photographer Clay Enos, Coller, and Diane Lane (“Martha Kane”).

The Warrior, The Myth, The Wonder (21:15) is a deep dive featurette on the character of Wonder Woman, her 75 year history in comics and other media, and her current and upcoming depictions in motion pictures. Comments are provided by Jenkins, Deborah Snyder, The Essential Wonder Woman Encyclopedia Co-Author and Wonder Woman comic Artist/Writer Phil Jimenez, The Secret History of Wonder Woman Author Jill Lepore, Roven, Share the Wonder online network Moderator Jennifer B. White, Pet Marston (Son of Wonder Woman Creator William Marston), Zack Snyder, Johns, Wonder Woman Comic Writer Brian Azzarello,  Wonder Woman Comic Artist Cliff Chiang, Artist and Wriet Molly Krabapple, Viola Davis (“Amanda Waller” in Suicide Squad), Lane, Journalist Quinn Norton, Media Literacy Educator Andrea Quijada, Musician and Author Amanda Palmer, 3rd Wave Fund Executive Director Rye Young, Saucy Magazine Founder/Editor Kristen Taylor, Robbie, Kanemoto, Cast Trainer Mark Rwight, Gadot, and Coller.

Accelerating Design: The New Batmobile (22:45) is an in-depth featurette hosted by Sal Masekela that focuses on the latest incarnation of Batman’s famous car.  Masekala interviews the crew responsible for delivering the vehicle in the film from concept to realization on set.  This team includes Production Designer Patrick Tatopoulos, Specialty Vehicle/Batmobile Crew member Dennis McCarthy, Concept Artist Ed Natividad, Set Designer (Vehicles) Joe Hiura, and Batmobile Crew Member Michael Scot Risley.

Superman: Complexity & Truth (7:08) focuses on the realization of Clark Kent/Superman in the movie as played by Henry Cavill.  On-camera comments are provided by Cavill, Zack Snyder, Deborah Snyder,  Costume Designer Michael Wilkinson, Stunt Man Albert Valladares,

Batman: Austerity & Rage (8:15) takes a similar focus on this cinematic rendering of Batman as played by Ben Affleck.  On-camera comments are provided by Zack Snyder, Affleck, Wilkinson, Roven, Deborah Snyder, Jeremey Irons (“Alfred”), Property Master Doug Harlocker, and Stunt Performer Richard Cetrone, Johns.

Wonder Woman: Grace & Power (6:48) continues with the theme of the prior featurettes, this time focusing on the cinematic realization of Woner Woman as played by Gal Gadot.  Comments are provided by Deborah Snyder, Gadot, Zack Snyder, Director of Photography Larry Fong, Twight, 2nd Unit Director/Stunt Coordinator Damon Caro, Fight Choreographer Ryan Watson, Fight Choreographer Guillermo Grispo, Wilkinson, and Harlocker,

Batcave: Legacy of the Lair (7:12) takes a brief look at the design of the batcave from concept to construction.  On camera comments come from Deborah Snyder, Tatopoulos, Art Director Beat Frutiger, Zack Snyder, On Screen Graphics Artist Gladys Tong, Irons, Harlocker,

The Might and the Power of a Punch (5:15) focuses on the details of the battle that gives the film its title.  It breaks things down blow by blow with quantitative explanations of the physics and technology involved.

The Empire of Luther (12:33) Starts with a brief history of the Lex Luthor character from his origins in the Superman comics of the 1930s through today, and then devotes most of its running time to discussions of his conception for Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justive as played by Jesse Eisenberg.  On camera comments come from:Johns, Zack Snyder, Jesse Eisenberg (“Lex Luthor”),  Jimenez, Cavill, Rosen, Holly Hunter (“Senator Finch”), Fishburne, Production Supervisor Bill Doyle, Coller, and Amy Adams (“Lois”).

Save the Bats (4:37) is a brief featurette on bat conservation efforts that were supported by the filmmakers.  On-camera comments come from Snyder, Affleck, and Amy Adams along with various crew members and children who participated in a bat house making event.

