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Review: Zack Snyder’s Justice League – “RIP #TheSnyderCut, Long Live Zack Snyder’s Justice League”

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So Begins The End

I felt like a kid at Christmas last night. Specifically 8 years old me, back in 1989. Knowing I was about to see Batman and it would likely be an event I’d harp on about in 32 years time.

I am rapidly approaching 40. Knowing deep down, I should grow up and I should almost certainly stop buying 12” Hot Toys. But there’s no doubt, it’s been a constant in my life. So more than anyone else, I’ve been looking forward to this.

The Snyder Cut is no more and Zack Snyder’s Justice League is now out in the world.

However you look at it, that’s pretty incredible. From tachegate, to the announcement, to it leaking, to Sky putting on ‘The Family Stone’ in error — presumably to kill fans of a heart attack – It’s been a roller coaster and the film is exactly that. A relentless roller coaster. It just rattles along, seemingly uncontrollably.

I also believe it’s a ***** film. It’s undoubtedly a ***** experience. A magnum opus of a film. Near mythical, yet playing out right before our eyes.

“For Autumn”, comes up in a rare moment of peace at the very end, before a glorious version of a song I love. It’s a chance to draw a breath. Like Barry Allen, you might feel bruised and battered. Certainly winded. In amongst the film’s existence, it’s important to stop and remember why we’re here. Whether he was dismissed or left, Zack Snyder lost a daughter. That theme plays out loud & clear throughout, as we’re reminded even gods — and aliens — have a parent/child bond.

It’s hard to remember back to when Justice League buzz was positive, but there was a time.

In the aftermath of Batman v Superman, set visits called out how focused the film seem to be on addressing concerns about the darkness of BvS. How there was a sense of optimism now. It’s incredible to think that in amongst all of the rubble, this film has managed to tie everything together. Both what went before and what will ever come after.

Both allowing for the continuation of these characters, but actually slowing an arc, that could stop right there, on the steepest of cliffhangers and still work. Even I, the most ardent of fans, didn’t expect that. I was genuinely concerned before this week. The whole journey, sped up by twitter’s toxicity, has taught me to love what you love. No apologies.

The ratio thing worried me most, initially. It needn’t have. The addition of height to give these gods a larger than life appearance is well worth it. It reminds me of when my Blu-ray of ‘Transformers: Revenge Of The Fallen’ went into IMAX mode and filled the screen. Everything seemed larger than life.

A black and white version exists — more importantly in 4K. I can’t wait to have another 4 hours well spent. Much like the ‘Mad Max: Fury Road Black & Chrome’ edition, having the choice will be fantastic.

You can pick and choose. Just like a comic. Pick up and discard as your taste allows. There are multiverses now. The 8-year-old me that had to imagine Christopher Reeve alongside Keaton, doesn’t need to anymore. Val Kilmer is vindicated. Maybe even Clooney.

Snyder addressed this comic book approach head-on by breaking the film into Chapters. Originally planned as being released episodically, I’m surprised at how well this would have worked. Each chapter a cliff hanger. Each one a comic — or better still — graphic novel in its own right. Snyder knows that contractually that would’ve been impossible to release, so again goes all out.

My word does he go all out.

The humour stays but tonally is far more acceptable based on what went before. The Flash still trips, but it serves the story, as it shows he’s learning his powers and is often distracted. He certainly doesn’t fall on top of Wonder Woman inappropriately, so it’s good to clear up that all of the bits I didn’t like about the theatrical release have been redacted.

The score is upgraded considerably, including several nods to Zimmer and some of my favourite scenes from Man Of Steel. Maybe they can try again with Danny Elfman’s score when we get Keaton back for The Flash. An idea that should’ve worked far better than it did in the Joss Whedon cut.

The use of footage from ‘BvS’ helps to stitch everything together. Seeing again how Bruce tries to bring this team together. This hasn’t just started here. In Chapter 1. It’s the whole point of ‘BvS’. I think people forget that Batman & Bruce Wayne are both in Suicide Squad, trying still to build this squad. I say that because people — specifically detractors — always seem to expect a build-up akin to MCU. That had 20+ films. You can’t compare.

I’d argue the treatment of villains here outstrips much of what led us to Thanos. Especially the CGI, so poor when we first glimpsed him. But that’s for another Chapter, right?

This is a Batman who’s haggard and 20 years into his career. There’s history. We just didn’t necessarily see it yet. Considering the number of people that complain we continually see his parents killed in an alleyway, I’m surprised anyone would want to.

