Five years, four hours and $370 million later, this is what Zack Snyder has to show for himself. Justice League, or, to give it the full title should I be hung, drawn and quartered by the bedwetting fans of the DC Extended Universe, Zack Snyder’s Justice League, is the titan-like efforts of a collection of febrile, short-tempered aficionado’s demanding a second shot for their apparition of Christ. It is a testament to the strength of a mass, who can push their king toward another shot at glory. He boldly sits upon the directing throne, waving his hand to the side, and here, offers up his elongated piece. A final chapter to close off a very short book that nobody particularly enjoyed all that much. Here, in all its glory, is the redux edition. A creative has been given the budget of a respectably moderate Hollywood flick to reshoot a film that, compared to the other superhero filler released before and after it, can be considered a flop.
It is vindication he seeks, not from a community that have shielded him from those pesky, stuffy critics, but from himself. Naturally, there comes a degree of sympathy to the circumstances Justice League was finished under. To that degree, it makes sense to give Zack Snyder his best shot. But there is only so much to be done with a five-year slog of filmmaking that went nowhere in particular, offered up a clumsily pieced together Avengers Assemble style foray and nothing more than that. It is a rare opportunity for a man to go into a project knowing what he wants to do, having been given the freedom, money and time to do so. He is here for one simple reason. To salvage his vision of a product that was torn from his hands. Fair enough, that much, I can swallow. It is better than the malnourished, whinging efforts of Sam Levinson, who groaned and thrashed around with Malcolm & Marie, which was intended as a scathing shot toward his critics, but in-turn looked like a film made to use prominent and popular voices as mouthpieces for his ill-prepared ideas.
Snyder does not have this problem, or at least, he should not. He has had four years to muse, plot and ponder what he wishes to say and do with his rendition of Justice League. My question then, is simple. What does he want to say? It is not entirely clear. He has never been known for his wordplay, but surely, he would’ve had something more to say than the bare minimum. Here is a muddled attempt at salvaging a film that was barely breathing when it arrived all those years ago. All he can change is the aspect ratio, changing boring superhero madness into a faux choice of style. 4:3 may have worked for The Grand Budapest Hotel, but that had the artistic direction necessary to warrant such a use. Here, Snyder’s struggling fantasy of pushing comic book characters into a grim world of realism suffers from self-indulgence. His opening shots of misty, mysterious lands that document the journey Bruce Wayne (Ben Affleck) are not as impressive as Snyder would assure himself of.
They are long and boring and do not capture the scope of a journey. All they do is show that Snyder fancies himself a bit of a camera-drone whiz these days. That may be so, but the changes he has made to much of the film are just that, long and boring. Elongations of scenes that were featured in the original Justice League. At least more components work, no through specific choices, but with blind luck. His writing is still forcefully macabre and on the nose. Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot) perched upon the statue of justice has some rather obvious connotations, and her dialogue clearly hasn’t improved. Effectively ripping the hostage crisis from Justice League and pasting it here, it is this moment that shows Snyder still does not trust in his audience. Much of these extra scenes are added context, to hold the hand of any stragglers. It was something Justice League fell fool to, and Zack Snyder’s Justice League is no different. Apparent changes are, in fact, not noticeable. The apparent re-design to Steppenwolf (Ciaran Hinds) is not possible to notice to eyes as filled with alcohol as mine. Mind you, it is hard to stare through the tears of timewasting.
Colour is a real issue Snyder has with all of his films. His drab colour style is praised as an acknowledgement of tumultuous times in the modern era, but are they really that deep? I doubt it, and that can be found in DeSaad and Steppenwolf, who are glossy, grey and clinical. They are uneventful and dated. Their CGI is a stark step down from what is expected of the genre thus far. Zack Snyder’s Justice League struggles with its CGI, but at least the MacGuffin devices are given some form of description this time. It is still a dumb concept and one that is riddled with a lacking originality, but there is a chance that it will appeal to some of those that are on the fence about what Zack Snyder’s Justice League can really do for them.
But can this piece relate to the average punter with some time to kill? No, I don’t think it can. Not just because of its running time, which is a lengthy feat considering you could watch, say, Lawrence of Arabia or both Kill Bill movies in the same amount of time, but also because there is no value for them. They can pick up a copy of the original Justice League and get much the same experience. The additional scenes do not change much of the core three characters, they add backstory to The Flash (Ezra Miller) and Cyborg (Ray Fisher), but, let us be reasonable, who cares? Hardcore comic fans may get a kick out of seeing the other guys get their due, but it is not the least bit effective. Miller in particular is difficult to connect with. He locks eyes with a lady for a brief moment and ends up saving her life in physics-defying scenes. While his story may have more to do, it does not have more to say. That is, in effect, the issue here.
“You can be anything you want to be” is what Wonder Woman says to one child. It is something Zack Snyder truly believes but is far from realising. Is Zack Snyder’s Justice League better than Justice League? Yes, barely. Snyder has carried out an operation similar to that of a doomed house renovation. You can replace a rotten beam here or a dreadful subplot there, you can even paint the walls and add a picket fence to the garden, but it doesn’t make a difference if the location is in a radioactive zone and the foundations have fallen through. Keeping up appearances is difficult when the initial look is one of disgust.