Zack Snyder's Justice League

Zack Snyder's Justice League ★★★★

This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.

This review may contain spoilers.

It's tempting to try to approach this as its own thing - to deem the original release irrelevant, and ignore it completely - and maybe one day that will be a possible and/or fruitful thing for me to try to do, but at the moment, the furthest I can get with that kind of anaylsis is "It's a lot of fun. I liked it. It was pretty good!" which are pretty insubstantial things to say about a fuckin 4 hour movie, but that's where I'm at. For better or worse, right now this movie feels most fascinating and enriching to me as an unprecedented case study for how badly a studio can fuck a movie up. Countless movies have been taken away and meddled with, but we so rarely get anything but a hypothetical idea of how much better those movies could have been if they'd have been left with their authors. For that reason alone this is pretty special. Honestly this shit should be taught in film schools. Students should have to watch both versions to see the right and wrong ways to do a scene (for example, it is "right" to show Wonder Woman smash a man's skull to pieces in front of a group of children, and to linger on the bloody hole his head left in the wall, as well as his mangled corpse, moments before she tells one of those children that she can be whatever she wants when she grows up. It is "wrong" to not show this. It is "right" to have Superman mercilessly turn the bad guy's brains into jello, before the team yeets his body into the air, decapitates it, and alley-oops his head through a portal to a hell-dimension. It is "wrong" to uh... honestly I can't even fuckin remember what happens at the end of the theatrical cut, and I only watched it like a month ago. It is "right" for Batman to say "fuck" etc, etc). I hope a generation of filmmakers learn from The Snyder Cut, which, again, is objectively-speaking only what I would call a "pretty good movie."

The flip-side, which is honestly almost as interesting to me, is what a great example this is of how much context matters. Because the fact that this feels so extremely, monumentally better than the theatrical cut irreversably colors and actually enhances my enjoyment of it, leading to strange contradictions and dissonances such as how I simultaneously feel like this is an immeasurably better movie than it was, and yet am precisely measuring how much better I think it is with a star rating that would almost certainly be lower if this had come out exactly as-is back in 2017 instead of taking this route to get here. There are a lot of things that I'm sure I would have criticized about this movie then that have become more acceptable or interesting to me in this context as a unique peek into a process. For one thing I'd certainly be more concerned with why the fuck it's four hours long, and I'm sure the surprising amount of "witty" banter that apparently existed even before Whedon got his grubby little hands on it would have rubbed me the wrong way much harder than it does now. I'm sure I'd have complained about how that lighter tone is a betrayal of some of the very interesting and fucked up ideas being pursued in BvS, and how Affleck's Batman's almost complete philosophical 180 between films beggars belief, or is at the very least missing important beats. I guess I still am, but those feelings are now complicated by the fact that those inconsistencies are a part of the same bizarre process that resulted in there even being two cuts, and ultimately they are just completely overshadowed by the giddy feeling of seeing something we weren't ever supposed to see. Of an artist winning out over the machine of blockbuster film production. The fact that what he won with is just four hours of superhero shit with many of the same problems superhero shit always has, and that the form that this winning has taken is as another fan-service product designed to sell hbo subscriptions is uh... not relevant to me at this time thanks, because on the subject of how much context matters, a huge part of how much I enjoyed watching this is related to my having once again been in a phase of not being able to watch much of anything recently (hopefully a phase that is coming to a close soon, as I undergo a radical lifestyle change for like, the fifth time in a year) which helped make this end up being a pretty big highlight of my week. Frankly I had a blast watching this. Do I really think it's a four star movie? Probably not, but right now, to me it is a four star object that through the very nature of what it is, has managed to become more than the sum of its parts.

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