My notes on Justice League (Zack Snyder’s Justice League)
Here’s my Sight & Sound review of the theatrical release cut of Justice League.
Here are some notes on the extended/reworked version …
Well, it’s longer – four hours – and squarer – Academy ratio, suitable for IMAX though you’re watching it at home – and doesn’t have that Joss Whedon bit where Aquaman sits on the lasso of truth.
Otherwise, and it shouldn’t be a surprise, it’s pretty much the same story, pegged to the same fifth-tier DC menace (Steppenwolf), though now we also see an all-CGI Darkseid (Ray Porter) and get intimations/flash-forwards-dreams of a probably never-to-be-made alternate timeline future sequel picking up from that Evil Superman/Resistance Bats bit of Batman v Superman Dawn of Justice that eat up a whole chunk of the multi-part epilogue (which includes Jared Leto as the Joker). Otherwise, the new stuff is just that – stuff … a bit with Flash rescuing Iris West (Kiersey Clemons) after the manner of Evan Peters as Quicksilver but with a touch less flair (one thing no one wants to hear – Bryan Singer directs super-powers better than Zack Snyder or anyone working on the MCU) … a more fleshed-out Cyborg story that pretty much covers any ground his abandoned solo movie might have … Harry Lennix as Martian Manhunter popping in but kind of sabotaging the premise by not joining the fight (if he did, we wouldn’t need that whole bring-Superman-back thread) … and the trinity – well-cast Ben Affleck, Henry Cavill and Gal Gadot – appearing for longer and in a few action beats but not really registering as characters they are obviously qualified to play at full strength (and, in Gadot’s case, actually have). Gloomy zombie Superman in a black suit is still a missed opportunity for Cavill, who was at his best weird upper lip or no, in Joss Whedon’s footage.
This whole storyline trades on longstanding relationships that haven’t registered in these versions of the characters – Bruce trying to atone for the death of a Clark he barely knew and didn’t even like has no resonance … Ezra Miller and Billy Crudup are fine as Flash and Dad (though that storyline’s already been done on the TV show) and it’s nice to see Silas Stone (Joe Morton) working with sometime-Atom Ryan Choi (Ryan Zheng) but that’s all set-up for something we won’t get, like the gambit of Lex Luthor (Jesse Eisenberg) telling Deathstroke (Joe Mangianello) Batman is Bruce Wayne after everyone else seems to be in on it. As an epic, it doesn’t match the Avengers films or the CW’s Crisis on Infinite Earths crossover – because it’s glum and fatalist about characters who need to be colourful and active, is still stuck with the sort of useless CGI space bastard villain Thanos threatened to be (but wasn’t).
Though the battle scenes, which occasionally reminded me of Tarsem Singh’s sublimely silly but po-faced Immortals, tend to run on longer than needed, it isn’t often boring, but this does count as a major missed opportunity to do something in live action on the big screen with DC’s stable, which probably has as much to do with DC Comics’ already-wound-down New 52 takes on the characters as Snyder’s own input. I’d rather have seen Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Juno Temple as Batman II and Catwoman II …
I have been working my way through this movie for a few nights (it is loooooooong). The biggest thing the movie seems to be missing are real emotions. everything the movie showed that should have elicited an emotion (superman resurrected and meeting Lois again e.g.) fell flat. I noticed I was just enduring this movie for the cool visuals, much improved compared to the Joss Whedon version.