The 400-Word Review: Zack Snyder's Justice League
By Sean Collier
March 18, 2021
In my review of the original incarnation of "Justice League," I wrote that, in comparison to "Batman v Superman," the new film was "better than its predecessor in that it is simple and direct."
Yeah, about that.
As has been exhaustively and exhaustingly documented, the 2017 “Justice League” was beset by studio conflicts and disagreements with director Zack Snyder, a state of affairs exacerbated by the tragic death of Snyder’s daughter. The director stepped back and was replaced by Joss Whedon, who radically changed the tone and content of the film, resulting in a passable final product that satisfied few fans.
After a vociferous and occasionally toxic fan movement requested a director’s cut of the film — and amid revelations about Whedon’s abusive behavior — Warner Bros. eventually invited Snyder to finish his version of the movie for streaming distribution. The result is a decidedly, if not overwhelmingly, better film.
It’s also 242 minutes long. Would you rather have a less satisfying film that you can watch in a normal sitting, or a slightly better one that takes all day?
This version retains the basic conceit — Bruce Wayne (Ben Affleck) working with Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot) to assemble a team of superheroes capable of stopping some intergalactic baddies — while improving its limp conclusion. Most of the difference looks back or forward, fleshing out the identities of new characters (in some ways, Ray Fisher’s Cyborg is now the central figure) and teasing intended future installments of the series that will never exist.
Some of the triumphs and failures are unchanged. Godot is still the best thing about the movie; every time she appears, it’s as if she’s the lone slugger on a ho-hum ball club, swooping in to liven things up. Unfortunately, a deepening of the roster does not improve the overall efficacy of limp villain Steppenwolf (Ciarán Hinds), a Diet Thanos who never seems like a threat.
There are great moments — my favorite thing in the full four hours is the Flash (Ezra Miller) pausing in the middle of a catastrophe to slip an errant hot dog in his pocket for later — and an easy, baseline enjoyability to the new version. With all these heroes and all this spectacle, it can’t truly fail (and can’t do worse than the original).
Is it worth years of hype and four hours of your time?
I don’t know. Is anything?
My Rating: 7/10
“Zack Snyder’s Justice League” is streaming on HBO Max.