Welcome to our first installment of And The Valley Screens! We will be writing reviews/breakdowns/general thoughts on any media that uses a screen. This review will contain no spoilers.
Movie: Zack Snyder’s Justice League
Available on: HBO Max
Runtime: 4 hours 2 minutes
Zack Snyder’s Justice League is a movie almost as interesting as the story behind it. I’m sure documentaries about the #ReleaseTheSnyderCut fiasco are already in production. Hell if Warner Bros. has learned anything from this they should make their own and cash in on their mismanagement a second time.
By now you should know the story of how this bizarre director’s cut came to be, and if you don’t here’s a breakdown. So with that out of the way, let’s talk about this movie.
Actually, I’m not sure movie is the right word here.
This... piece of entertainment bears little resemblance to what we consider a “movie.” There’s nothing like a three-act structure. There six chapters ranging from 9-45 minutes long, main characters are introduced more than an hour in, and an extreme portion is devoted to setting up characters and plotlines for sequels that are not going to happen.... as of this moment.
But all of that boils down to one question: is it good?
I don’t know.
Well, is it entertaining?
For me it actually was.
There are very good parts of this movie. There are an equally number of bad or confusing parts, but they are all some level of bizarre that makes them hilariously entertaining.
Any person’s opinion of this movie requires the context of how that person felt about Man of Steel and Batman v Superman because there are VERY different schools of thought on those movies. I did not like those, but damn did I want to. They both had parts I liked because of either some cool action scenes or my love for the characters. Each time they’re on TV I’ll turn it on and hope I can maybe find a new appreciation for them, but I just end up more upset every time.
I felt that Snyder had little to no grasp of what made Batman and especially Superman great characters. The disconnect between how Snyder presented them and how I’ve always felt about them made the movies hard to emotionally invest in. In ZSJL, his presentation of these characters still doesn’t fit with how I believe they should be, but their development is consistent with the previous two movies.
Zack Snyder’s Justice League is all over the place in terms of plot. But everything else like the tone, action, music, pacing, and even the stupid fucking 4:3 ratio, is consistent. It’s Zack Snyder’s complete vision. Funnily, I thought that was the exact reason why I would hate it. But it’s what makes it watchable.
I thought Batman v Superman was Snyder going full Snyder. It was bleak, slow (literally, this dude loves slow-mo) and at its worst, obnoxious. This four-hour cut is very different. It’s explosive and full of life, but still desaturated. We should know by now that’s what we’re gonna get.
Another important perspective is your history with the 2017 theatrical cut. It’s hard for me to view the Zack Snyder version through the lens of someone who never saw the original. I don’t know how I would have received a lot of this scenes had I not seen them, or at least a version of them, already. But what is extremely clear to me is the Zack Snyder version is far superior in almost every way.
The biggest advantage The Snyder Cut has over the theatrical cut is fully-developed characters. I’m not giving Snyder too much credit for this because it shouldn’t take a four-hour movie to develop a superhero team. If you think it can’t be done I’d like to suggest this little indie flick Guardians of the Galaxy.
But knowing these characters’ backstories and motivations really pays off their endings. The most obvious beneficiary of this is Cyborg, who is a completely different character than the theatrical cut. Hell, he was barely a character in that. Here he has a more complete arc than anyone else in this movie.
Having actual character development is legitimately shocking because it was severely severely lacking in Snyder’s previous DCEU movies. It’s a pleasant surprise that we can relate to these characters because up until now Snyder has presented superheroes as powerful killing machines. They finally feel like people.
The only advantage I believe the theatrical cut has over the Snyder Cut is the coloring, (even that is debatable) runtime and aspect ratio, but you should already know what you’re in for with regards to those. Also both movies feature a scene where Aquaman strolls into the ocean chugging whiskey and the theatrical cut plays The White Stripes’ Icky Thump, but the Snyder Cut does not. A rare point for Whedon.
If you think you care about seeing this movie, you should. Chances are you’ve already seen the Frankenstein 2017 movie and let me tell you, this is an improvement. A long improvement, but an improvement nonetheless.
Setting aside the actual content of the movie, I’m happy it happened for Zack Snyder. What he went through was incredibly shitty and I bet completing this film as a four-hour epic was closure for what must have been a difficult few years. It may set a dangerous precedent for the power of social media, but that’s a discussion for another day. For now let’s just enjoy this dumb, bloated, explosive superhero tale.
Yes, I did enjoy it.