Zack Snyder’s Justice League Review – Spoiler Free

That film you saw in 2017, but this time its 4 hours.

The blog is revived, and the only thing that could revive it was a four hour long overindulgent Justice League film… and the 30+ movies I need to watch between now and the Oscars on the 25th April). Yes, it is actually four hours long and I watched it in one sitting with some friends in a discord chat.

The film kicks off and immediately there are warning signs. We were all making comments in the chat about the weirdness of the scene selection and some very strange music choices. Then when a random woman decides to break out into what sounded like a Viking love song, I quietly accepted that the rumours may not be true, and this movie might not be the fun surprise I’d read about.

It’s difficult to really talk about this as a movie. It’s not, no film should be 4 hours long. That’s a TV show worth of run time. WandaVision (more on that later) clocked in at 5 hours and 50 minutes, and that was spread over 9 episodes and 8 weeks. You can’t go into this Justice League without having scheduled the time. It’s not a movie you can stick on because you come across it and think “oh why not”. That being said by the end of it, I felt it had flown by, and that’s always a good sign. I am not going to mention the run time much more, because it is what it is. This is Zack Snyder’s truest and most indulgent version of Justice League, and he wanted 4 hours, so here we are.

The Justice League film from 2017 hit an odd place for me. It had some really fun moments but lacked so much in the way of set up and explanation. Things just happen at such a pace you’re not able to follow exactly why or how. Zack Snyder’s family issues meant the film was thrown at Josh Whedon, and he was told to cut the footage down to a two hour run time. Having now seen how much they had to cut to make it fit that bizarre mandate from the studio, it’s no wonder we ended up with the film we saw back then.

Zack Snyder’s Justice League tells a very similar story to the 2017 effort, but this time we are given far more context for it all. One small change to how Lois Lane arrives in a certain scene, elevated it from silly to sensical. That step is repeated in several places throughout the film, and to varying levels. Little moments from the other film that had me scratching my head are now explained and as a huge fan of nerd culture and particularly these characters, it was really quite refreshing to watch the conversations and relationship build between them. In 2017 they come together because that what the film demanded. In this film we are shown why each character has chosen to join the fight. Particular attention is given to Flash and Cyborg, who don’t have set up movies, and this film uses the extra time to set them up well.

That character development isn’t just for the good guys either. We spend a lot more time understanding what Steppenwolf’s motivations are. He is essentially trying to win back the trust of his family by taking earth for Darkseid. For those who don’t know, Thanos was Marvel’s reaction to Darkseid back in the 70’s. The presence of Darksied throughout casts an ominous shadow that genuinely got me intrigued about a future film.

By the way, it’s pronounced “Darkside”. I don’t know why it’s spelt that way.

When I was a kid, I played with actions figures a lot. My Saturday mornings were often spent at my nan’s house, smashing batman figures into each other and letting my imagination run wild. Zack Snyder is a lot older than me, but I imagine he has similar memories. The action in this film is slightly different to the 2017 effort, and for me it works much better. The final act of the film contains a set piece that put a smile on my face, and took me back to being a child imaging the justice league messing up bad guys. We’ve been blessed with the MCU giving us moments like that, and this is the first time in a DC film I’ve felt like that.

Zack Snyder’s name is in the title, and therefore you know what you’re getting in terms of visuals. There is what can only be described as a “Fuck Load” of slow-motion action shots. I get that they look cool in moments, but this is a 3-and-a-half-hour film if you showed these moments at full speed. In the wonder woman bank scene, which is edited slightly different in this film, there is less slow-motion and it looks incredible when she’s moving at speed and blocking bullets and hitting people. Snyder proves he can make it work perfectly, and then commits to doing the slow-motion thing anyway. By the end of the film I was quickly rolling my eyes when the screen slowed down.

Honestly at the start of this week, before reviews dropped, my expectations for this film were below the floor. In reality, I should have thought about it logically. This is a film that’s been worked on for half a decade at least, and in that time, it’s had the most rigorous test screening process you could imagine. Perhaps this is the version Snyder would have released in 2017 if he had the chance, but I don’t buy that. This film addresses so many of the complaints fans and critics had of the 2017 film that it’s clearly been made with those taken into consideration. This is, in so many ways, a unique piece of media. One which fans of these characters and superhero movies in general will find a lot of enjoyment in.

