May/2017

4K UHD Review: ‘Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice’!

by Gumbercules9000 on Jul 22nd, 2016

Hi everyone, Bryan here…

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THE FILM

For all the comic book fans around the globe, we live in a great time of moviemaking. Over the past decade, we’ve seen Hollywood take the superhero genre by storm, releasing comic book movie after comic book movie with A-list stars, talented directors, and epic budgets to bring our childhood heroes to life on the big screen. This successful genre has even garnered many awards, as well as numerous television shows on almost every network. It shows no signs of slowing up. Marvel has paved the way for superhero franchises, building on each superhero character that culminated into the ‘Avengers‘ movies, showcasing each superhero across the other superhero movies, providing a big bridge to gather all stories together. It’s been an  excellent financial and critical success.

On the other hand, DC Comics has laid in the bottom of the barrel in regards to this franchise setup with their own comic book characters. Sure, we’ve gotten some pretty excellent stand-alone Batman films as well as some other less appreciated superhero movies in the past, but never a big set up for the ‘Avengers‘ equivalent in the DC universe, which is ‘The Justice League‘. Yes, it has tried to get off the ground numerous times, but only until the past couple of years, has the steam engine on this project been put into high gear. I say it’s a great time in our movie-watching lives, because we finally get to see Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman come together to fight the evil villains in a big, epic $250 million budget movie, that sets up the big ‘Justice League‘ franchise with all of the separate character movies.

udging by ‘Batman v Superman: Dawn of justice‘, I don’t see many people, my self included, having a real good time with any of these movies like you do in the Marvel Universe. DC has decided to keep with its ultra dark and brooding tone, almost void of any real fun with the characters. Ultimately, ‘Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice‘ has some good moments here and there, but fails to really stick any sort of landing. The pacing is all wrong in this overly-long 152-minute film. It drags on for quite a while with dream sequences from Batman (Ben Affleck), as well as the 214th iteration of his origin story, along with a ton of set-up between how Batman, Superman (Henry Cavill), and Lex Luthor (Jesse Eisenberg) come to meet one another.

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There is really only one big action scene in the film, sans the last twenty minutes that pits the heroes against each other, which transitions into an instant friendship. The film starts out pretty damn good though with some excellent film work of Batman’s origin story, that cuts to a title card that says, “Mankind is introduced to Superman”, which takes us to the fight between the Man of Steel and General Zod from the film ‘Man of Steel‘, only this time, it’s seen through the eyes of Batman and the rest of Metropolis as the two Kryptonians basically leveled an entire city with their fight. The film then cuts to 18 months later, where the world has accepted Superman as their hero or god like alien, even having whole parks and monuments dedicated to Superman.

Then enters Lex Luthor, who of course hates Superman, but also wants access to General Zod’s body and the Kryptonian ship that has been studied in the center of the city. This is all a ploy to rid the world of Superman, which he more or less enlists the help of Batman to kill Superman. We all know how it turns out, due to the trailer for the film, where Wonder Woman shows up and the three take on a well-known villain for a few minutes. Unfortunately, Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot) does NOT receive a lot of screen time. In fact, you really won’t see her until the final moments of the film.

I still love Henry Cavill as Superman, however, he is fairly emotionless here, despite a couple of angry looks, but his dry humor and nerdiness are lost here. Ben Affleck as Batman was solid. I loved him as Bruce Wayne and Batman equally. He went full-on crazy vigilante mode here and was more sinister side of Batman up until a certain point, which I enjoyed seeing. Jesse Eisenberg as Lex Luthor is an interesting take on the iconic character. It was a bit over-the-top in this origin role, which almost was too similar to Heath Ledger’s Joker character, but nowhere near the same caliber performance. It just didn’t seem to fit the character.

Eisenberg did succeed at making Luthor extremely unpredictable in mannerisms and speech, but again, it seemed more on The Joker side of things, rather than Lex Luthor. Jeremy Irons as Alfred was solid, although miscast as well. Zack Snyder has signed on to direct the two ‘Justice League’ films after this one, and he sure has his work cut out for him. Overall, the film looked amazing, visually speaking. Snyder showcased the strengths and weaknesses of Batman and Superman very well in their fight scene. It was certainly one of those good moments I mentioned in the film.

The problem is the story-telling and pacing of the movie, along with miscasting some of the bigger roles. In addition, Hans Zimmer and XL Junkie’s score was lacking, relying mostly on just loud sounds, rather than any type of real score. Again, ‘Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice‘ has some good things going for it, but a lot of bad things running it into the ground that keeps this would-be amazing superhero film from shining above the rest. I didn’t hate the film with a passion, but I also wasn’t a big fan of it either.

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Director’s Additional 30 Minute Cut

The theatrical cut is 151 minutes long, making this “Ultimate Cut” 181 minutes, which is a very long film. I wouldn’t go as far as to say, this makes the movie loads better, but it definitely answers some good questions we all had or were wondering about after we all saw the film in theaters a few months ago. Most of this extra 30 minutes are just extended scenes of dialogue between the characters, but a few added scenes stick out, including seeing Lex Luthor pit Batman and Superman against each other and how he does it. It was cool to see that. There is also a scene with a S.T.A.T. researcher named Jenet Klyburn (Jena Malone) who talks to Lois Lane about a few clues and details about Batman and Superman. There is a cool scene with Batman and Lex Luthor. Again, this isn’t anything revolutionary, but it definitely answers some questions and makes the film feel a bit smoother.

