Zack Snyder’s definitive director’s cut of Justice League. Determined to ensure Superman’s ultimate sacrifice was not in vain, Bruce Wayne aligns forces with Diana Prince with plans to recruit a team of metahumans to protect the world from an approaching threat of catastrophic proportions.
Zack Snyder’s efforts to complete his version of the misguided 2017 Justice League, which he left in mid-production due to his daughter’s suicide, had been ongoing for over two years. Dropping a litany of cryptic social media missives that hinted as to just what his unadulterated vision might have been, the filmmaker’s massive fanbase bent Warner Brothers to their fanboy will, until the studio gave the director his wish – an additional $70 million, and a new platform – HBO Max – on which to play it.
Is this new four-hour epic an improvement over the Snyder-Joss Wheadon hybrid released four years ago? Very mush so, as it contains more complete backstories regarding its lesser-known characters as well as a clearer plot which makes much more sense and feels less fragmented. Is it a perfect film? Far from it. This is a flawed feature that suffers from a sense of pretentiousness that borders on parody and an overindulgence where Snyder’s grandiose plan is concerned, as he foreshadows future events with the subtlety of a sledgehammer, plot points that will likely never see the light of day.
Overall, the story remains the same – an alien threat named Steppenwolf (vastly improved visually this time around) has come to Earth in an effort to find three constructs known as Mother Boxes. Scattered around the planet, his heavy-handed efforts to retrieve them are noticed by Batman (Ben Affleck) and Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot), who set out to recruit fellow meta-humans in order to form a team to combat this threat. Initially reluctant to lend his support, Aquaman (Jason Mamoa) comes into the fold when the threat breaches the borders of Atlantis, while super-speedster the Flash (Ezra Miller) eagerly joins up, desperate for any sort of social interaction. The half-human, half-machine construct Cyborg (Ray Fisher) lends his vast knowledge of computers to the fight and as for Superman (Henry Cavill)…well he’s dead and our heroes must grapple with the moral implications of resurrecting him when the opportunity presents itself.
As I say, the basic story remains the same but a great deal more time is spent fleshing out Cyborg and the Flash, both to great effect. Whereas the robotman’s backstory was briefly alluded to in the 2017 version, a good half hour is devoted to his origin, his thorny relationship with his scientist father (Joe Morton) and his gradually coming to terms with his true purpose. It’s the highlight of the movie, adding a poignancy that was horribly lacking the first time around. As for the Scarlet Speedster, Miller is invaluable as the well-meaning, motor-mouthed geek who provides a great deal of much-needed humor, preventing the film from becoming too overbearing.
Superman’s resurrection and an action sequence involving the team and Batman’s spider-tank are extended, providing a sense of clarity to key moments that were obviously truncated and fragmented four years ago. Overall, the transitions are much smoother and purposeful, a sense of flow and cohesion making for a much better, if bloated movie.
Affleck, Gadot and Jeremy Irons as Alfred are all solid, lending a sense of stealth gravitas to the proceedings that’s never overbearing. Too bad Snyder can’t follow suit. To be sure, he’s a brilliant visual stylist but his overuse of slow motion and melodramatic approach prevents the movie from being a complete success. The film’s epilogue indicates he has grand plans yet to realize. Whether he’ll be given the opportunity to give us “Justice League 2,” “3,” et. al, remains to be seen. In the meantime, wallow in all this film has to offer. For all of its glorious spectacle and glaring flaws, this truly is a unique cinematic beast.
3 1/2 Stars
Pam says: I tried. I mean, I truly tried! I got 29:04 into it when I realized this is just another super hero film hell-bent on showing off fight scenes using incredible artistry and CGI. Feeling like a failure, I gave it another go the next night and made it to 1:59:05…with several snack stops to the pantry (aka pause) and potty breaks for both the dog and me (again, aka pause). With every minute of dialogue promising a glimmer of a story I cared about with characters I wanted to know, there were 29 minutes of action sequences–something I could care less about. And even with an occassional shirtless Aquaman and Chuck promising me Henry Cavill at hour 3, I just couldn’t subject myself to any more auditory and visual tirades of low rumblings, slow-motion acrobatics, or an evil predator set on ruling the world and reiterating why he’s so pissed and why he is going to make Earth pay for its shortcomings. I heard blah, blah, blah after the evil horned-dude expectorated his expressions with a gutteral tone.