Where do DC go from here? That is an incredibly difficult question for them. They had a wild success with the Joker film, but that was completely disconnected. They then released Wonder Woman 84, which I found to be an absolute mess of a film. They have “The Batman” coming next with Robert Pattinson as Bruce Wayne, but that’s also set in another universe. On top of all that, Zack Snyder’s Justice League has proven that his vision was at the very least entertaining, and at times threatened to be great.

There is probably half-an-hour at the end of this film that feels like a cinematic universe worth of post credit scenes. One in particular features Jared Leto as a much more recognisable Joker, and his interaction with Ben Affleck as Batman really got me intrigued to see those two do something. This flurry of scenes doesn’t really fit in with the narrative that’s been told over the previous three and half hours, but they’re interesting little glimpses into what Snyder wants to do.

What comes next is anyone’s guess, but what we have right now is a Justice League film that DC can be proud of and fans can enjoy. It’s too long, it’s got some strange moments (Seriously that Viking singing was odd), and it has just too much slow motion. I ended it with a smile on my face though, and that’s a lot better than I expected.

Good: Fun action, a plot that makes sense, and that feeling of seeing your action figures thrown into each other.

Bad: Too much slow motion, some scenes could easily have been left out, and that weird Viking singing.

TL;DR : This is Justice League 2017 with context, character development, villain motivations and 100% less weird Henry Cavill lip CGI.

Toast, Marmalade and Superheroes

Friday mornings are the toughest ones to drag myself out of bed. I don’t know if that’s how everyone is but being so close to the weekend yet still having the full day of work ahead is tough. Perhaps it’s by the time Friday comes around I have had a week of terrible sleep and I am ready for my Saturday morning lay in. 

I remember back when I was a young warthog and I would get up as soon as my eyes opened on a weekend so I could watch the Saturday morning cartoons at my Nan’s. She would be making breakfast and my Grandad would be reading through the two papers he bought. They’re great memories but getting up that early on a Saturday is ludicrous to me now. I still watch cartoons, except now they’re Archer, Bobs Burgers and Rick and Morty. Not quite as innocent, or frankly as good, as The Batman Animated series from the 90s.

Yesterday I was wandering around London and ducked into a comic bookstore to look for something that had been in my head all week since game developer WB Montreal teased a Batman: Court of Owls game. I have heard of the story line, but I’d never read it, so I wanted to dig it out. There is something about Comic Book stores, the huge range of front covers all with their own intriguing stories takes me back to be a kid picking out which action figure I wanted. I assumed back then I would grow out of the superhero genre, that was just how it was. It never happened. As I grew up the X-men franchise launched and took the colourful 90’s series and transformed it into a leather clad group of serious adults, or at least that how it felt to a 7-year-old.

Then came Spiderman, again showing me a “serious” and grown up take on the TV show I watched. Neither movie holds up now as well as the animated TV shows do, and neither of them has an amazing theme tune like the shows, but they both cemented superheroes in my head as a legit genre. I got into my early teens right around the time that Batman Begins was out and we were in the build up to the Dark Knight.

I feel like superhero movies grew up with me and my generation. Sure, we had Superman in the 70’s, and some meh batman films in the 90’s but they came of age in the 2000’s and matures in the late 00’s. By the time my school year was 18, going out into the working world, Superhero films were the biggest franchise going. The Marvel Cinematic Universe was building up to its first crossover with The Avengers and the world is now obsessed with stories based on Comic Books, regardless of it being a well-known character. As an example, in my opinion the best TV show so far this year is The Boys on Amazon, and that’s based on a graphic novel.

There are people out there that still think Superhero films are for kids. It’s all explosions and frantic action that you can’t keep track of is an argument I have heard. Too unrealistic and far-fetched is another. Now I would never argue Thor swinging him hammer around and flying about is realistic. But a man who has lost his mother, father, brother and still is there trying to do his best and not let it affect him is something a lot of people can relate to.

The colours and the costumes and the action is all escapism. It’s mostly window dressing for the actual story. People enjoy watching Captain America throw his shield around. There is something awesome about Superman punching his way through a building. It’s things you would never see in real life, around a story you can relate to. Superman seems like the hardest one to relate to but to me he is someone who feels alone regardless of how many people are around him. A feeling I have had myself before.

To be honest I woke up this morning with every intention of writing about the new Netflix show Criminal. I just started typing and this is where we got to. I will write about that show another time because it’s worth watching. This post, as much as I ever have a purpose to write, is just me trying to explain why I am still as excited to read The Court of Owls now, at 26-years-old, as I was when I was 6 waking up at my Nan’s and charging downstairs to watch X-men with my two slices of toast, one with Marmalade, one with Dairylea cheese.

Have a great weekend!