Have you ever turned in a final project and wished you had another three years and $70 million dollars to make it just right? Well, two weeks ago, we got to see what that looks like. “Zack Snyder’s Justice League,” the film whose very existence was uncertain for a long time and whose release wasn’t guaranteed has finally arrived in 4:3 aspect ratio on HBO Max. Reception so far has been pretty positive, with the general consensus being that this director’s cut is much better than the theatrical cut of “Justice League” from 2017.
While most of the main plot remains the same, a lot has been added that fills some gaps from the theatrical, particularly with the character Cyborg, AKA Victor Stone (Ray Fisher). Despite the backstory and depth that Cyborg is given, the same cannot be said for most of the other characters, even those who were introduced prior to the original release of “Justice League.” The characters are by no means disrespected in this movie, but considering the length, they are not given a whole lot of depth. Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot) and Batman (Ben Affleck) especially feel flatter than in their previous appearances.
From a storytelling standpoint, there is a bit to be asked for. The dialogue is mostly exposition or flat attempts at humor with hardly any attempts at creating or developing relationships between the characters. Thankfully, there isn’t all that much dialogue, so this isn’t as big of an issue as it might be in another movie. The pacing is also a moderate issue, and not just because it runs a few minutes longer than “Gone with the Wind” at four hours and two minutes. Most scenes could have moments taken out of them without losing anything essential or valuable. And Snyder’s trademark overuse of slow-motion certainly pads the runtime substantially and ultimately becomes kind of exhausting.
Although I don’t have any strong negative feelings towards the movie, my own opinion of it is much lower than the general population’s seems to be. That said, it could still be very enjoyable for those who were disappointed by the theatrical version, are fans of the featured heroes, or are a fan of Zack Snyder. If you have not seen the theatrical version of “Justice League” and are not a fan of Zack Snyder, this probably isn’t worth four hours of your time unless you are simply interested in seeing what all the fuss has been about.
It is a bit early to gauge what impact this movie and the process behind it will have. While it likely won’t be regarded as a landmark of cinematic achievement, its release hardly exists in a vacuum. Given that the online release of the movie won’t generate revenue in the same manner that a traditional theatrical release would, it’s hard to say whether this has changed how profitable Snyder’s name is. The positive reception from fans suggests that maybe there is a possibility of getting more alternate cuts like this for other movies in the future. However, the unique circumstances around Snyder having to leave the project due to a family tragedy makes this particular movie unique among other directors’ cuts. The call to “Release the Snyder Cut” has changed to “Restore the Snyder-verse” which, if Warner Bros. executives allow, might mean a re-shuffling of the entire DCEU. So in the long run, I don’t see it re-shaping the entire filmmaking landscape, but at the very least it has secured itself a niche in cinematic history.