Overall: 3/5

Zack Snyder’s Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice delivers the goods when it comes to superhero action spectacle set-pieces, but stumbles in its efforts to lay enough track to create a convincing reason for its two primary protagonists to come to blows.  This flaw is partially addressed in the R-rated Ultimate Edition extended cut of the film via scenes that more clearly illustrate how Batman and Superman are being manipulated into the titular showdown.  Audio/Video presentation is very good with an aggressive sound mix, Atmos support, and a highly stylized but accurately rendered visual palette.  Special features are plentiful with a mix of promotional and informative behind the scenes featurettes.

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19 Comments

  1. Additional note for those interested in digital copies.  The included Ultraviolet code unlocks digital copies of both the theatrical and "Ultimate Edition" extended cut versions of the movie.

  2. Thanks for the review!

    I’ve had my copy of the Extended Cut on preorder for quite some time and am looking forward to viewing it.

    It's good to hear that the 3D version of the Theatrical cut is decent, but I doubt I'll be viewing that iteration of the movie again, so I'm just "making do" with the 2D package.

  3. I wasn't happy with the 3D version.  I found too much ghosting on my Panny plasma – frequent distraction and way worse than any of the 30 or so 3D BDs I've watched on my set.

    Not sure how TV-dependent ghosting is, but it became a significant problem on my set…

  4. Not sure how TV-dependent ghosting is, but it became a significant problem on my set…

    It's generally entirely based on the display device rather than the transfer on the disc – most modern films, especially those post-converted that have neither extreme depth nor extreme pop out, should have zero crosstalk or ghosting as part of the image itself.  However, some televisions and projectors are better at handling it than others.

    I have the disc on preorder – when it arrives, I will post back if I notice any ghosting.  (I generally do not get any with my display.)  If there are any specific timecodes anyone would like me to check, I'd be happy to.

  5. It's generally entirely based on the display device rather than the transfer on the disc – most modern films, especially those post-converted that have neither extreme depth nor extreme pop out, should have zero crosstalk or ghosting as part of the image itself.  However, some televisions and projectors are better at handling it than others.

    I have the disc on preorder – when it arrives, I will post back if I notice any ghosting.  (I generally do not get any with my display.)  If there are any specific timecodes anyone would like me to check, I'd be happy to.

    For me, I saw the ghosting mainly in darker scenes – which is a lot of the movie, though interiors were worst.

    I really don't recall seeing ghosting like this on other BDs.  I occasionally see some light ghosting, but "BvS" was more egregious…

  6. For me, I saw the ghosting mainly in darker scenes – which is a lot of the movie, though interiors were worst.

    I really don't recall seeing ghosting like this on other BDs.  I occasionally see some light ghosting, but "BvS" was more egregious…

    I'll keep an eye for it next week.  When I saw the film theatrically, the choice was between digital IMAX in 3D but with only a 1.90:1 aspect ratio, or 15/70 film IMAX with a 1.44:1 aspect ratio, but in 2D.  I went for the 2D version so that I could see the full ratio of what they shot.  It's a shame that they forced people to have to make that choice in the first place (a few years ago, it would have been standard to get the 1.44:1 version projected in 3D).

  7. Additional note for those interested in digital copies.  The included Ultraviolet code unlocks digital copies of both the theatrical and the "Ultimate Edition" extended cut versions of the movie.

    You got the digital copy to work?  I tried to activate it so I could watch the TC on my laptop and the UE on my TV at the same time, but I got error messages all weekend!

  8. Warner must like you better! 🙁

    What method were you trying to use to redeem the Ultraviolet code?  If you were doing it through the Vudu service, there is a bit of a trick to it.  You have to make sure you indicate that you are redeeming the code for:

    "Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice – Ultimate Edition"

    If you try to redeem it for any of the following titles that come up in the "Redeem Ultraviolet Copy" search bar, you will get an error message:

    • "Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice – The Ultimate Edition (plus bonus features)"
    • "Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (Theatrical)"
    • "Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice – The Ultimate Edition / Man of Steel (Bundle)"

    Why the one is listed as "Ultimate Edition" and the others are listed as "The Ultimate Edition", is a mystery to me.

