So Yeah, I saw ZACK SNYDER’S JUSTICE LEAGUE!

31 Mar

Stewart here…

Obviously, there are SPOILERS

The story of how Justice League came to be is about as ridiculous as anything you could put together in a superhero movie itself. You got a director who took a leave of absence after a horrible family tragedy, left the project to executives who had no clue what they wanted (just not a three and a half hour rough assembly of a movie, but did agree they wanted their Christmas bonus), hired Joss Whedon to add minor dialogue and scene changes, removing a mustache digitally, and the result was a movie that felt…meh. It wasn’t the fiery train wreck that was Batman V Superman, but it also felt strangely inconsequential. Of course, we all know why that was now.

So after all this hullabaloo about a cut of Justice League that was better than the so-so version that came out in theaters, the annoying hashtag (okay, more the few annoying toxic people behind it), and a studio looking to promote their new streaming service with something they have but not necessarily finished, how does this four hour cut of the now called Zack Snyder’s Justice League pan out?

Honestly…better than I think a lot of people expected, myself included. Oh, there’s issues to be sure, but it’s actually now clear where this movie failed and where it didn’t. A lot of it boils down to studio reticence and uncertainty, but also because the movie itself was simply TOO LONG for theaters. But let’s break down the big points of the movie, good and bad:

Monkey alien Green Lantern is a thing. I guess.

 

Better use of Cyborg and Flash. The plotlines of these two suffered in the 2017 version, and is far better handled here. Barry Allen is less quipster funny than more nervous funny, Victor has issues beyond what his dad did to him, and both have actual payoff to each of them growing into their abilities. It might have been better to give them their own solo movies before doing this as their big introduction than shoehorn all this character building into an already bloated running time, but at least it works.

Less Whedon works for this. I saw the 2017 version prior to watching this one, and man, now that previous version just pales in comparison. The duct tape way that movie was put together had been obvious when it came out, but now is so clearly a job to shrink an overlong movie into something shorter that doesn’t really work. There’s humor in this Snyder cut to be sure, but it seems less obvious than the jokey Joss Whedon inserts of humor. If the 2017 version was a mess, at the very least this version is a coherent mess. And there’s no random Russian family just running around to be saved.

Not as dour. I can’t be sure how much of this Snyder cut is born from retrospect than what he actually had in mind when he was working on it originally, but ZSJL is at least a movie that works its way out of the dour tone that BvS laid out. There is grieving to be sure in the opening acts of this, as can be expected for a world dealing with the death of Superman. And yet, there’s some sense of optimism at the end of all of this, despite the open ended nature the movie ends on. Which brings us to…

Oh, that’s Darkseid with the big axe there. He’s the important CG bad guy you’re supposed to pay attention to here.

 

The Knightmare. The major reshoot of ZSJL involves a future dream from Bruce based in that dark dreamworld he saw in BvS, which includes Batman, Deathstroke, some random heroes, and yes, sigh, Jared Leto’s Joker. While I can marvel at Snyder’s cajones in basically offering up a “you know, I was going to also do this before things went bad” for an epilogue, it does leave a bitter taste in a climax that actually is thrilling and inventive. And the addition of Martian Manhunter in the two scenes he appears in only offers more questions than answers. Do I expect any more movies to follow up this thread? No, and based on some of the interviews Snyder has done regarding where he wanted to go with this (Batman falls in love with Lois Lane? HUH?), I kinda hope he doesn’t.

Yeah, it’s too long. Look, I do think there was a way too bring this down too a manageable length (certainly not to the bare bones 2017 version length, but something more workable), and that’s the real irritating part of seeing this cut. A lot of the movie works better than I think BvS ever did, a lot of Snyder’s visuals play better (if there’s no better excuse to have slow-motion in these movies, it’s with the Flash), and I even appreciated how much I actually cared about a lot of the heroes that were glazed over in that theatrical release. STILL, it’s too damn long. Snyder’s visual flourishes get repetitive after a while, like all that slow-motion, the random music video montages, etc. Most of the time I feel like I’m watching CG cut scenes from a Justice League video game. Characters vanish for long stretches of time (Lois Lane appears early on, only to vanish for nearly TWO HOURS), Steppenwolf as a villain is only marginally more interesting now, and it’s in essence the exact same as its cut down version, with the same fetch quest storyline. And this movie gets super violent (well in terms of monsters being cut to ribbons) and yes, a few f**ks get dropped here and there, so this is NOT a version you want to show to your kids until they are a bit older.

Despite that, I think ZSJL ending up on streaming might have been the best thing for this weird experiment. It’s broken up into seven parts, almost making you feel like you are marathoning some 7 part Justice League TV show than an actual movie. Even the whole 4×3 appearance of it (basically old fashioned TV aspect ratio), supposedly meant to be for any future IMAX release, helps out with the visuals.

Nope, still worst Joker ever, but hey, you tried.

And I think Zack Snyder’s Justice League will go down as an odd curio in comic book movies, or movies, period. An expensive project that was unfinished, completed with more money to tepid response, and now a lot more money was spent to make it into…well, a better movie, still a work print of what could have been. And whether that’s a good thing or bad thing, really depends on your thoughts regarding the two other movies before it.

For me, I thought Man of Steel was great until the third act, BvS was a hot mess of a movie that did too much, and this is at least better than that. But if you aren’t on the wavelength of this, the whole epic tone will feel as subtle as a sledgehammer. It’s not a masterpiece as many of the fans who wanted this claim it is, it’s not a disaster as many of the critics would have believed it would be, it’s…just a slightly better and more bloated version of what got put out into theaters. And hey, that’ll do fine. I at least felt emotions from this. Cant say the same for the 2017 version of Justice League.

Look, he’s going through a Goth phase after being murdered by a giant monster, he’ll get past it eventually.

But, what are your thoughts on this (and for Pete’s sake, try to keep that chat civil and sane, PLEASE!)? Comment below…

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