The theatrical cut had mainly suffered from a numerous amount of plot inconsistencies right from the beginning. Batman's motivations to fight Superman were confusing and dull (think simple revenge plot because innocent people died), and the two superheroes barely shared any sort of chemistry or screen time to actually have an important reason to fight each other. Lex Luthor's motivations were also ridiculously confusing. He wants to capture Superman's mom and blame the heist on Batman so the two can fight, but then he also creates a Kryptonian devil? And why would the US government even give him access to Kryptonite so easily?! Superman as Clark Kent was a waste of paper and film, going completely nowhere. Lois Lane's own subplot regarding an unmarked bullet was a waste, and her shocking surprise that Lex Luthor is the criminal mastermind is far too late in the game. Lois's fierce and defiant character traits are completely wiped out to place her back in damsel-in-distress mode ON THREE SEPARATE OCCASIONS. Superman and Lois have no chemistry, the bathtub scene being extremely awkward. Superman's super-senses suddenly don't work when the Capitol gets bombed by Lex's minion. The Justice League inserts were annoying and pointless. And finally, for the mother lode of all plot holes and annoyances, the reason Batman and Superman finally team up was about as plausible as the plot twist for The Secret of NiMH 2: Timmy to the Rescue. In fact, that twist was more believable!!!
As one could probably imagine, the BvS theatrical cut suffered greatly. The Ultimate Edition, however, makes the film more bearable to watch. Some of the most prominent footage restored are the few scenes featuring Jena Malone, who plays Jenet Kryburn of the infamous STAR labs. A weapons expert and ballistics specialist, she contributes to Lois Lane's investigation and helps her deduce that 1. The bullet is made of an unknown metal manipulated by Luthor and thereby rendering it untraceable - and - 2. Superman couldn't sense or stop the bomb in the Capitol because the wheelchair it was encased in is made of the same material as the bullet - lead. #1 in particular helps Lois to discover Lex Luthor is the big baddie at a more realistic time. That's three major plot holes already closed within 2 minutes of footage. THREE!
On top of this, Lex Luthor's manipulations and schemes are better handled... well, to an extent. With the restored footage, we see Lex pull more strings to make this fight happen - seeing Clark's invitation to the charity event, for example, along with the strained relationship Lex had with his father. The fleshed-out subplot mentioned below involving Kahina Ziri also counts. But, the whole Doomsday plot still makes absolutely no sense, and Jesse Eisenberg's characterizations are a complete joke. Yes, this is Lex Luthor's son and he really is crazy (not entirely cold and calculating as the Lex Luthor many are associated with), but the filmmakers likened him too much to Heath Ledger's Joker and didn't make him interesting enough to stand on his own. Face it; this performance is still laughably bad.
Jimmy Olsen's wasted cameo now has a slightly bigger purpose (he meets Lois before their mission in Nairomi begins), and CIA operatives even attempt to rescue her while the US government launches a drone strike on the whole setting, leading to the incident with the villagers. Superman gets more screen time as Clark Kent, and we physically see him travel to parts of Gotham and Metropolis to cover a news story - not the one Perry White (Laurence Fishburne once again, having a few funny lines) gives him about the college football scene, rather the mystery of the Batman instead. AND, after the bombing incident at the US Capitol, he rescues several innocent bystanders even when feeling guilty and torn by the events which transpired.
In fact, there's more convincing buildup to the reason Superman feels the need to speak at the Capitol for the moral dilemmas of his heroism the film attempts to capture. Testimonies by Kahina Ziri (briefly seen in the theatrical cut) are expanded upon in a news report Clark catches on television. She asks where Superman was when the government troops kill rebels and villagers in Nairomi. Where was Superman? Saving Lois. Again. THEN, later on, it's revealed that Kahina's also been manipulated by Luthor, and she feels absolutely guilty about it. Superman isn't framed for killing terrorists or innocent people - he's confronted about it and torn because he didn't save them.
This is actually compelling. These scenes finally make this drama work. Why? Because it's shown. Because it's explained. Because it's a story that is better experienced. Because instead of Snyder cutting corners to make studio executives happier with a 2-hour-and-30 minute film, what is shown in this Ultimate Edition is far more complete and far more satisfying. One can make the argument that the theatrical cut can be considered a detective story by letting the audience figure out the pieces to the bigger picture on their own, but when the filmmakers decide to cut out critical pieces of information and important clues that are the only means of leading viewers to these conclusions, that weakens the film. It destroys its credibility, leaving nothing but a cobbled mess and an incomplete pile of garbage. The "show, don't tell" concept only goes so far when making a film.
