March 15, 2017
Let me preface this by saying I'm a HUGE fan of BvS:DoJ the Ultimate Edition. The movie still has its problems, but this version fixes the vast majority of the criticism the professional critics threw at the theatrical cut.
While I was able to enjoy the hack job they put in theaters, once they released the Ultimate Edition, I never looked back.
That said, I HATED all the Bat-murder. So when I heard someone had edited (almost) all of Batffleck's killing out of the film, I was interested. When I heard they had ALSO cut the Death of Superman, Doomsday, ALL Justice League set up, AND Wonder Woman, well I was skeptical at best.
As such, I was very hesitant going into this movie. I honestly did not see how it would work, perticularly the third act. I honestly doubted that the titular fight, and subsequent warehouse rescue would be a substantial enough climax.
Boy was I WRONG. And happily so.
If WB wanted to cut back on Snyder's operatic film, THIS is the film they should have went with.
Is it perfect? No. Does it work? REALLY well. In fact, with a handful of pic-ups to smooth things out, and THIS cut could have been a box office AND critical smash!
THIS is the film people expected when they first announced BvS. Hell, this is the movie people were promised with the first trailer, minus WW.
Now, as I said, it's not perfect. There are a handful of edits I disagreed with, but that's largely subjective.
I really only "noticed" the cuts in a handful of places, namely:
1. The end of the party at Luthor's, when Clark goes to the Day of the Dead fire, and Bruce retrieves his hard drive. Felt a bit choppy without Bruce finding it missing and chasing Diana. I imagine the insert of him attaching the drive, reversed, could have smoothed this out a touch.
2. Bruce opening the "You let your family die" paper out of nowhere. While I agree it didn't make sense that ALL of the notes and returned cheques would have never been brought to his attention, or the police's for that matter, before that instant, but you need more than just a shot of Bruce opening the paper without context. Not sure of it would actually be possible to do something with the footage available, while still cutting the fact that no one brought the rest of the notes to anyone's attention.
3. Batman leaping off the Batwing. What the hell? Why one Earth would you cut that shot? Not only was it bad ass, but him suddenly crashing through the window when we last saw him inside the cockpit was jarring without it.
4. The third act. This is where it suffers most noticeably. Now I DID mentioned that the action scenes were more than enough for a satisfactory climax, that doesn't mean the whole third act fully works. Namely the transition from the titular fight, to the warehouse rescue.
It would have been nice to see Batman's promise 'Martha won't die tonight' fit in there, but without mentioning the scout ship and et al, this is all but impossible. I don't know if you could do some clever editing and mixing dialogue from throughout the film, to add in that Superman's too weak? This may just be one of the unfixable consequences of working from a premade film.
Similarly, while repurposing the tub scene works to help flush out the denouement, it is not quite enough to fully tie together the dramatically truncated finale. Again, considering how much was excised from the film, this is understandable. That the third act holds as well as it does is quite an accomplishment in and of itself.
That brings me to one last overall criticism: the general lack of Superman. While he definitely is in the film, and I understand why a lot of the so called "navel gazing" was cut, he just kind of disappears from the film after the bombing, only to return just in time to save Lois. I don't think the "my world" stuff needed to be cut, nor did his self reflection with Jonathan.
Similarly, after the big gladiator match, he's again left with nothing to do, while Batman saves the day. Again, I know this one's due to the removal of Doomsday, etc, but it's still noticeable when watching the film.
Final thoughts and reflections:
Looking back on this film, through the lenses of this re-edit, gets me thinking of the possibilities.
Two in perticular, having to do with two of the DCEU's biggest blunders: the Martha moment, and the entire Justice League movie.
I realized that the Martha moment could DRAMATICALLY improved with a single insert earlier in the film.
At Luthor's party, Clark overhears Bruce talking to Alfred on his earpiece. In the original film, we're meant to assume this is what tips Clark to Bruce's secret, or at the very least make shim suspicious. Between that and his own exchange with Bruce, it makes perfect sense to show Clark looking into Bruce a bit more after that.
Now, I know some criticized Clark asking "who's that?" when Bruce pulls up at Lex's party, but it's not that strange. Remember, Clark had been living a fairly nomadic lifestyle before the Black Zero event. Before that he lived in Smallville. My point is there's no reason Bruce Wayne would have been on Clark's radar BEFORE the Black Zero event, and Bruce has not exactly been in the limelight since then.
Clark doesn't necessarily know Bruce's backstory, and if he had heard, after the above encounter, it still would make sense for him to look deeper.
Long story short, a single insert after they meet at the party, showing Clark looking into Bruce, and seeing news stories from the Wayne murders. It would be easy enough to repurpose one of the shots of Clark at a computer looking into the Bat, to be this instead.
Suddenly the Martha moment has the tiniest bit more logic, and doesn't fall flat on its face. Now it makes SENSE why he's not just saying 'save my mother' or similar. In his final moments, he's not just calling outro his mother by name for no reason, he's consciously make a last desperate effort to get through, to connect, to Bruce before its too late.
As for Justice League, while that came from thinking about BvS: No Justice in continuity.
That is, I like how it works narratively, focusing the film, and not rushing the universe.
But what to do with all that left over footage???
What I'm wondering is if you could use the Death of Superman, Knightmare, Wonder Woman, JL setup, etc, to create a new version of Justice League.
There are some obvious challenges such as Luthor being out of jail and with hair again, etc, but it does present a fascinating creative challenge.
Perhaps some of it happens as filling in the blanks. That is we're learning that Lex was setting these things in motion during BvS, we just didn't see it at the time? So flash backs showing him getting access to the ship, and Zod, etc. Not sure how you'd then get to Doomsday, etc, in away that works with the continuity of BvS No Justice, but I'm sure it could be done.
After seeing how successfully this fan edit worked, I truly believe it would be possible.
Now, that's not to say that cramming the Death of Superman onto the front end of Justice League is best way to handle DoS, or JL, but working with what we've got, who knows.
Hindsight being 20/20 and all, WB should have made THIS version of BvS, THEN done the Death of Superman story in a Trinity film (seriously, they could have split BvS in 2 and done exactly that with a No Justice style cut, and then making a full 1st and 2nd act to go with the rest) THEN Justice League.
Oh well, I enjoyed BVS UE, I enjoyed BvS NJ, I'm going to dream of a DoS Trinity and or JL film now.