‘Justice League’ review: Zack Snyder’s film still sucks and is 4 hours
zack snyder's justice league
Running time: 242 minutes. Rated R (violence and some language). On HBO Max.
How would “slightly less terrible!” look on a poster?
That is my approved quote for “Zack Snyder’s Justice League,” a perverse exercise in fanboydom on HBO Max that tacks on two extra hours of footage to a maligned 2017 DC Comics movie to create a kind of new, still-bad movie.
“Justice League 2.0” is darker than an arctic winter, has a score composed by a foghorn, once again features Ben Affleck’s couch-potato Batman and clocks in at four hours. That’s 60 minutes longer than “Avengers: Endgame.”
Why would Warner Bros. drop a reported $70 million to redo a four-year-old film that now lasts one-sixth of a day? Why does this wayward world of ours do anything? Social media.
Four years ago, Snyder was unable to finish his flick in post-production and handed the reins to Joss Whedon. The end result was an abysmal Frankenstein’s monster of styles: Snyder’s sludge and Whedon’s slapstick. Disappointed fans then birthed the #ReleaseTheSnyderCut Twitter hashtag, and today their demented dreams have come true.
So have my nightmares.
With so, so many additional scenes shoved in, less has changed from the original than you might think. The movie is still about Batman (Affleck), Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot), The Flash (Ezra Miller), Aquaman (Jason Momoa) and Cyborg (Ray Fisher) trying to save the world from the evil Steppenwolf (Ciarán Hinds). Snyder has redone the look of the bottom-of-the-barrel villain, who appears to have borrowed his shiny new outfit from Lady Gaga’s Vegas show.
Lame Steppenwolf’s nondescript boss has my favorite line of the movie: “You still owe the great one 50,000 more worlds!”
Most of “Justice League 2.0” sounds equally laborious. Instead of 20 minutes of confusing exposition, we get over an hour of it. Much of the history of these ancient wars is delivered by a professorial Gadot to us, her bored students. The gist: Steppenwolf works for Darkseid, who needs the three Mother Boxes to take over the earth. See, a costly new edit does not change the fact that the film is trashy “Lord of the Rings.”
Granted, thanks to the cash windfall, the action scenes aren’t so cheap-looking anymore. One neat one sees Wonder Woman protect a group of innocents from a gunman, and The Flash is, well, flashier. But part of why the film is preposterously long is that Snyder goes all in on slow motion. At one point, he even makes an average football game slow motion.
Sure, he succeeds in realizing his vision — it’s just that the director needs an eye exam. Snyder has washed out all the color of the footage, and doubled-down on his preferred grandeur at the expense of character development. Even with new sections in which Cyborg connects to his dad Silas (Joe Morton) and a fun pet-shop sequence with The Flash — still the only great character in the movie — there is no texture thanks to the faux-epicness.
Snyder commands a slavish following of fans, who are plotting to murder me even now. Zombie-like, they got behind the similarly off-putting “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice” and “Man of Steel,” which, like “Justice League,” were treated like Wagner operas. Hell, Snyder would turn Barney The Dinosaur into “Das Rheingold.”
The film’s four or five endings leave open the possibility of an eight-hour followup for Snyder, God forbid, and the Twitterverse will surely demand it. Our one saving grace is that a new Batman film starring Robert Pattinson is on the way, seemingly making Affleck unusable again in the part. But the DC Universe is such a mess, they’d probably do it anyway. DC should change its initials to DGAF.
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