Zack Snyder's Justice League - Movie Review - Page 2
Picking up right where he left off
[This review does contain major spoilers.]
Now, as for Zack Snyder's Justice League, I am floored that the studio actually gave Zack Snyder the time and money he needed to complete his vision and make the movie he had originally intended to make, to discard the Joss Whedon additions, restore all of his cut scenes, finish his original CGI, and even film a few new scenes to make it all come together. This is an almost unprecedented victory for artistic integrity, and if you can say nothing else good about Zack Snyder's Justice League, you absolutely have to acknowledge that its existence is a good thing for artists everywhere.
And this version of the movie is the clearly superior version, in my opinion. It's far from perfect--and I won't sugarcoat my complaints this time around--but before I get to that, let me talk about the thing that surprised me the most: the handling of the characters. Despite the previous films feeling like they didn't really understand their characters, this one does a far better job, without necessarily retconning the characters previously established (a sin committed extensively by the original cut). It also does a better job introducing the new ones, especially Cyborg, who is, as promised, the emotional core of the story.
They did justice to Cyborg, but he never says "Booyah"
That said, the inclusion of Martian Manhunter feels entirely tacked on, especially his first introduction, in which he actually steals the emotional punch of Martha's heart-to-heart with Lois Lane. There are also a few characters, including Martha and Lois, who have very little to do in the film, and they don't feel necessary outside of one or two scenes. Commissioner Gordon serves no purpose whatsoever, and we're never given any reason to care about the Atlanteans. Unfortunately, even Aquaman feels a bit like a fifth wheel at times, though I do love Jason Mamoa's performance.
Superman still carries some of the brooding of his character from the previous films, but it does feel like his evolution is more earned and less extreme than in the original cut. He is getting much closer to the Superman we all expect him to be, but Zack Snyder doesn't overdo it and turn him into the Christopher Reeve Superman without explanation the way Joss Whedon does. (That said, those glimpses of "true" Superman in the original cut are proof that Henry Cavill deserves a chance to play the role properly someday.) This cut also doesn't use him as a deus ex machina. Sure, he is seriously overpowered and wins the battle with Steppenwolf practically on his own, but without the rest of the team, he loses the war.
Oh, and Thanos--I mean, Darkseid--is in this, too, I guess
As for Steppenwolf, he's still a generic bad guy, but at least there is more of an attempt to give him motivation and hints at an intense backstory without all the ridiculous talk of "Mother." He feels more intimidating and more intelligent, and the casting of the great Ciarán Hinds to do his voice finally makes sense. His CGI is also better--though still not perfect--and his defeat is way more satisfying than the cutesy way the parademons turn on him in the other version.
However, at the end of the day, this is still the same basic story, and it still suffers from some of the same narrative flaws and illogical plot beats. The excesses of Zack Snyder are on full display, with ridiculous amounts of slow motion, odd musical choices, and scenes that only exist for the sake of a cool visual image. Granted, few directors can capture the epic look and feel of a comic book panel better than Snyder, and when he makes something look cool, it does actually look cool, as opposed to a director like Michael Bay, whose attempts to make something look cool are more migraine-inducing than awe-inspiring.
I don't mind the epilogue, but it is probably pointless
This isn't as big a mess as Batman v. Superman, but it does have a lot of unnecessary bloat that fails to justify the extreme runtime. Perhaps if this had been released as a miniseries as HBO considered at one point, that might be more forgivable, but as this is a movie meant to be watched in one sitting, it is easy to get exhausted and bored by it, to get really annoyed by Snyder's stylistic need to slow everything down both literally and figuratively.
One sequence that a lot of people seem to complain about that I actually have no problem with is the epilogue, which continues the setup of the "Knightmare" sequence from Batman v. Superman. I even think Jared Leto's better as the Joker here than he is in Suicide Squad, though he is certainly overacting and his dialogue is a bit too gritty and rude for the character. However, I wish the whole thing hadn't been revealed as a dream, because that reveal is, in a word, stupid.
So there you have it. Instead of giving this film a star rating as I would have done a few years ago, I'm now going to rate it in comparison to the other films in Zack Snyder's series. It is better than both the original Justice League and Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice, but I'm far less likely to ever go back to it than I am Man of Steel. As I said on the previous page, I still have problems with Man of Steel, but of all four of these films, it is the most entertaining and rewatchable, even if Zack Snyder's Justice League might eek out a victory if all I were gauging were artistic merit.