Justin Decloux’s review published on Letterboxd:
Well, colour me surprised.
MAN OF STEEL was grim and depressing. I thought Snyder didn’t understand (Or like?) Superman, and to be honest, I still don’t think he does.
BATMAN VS. SUPERMAN was overlong, while also slight and rushed. I don’t need a Superman who hates his powers or a Batman whose only mission is to kill Superman. It felt like a movie made by someone who was contractually obligated to do so.
I enjoyed the studios’ JUSTICE LEAGUE bastardization when I saw it in theatres. It oozed ultra-cheapness, but at least Superman was having fun! Kinda.
I didn't care if I ever saw Snyder’s JUSTICE LEAGUE. I knew his original intent was compromised in the middle of filming because of BAT VS. SUPES's lukewarm critical reaction. They even bussed in the press to the set of JUSTICE to write stories along the lines of “Hey! The DC heroes crack jokes now too!” which spelled nothing but trouble.
And while I don’t think for a second the HBOMax's release of JUSTICE LEAGUE is what Snyder originally had in mind, it’s clear that most of it was there - and would have only ever worked as a 3+ hour movie.
I don’t know why no one ever stepped in during pre-production to go “Whoa! You gotta trim this down because this will never be able to work in a theatrically acceptable running time”, but they didn’t, which means that when Snyder screened his cut of the picture, I can sympathize (OK, not really) with the brainless suits that were horrified as they watched their big money maker play out absurdly long.
But the length is what makes the ‘Snyder Cut’ (sigh) work.
Could it lose 30 minutes? Easily
Does it desperately need an intermission at the two-hour mark? Hell yes!
But finally, Snyder gets to go full operatic, packing every frame with grand incident and weighty emotions backed by Junkie XL’s omnipresent score.
Do we need to watch the Amazons fight Steppenwolf for 15 minutes? No.
Is it compelling as a pure rousing spectacle? Yep.
Set-pieces finally get to play for suspense, extra character beats are abundant (or better) and there’s a real joy to the proceedings that was missing from Snyder’s previous outings for DC - and while the suits may have mandated that ‘joy’ during production- it plays out organically enough not to feel out of place.
JUSTICE LEAGUE was foolishly tasked with having to introduce three new heroes who haven’t had their own films, so Snyder and screenwriter Chris Terrio logically gave new guys Cyborg and The Flash the big emotional journeys (Aquaman was soon going to have his own film, so he gets to quip, but little else). I don't doubt that when Whedon was brought in, he was told to bulk up the Batman/Superman material and streamline everything else. I can understand losing The Flash material (which is fun if inessential), but the Cyborg plot is the HEART OF THE FILM. He propels everything, sets the final goal, and is the centre of the picture - and they originally cut out! I can’t imagine how it would have worked in a two-hour frame, but it could have easily been three without having to butcher it completely. But butcher did they did! For some reason! Now restored, the entire thing makes way more sense and has more of an emotional backbone. Superman still feels like an afterthought, but the added scenes with Amy Adams do give it some weight.
If you don’t like superhero films, you will not like this. It’s more of the same, but longer. If you do like this kind of stuff, you’ll still find it overlong, also but surprisingly emotional - in a way the previous version never was. And while it shortchanges the big names (Batman… Superman… Wonder Woman… Aquaman), this is The Flash’s and Cyborg’s show.
Well, at least Superman still gets to use his freeze breath.
****SPOILERS FOR END TAG*****
The new Knightmare sequence (groan) that drags the film painfully onward is hot garbage: A bunch of actors uncomfortably standing in front of green screens as Jared Leto in Heath Ledger Joker cosplay mumbles for ages. Batfleck, in an ill-fitting mask, looks on from a shoot done weeks before.
And then there’s ANOTHER tag featuring the Martian Manhunter! (whose other scene is baffling) No! Cut that shit out! We don’t need an EVIL SUPERMAN!