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‘Zack Snyder’s Justice League’ is also bad

by Tim English on March 24, 2021

in Print Reviews,Reviews

[Rating: Minor Rock Fist Down]

Zack Snyder’s Justice League is a Zack Snyder movie. Sorry. That’s about all I learned from watching the infamous “Snyder Cut”. That’s what we’ll be calling this flick from here on out. There was some good stuff, but still so much that didn’t work in this entirely-too-long direct-to-streaming version of what should be (hopefully, for his sake) Zack Snyder’s final DC movie.

I’ll be honest. I hated The Josstice League. (This folks, is what I’ll be calling the Joss Whedon-directed shlock from 2016). It was…what’s the word? Awful. And it wasn’t Joss Whedon’s fault. He took over a film, under tragic circumstances mind you, that was already a messy, convoluted trainwreck. He made a bad movie worse because he clearly didn’t care and he’s apparently an asshole to work with, but that’s not the point.

So here we are. It’s 2021 and thanks to the power of whiny fanboy rage and a lack of content for the still young HBOMAX streaming service, — but mostly angry fanboys — we finally get Zack Snyder’s, I guess “ultimate” vision of the film. It’s twice as long and still…not good. I went in with an open mind, didn’t watch Josstice League as to not compare. I wanted to like it. I tried.

I was actually kinda shocked at how much of it is still the same movie, just twice as long. Some of that length is due to some “character development” scenes that fail to develop character, a built-in Cyborg origin story and Snyder’s love for all of his scenes to be in slow motion. A lot of Whedon’s dumb humor is gone but it’s replaced by literally everything Snyder shot and it’s not like they had a lot of character development stuff sitting around — maybe Cyborg, but he’s a problem we’ll discuss later.

Following the death of Superman at the hands of Doomsday, Batman (Ben Affleck) is trying to unite metahumans to fight an alien invasion. For this, he first goes after Aquaman (Jason Momoa), a guy that lives underwater. Still don’t see how he was supposed to be helpful but whatever.

It’s been a rough year for Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot). Wonder Woman 1984 was a bland sequel and The Snyder Cut features the most wooden version of the Amazonian Princess so far. She’s here to look pretty and spew exposition. And for those who hated all of Whedon’s icky misogynistic humor, fear not, they’re all gone and replaced by Snyder’s far more subtle but still pretty icky misogynistic humor. 

Some stuff is better. Superman (Henry Cavill) is better. Everyone seems pleased about his CGI black suit, but hey at least it’s black! He feels less clunky as a character device and he does look better and not just because of the lack of the pornstache-face-nightmare that plagued Supes during The Josstice League. Shame Cavill hasn’t been given a chance to play a proper Superman yet.

As much as I hate to admit it, the Flash is better, too. Ezra Miller is still a snooze of an actor but the  Flash as a character is better written and less annoying. Funny how things like “better than Suicide Squad” and “less annoying” have become quotable praise for DC movies. Of course, Zack Snyder does include a scene in which Flash saves his lovey-dovey crushy girl from a horrific car crash in what has to be the worst, and most disturbing speedster scene ever.

Cyborg though? Still boring. Maybe it’s the character? Maybe it’s the actor (Ray Fisher)? Either way, wedging a Cyborg origin movie into a “Justice League movie” (end quote), is about the only way to get anyone to watch a Cyborg origin flick. There’s a lot of “too much going on” in this movie and Cyborg is part of that problem. He really needed his own movie to tell a competent story about the one character mainstream audiences won’t be familiar with.

I didn’t mention the villains yet. Steppenwolf (Ciarán Hinds) is better and yet worse. He overall design looks better, kind of, but he’s got this constantly spinning or rotating armor that seems grossly impractical and he still has a punchable face. His motivation is to find mother boxes for this dork named Darkseid (Ray Porter), who is this bully who sends out his lackeys to do stuff because he had his ass handed to him last time he came to Earth.

Oh yeah, there’s this huge battle scene where Darkseid get his ass kicked — in the Josstice League it was Steppenwolf in this scene but this is “The Snyder Cut”, so he actually shows us the big bad getting his dick kicked in the dirt and sent packing, really kind of making him a non-threat, especially because now that Superman is back (which is why he was gonna come to Earth in the first place, cuz he thought Superman was dead). Get it? So now that Supes is back, Darkseid has to find something called an Anti-Life Equation. A what?? There are 4 freaking hours of this nonsense.

But that gets us to Zack’s new and improved ending, which is marginally better, but it’s not earned the way it could have been through proper storytelling, character development and patience. Nothing in this movie is earned. It’s fan service to the core. And that’s fine, it was the fans who made this happen, but let’s not pretend this is the movie we would have gotten five years ago. 

This is the “everything including the kitchen sink” version. And why not? Releasing to streaming is the perfect place to just dump it all and say “here’s all the crap we filmed.” But more does not mean better. Let me rephrase. It is better, but only because it is Zack Snyder’s unified vision. It’s the better version of a bad movie, but it’s still not good. It’s filled with long, drawn out sequences in slow motion and terrible ethereal choral music, set to scenes that do anything but progress plot.

And give me a break with the dumb “nightmare” sequence Zack filmed in his backyard during the pandemic. You’re telling me this is setting up a movie with Batman, Flash, Cyborg, Mera, and Deathstroke rolling around post apocalyptic Gotham looking for an intergalactic math equation (whatever the f*ck the anti-life equation thing is) with Jared Leto’s Joker?

Hard pass.

Writer. Ad Man. Jedi. Sometimes people ask for my opinion on movies. Sometimes they agree. Member of the Kansas City Film Critics Circle and the Broadcast Film Critics Association. Creator and voice of the Reel Hooligans podcast. Find us on iTunes. Board member for the Independent Filmmakers Coalition of Kansas City and founder of the Terror on the Plains Horror Festival.

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