Too bad the film still has flaws that run rampant. Clark and Lois's godawful, nonexistent chemistry (on borderline Star Wars prequel levels of bad). Lex's master plan (seriously, what the hell was its purpose supposed to be again?!). Batman's still-underwhelming motivations to take on Superman (no matter what footage is restored, it is still a basic revenge plot with no convincing buildup or satisfaction). Clark's Kevin-Costner-daddy vision. The terrible music by Hans Zimmer and Junkie XL (exceptions being Wonder Woman's kickass theme song and the choral contributions by Eric Whitacre). Lois's interactions with the Kryptonite spear Batman fashions. Her subplot with the bullet is still pointless and a waste of her character, but to their credit, this version of BvS does a much better job of trying to give it value, meaning, a point. Yet, even the Ultimate Edition creates some inconsistencies. A character drops the F-bomb, so Perry White's "son of a..." joke that cuts to a ship's foghorn to bleep out a curse word isn't as funny. Not that it was funny to begin with.
And then there's the big bad fight between Batman and Superman, a fight that fans had waited so many years for. The theatrical cut made it underwhelming and ordinary cliched action scenes viewed a million times before, lasting only about 8 - 10 minutes. The Ultimate Edition? A few seconds of footage are restored here and there, but nothing special. Fans will either love it or hate it as they did with the theatrical cut. The terrible twist is still the reason this fight ends and they suddenly like each other.
There is, however, one more important fact that still remains - the one final flaw which destroyed the theatrical cut of BvS, concerning Superman's death. The number of films Zack Snyder made about this version of Superman? Two, including this one. The second film, and Snyder kills Superman. No more time is given for the audience to relate to this new version of the character. Instead, they are given more unnecessary Jesus symbolism and wasted potential. There's simply no good connection with this version of Superman because Snyder focuses too much on what happens around Superman instead of looking at the potential to this character he so clearly misses. It's the same problems Man of Steel had, and they aren't fixed at all.
All of these flaws infect the Ultimate Edition. The Justice League inserts are pointless and a distraction from what is supposed to be the heart and soul of the film - the intense rivalry between two superhero giants. The Ultimate Edition still looks ahead and behind itself on building a world to rival the Marvel Cinematic Universe instead of focusing on the present story and characters well enough, as well as on what could have made it far greater.
I will admit, though, that it was great to revisit all of the elements that did work. Ben Affleck still nails Batman and Bruce Wayne in a compelling and believable way, and Affleck is stunningly authentic as both identities, creating a truly singular vision for this tormented figure. Gal Godot's scenes are still few in number but important, and when she's revealed as Wonder Woman, it is spectacular and leaves viewers begging for more. Jeremy Irons is witty, sarcastic, and humorous as Alfred, complimenting Affleck well as a foil to Batman. The visuals are still Snyder at his best, and the film still looks very impressive for all of its grittiness and dark atmosphere. Bruce Wayne's backstory (seen often before) in this version is unique and different, and his take on the Superman/Zod fight in Metropolis still holds up for the most part (even though his friend Jack evacuates everyone on the Wayne Enterprises building, but not himself for no apparent reason).
So, with all of this said, is the Ultimate Edition of BvS a better film? Simply put, yes in every conceivable way, but not by that much. There are still obvious flaws and character weaknesses which hurt its credibility, but at the same time, glaring plot holes are satisfyingly addressed and help tie the story together better than the theatrical cut. The awesome moments of the theatrical cut are left intact and barely altered, making them just as enjoyable the second time around.
Ultimately, that just makes this situation all the more frustrating. Had 10 minutes of this restored footage not been cut (the Jena Malone and Kahina scenes, for example), the theatrical version of Batman v Superman would have made more sense from a story perspective. Audiences are now used to sitting in a movie theater for anywhere from 2 to 3 hours. A few extra minutes included would not have hurt financial gains or box-office sales. Furthermore, as is standard for director's cuts/alternate cuts of films, this version is not for rent and can only be bought for $15-40 depending on the format. The theatrical cut, however, is available to rent and/or buy. It's like choosing between store-branded food and the original product it's based on. One can choose to buy either, but in most cases, the original product (the Ultimate Edition in this case, as the film should have been) will always be more satisfying and the store-brand item (the theatrical cut) is just a cheap knock-off, not true to its vision.
Hands down, the Ultimate Edition of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice is the superior version of Zack Snyder's vision. Avoid the theatrical version at all costs.