stevie’s review published on Letterboxd:
Any movie in existence looks like the peak of artistic prowess when it’s compared to (what I would honestly pretty objectively say is) the worst series of moving images ever put upon this earth, so of course if we’re looking at this by way of comparison it’s a masterpiece..... take two steps back and that may not be the case.
This modern construct of the “gritty superhero movie” proves time and time again to be nothing more than an oxymoron; a newly formed genre with the sole purpose of making a viewer feel like they’re watching a serious drama even though it’s about space lasers and spandex — sensations that counteract the silliness of the story’s true nature. Self-awareness is thrown out the window in favor of an insistence of dramatic stakes even when they’re not there. This works if there is palpable tension and an emphasis on character development, but if that’s not there then it all just looks rather stupid (which is why Man of Steel and BvS ultimately came out the way they did). Zack Snyder’s Justice League is a culmination of this entire sub-genre. A film for those who wished that maybe The Avengers was more akin to Andrei Rublev. All that is cool if you really really love superheroes, but we all grow up at some point.
Four hours in length is the best length if you’re building characters and creating intricate storytelling on a massive scale, but the problem here is that most of the storytelling really only functions as background and setup for future entries in the DCEU as well as fan service. The improvements over the theatrical cut in regards to the film’s length is that this time around there are beats within the story that let it move more naturally, giving some much needed breathing room between all of the action. There is an ebb and flow that makes this into an actual, watchable movie and not a commercial product – even though that is still what it it at its core. While it is astronomically better than its predecessor, what was astoundingly awful before (the dialogue, the needledrops, Steppenwolf, Amber Heard, the “parademons,” the acting, and goddamn Ezra Miller being the most insufferable screen presence of all time) is still bad this time around, it’s just not quite as embarrassingly bad.
It’s great that this reached its fully realized potential and Snyder got to tell this story with some actual bravado, but it’s still a cog in the machine of a corporate conveyer belt. The theatrical cut killed the potential for that to keep moving, and this is the last ditch effort to set it back in motion, and one that is sure to work with the amount of fan service being done. It may be leagues better than most superhero movies we get, but it’s still a part of a massive, culturally regressive beast eating up the entire media industry. Just because it’s an improvement doesn’t mean it’s not still a mess. Would everyone still be losing their minds over this if it came out in 2017 just as it is here, without the current release model and without the fan scrutiny? I can’t see it.