I grew up a DC Comics fanatic thanks in large part to their outstanding animated shows. So, I have no problem admitting that I fairly enjoyed the original 2017 release of Justice League when I first saw it. That being said, in hind sight… calling Justice League a good movie because of my obvious DC bias feels as nonsensical as the Beehive claiming Beyonce is a great actress. There’s no denying the menial plot and clunky, noticeable reshot scenes after Joss Whedon was given the reigns to make last minute changes by the studio.
But times have changed. Fan complaints are shouted from the social media mountain tops, demanding for their voices to be heard. And in the case of Justice League, fans have been clamoring for Zack Snyder’s original version from the moment they saw Henry Cavill’s CGI’d upper lip. For three years, Snyder has been hinting at the film that was supposed to be. Now, the Snyder Cut is finally available for the world to see… in all of it’s unmitigated four hour glory.
First, let’s address the obvious. There is no earthly reason for this… or any movie… to be four hours long. This is clearly peak Snyder, with him having the freedom to pump in as many slow motion scenes with operatic background music as his heart desires. If you’ve never been a fan of his style, this film will make you gag if you don’t take a break between it’s six different installments. But lodged within this over-indulgent Director’s Cut is exactly what everyone hoped it would be; an infinitely better version of a film we’ve already seen.
It barely takes thirty minutes in to know that this is an improved product over what was originally shoved into theaters over three years ago. Not only is the villain, Steppenwolf (Ciaran Hinds) given a major visual upgrade, but he actually comes off as more than just some random CGI strong guy for Superman to eventually beat up. We get to see his connections with the ominous Darkseid (DC’s version of Thanos) and Steppenwolf’s motivation to regain favor with his homeworld gives reasoning to his persistent efforts to find the mcguffin Mother Boxes.
Fleshing out characters seems to be the overarching theme of The Snyder Cut. Instead of the audience being told that Cyborg (Ray Fisher) has a lousy relationship with his father, we actually get to experience the tragic backstory that caused the friction. There are more scenes with Atlanteans that flow much smoother into Jason Mamoa’s stand alone Aquaman film than what we’d previously been given (Try your best to ignore Amber Heard’s awful accent). Even at four hours, Snyder’s version seems more evenly paced with each hero given adequate screentime to connect with the audience.
It isn’t all an upgrade. The CGI is noticeably subpar in parts. There’s a scene tacked onto the film’s Epilogue involving Jared Leto’s Joker that is completely useless, especially in a four hour film. The score is also not particularly memorable outside of Hans Zimmer’s stellar Superman theme. But the overall point is made clear right down to the drastically improved ending. Snyder had a cohesive vision for this story and this franchise, one rooted in comic lore… which is more than can be said for Joss Whedon’s attempt to turn the script into a Great Value Avengers. Who knows how a shortened version of the Snyder Cut would’ve been perceived had we not had another version to compare it to, but it’s still refreshing for a studio to actually admit they missed the mark and make efforts to rectify it. After the work Snyder put in, he deserved to at least have his vision realized.
FINAL GRADE: B, Worthy of Multiple Watches (But still too damn long)