Spoilers might need another take.
I feel this movie comes with a lot of unfair privileges. Lots of films barely get to be made once, compromised by their budget and by producer decisions. Few are the directors that get to materialize their vision without sacrifices. Director’s cuts can really elevate films or just add unneeded things that looked tacked on. Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner: The Final Cut (1982) I find an improvement. George Lucas endlessly adding more CGI to Star Wars (1977) weakened it. The original Justice League (2017) was hard to seat through. This one does add some depth and a extremely lengthy runtime. Let’s see where it lands.
Zack Snyder’s Justice League (2021) was directed by Zack Snyder based on a screenplay by Chris Terrio. The story was written by Zack Snyder, Chris Terrio and Will Beall and based on the characters from DC. It has a runtime of four hours and two minutes. Hopefully this review will be shorter. To recap the story, the world mourns the death of Superman (Henry Cavill). Bruce Wayne (Ben Affleck) decides to seek out more metahumans to combat any upcoming alien threats. Meanwhile, one of the three mysterious artifacts known as the Mother Boxes awakes, prompting the appearance of Steppenwolf and a legion of Parademons to show up on Earth. In the meantime, Bruce and Diana managed to recruit Arthur Curry (Jason Momoa), Barry Allen (Ezra Miller) and Victor Stone (Ray Fisher). Together they will try to prevent the Mother Boxes from uniting which would cause the coming of Darkseid and the end of the world as we know it.
If you manage to get past the runtime, you will find the character development has been improved somewhat. Bruce Wayne seems a lot more self-assured and less uncomfortable without the forced humour. Diana is still the heart and soul, but not the only performance carrying the film. Jason Momoa’s part has more of a mystic feel thanks to more ethereal soundtrack choices, although that includes a chorus singing him into the waves that overstays their welcome a bit. The backstory for Victor Stone is particularly further deepened, with more chances for Ray Fisher to shine in his performance as the troubled Cyborg and the complicated relationship with his father, Silas Stone (Joe Morton). Barry gets an lengthy scene in which he saves Iris West (Kiersey Clemons).
Actually, that probably both the strength and the weakness of this film. It tries to give each character a proper heroic background and a scene to shine in and takes its sweet time doing it. You totally see how this could’ve easily made it become a mini-series instead. Some of it works. Victor/Cyborg is definitely more of a three-dimensional character. Barry on the other hand, loses a bit by being just a tad creepy with Iris. Superman (I did say spoilers at the top) does come back and get to do his Smallville thing going back to the farm. The cost of all of this is the runtime. That also means the audience is asked to care for yet another pensive, thoughtful moment (the soundtrack does go a little too Enya at times) after just going through a few ones in a row.
Asking this from the audience is where I see the movie benefitting from the current environment. We’re binging on shows and series, a four-hour movie is far more acceptable for home viewing now than ever before. I don’t see it working on a theater, but theaters are far from working regularly at present. Improvements are welcome and more easily forgiving since we’ve got the time, but at the same time I can’t shake the sense that most directors would know how to work with editors to trim down their vision to something more easily watchable (Scorsese being the most obvious exception). At the same time, I can’t give Snyder too much gripe since more and more movies are becoming longer. Several franchise films now are split into two parts, and don’t feel that makes it better. However, the endings, or rather the inability of this film to stop throwing additional scenarios after the final confrontation seems like excess on top of excess.
Only recommended for fans of the material, the director and specially fans that saw potential in the first original theatrical release. This does add more entertainment value as well as deeper character development that will be appreciated, but it also overloads its runtime. Casual audiences might enjoy some parts, but I can’t say if they would stick to watching it to the very end. A lot of the new material does make some characters more engaging. The 3:4 ratio is a choice that really didn’t added anything special here. Not a masterpiece but now watchable, just not sure how long can you watch it for.
That will do for now.