 

THE VIDEO/AUDIO

Video: Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice‘ comes with two options. One disc has the 4K UHD version with a HEVC/H.265 encoded 2160p transfer and is presented in 2.40:1 aspect ratio. The other disc has the standard 2D Blu-ray version, which has a 1080p HD transfer and presented in 2.40:1 aspect ratio. For this particular review, I will talk about the 4K UHD version only, which is definitely an improvement on the standard Blu-ray version. Unfortunately, due to the stylized cinematography and look of the film, the UHD and 4K is somewhat lost here.

The movie has a decaying, dark, brooding, and dirty look to it, which was all done in post-production and color corrected to give this gritty look to the film. When doing this, the detail and color suffer throughout, which doesn’t allow this 4K UHD presentation to truly show what it’s meant to do. Most of the colors are now vague and toned down without any very long or big moments of bright color. That being said, this 4K UHD presentation certainly shows all of the shades of Superman’s red cape and blue tights nicely. In fact, it pops right off screen. In addition to that, Batman’s gray suit and armor look exquisite with many different shades of black and gray showing up here. In the exterior shots, the brightness of the sun peaks through the tall buildings, giving a nice golden ray of sunlight that is much welcome in this dreary landscape. Explosions look  excellent too with reds and yellows bursting off screen.

Detail is very sharp when the screen is drenched in darkness. You’ll be able to make out every stitch in Superman’s cape and suit as well as every scuff mark and rip in Batman’s armor. Individual facial hairs, wrinkles, and sweat can be seen easily as well. In the wider shots, the imperfections in the sets and props can be seen easily too. During the heavy CGI sequences, the film itself can go on the soft side of things for a little bit and there is a light layer of grain here and there too. What really stands this 4K UHD presentation apart from the standard Blu-ray version is the small details with the shadows, different shades, and small details. I wouldn’t go as  far as to say this is a demo worthy video presentation, but it certainly is an improvement and upgrade from the standard Blu-ray version.

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Audio: I will be discussing this perfect and energetic Dolby Atmos track, where I used a 7.1.2 Atmos speaker setup with the normal 7.1 surround and two overhead speakers, plus a subwoofer powering this incredible and demo worthy soundscape. If you don’t have Dolby Atmos, then the audio goes to a Dolby TrueHD 7.1 mix. Right form the start of the film, the sound is fully immersive as we see Bruce Wayne weave in and out of traffic as he sees Superman fight Zod from ‘Man of Steel’. The explosions, and buildings collapsing sound magnificent with large chunks of concrete and steel falling on all sides of you, with some even on top from the ceiling speakers.

Each sound effect is well balanced and layered for maximum effect, whether it be a loud bass hit from a distant or a high intensity clank from a weapon up close. It’s all perfect. Helicopters, gunshots, and explosions are loud and pack a powerful punch each time they sound off with excellent directionality. The rain drops, lighting and thunder are also exquisite and fully engulf the sound design. The score ratchets up the intensity too. Dialogue is crystal clear and easy to follow, and is never drowned out by any score or loud sound effect. The bass kicks into high gear and has a range of intensity and lows to distinguish between cars driving by and loud growls and explosions. Each sound is realistic and perfect. If you want the best sounding movie and something to show off your system to your friends (audio-wise), then this is the perfect choice.

 

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THE EXTRAS

Uniting the World’s Finest (HD, 15 Mins.) – This talks about how the filmmakers are bringing each of the characters together for the film and future movies in the DC universe, complete with scenes from upcoming movies.

Gods and Men: A Meeting of Giants (HD, 13 Mins.) – Here are some cast and crew interviews that discuss bringing Batman and Superman together for the first time.

The Warrior, The Myth, The Wonder (HD, 22 Mins.) – Here we have comic book writers, artists, and experts discuss Wonder Woman and her life, character, and portrayal thru the ages.

Accelerating Design: The New Batmobile (HD, 23 Mins.) – This details how the stunt people, artists, and builders came up with the new Batmobile, by going into detail on the design and how they all built it.

Superman: Complexity and Truth (HD, 7 Mins.) – A quick look at Henry Cavill and Superman with details from ‘Man of Steel’, the character traits, design, and more.

Batman: Austerity and Rage (HD, 9 Mins.) – This is basically the same extra as above but with Ben Affleck and Batman.

Wonder Woman: Power and Grace (HD, 7 Mins.) – Again, more or less the same thing as above, but with Gal Gadot and Wonder Woman, and what she brought to the character.

Batcave: Legacy of the Lair (HD, 8 Mins.) – Here you have a detailed discussion on what went into designing and building the new Batcave. 

The Might and the Power of a Punch (HD, 5 Mins.) – Here are some fun discussions and the science aspect of it all, in regards to the Batman vs Superman fight, including weapons and strategic moves.

The Empire of Luthor (HD, 13 Mins.) – Discussed here, are the character traits and new look of Lex Luthor, as well as Jesse Eisenberg’s performance.

Save the Bats (HD, 5 Mins.) – This is an informative and promo piece to save the bats around the world, which are dying off.

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THE ULTIMATE WORD

This 4K UHD SET OF ‘Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice‘ looks very good and sounds even better. In fact, this is a perfect and demo worthy sounding disc. The video portion is definitely an improvement on the standard Blu-ray version too, which is included here. There is no 3D disc available in this set though, however there is a Digital Copy. The film itself is just okay with the “Ultimate Cut” answering some questions we all had after we all saw it in the theater. The extras are all worth watching and extensive. This is one movie you know you’ll own just to have the whole DC set at some point and this 4K UHD is definitely worth buying.

RECOMMENDED!

-Bryan Kluger

 

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