So it’s finally here. Many thought it would never happen, others thought it never fully existed to begin with, but the Snyder fans came out in full force to bring Zack Snyder’s true vision to life. #ReleasetheSnyderCut has become a hot topic on social media ever since the release of Joss Whedon’s cut of the movie, back in 2017. Feeling tonally off beat from what Snyder had previously done, and was cut and edited to a degree in which felt uneven and completely unfamiliar in terms of what came before it. Due to family tragedy and Warner Bros needing the project finalised, Zack was forced to step away and in turn Warner Bros hired The Avengers (2012) director Joss Whedon to finish what Zack had started.
Before diving into my review and thoughts on the movie, it’s worth mentioning that despite my feelings on Snyder as a filmmaker, and that what I get out of his movies may differ to others opinion, I have respect for filmmakers that can finish what they started and coming back to the project after such tragedy isn’t an easy thing to do. Here’s hoping that Warner Bros will allow their creators the creative control they desire and do away with seemingly endless re-cuts and be able to continue in a cohesive and stable manner, before the DCEU is left running on empty.
I guess the burning question on everyone’s mind before heading into this movie is how it differs in comparison with Whedon’s 2017 cut. Is this an improvement? Absolutely. Is it more coherent and does it take its time with the plot and characters? Yes. Is it perfect? Well, that’s ultimately for you to decide. But for me, no.
Four hours is long for any movie. The benefit here is that the movie is split into chapters to make it easier for you to dissect it in chunks, and taking breaks when necessary is strongly advised. Or even as it was considered for a brief time, view it as a mini series. Regardless of how Warner Bros dealt with this version of the material, this really was the only way this cut, in its full length, really could’ve worked. This epic in theatre release form, would have struggled. So a streaming release was the right move.
In regards to its story the plot synopsis would read the same as 2017’s version. Steppenwolf (Ciaran Hinds) is still the big bad, and searches for three McGuffins known as the mother boxes. Earth is threatened by his end of world scheme but unfortunately for him, the Justice League are Earth’s defence. A superhero team headed by Bruce Wayne/Batman (Ben Affleck) and Diane Prince/Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot). Together they hunt down others who have unique abilities much like themselves. Barry Allen/Flash (Ezra Miller), Victor Stone/Cyborg (Ray Fisher), Arthur Curry/Aquaman (Jason Momoa) and of course the return of Clark Kent/Superman (Henry Cavill), team up to hopefully bring an end to Steppenwolf’s plan and send him back to his master and planning puppeteer, Darkseid (Ray Porter).
The extended runtime gives a significant amount of breathing room, and as a result adds much more depth to our heroes. Their backstories are more fleshed out and the time is taken to explore each hero and their character arc thoroughly. None perhaps with a bigger facelift than Ray Fisher’s Cyborg. The true advocate for the #ReleasetheSnyderCut movement and the voice against Warner Bros’ behind the scenes injustice. It’s understandable that he, more so than anyone, would have a reason for this cut to see the light of day. The backbone of the story and carries the heart that Whedon’s cut so desperately lacked.
Ezra Miller is also favoured by this extension. After a woeful and painfully creepy introduction, Miller predominantly serves his purpose for comedic value throughout. Thankfully though he’s more than just the clown of the clan and gets some deep and well executed segments that do wonders for his character arc.
Where many of my issues from previous instalments stem from, is still very much present in Snyder’s vision. Batman serving as no more than an outcast. An out of place rich boy with the plan. There are jokes throughout that poke fun at Batman’s involvement and lack of his actual ‘superpowers’, but with glimmers of a truly dark and gripping backstory, to the likes we’ve never seen on the big screen before, questions are flying as to why, when we’re this many movies into their extended universe, are we yet to see Affleck really flourish as the caped crusader.
Even Jeremy Irons’ Alfred is given a more welcoming upswing, often rendering Bruce as a needless player. Stick the bat gear on Irons and you’ll likely not be missing anything.
Zack Snyder’s directing style is still very much present. Burying any preconceptions before heading into his Justice League isn’t likely to get you anywhere, as within the opening ten minutes you’re greeted by the same close up shots, and enough slow-motion you’d believe you’ve been streaming it on 0.5 of the speed it should be. As they say too much of anything is bad for you and well there’s still far too much slow-motion going on so, you can work out where I’m going with this.
Mixed with the endlessly dull and gloomy colour palette and the euphoric and angelic singing within its soundtrack that just seems to pop up when such a scene desires it (pretty much any key scene with Wonder Woman), and you find all the same beats you’d expect to find from any of Snyder’s back catalogue.
When we’ve finally sat through the chapters in which the film is split into, we’re gifted with an epilogue. Perhaps bittersweet and now needless in contrast to the #SnyderVerse in which we may never be getting. But this film has balls and a lot of grit, and whilst I wouldn’t consider myself a newly converted Snyder fan, this vision of his could be something oh so special.
After all, this is the movie for those who petitioned it. The fans of an ambitious filmmaker and the universe he has created in these movies. To many I’m sure this is exactly what they expected and what they were praying for. For general audiences, and those on the fence in regards to Zack’s darker tone, this could likely swing you either way.
Regardless of your standpoint on this picture in particular, it’s a great thing to see someone’s vision be fully revitalised. Giving back to those that stood by him and his ability to ingest some life back into this franchise. Perfect this movie certainly is not, but justice feels as though it’s finally been served.