You’ll have read how much Cyborg and The Flash are now core to this film, so I’ll spare you. What seems to have been missed is how much better Wonder Woman & Superman are served. Both getting to grieve and add to the parent/child dynamic at play. They’re trying to understand humanity too. In glimpses they do.

Aquaman benefits from the fact we’ve now seen his standalone film, but that’s not essential. It’s coherent regardless. Flash and Cyborg get hints at their origin stories here. But they’re not finite. There are limitless possibilities as to where they go next.

Snyder’s treatment throughout the trilogy of gods & aliens really does add to their presence. The Chapters are really a masterstroke.

Getting 4 hours free is a tough gig, no doubt. So why not watch them individually? Maybe make up a 90 minute film with Chapter 1 & 2? Maybe a full-on action film with 5 & 6 — which will likely be how my 6 y/o wants to view it. By the time Chapter 6 starts to harken back to Zimmer though, I defy anyone to not want to hang around for the Epilogue, though. Which enhances what we’ve seen before.

It really makes you wonder what else lies beyond this film. We’ve now got this and Avengers: Endgame. If we really wanted to, we could ~ gasp! ~ double bill them. Or even watch the end battles of both, or, or…. The possibilities are endless. Including the possibility, although I’m yet to see it, of preferring Joss Whedon’s cut.

Comic books. Graphic novels. Use and discard as you see fit. That is about getting the film the DCEU originally promised.

A big surprise was the fact many of the brash decisions weren’t Snyder’s. If you could get polar opposite walks into a story ocean, we now have it.

The violence is amped up and it earns its certificate. 3 F-bombs, so parents can scramble for the mute if they need. The violence isn’t as gratuitous as I was led to believe, though. This is god versus humans. Or gods versus gods. Everything, including Cyborg’s suit, carry weight.

The outcome of the London terrorist attack remains the same, so I’m surprised some have focused on that. The bit that precedes it, is up there with the Batman warehouse scene, so you’ll know where you stand on that. Does it glamourise violence or undermine Wonder Woman? Absolutely not. People might want to remember she almost single-handedly won WW1, in a film that most helped top to $1BN.

The film is full of ballistic & bombastic action. Yes, lots of it in slow motion. But there are quiet moments, too. “He was my Hero”, says one Superhero to another. “How many years since our kinds spoke?”, Diana asks Arthur. They’re world-building. And they’re doing it in a masterful way flash-forwards and back. Much in the way that Marvel have done.

Don’t worry about the “anti-life equation” and other comic book stuff. Omega beams. Green Lanterns. You can pick & choose what you take from it, much like I did when I didn’t fully understand who was who in The Lord Of The Rings.

So what next? #RestoreTheSnyderVerse will continue to trend. That wasn’t new this week, by the way. If the die-hard fans — who a minority of which have let the side down, with their otherwise fascinating online campaign — have their way. It’ll all restore. But somehow, it would’ve been a defeat if it didn’t. Restoring it all seems equally possible and impossible to do. The emotional toll on that family must be huge. Maybe it’s time to put down the cape(s). If they do, I’d respect the decision and at least have some closure.

I’d hope at the very least Snyder would move upstairs and be involved like Nolan was in the future of the DCEU. Maybe The Ayer Cut of ‘Suicide Squad’ benefits from a successful debut of ‘The Suicide Squad’, this summer.

But you’ve only got to see the reaction to Leto in the trailer to know many of those bridges have been burnt for many. Even Sir Ridley Scott is tarnished now if you believe everything you read.

The most surprising thing for me? The more I’ve read up and now both versions are finally out there? I’ve actually come away with a feeling that JW actually did what was asked of him.

More humour.
Lighter touch.
Try & get it to sub 2 hours.

Not a newfound respect, but an understanding. Then I yo-yo back & think about the day he realised everything that was availableand that was the best he could do. He made bad choices. Especially in keeping with the tone and legacy work done before.

Superman is finally reborn. Suddenly the world seems a bit more…. hopeful.

The future has taken place in the present

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One Comment

  1. Zack Snyder delivers by far his best film with Justice League. The film has an engaging story with a lot of heart and a great cast of characters who all have good chemistry together standouts being Ezra Millers Flash and Ray Fishers Cyborg. It also has many easter eggs and cameos fans of the comics will recognize. Honestly as a big fan of DC this is my favorite DCEU film.

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