    Once successful, even though you appear to have just asked to redeem "Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice – Ultimate Edition", you will actually find that you have redeemed a bundle of the Ultimate Edition and Theatrical Cut versions.

  9. What method were you trying to use to redeem the Ultraviolet code?  If you were doing it through the Vudu service, there is a bit of a trick to it.  You have to make sure you indicate that you are redeeming the code for:

    "Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice – Ultimate Edition"

    If you try to redeem it for any of the following titles that come up in the "Redeem Ultraviolet Copy" search bar, you will get an error message:

    • "Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice – The Ultimate Edition (plus bonus features)"
    • "Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (Theatrical)"
    • "Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice – The Ultimate Edition / Man of Steel (Bundle)"

    Why the one is listed as "Ultimate Edition" and the others are listed as "The Ultimate Edition", is a mystery to me.

    Once successful, even though you appear to have just asked to redeem "Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice – Ultimate Edition", you will actually find that you have redeemed a bundle of the Ultimate Edition and Theatrical Cut versions.

    I did what it told me to do on the insert in the package – went to WB's site and entered the code.  Told me to eff myself! 😀

  10. I wasn't happy with the 3D version.  I found too much ghosting on my Panny plasma – frequent distraction and way worse than any of the 30 or so 3D BDs I've watched on my set.

    Not sure how TV-dependent ghosting is, but it became a significant problem on my set…

    Interesting, because I saw this in IMAX 3D and I noticed ghosting issues in the theatrical presentation. I don't know much about the how the 3D transfers are done, but if there were issues theatrically, would that mean the home video release would have the same issues?

  11. The IMAX theater near me uses polarized glasses that are really sensitive to even the slightest head tilt.

    That's not an issue with the shutter style glasses I use at home. YMMV

    I guess 3D is a technology that varies based on which form you use – YMMV indeed!

    All I can say is apples/apples, compared to other 3D titles I've watched on my Panny, the ghosting was arguably the worst I've seen…

  12. The IMAX theater near me uses polarized glasses that are really sensitive to even the slightest head tilt.

    That's not an issue with the shutter style glasses I use at home. YMMV

    That's probably the one downside to the IMAX projection system.  RealD uses circular polarization which allows for more head movement, but with linear polarization (the one IMAX uses), the polarization is horizontal on one lens, and vertical on the other, so if you tilt your head, it goes out of whack.  The linear ones are supposed to offer higher image quality, which may be why IMAX continues to use them.

    I guess 3D is a technology that varies based on which form you use – YMMV indeed!

    All I can say is apples/apples, compared to other 3D titles I've watched on my Panny, the ghosting was arguably the worst I've seen…

    I watched the 3D version on my Epson 5030 projector and did not notice any ghosting.  There was one moment early in the film where I thought i saw the faintest hint of ghosting behind a background object, but on closer examination, it appeared to be a shadow.  Which is not to say that you're seeing things or making it up, but rather, that the ghosting is something display dependent and not inherent in the disc itself.

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  14. Planning on watching the 3D BD tonight. Can anyone tell me if it features shifting aspect ratios for IMAX scenes? Just so I know how to set my system up.

    Apologies if this has already been covered in this thread but I'm trying to remain as spoiler free as possible!

  15. Planning on watching the 3D BD tonight. Can anyone tell me if it features shifting aspect ratios for IMAX scenes? Just so I know how to set my system up.

    Apologies if this has already been covered in this thread but I'm trying to remain as spoiler free as possible!

    Unfortunately (for some of us), no it doesn't.  Widescreen from start to finish.

    By the way, anyone ever notice this shot?  Didn't picl it up when view the UC in 2D but for some reason it registered when I watched it again in 3D. (goes by quickly)…pretty close recreation of the cover of the Frank Miller DARK KNIGHT RETURNS (The lightning is a little different)

  16. During the opening scene of the murder of Bruce's parents, EXCALIBUR is on the theater marquee.  Later, during the fight with Doomsday, Superman borrows an Arthur-type move from that film.  Did anyone else catch any other EXCALIBUR references?

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