Zack Snyder’s Justice League (2021)

As I said on Friday, I wanted to watch the original, theatrical version of Justice League before I dove into Mr. Zack Snyder’s Justice League so I could better compare and contrast. I made some predictions of what I thought would get cut–I was pretty much absolutely right–and what the new film would look like. Now, having watched it I can definitely say that this is the most Zack Snyder movie Zack Snyder has ever made, and that it is better than the theatrical version. The rest? Well…

So first off, this movie defies our modern understanding of time. I was led to believe that this four hour film was broken up into four parts of approximately equal length, and that’s a god damn lie. I discovered this when Part 3 began and I paused the movie to stretch after having sat for two hours, only to find only an hour had actually passed. The movie’s long enough that it becomes a chore, really. Hell, apparently only 36% of people who started streaming it during its first week actually finished it, and I believe that. I had a friend drop out after three hours, but I’m a masochist so I finished it in one sitting (with the help of my husband and a boatload of snacks).

Zack Snyder’s Justice League just feels like it’s so much longer than four hours, in part because of his signature Snyder slow motion, which is everywhere. Sometimes it really works, like most sequences with the Flash because, you know, he’s super fast. And sometimes it really doesn’t work, like when Hippolyta (Connie Nielsen) is running from Steppenwolf in slow motion, but rocks from the building situated between her and the audience are falling in real time. So what is the truth? You probably could’ve cut a half hour off the runtime if you got rid of the unnecessary slow motion, although opinions will vary on what is and what is not “necessary” for the film.

Part of the bloated runtime is that everything gets explained. What’s up with Aquaman’s trident, an item he basically just had in the original release? Turns out it was his mother’s and was given to him by Vulko (Willem Dafoe), whose first appearance was in 2018’s Aquaman–a year after 2017’s Justice League–showing that this is not so much the movie Zack Snyder always intended to make, but instead the movie he’s getting to make with the benefit of hindsight, but I digress. But while so much information is given, sometimes Snyder can’t see the forest through the trees. In the theatrical version, Steppenwolf led the original attack on Earth and was punished for failing. But in this movie Darkseid (voiced by Ray Porter) led the assault, and Steppenwolf’s crime is his betrayal. What does that mean? I have no idea, the movie never tells us what he did. It seemed like half the people on Twitter talking about this plot point seemed to know the answer, but I’m betting that’s coming from Snyder’s Twitter account or whatever and I don’t care enough to search for it. It’s not in the four hour movie, and that’s what matters.

Other weird things include Martian Manhunter (Harry Lennix) disguising himself as Martha Kent (Diane Lane) in order to convince Lois Lane to go back to work, which is just… what? Why does J’onn J’onzz of Mars care about Lois so much? Yes, turns out he was always General Swanwick (from Man of Steel and Batman Vee Superman Colon Dawn of Justice), and as Swanwick he has interacted with Lois, but why not appear as the general? Why remove the real Martha from this movie even more than she already was? In fact, have we ever seen Martha Kent and the Martian Manhunter at the same place at the same time?! Taking off my tinfoil hat now. And the apocalpytic dream future is just exhausting to me. I don’t care, Zack, you’re never going to make a sequel to this (just like they’ll never release the Snyder Cut, right?), and the Joker (Jared Leto) sequence was just self-indulgence on top of self-indulgence. Like, cool, Batman and Joker are having a tiff–one where Joker suggests he either has or is willing to jerk Batman off–but there are 4 other characters in this scene apparently standing awkwardly off camera. There are so many more things I could list, but I don’t want this to be a four hour read.

I did, however, say that this was better than Joss Whedon’s theatrical version. A very low bar, but still. This is a more comprehensive story that includes details and foreshadowing that were sorely missing. One explanation that actually works involves Wonder Woman stopping the bombers at the beginning. In this new version we see her clang her bracelets together to create an explosion, a power she uses several times in fights later on, so that was a nice setup. The tone is more even, albeit much grimmer with less humor. Cyborg is now my favorite character because his story was greatly expanded upon, giving him a better background, a better understanding of his powers, and a better goal.

Do I recommend the Snyder Cut? Not really. It’s four hours long and feels like eight, and now has an R-rating (I counted two “fucks,” very little blood, and no sex so it’s really PG-13+) so this is only for the true diehard Snyder fans. At the time of writing there’s no real plan to continue with Snyder’s vision of the DC Expanded Universe, so this is more of a grand finale than the start of something big. But then again, I never thought this movie would actually materialize, so what do I know.

Also, I only mention it because I kept joking about it throughout the movie, but an overly long cover of “Halleluiah” plays during the end credits. So yeah, the most Snyder thing Snyder has ever done.

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8 thoughts on “Zack Snyder’s Justice League (2021)

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