08 April, 2021

I Saw Zack Snyder’s ‘Justice League’—That’s Four Hours of my Life that I’ll Never Get Back

Yes, Zack Snyder's 'Justice League' Was Worth the Wait - Hollywood in Toto

No, it really wasn’t. But let’s see what Toto has to say before I give my thoughts. The movie wasn’t wholly bad.

We now have director Zack Snyder’s version of “Justice League,” the movie he tried to tell in 2017 before a personal tragedy consumed his world.

This four-hour behemoth is bloated, no doubt, with moments that scream cutting room floor. In a way that’s not the point. The film exists to placate fans, the group who helped will the project into existence.

For them, “Zack Snyder’s Justice League” may be nirvana. For everyone else it’s a rich improvement over the Joss Whedon version but a tale that can’t measure up to the best Marvel movies.

Hmm. I can’t disagree with too much here. I think the moments that scream cutting room floor is the point, so I’d have to quibble on that one, but let’s move on.

The film, rendered in full screen, gives us a far richer villain in Steppenwolf, at least visually speaking. He’s no Thanos, to be clear, but his power and presence make him a worthy foe for our assembled heroes.

Of course Superman returns, again, with Cavill showing once more he doesn’t just look the part. Too bad Hollywood isn’t always sure how to convey a Boy Scout in our anti-hero age.

The point about Superman is a great one, and is one of the key problems with the DC films, frankly since about Superman II, back in the early 80s. Superman is the ultimate Boy Scout. He is the goody two shoes of goody two shoes. And the directors and writers of the DC films can’t figure out how to make that work. They try to make him darker & edgier, and more human. But it never quite works out right. They lose the “superhero” in him when they try. Here is a place that DC can take a cue from Marvel. Captain America is similar, but Marvel makes his “aww shucks” good guy image play. He’s the most heroic of the Avengers, the one character that constantly stands up for what he believes in, and when they need him to, his boyish outlook on the world makes for good humor.

As in these cuts from Avengers: Age of Ultron:

Amazingly enough, DC has the exact opposite problem with Batman. Batman really is dark and edgy. In fact, let’s be honest with ourselves. Bruce Wayne is a sociopath. He’s seriously mentally disturbed and walks a fine line between vigilante and villain. But movie super heroes that are that dark don’t work either. Look at what Marvel has done with Deadpool and also to Natasha Romanoff/Black Widow.

Deadpool is just as crazy as Batman, and Romanoff has the dark history that is at least somewhat similar to Bruce Wayne’s. Romanoff is a better example, so I’ll stick with her. They don’t play her dark except when they need to. The hint around the darkness “I have red on my leger” and show glimpses of it (I’m sure we’ll see more in Black Widow when it’s released), but mostly she and Hawkeye are there to remind us of the humanity of the Avengers.  DC could do something similar with Bruce.

(Side note: another Marvel character that’s dark and edgy is Wolverine, and again, Marvel usually manages to balance the light and the dark with him, again by showing us his humanity)

These are the two biggest characters in the DC universe, maybe the two biggest characters in all of comic book superheroes, and the DC folks cannot figure out how to portray them on screen. This is DC’s biggest problem.

But enough about DC movies in general, we’re talking about Zack Snyder’s Justice League.

Back to Toto:

Mild spoiler -- the film caps with a half-hour epilogue that feels like pure fan service.

Then again, had Snyder resisted his passion for slo-mo sequences the entire project could come in at a neat three hours.

Maybe two.

Oh God, the epilogue. After 3 1/2 hours, a half hour epilogue is a killer. By that time you’re long past looking at your watch wondering when this movie is ever going to end. And Toto nails it here. The many slo-mo sequences just kill things. They’re too long, and there are too many of them.

The biggest problem with this film in particular is that 4 hours is both way too short and way too long. There is far too much packed into this one film. The extra details on Cyborg are wonderful. Deserving of their own film, in fact. And Marvel would never have done this as just one movie. It would have been at least 3, probably more like 5 or 6.

Despite that, there are scenes that are Star Trek: The Motion Picture slow. There’s a slo-mo sequence with the Flash that is just agonizing to watch. When watching the epilogue, you’re looking around for Sharon Stone’s ice pick from Basic Instinct to use on yourself.

I’m glad I finally got to see it. I don’t know if I’ll ever watch it again. Is it better than the version that was released in theaters? Parts of it are. I liked the extended Cyborg storyline. I liked Da’saad and Darkseid, but their parts were too short (back to that whole “Marvel would have done this in 5 or 6 films” thing). But there are too many parts that I’d frankly have to fast forward through to watch it again.

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