Another superhero property has arrived on the small screen and it’s that League of Justice again. (Grumbles to self!)
The story here is that fan outcry (on Twitter of course) pressured Warner Bros into giving Zack Snyder the reins to finish his original vision for Justice League (2017). The unfortunate timing of Snyder having to bail midway through production due to a family tragedy left others to finish the film and who were obviously a gang of headless chickens who made one of the worst superhero movies in recent memory. I understand where fans were coming from, but the announcement of the Snyder cut still didn’t excite me, as I long ago wrote off the DCEU as a complete failure. Curiosity however did get the better of me as I wondered what Zack Snyder was originally going for and how that may be an improvement over that tired old whoopie cushion from 3 years ago.
First up the basic plot structure of Justice League is the same, it’s only the in-between events that have changed and the fact that Snyder’s cut is twice as long as the original. That means the Snyder cut is just under 4 hours long and was the biggest concern of mine before seeing it. I’ve seen enough Snyder films to know he loves his movies to be drawn out and needlessly over dramatic, which just about summarises the 3 hour long cut of Batman v Superman, one of the biggest slogs I’ve ever sat through. While I strongly believe the Snyder cut didn’t need to be 4 hours long, to my surprise the length absolutely works to the film’s benefit, allowing it to properly establish the team and giving us the satisfying first outing that the theatrical cut absolutely failed to deliver.
What the Snyder cut does best is make it so much easier to rip on that 2017 embarrassment. For example one of the huge problems of 2017’s Justice League is that it was the big team-up movie, but first they still needed to introduce half of the team, since their solo movies didn’t yet exist, or still don’t! Also the movie was too short, so Aquaman and The Flash came off as one note and Cyborg was just really boring. The Snyder cut fixes this by giving each member of the team time to develop and show us why you should consider liking them. Cyborg easily got the best end of the stick as he’s now the heart of the story. You get more insight on his backstory and what his cybernetic abilities even do. His relationship with his father is an actual subplot, instead of a thing in the background and it’s great stuff! Most importantly Snyder’s Justice League got the team dynamics right. It helps that it really takes the time to establish who each character is and what their role is on the team and their relationship with the other members on the team. For example, this version explores the friction between Aquaman and Wonder Woman, because Atlanteans and Amazonians have a rough history. Now their cultures are instantly more interesting than shown in the three or four movies we’ve seen in the past.
Another thing that is leaps and bounds better than before is the main bad guy, Steppenwolf. A villain who I only remember before for spurting out generic evil garbage every time he showed up in the theatrical cut. Besides looking completely different, the Snyder cut actually explains why Steppenwolf is evil, what the deal is with those McGuffin boxes and why it’s necessary to stop this guy. Steppenwolf’s motivation is tied into one of the new additions to Justice League, his evil overlord, Darkseid, a Thanos like villain whose main role is to set up what’s to come, but of course that will only be if Warner Bros ever get their act together. The Snyder cut is much more violent than the original, which did help with Steppenwolf’s intimidation factor. With the action in this Justice League you really feel the impact of every hit, blow and explosion, thanks to the fighting choreography and sound design. I could continue to gush about what this cut improves upon, like it has one of the most memorable scores I’ve heard from a superhero movie in a while, but we must now move on to the negatives.
As I said before it’s a lengthy movie and requires a lot of patience as it takes a really long time for the ball to get rolling. There is a lot of character jumping and because of that, an hour into the movie, Batman had only tried to recruit Aquaman and we hadn’t even met The Flash yet. An issue that carried over from the theatrical version is the CGI is bad, so everything that isn’t in a city usually looks really unconvincing. Another is more a problem with Zack Snyder movies in general and that is they always come off quite self indulgent. They think they’re larger than life, but it always comes off as goofy. It’s like Snyder’s movies are always giving an emotional monologue, but not being aware to the fact that they’re doing it while their pants are down. It’s the bleak seriousness blended in with the quippy line delivery, the dramatic operatic music and slow-mo action scenes that always do it for me. Lastly the only thing that the Snyder cut does worse than the theatrical cut is the aspect ratio is at the old box TV length, while the original was wide screen. This change made no sense to me and bugged the hell out of me when I started watching this movie.
Overall Zack Snyder’s Justice League did exceed my very low expectations and currently ranks as the best DCEU movie I’ve seen. (Since Joker doesn’t count apparently.) I recommend skipping the theatrical cut and jumping straight into this if it’s possible to seek it out, as I believe it is worth it in the long run. (Streaming for this movie is different for each country because of agreements that are a bit out of my depth. I wish it was more cut and dried, but it isn’t unfortunately.) Also the sooner we can obliterate that disastrous 2017 movie from existence the sooner we can achieve world peace or maybe make the Snyder cut the canon version and the one that will continue over into Justice League 2.
Coming up on this blog is the March 2021 Catch-up and after that is a long waited update post for my revamped Patty Vat Cupcake book, hopefully it will be up in time for her 1st birthday. That’s it for now, I’m The Blog Complainer, signing out.