Where to begin? How do you discuss a movie as legendary as #TheSnyderCut. Seriously, the hashtag became so massive that it literally transcended into reality, with billboards, planes, fundraisers, and so much more. Five years have passed since this movie’s predecessor Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice. A movie called Justice League was released, but it wasn’t a sequel to that. It was an abomination that never should have been made.
Over the years, I as well as millions have been campaigning for the original version of Justice League; the version without the dumb jokes, awful cg, a terrible mustache, and plot holes so massive it could be classified as a black hole. It wasn’t what we were promised — I knew it, you knew it, and Warner Bros. knew it. For years they denied it — sometimes ferociously — and as the years went on, Zack Snyder shared images of this legendary cut. The fans flamed the intrigue, the intrigue grew more and more, until we reached May 20th, 2020 where we finally got that announcement.
Years of fighting, years of campaigning, years of nay-sayers condescendingly telling us it doesn’t exist, — saying its a magical unicorn or a pipe dream — and years of patiently waiting for #ReleaseTheSnyderCut… we now finally have it in all of its 4 hours and 2 minutes glory. We have it. It exists. Now the big question remains: how is it?
It’s a masterpiece.
Simply put, Zack Snyder’s Justice League is the best DCEU movie, Zack Snyder’s best movie, and probably one of the best comic book movies of all time, and that’s including Joker and The Dark Knight — and that’s not me being hyperbolic, that’s with full sincerity of the highest order. Every single aspect of this film, from the writing, to the directing, the music, the acting, the action, the cinematography, all of it is just incredible. It’s so well executed it could bring a tear to my eye and it did that too.
Let’s start by addressing the format of this movie. It was shot using the entire image from the 35 mm film stock thus creating the 1.33:1 image. This was always meant to be seen in an IMAX theater, that’s why Snyder and DP Fabian Wagner shot it that way. Now this format drew a lot of criticism online and it even made me a bit skeptical too. But once you start watching it, you get drawn into the story almost immediately and completely forget about it within seconds. And speaking of seconds, the run time.
I know a lot of you will be a bit hesitant because of that whopping 242 minute run time. Now I have two things to say about it: the first one, SHUT UP. Don’t talk to me about “Oh, it’s too long. I don’t have the patience for it.” Really? I know you watched two seasons of ‘The Office’ in one day. You are more than capable of sitting and watching something for that long. And now with the childish answer out of the way, that brings me to my number two: it’s not boring.
Now when I say it’s not boring, I LITERALLY mean it. There is not a single wasted second of this movie. Every shot, every line of dialogue, every action sequence holds your attention like a mother holds a baby. It’s comfortable and in a really good way. This movie never once felt its length and actually went by relatively quickly. I also must commend Snyder on making that decision early on. It needed to be that long as you are introducing three new characters without their own movies as well as prominent players within their own storyline. Justice League always needed to be this long and it’s great for it. There’ll be critics who say that this feels like an assembly cut. Assembly cuts are usually long messes that just need a real good trim. That is simply not the case here.
No. Here, that runtime is used to explore the lore, the world, and the characters that inhabit it. Which brings me to my next gush-filled point: the characters. When you have a team-up movie, it shouldn’t feel like one man’s story or even a two man’s story. It should feel like it’s everyone’s story. That’s the one thing that the MCU hasn’t really nailed down. As good as Infinity War and Endgame were, they always felt like Tony’s story or Steve’s story; they never felt like the story for EVERYONE. With Zack Snyder’s Justice League this is everyone’s movie. Unlike the other version, Superman doesn’t come flying in and saves the day single handedly. No. The days is won because the League worked together. Everyone working as one.
Everyone here has more than a moment in the sun and each part is played beautifully. Ben Affleck really is the best Batman that we have so far. We really do see him as a changed Batman; almost like a born again Christian. He spends the movie desperately trying to honor his promise to Superman by building a team and honoring his memory as well as save the world. Gal Gadot is amazing as Wonder Woman, who is clearly trying to leave from the shadows of her past. Jason Mamoa just kills it as Aquaman. Here, he is sort of the same as he was in his solo movie; a man stuck between two worlds, but angry for the loss of his mother. It’s truly great stuff.
However, the biggest changes comes to Superman, Flash, and Cyborg, as they all get major overhauls in terms of character, presentation, story, and stupid mustaches. Let’s start with the Flash. Ezra Miller here is brilliant as Barry Allen and even better as the Flash. No joke, he proves why he was cast. His scenes with Billy Crudup’s Henry Allen really boil down to them show off some serious acting chops. But best of all, he’s cool. He’s funny, but like a natural funny, not all up in your face like he was previously. Henry Cavill is a perfect Superman. You don’t seem him until the two and a half hour mark, but his presence is always felt. And when he does return (Come on, you knew he was coming back) he is so bad ass it’s not even funny. Plus, and this is the best part, he has THE BLACK SUIT. It looks nothing short of stunningly gorgeous. Also not having that ugly f***ing mustache helps too.
But the biggest one of all: is Ray Fisher’s Cyborg. Oh my God, what did they do to him? In 2017, Cyborg was a stale, uninteresting character, with no arc, no relatable attachments, and said booyah after — you know — getting ripped in half and almost seeing the world end!! Now we won’t go into the nitty gritty of Ray Fisher and the gross production problems that plagued him and the movie. But after everything that he’s talked about over the years, both about the behind the scenes and his own character, it’s almost insulting at how amazing his character is.
