Published on March 21st, 2021 | by Craig Silliphant0
Justice League: The Snyder Cut
Since Joss Whedon is mayor of Cancellationtown and the studio refuses to let this sad DC film universe die, let’s all watch the Snyder Cut.
Okay, everyone’s going to have a take on The Snyder Cut of The Justice League. So faar, I’ve seen a lot of, “It’s awesome!” or “It’s terrible!”
The truth is somewhere in the middle. There’s both good and bad in this movie.
The whole fanboy DC vs Marvel argument is pfffft. I don’t happen to like this generation of DC movies, but I refuse to align with DC (or Marvel) haters. They both bring imagination to life. They’ve created modern myths, gods, and otherwise relatable characters for us to reflect on our own lives with.
I’m not a fan of the Snyder DC universe, partially because of some of the weak storytelling, but mostly because of the weird, gloomy, swampy look of them. My original review of Whedon’s Justice League takeover was basically that it wasn’t the train wreck many people were saying, but it wasn’t good either. I was curious about the Snyder Cut, but also not looking forward to a doubling down on an already mediocre movie with a four-hour version. I’ve also had mixed feelings about Snyder himself; I used to like him (Dawn of the Dead, for example), but he’s lost me in recent years (geez, Sucker Punch, anyone?).
After finally squeezing the four-hour version in amongst work, more work, and kids (more work), I wouldn’t say I was blown away, but I was sort of, kind of, halfway pleasantly surprised.
But let’s break it down, shall we?
There are some cool action moments, but a lot of mess too. Snyder relies too much on the cool-for-10-minutes but now over-the-hill speed ramping effect (just kidding, it was never cool). There’s so much speed ramping in this movie that you wonder if it would have been an hour shorter if more things just played out in real time. I thought we were over this brief 2000s stylistic effect, but the DC film universe just won’t let it go.
I also hate the look of most of the film. It’s washed out and mostly looks like these poor people live in a universe with a tie dye filter and oodles of smog. It just looks gross and grim. And that’s before mentioning that the CGI is abysmal. It was terrible in the theatrical release, it has been terrible in other DC movies (like, Wonder Woman 1984, yeesh), and it’s terrible again here. In fact, more than a few scenes look like poorly rendered video game cut scenes that haven’t been finalized yet.
Unpacking the story gets a bit complicated. It still has many of the flaws of the original, which makes sense, since it’s sort of the same movie. But I think it’s safe to say that the Snyder Cut spins a better yarn. It explains more than the theatrical cut and it deepens some of the characters and important moments. While there were some good emotional beats in the Whedon Cut, they are more plentiful and clear in the Snyder Cut. It feels more epic, which I suppose it better, in order to further justify that run time. And as a side note, I could watch sad, weary Batfleck all day long, pursing his lips and sighing with his eyes.
All that said, it’s overlong. It rarely feels slow, so in that way it justifies some sort of longer run time, but between speed ramping and other fat on the story you could easily hack down the screen time by a good chunk (like, do we need to see Aquaman’s village ladies singing for a couple of minutes? How does that move the story forward?). I should also add, without giving anything away, that the story coda, while interesting, is bizarre and unnecessary, and adds more time to the movie. I’d rather have seen more time with Clark and Bruce actually being friends after sitting through so many movies to get to this point. Heck, give me a whole movie about the bravest and boldest friendship in comic books.
I also think that more Darkseid was a good thing. Steppenwolf fared better in the Snyder Cut; in the Whedon cut, he was just another CGI baddie. Here, he has more backstory that fills him out better, even if he occupies that sad Director Krennic middle manager role. He also paves the way for the absolute badassery of Darkseid. Darkseid doesn’t do much, but he was obviously intended for sequels, so that’s totally cool with me.
Overall, it’s a messy movie, though that was always an expectation. The real surprise is that even with all its faults, even with all my pre-existing feelings about it, I still enjoyed it to a certain degree. Maybe it’s been around long enough that I’ve grown numb to the things that I hated, hated, hated about this universe. Maybe I have Stockholm Syndrome at this point. But I’d say this is one of the best things from the Snyder DC film universe, which is still damning praise, but hey, it’s some kind of praise, right?
Is it weird that I’d watch a sequel to this now? God, help us all. Or rather, Superman, save us.
RANDOM THOUGHTS – Some spoilers below
(Hey, it’s a four-hour movie, so I have four hours’ worth of observations).
- That black Superman suit is awesome.
- We lost a lot of the comedy in this version, which is fine with me. I didn’t mind the comedy in the Whedon version (though it stepped on too many serious moments), but this version felt truer to its original vision. I don’t love the unrelenting grimness of Superman in this universe, but I’d prefer that to shoehorning in jokes. That said, Ezra still goes back and forth from likable and funny to annoying and I want Superman to punch his face.
- The R rating makes for some better action. The Amazons fighting Steppenwolf, while longer, has some sweet hits. And they really mess up Steppenwolf at the end.
- Cyborg is cloyingly maudlin in the Snyder Cut, but as with most of the characters, he is fleshed out way more and thusly, his motivations (and theirs) are better and clearer.
- Yes to Martian Manhunter. No to Leto’s Joker.
- I was originally confused by the 4:3 aspect ratio (like TVs before flatscreen), but I accept that Snyder intended this for IMAX and it would have been dumb to try and reformat the framing and lose important info like they did when they transferred The Simpsons to streaming and The Wire to blu ray.
- Let’s also stop pretending this would have been the alternative to Whedon’s cut. There’s no way the studio would have released a four-hour movie into the theatre, so while the Snyder Cut is better, Snyder also never had to turn in a 2 ½ hour version of this movie. It’s not really a fair comparison.