July 29, 2016
In 2,5h you get a fast-paced, emotional and sometimes fun (!) Superman-movie, which features a darker, brutal, but non-murderous Batman in a supporting role and Wonder Woman in a cameo.
To sum up my experience in cinema, contrasted with that of this recut: While in the cinema I couldn't give less of a f**k about Supermans death at the end of BvS and the ensuing funeral, and was even annoyed by it ("Really? You expect me to feel sad now? F**k you. Not earned, movie. Not earned."). This time I had actually a little tear in my eye at the funeral, and damn if I didn't have goosebumps when Supes was charging at Doomsday to sacrifice himself. The way the movie is recut and thus Superman is presented, this time I actually LIKED him, I saw him do heroic things and save lifes, but also understood the danger he poses to world, the self-doubt he felt after seeing how much destruction was possible by his kind, I felt that he was trying to find his place in the world...all the things that I was intended to feel at the cinema, but which didn't happen because the theatrical cuts were so depressing, sloggishly long, and bloated to set up another movie, and another, and another, and oh-this-has-to-be-in-it-for-the trailer...I could go on and on. What can I say, in the Recut, even "Martha?!" worked for me.
That is not to say that I hated MoS or BvS - both had a lot of stuff that I liked. I am a big DC and especially Batman fan, so the setting itself naturally intrigued me. I liked the attempt at a more serious tone, to think about the repercussions for the rest of the world if suddenly the likes of Superman walk the streets and soar the heavens. I think the casting was pitch-perfect: Henry Cavill and Ben Affleck, Amy Adams and Laurence Fishburn, Kevin Costner and Russel Crowe, Michael Shannon...every one involved gave their characters gravitas and made them feel real...i even liked most of Jesse Eisenbergs take on Lex Luthor. The action was indeed very impressive, moral questions about destruction porn etc. aside. But every time I talked about these movies, I had to follow up with a "But, on the other hand...", because there was also so much that weighed the good stuff down. Sloggish pacing, too much in too less time, missing focus of the narrative, a Batman that kills without moral quabbles about it (and without it really being adressed in the movie, which makes it seem as if the creators think it's no big deal) and a murder by Superman which doesn't get the in-movie discussion it deserves...and on and on it goes.
This cut managed to take all the qualities that were intented or already exhibited in the theatrical cuts of both movies and really made them shine in a new light. This movie is an adult Superman movie, a tale about sacrifice, hope and the personal quest for significance, which can be inspiring and frightening, which casts doubt upon the morals of its heroes, but never makes them seem cynical or indifferent. It's also fast paced, with three spectacular highlights in the Battle For Metropolis, the fight between Batman Vs Superman and the final fight against Luthors abomination Doomsday.
I have seen Man Of Tomorrow three times now, and the Battle For Metropolis took my breath away every time. JonWillins cleverly intertwined Supermans story with little scenes with Bruce Wayne in its first hour, so he is already a familiar face for the viewer when the Battle For Metropolis against Zod and his soldiers starts, during which Bruce Waynes perspecive on the calamity from BvS is woven seemlessly into the fight from MoS. The battle occurs around the 1 hour mark, and from this scene forwards you already pretty much understand Bruce's motivation for finding a way to neutralize Superman.
The recut takes a clue from Grant Morrisons All-Star Superman and condenses Supermans origin story on Krypton from 30 Minutes of prequel to just five short pictures - and, of course, it works just fine. Almost every viewer know the basics of his origin, and viewers somehow unfamiliar with it propably get the gist of it by the few pictures that are needed to tell it. The story later gets a bit more fleshed out during Clarks conversation with Space Dad Russell Crowe, but again sticks to basics, which still allows for a few interesting views in Kryptons design and culture pre-explosion. It's actually pretty showing that the whole of MoS gets condensed in one hour in the recut, and still is able to tell the same story while preserving the emotional arc of hero and villain. JonWillens makes some creative decisions regarding rearranging scenes from movie to movie, for example by taking parts from MoS to show them later during the BvS-part as flashbacks to punctuate corresponding scenes.
Another one of the great strenghts of this movie, beside its superior pacing, is the change in tone. For example, by simply rearranging the montage of Supermans heroic deeds from BvS and putting a different, more up-beat score on it, the scenes change from "Superman doing this, despite not really being in the mood for it" to him being the hero he strives and enjoys to be. The montage happens after the Battle For Metropolis and is a perfect transition between the MoS- and BvS-parts of the Recut - it gives one a feeling for the time that passes between both parts (a year) and establishes Clark as a man with extraordinary powers using them to help the world he was born into - this worlds first superhero. A little change to the fight against Zod also helps to paint him in a more positive light, while still maintaining the feeling of dread and the terrible cost that that battle had on the people of the city and Clarks soul. The Recut further takes away most of the more gleefully violent scenes from MoS and BvS, which avoids painting the heroes of the movies as cynical a**holes. All in all, Batman and Superman come across as men with different codes and methods, who still both try to rid the world of the evils that plague it.
Two characters who profit most from the "less-is-more" approach of this recut are Lex Luthor and Diana Prince a.k.a. Wonder Woman. If you dislike Eisenbergs take on Luthor per se, the recut obviously won't change that. But the recut takes away his most ridicoulus scenes, keeps only the ones central to plot and character, and takes away pretty much the whole subplot about his evil scheme (Peach Tea, Senat blowing up, framing Superman etc.). Turns out it it works just fine when you strip it down to the basics, and in the recut he is actually more intriguing because it is not overtly stated how much if what happens he anticipated or even actively planned, which makes him seem even more smart and threatening, not less. Diana Prince only shows up very briefly before the finale and has no real interaction with the other characters, so viewers can wonder (pun not intended) what is up with the beautiful woman that pops up every now and then...and then freak out when she is called "Mrs. Prince!" for the first time and jumps into battle to save Batman, totally uncalled for, and starts kicking ass. It just shows again how much you can hurt your movie by showing your hand, meaning your twists and surprise reveals, too soon, especially through trailers and backstage rumors.
As I have already said two times in this review, I could go on and on, but I shall finish with this:
I am of the firm believe that , if this was the version originally shown in cinema, without all the misguided media hype and pre-release reveals, people would be slobbering their mouths right now for the Justice League movie (and not just hope that Snyder & Co. don't f**k it up). I loved it, and urge especially those who were disappointed with MoS and BvS to check it out. The discovery of this movie alone would have been worth my venture into the world of fanedits.