Zack Snyder called Cyborg “the heart of the movie.” And he is. He absolutely shines in the role, showing so much range you’d forget that this was his first real role as an actor. The guy had no credits before BvS and to have done this on your first real go: astounding. But what actually sucks is that many of the film’s gut punches come from his character and it’s a shame how things ended up. He really was one of the best parts of this movie. Hope they bring him back..
And that’s all just our main leads. The side characters do just as good. Jesse Eisenberg, Diana Lane, Joe Morton, J.K. Simmons, Willem Dafoe, Joe Manganiello, Jeremy Irons, Kiersey Clemmons, Harry Lennix, Samantha Wan, Ann Ogbomo, Connie Nielsen, Karen Byrson, Billy Crudup, Ryan Choi, Amber Heard (not touching that one), Ray Porter, Peter Guinness, and even Jared Leto all do incredibly here. Not a single poor performance that comes to mind. But, I do have a small rant…or, rather praise.
Amy Adams is in this movie quite a bit, however, she’s used quite sparingly. No joke, she probably has about six or seven minutes of screen time in the first hour and half, and only a fraction of that has her talking. The rest of it is just her doing something softly or silently. She is given very little and does SO MUCH. You feel for Lois in every movement, tear, and line of dialogue. It’s nothing short of incredible how amazing Amy Adams is.
I know this review is taking a while, but know that this is a four hour movie that unfortunately has association with a much worse, much shorter movie. There’s gonna be a lot of ground to cover here. I apologize for that. But there’s unfortunately a large group of people who want to see this movie fail, and will try to trash talk it as much as possible. I feel it’s only right to explain why this movie is a triumph.
This isn’t just the same movie with extended or alternate scenes. This is a completely different movie in almost every way shape and form. Sure, there are some similarities, and you will find those here. However, do not confuse similarities with the definition of being the same. This is not 2017 Justice League or ‘Josstice League’ as it has been referred to, this is a new movie that we have never seen before. And unfortunately, we have reached the rant portion of this review, as the differences between the two movies are not only drastic, they’re downright insulting at times. I’d list a few, but I did that already and it made this review far too long. I’ll probably do a feature on it soon. But one difference that comes to mind is Steppenwolf’s design.
I’d love to talk more about Steppenwolf, but this review is already so long and I know I am running out of space at this point. Plus, I’m not sure you have the patience to sit and read something. (WINK WINK). But I still need to talk about him so I’ll keep it quick. Steppenwolf isn’t that developed and that’s fine. We know everything about him through the subtly from both Zack’s direction and Ciarian Hinds performance. His redesign works so much better than the previous one. He has a lot less dialogue here, but like I said, the subtly more than makes up for it. What really makes him awesome is that he is ruthlessly brutal. Whenever he appears onscreen, people will die. So he does his job more than perfectly.
Finally, I’d like to discuss the content of the film. It’s rated R so it must be filled with blood and violence and swearing. Gasp! Wait…actually, yeah. It’s filled with that. It’s filled with A LOT of that. There are more than three f-bombs dropped and each one hits like a train. The violence is even more brutal than anything I’ve seen from Deadpool. Blood is in short supply and neither are limbs flying. People die really badly in this movie to a point where you have to stop yourself and scream, “Jesus Christ, what was that?!?” And that’s just the surface level stuff. We haven’t even talked about the tone.
Gone are Joss Whedon’s awful quips and cringe humor. Goodbye any semblance of a light tone because this movie is DARK. There are a few moments of humor. A few. Nothing more, nothing less. There’s this feeling of hopelessness and doom that covers the film. There are two Knightmare sequences that just continuously punch you until you can’t stand anymore. And sure, that is something that always comes when you’re dealing with Darkseid, but watching it play out is just…you feel hopeless. And that’s also on top of some pretty nasty gut punches.
Cyborg’s origin is really sad and makes you feel for him immediately. His disdain and hatred for his dad is heartbreaking. Even when we see him be a hero, it’s bittersweet, but the lead up to it makes you feel like the world is against you. And for those of you who saw the trailer…yeah, that scene hurts too. Barry’s relationship with his own father as he’s been imprisoned for (not) killing Barry’s mom. Henry tells his son to give up on him and the weight of it can be felt like a sack of bricks. Bruce’s conviction to honor Superman also layers the film in this sense of regret and shame on Bruce’s part. And then there’s the final battle — a mad scramble to try and save the world. Something happens during this battle that will shock any casual viewer. It’ll be amazing to see the reactions play out online.
Alright, we finally made it to the verdict. After all that rambling and dissecting, what could my score possibly be?
Final Verdict: 5 out of 5 Stars.
Are you really shocked? Despite that glaring plot hole, this is an otherwise perfect movie. A masterfully crafted film that was almost canned because a studio got cold feet, then wanted to cram their biggest mistake of all time under the bed so that no one could see. But people did see and they will continue to do so. And yes, it’s true. This movie does end on a massive cliffhanger that leaves you wanting more. Now as of right now, there are no plans to make a sequel to this. But…things change. Times change. I do hope this will get enough support to seal the deal on a sequel, because lord knows I want one.
But even if I don’t get it, I’m thankful, you know. I remember following the Snyder Cut back in November of 2017. I’ve wanted to see this movie for years and I finally got it. It was everything I waned and more. I’m glad Zack got to finally make the movie he wanted to make with no holds bar. This journey following him has been a roller coaster of emotions; i’ve had ups and down, laughter and tears — it’s been something truly special. And if this is the end then what a bitter sweet end it is.