AV quality is the winner when the Man of Steel fights the Bat of Gotham in this slobberknocker...
Critics may baulk at the prospect of even more BvS, but there's no doubt that pouring 30 minutes of extra footage back into the mix for this 'Ultimate Edition' helps flesh out the narrative of Zack Snyder's Justice League prequel. Clark Kent is the biggest beneficiary, as we see him flex his investigative reporting skills, and uncover the twisted depth of Lex Luthor's machinations.
Of course, the longer cut doesn't fix everything. Jesse Eisenberg still irritates, the Martha MacGuffin is clunky and the geography of Gotham and Metropolis makes little sense. But Zack Snyder's mythic take on his principals is defiantly epochal.
This isn't a light-hearted jape. Instead it channels Frank Miller through Alex Ross, and opens the door to Jack Kirby's New Gods/Fourth World mythology. For anyone who grew up with Christopher Reeve in the blue suit, suffered through the Quest for Peace, and thought DC had lost the plot with Green Lantern and Jonah Hex, this is nothing short of a gift.
With its Parademon-infested premonition and Mother Boxes aplenty …Dawn of Justice makes no attempt to hand-hold a mainstream audience, but that just reinforces its geek appeal. One of the new sequences has Luthor, seemingly in thrall to Steppenwolf, minion to Darkseid and the big bad lined up for next year's Justice League flick. This is exciting stuff. Keep up, keep up…
Picture: The 4K HDR iteration (this is the first UHD release to utilise a three-layer disc) is bundled with a regular Blu-ray, which provides some interesting comparisons. To be clear, the regular BD is entirely serviceable, if a little drab-looking. But spin the 4K HDR disc and you're looking at an entirely different film. The colour palette is beautiful, with even the simplest scenes richer and more evocative.
When Lois brings Perry the bullet sample from the desert shootout, she's almost silhouetted against exterior windows. A white hoarding glows bright outside, while adjacent buildings are yellow; Lois' face is dulled in shadow. The same sequence on the Blu-ray has no colour detail through the window, and Lois' face looks at least two stops brighter.
Zack Snyder often holds on Supes up in the sky. In HDR, the clouds around him are dramatic, a portentous orange with breakthrough sunlight and blue skies. On SDR Blu-ray, the Man of Steel hovers in a boring sea of grey and white. When you get to the explosive Doomsday climax, the beat-down is simply breathtaking. If you want to show off you new HDR telly to your mates, dial this up. Or the opening Zod battle, that's a doozy too.
There are fewer resolution differences, but the 2,160p presentation does snap with extra clarity every so often. In short, this really is a great-looking disc.
Picture rating: 5/5
Audio: With its brooding Hans Zimmer score and ground-shaking audio effects, the soundtrack to BvS delivers reference-quality mayhem. You get a Dolby Atmos mix which folds down to an equally glorious 7.1 on non-Atmos AV receivers. Both border on divine, and are similar enough to dissuade comparison.
When Bruce Wayne first spots the Kryptonian World Engine, suspended above Metropolis in the film's opening scene, we're just seconds away from a concussive shock wave that rolls through the room. LFE is a huge component in this mix. The realistic thud of shattering masonry as Superman careens into the Wayne Corp building has impressive weight, the sonic destruction utterly believable.
You know how Avengers: Age of Ultron sounds on disc? Well, this is the exact opposite. There's real theatrical dynamism here. BvS delivers a masterclass in blockbuster audio mixing.
The fight sequences also sound fabulous. When the Bat dukes it out, punches hurt, plaster shatters… it's bruising stuff. Then Wonder Woman's Amazonian theme kicks in and you can't help but grin.
Audio rating: 5/5
Extras: While there's no room for extras on the 4K platter, you'll find over two hours' worth on the regular Blu-ray. And there are some real treats.
Uniting the World's Finest explores how Zack Snyder and producer Geoff Johns have reworked the DCU for the big screen. Essentially establishing the 'Trinity' and their backstory, it also showcases some intriguing behind-the-scenes footage.
A Meeting of Giants may seem an obvious portrait of the protagonists, but it's lifted above mere puff piece by the inclusion of plenty of DC comic book history. Similarly, The Warrior, The Myth, The Wonder is a fascinating mini-doc on Wonder Woman, with some delightful contributions from Pete Marston, son of Wonder Woman's creator.
Production addicts are well served too. Batcave: Legacy of the Lair breaks down the inspired production design of Patrick Tatopoulis, while Accelerating Design: The New Batmobile, reveals the creation of Batman's latest wheels – from napkin doodle, through CAD to final road-ready beast (spoiler: it's a real hardcore ride). On top of this, other supplementals cover costume design and even bat conservation...
Extras rating: 4.5/5
We say: Stunning 4K HDR visuals and reference-quality audio make this longer cut truly epic.
Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice – Ultimate Edition (4K), Warner Bros., Ultra HD Blu-ray & All-region BD, £35
HCC VERDICT: 4/5
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