So I watched Zack Snyder’s Justice League…
The movement to have Snyder’s Cut of the Justice League released was really inspiring and a testament to the power of fans. I was largely indifferent to the movement – thinking it would be nothing more than a standard director’s cut instead of a transformation that would not only alter but undeniably elevate the movie’s quality.
Okay, basic plot: following the death of Superman (Henry Cavill), Batman (Ben Affleck) and Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot) seek to form a legion of heroes to defend the Earth against any new threats she might face. They manage to find three heroes with extraordinary powers – The Flash (Ezra Miller), Cyborg (Ray Fisher) and Aquaman (Jason Mamoa). Although initially reluctant to unite, each individual member soon realises that they can’t win the coming fight without each other.
I watched this movie with my wife and it was interesting to note our different perceptions and experiences watching the film. She had not watched the original Justice League and wasn’t really a fan of DC movies – echoing the familiar complaints of them being literally (and figuratively) too dark. I had watched the original, enjoyed it and often prefer the grittier, darker themes that DC movies explore. This movie’s story is told in six (technically seven) narrative acts. The first four acts follow the original’s plot very closely. There are differences but these are mainly in the form of extended scenes which give more insight into the individual characters. This sometimes works well as in the case of Steppenwolf (Ciarán Hinds) – the movie’s villain. In the original, Steppenwolf is a paint-by-numbers villain who never really excites or intrigues you. His extended and additional scenes help flesh out the character more and elevate him from cookie-cutter vague bad guy to an actual threat with a purpose.
The additional scenes don’t always work out so well like in the case of Ray Fisher’s Cyborg. His additional scenes just didn’t give me any greater insight or emotional investment in the movie. I felt the same way about him in this movie as I did in the original. I actually preferred his depiction in the original because there was a little more mystery to his character and this suited his story a bit more, in my opinion. This was a widespread problem I had with the first few narrative acts of the film. They feel like a standard director’s cut with deleted scenes which gives you more runtime but not necessarily more story. As a result, in the beginning of the movie, you find yourself comparing the two versions of this movie and looking for differences rather than enjoying The Snyder Cut as a standalone project.
By the fourth/fifth act of the movie, this problem fades away as the changes from the original become more and more impactful – causing you to stop trying to spot the differences from the original and make you see this film as a whole new project. There are the obvious aesthetic changes with Zack Snyder’s natural darkness in stark contrast to Whedon’s red instagram filter. While these changes seem only superficial at first, as a whole they signify – as the name of the final act suggests – Something Darker. Nowhere is this more evident than in this film’s action. Zack Snyder is known for crafting brutal, bloody action sequences and while you don’t quite get the bloody, he delivers a brutal, Mortal Kombat-esque final battle that literally made me jump out my seat.
I realise this hasn’t been so much a review of the Snyder Cut but more a description of the differences between the two films. I really enjoyed the original but you could tell that it wasn’t a Zack Snyder movie. This is. It’s a completely different movie especially during its finale. Whedon’s bright hues and quippy humour is replaced with Snyder’s realism and grit. My wife loved it and that coming from her is a bigger compliment than me saying I did. It made me excited to see where the DCEU is going next…um, where is the DCEU going next? Anyway, watch it. 8/10