Zack Snyder's Justice League

Zack Snyder's Justice League ★★★

the #ReleaseTheSnyderCut movement has been far and away the most entertaining cultural event of the last few years precisely because of its extraordinary ability to annoy and generally piss off people who have absolutely no sense of humor, desire to have fun, or appreciation of what a work of art can be regardless of "canon status". since we are still stuck inside though, there's been enough people "ironically" engaging with this four hour long movie that I feel like I have to make some caveats before I say anything good about it: I'm in complete agreement with the sentiment I see coming from a lot of places on the internet, here and elsewhere, that poptimism/vulgar auteurism for their own sakes are intellectual dead ends. I'm fully aware that I am engaging in shill behavior by slurping from this corporate trough and have no desire to walk into the party introducing myself as the guy who watches Clint Eastwood American Sniper all the time "but like, smartly." fuck Steven Mnuchin and fuck half the cast of this movie.
external context stuff aside, as much as you even can put external context stuff aside with a product as bonkers as this- my perspective, as someone who never saw the theatrical version, is viewing this as a sequel to Batman vs Superman, one of the most bizarre blockbusters of the post-9/11 era that, despite its overreach toward epic qualities, has managed to provoke more thought in my mind from various angles than pretty much all of the other current wave of superhero franchise output combined. so strictly in terms of what has come before, Justice League is fairly conventional. very little pseudo-philosophical Goyer-isms or overt real world political conflict. it's a plot about getting the band together, collecting the Dragon Balls, closing the portal, etc. what this and the four hour runtime allows the viewer to focus on is the broadly painted but subtly juxtaposed character arcs, and Snyder's big cg cartoon setpieces.
like any longtime reader of DC Comics, Snyder clearly has an investment in making puzzle pieces that don't and shouldn't fit together work in concert. this is where his character work really shines: outlining Aquaman and Wonder Woman as exiled royalty with contrasting relationships to their secret utopian civilizations, Batman and Superman as orphans whose mission to become idealized mythic protectors are doomed attempts to fix their stunted broken boy hearts, and Cyborg and The Flash as sons who just want to have real relationships with their fathers. Cyborg in particular is outstanding here, with Ray Fisher fully justifying the character's promotion from a Teen Titan for the first time (an inclusion which always seemed like Johns attempting to scotch tape over his mistake of reverting all the newer/more diverse versions of older characters into his whitebread childhood favorites). his origin and initial flexing of his powers, and subsequent growth into his decision of who to be and what to fight for is absolutely worth the time spent. it also definitely has a subtle Midnight Eye Goku reference which I of course noticed and greatly appreciated. The Flash by contrast is a lot more problematic. the film breezes by until you get to him, and then, ironicappropriately, runs into Ezra Miller like a brick wall. the noxious quippy tone he brings infects multiple scenes with completely disconnected characters after his introduction, and it's never really made up for unfortunately. it makes me think of that lady who had that book published about how tumblr furries somehow forced a backlash that caused Trump to get elected, and how it makes me feel like I could easily write the same book but about theater kids. mind you, I don't actually believe this, but Mr Wallflower here absolutely makes me feel like I could very easily write the book. "oh oops, oh I'm so awkward! oh oops! looks like I'm just quirky! oops I'm twee!" shut the fuck up!! literally everyone is awkward, we just have the dignity to be depressed about it instead of making weird squeaky noises all the time!! god. everyone is annoying. (I mean obviously he is most importantly an irl cannibal and not the cool kind either). if I wanted to really be diligent and make a crazy reach I could compare the theatrical version's scenes and say his demeanor and occasionally indifferent treatment by the rest of the characters in this version is Snyder doing a subtle dig at Whedon but more likely it's just an imprint left from old Josh's dirty work that couldn't be completely scrubbed out.
but while The Flash as a character tends to stick out like a sore thumb next to the other Snyder figures (and almost made me turn off the movie upon first viewing), The Flash as a guy who runs in slomo fits perfectly with Snyder's action style and he's able to pull off a ton of really neat tricks with him.
and while ultimately all the fights are more in the style of BvS's weaker/more fantastical final third, the wisely vague and magma-drenched version of the Fourth World antagonists lends them enough weight as a threat that by the time you've reached the final raid on the videogame base you're in full Mountain Dew second wind hype mode.
of course the good guys win and are good, and of course the Knightmare epilogue is a promise for something more interesting that we'll never see followed up, but that's okay. Snyder is truly the only guy making these things who cares about translating the form of comics into film, the first one since Raimi. I'll always prefer Raimi because that's what I grew up with (and he's not a weird Joe Rogan guy), but I still wish Snyder the best on whatever he does next, and am very grateful we got to see his big dumb epic while we're all still stuck inside.

nintendo ded steph liked these reviews