Zack Snyder’s Justice League (dir. Snyder)

Image: All the stars of Justice League with just a hint of something new [Source: GoogleImages]

★★★☆☆

I was surprised to find out that I had not uploaded a review for the original cut of Justice League. Released way back in 2017. I’m not exactly sure why a review was not made, a decisive film at the time amongst fans. I certainly had a bit to say about it. When I thought about the film again once the Snyder cut had been announced. What could remember was I was profoundly disappointed, I thought the film lacked anything and everything. It was a mix and match of moments Snyder wanted to capture or Whedon and the end result was something approximating a train wreck. Parts of something larger than itself but ultimately an eye sore.

Then the impossible happened. Fans caught wind of rumours and developed conspiracy theories of their own. Scenes and lines of dialogue, talk from cast and crew about the Justice League that never was. They spoke of the one we had seen with contempt, as a water down insult to the film they all thought they were making. So my some miracle, not only was all that true but the studio gave in and gave Snyder the opportunity to pick up everything off the cutting room floor and deliver the film he set out to make. This is that film.

Director: Zack Snyder. Starring: Henry Cavill, Gal Gadot, Ben Affleck, Jason Momoa, Ray Fisher, Ezra Miller, Amy Adams, Jeremy Irons [15]

When I say ‘this is that film’. I hope it punches home what I’m attempting to say; this is a completely different film. It’s by no stretch of the imagination that anyone who gets 10 minutes into this movie immediately recognises that they are seeing something almost entirely different. Sure in the original Joss Whedon cut the bare bones are there. We see the introduction of the heroes still but when you sit down with what Snyder had intended. You can see clearly that these sequences were robbed of all their nuance and sophistication and boiled down to Wonder Woman bursts into a room and saves the day. Most notably robbed all nuance is Justice Leagues villain. In the original cut he is quite literally nobody. By the end of the film you’re none the wiser to what his motivations are or who he even is. Then here he is somewhat a tragic figure who’s motivations lie with returning home rather than brain-dead world destruction. There’s also the notable inclusion of Darkseid who was seemingly utterly stripped from the original cut by Whedon. Darkseid’s presence lends the film a certain grandiose, the illusion of something bigger at play and more to come. I’m not accusing Whedon of sabotaging, being that he is one of the main staples behind Marvel’s cinematic universe but their certain seems to be some suspicious decisions made on the original cut of the film.

So yes, if you’re wondering if this mythical creature known as the Snyder cut is real, I can confirm it is. For anyone who was gravely disappointed with the original cut and has dreams of something greater. This cut comes as a blessing and complete rejuvenation in the previously deceased DC Cinematic Universe.

Is the film perfect? Of course not. Frankly, I think it will be easy for fans and critics alike to paint this as something close to glorious as they might feel the need to get behind it due to it being an artistic win over the money focused studios (yes even with something like superheroes artistic merit can be considered). But lots of the stumbles and awkward handling of the characters and material you saw in the original cut, still lingers like a bad smell. You can certainly see why Snyder somewhat defied the studio to get reshoots in parts as well as completely redesigns on visual effects. There was a lot to clean up and I certainly don’t think that can be solely laid at the feet of the studios and Whedon. In some respects they did the best with what Snyder left them. Some of the dialogue exchanges are down right inhuman and sound forced and hammy beyond comprehension. It spoils the some of the expertly choreographed action scenes when a character says something to the effect of “my lasso that I just tied you with makes you tell the truth so say it”. I realise they are trying to ensure all members of an audience understand what is happening but there are certainly more creative and effective ways of getting this information across.

Furthermore the way in which the plot of the film progresses. One scene into the next, at times the flow is poor to say the least. Moments seem to pop to the next like a highlight reel and the narrative and editing structure feels disjointed. The most effective way I can explain this is that at times it feels like a Cyborg movie has been put inside a Batman movie which has been put inside a Flash movie and they labelled it Justice League to save face. The cohesion of a joint narrative is not entirely there. Especially in the face of the conflict, it feels weak and shoehorned in even with the extra scenes and sequences detailing why exactly the villain is there etc etc.

Thankfully a lot of the other mess ups have been cleaned up. But more than anything my take away from this cut is firstly, Whedon stripped Cyborg of so much character. Here we get to see far more of his characters struggle and its emotionally gripping, in many respects Cyborg in the Snyder cut steals the entire show. But most of all what I felt from this film is that Snyder knows how to do Superman. It seems to be that this was the end of a trilogy he had in mind for Superman but was pushed into spearheading the whole thing into a large cinematic universe to compete with Marvel.

Snyder gives an incredible amount of detail and attention to character/character development and the relationships between our big heroes in this cut. Sure it’s sloppy, still a little too focused on action, lacks a flowing editing/plot structure and its villain/dramatic clash still feels hollow but at leas this is a movie, a movie with real emotional punch and dramatic tension with some greatly choreographed scenes to boot. Snyder and more importantly the fans did the impossible, we got the true, finalised version from the artist themselves. Even still that there’s much to it that is lacking, weak/cringy dialogue on top of awkward exchanges and far too many moving cogs for one film – hence this needing a nearly four hour run time to make it even credible. We can still rejoice that its now a film of merit that try to create something bigger than itself all while giving us a story to buy into and be entertained by. This is what Justice League was supposed to be.

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