Rating: R – 4h 2min – release 18 March 2021 via HBO – Director: Zack Snyder
Stars: Henry Cavill, Ben Affleck, Gal Gadot, Ray Fisher, Jason Momoa, Ezra Miller etc.
Zack Snyder’s Justice League is a director’s cut of the 2017 film Justice League. The “Snyder cut” was realized after several years of fan protests and it’s different from the original film completed by Joss Whedon. This remake is not part of the DC Extended Universe, but still functions as a sequel to Man of Steel, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and Wonder Woman.
I did like the theatrical version in 2017 (review HERE), especially since failed CGI sequences (Cavill’s retouched mustache, Steppenwolf design as such) did not keep me from enjoying the film.
Still, I was eager to watch the “Director’s Cut”, originally intended to be a four-part miniseries on the streaming service HBO. In this version, the Amazons’ sacrifice is even more poignant and other scenes induce gooseflesh, even though you already know the movie … and it’s nice to have some “plot holes” filled (e.g. flames in the Acropolis). And too bad the fan base is only now, after he hung up the bat mantle, appreciating Ben Affleck as Batman …. for me he was great even back then and enjoyed to see more of Batman in the HBO version.
Well, neither version is perfect. However, the slightly darker Zack Snyder “adult” version has distinct merits, especially since Steppenwolf looks much nastier and more plausible in this metal design. Now that I’m probably not fabricating any spoilers, I can go into more detail into issues that would require improvement:
- For a movie 4 hours are too long, even on a streaming platform, some parts feel gooey and drag on – unnecessary stretching of material is most likely not to work, even for a 4 part miniseries – and remember the Hobbit trilogy… In my opinion you can cut out at least 30min without losing anything – e.g. the subplot with the Martian. Where does he suddenly come from, what does he have to do with the plot or the backstories? Yup, nothing.
- More backstory for Cyborg and Flash was good and also the added Lois and Aquaman material, but it required a quicker editing pace and a little less would actually be more. Therefore, some action scenes lack urgency and excitement, seem rather cozy instead.
- Then not one, but 3 villains? Very confusing for me. Then this unnecessary Anti-Life Equation subplot no one really understands anyway – establishing it in such detail is actually not necessary for a (possible) sequel. Hence more time is spent explaining the motivation of those villains instead of simply moving the plot forward.
- As a result, it takes far too long for Superman to finally appear, and at a far too leisurely pace – thus spoiling his return, which should be the absolute highlight of the movie. Since he’s in the game so late, Supie hardly gets anything to do, which almost puts him into the minor character category. The black suit, however, and the scene in orbit – FANTASTIC.
- The omission of the Russian family subplot was great, but in my opinion the final battle was better choreographed in the other version. Here, for example, the fantastic gag of Aquaman surfing got a bit lost.
- Some scenes could have worked better with heavier, heftier songs as soundtrack, and they would have added some action feeling.
- Epilogue material: Again, a bit too much of a good thing and too confusing, and largely superfluous. Batman in the desert with the Joker – Huh? Parallel universe? Bad dream?
- And finally: I missed some of the old version’s gags (Aquaman and the rope, Batman film opener), because that gave the characters some edge, which for example a much too dry (sic!) Aquaman could have needed.
Nevertheless: Absolutely worth seeing, even for those who do not know Justice League from 2017.