March 15, 2021

CINEMA | Zack Snyder Reassembles His 'Justice League' Cut

"They said the age of heroes would never come again."
Henry Cavill | Zack Snyder's Justice League HBO
Warner Bros. Pictures / DC Films
Divisive "visionary" filmmaker Zack Snyder's long-gestating director's cut of his fabled Justice League superhero epic finally arrives—a whole two hours longer at double the length. Its original 2017 theatrical cut overseen, partially reshot, and heavily re-edited by the now-disgraced former fanboy favourite Joss Whedon was at best a haphazardly thrown-together mishmash of its DC Comics source material.

This reassembled four-hour version of the film is a much more coherent, singular vision that, for mostly better, overindulges in the director's operatic sense of twisted heroism but, also, just makes far more sense. Our six JL heroes, Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, Aquaman, the Flash, and Cyborg in stars Ben Affleck, Henry Cavill, Gal Gadot, Jason Momoa, Ezra Miller, and Ray Fisher feel so much more fleshed out, especially the latter cybernetic metahuman, as there's time to assemble our team together.

Divided into six parts, the "Snyder Cut", as it's colloquially known, very much takes a patient approach in luxuriating its establishing of what's happening and why these supervillains from another universe have come to conquer our Earth. I really felt like I was watching a live-action version of a multi-part animated superhero adventure treated with an ominous self-seriousness.

There's a darker sense of grandeur that's much more appropriate for Snyder's visual sense of filmmaking as opposed to Whedon's dialogue-based character work. Despite the obvious flaws and usual superhero junk, the restored Justice League cut works surprisingly well. Things just fit together better logically including the MacGuffin of indestructible Mother Boxes.

Ray Fisher Ezra Miller Ben Affleck Henry Cavill Gal Gadot Jason Momoa | Zack Snyder's Justice League HBO

Snyder has opted for the boxy 4:3 Academy aspect ratio tied to his preferred IMAX format alongside a muted colour palette from German cinematographer Fabian Wagner that almost feels black and white with its restrained grey or sepia tones. This makes the epic film standout with our heroes framed tall like the gods Snyder wishes to mythologize them as.

Screenwriter Chris Terrio's script has largely been restored from its previously jumbled, rewritten form and while it's still overly dramatic, convoluted, and expectedly non-sensical, there's just so much more going on that makes some sort of sense and feels right. This Justice League also really moves. Even Ciarán Hinds' inter-dimensional villain Steppenwolf seems more sensible within Snyder's world of serious fantasy.

For both better and worse and all of its highs and lows, this reassembled and vastly extended Snyder Cut of Justice League is a far more interesting and cohesive vision of gods and monsters in superhero epic form. Overlong and unwieldy, its grandiose aims are sprawling and excessive but also kind of altogether spectacular in its own ridiculous ways. Its earnest sense of melancholy treating mythic comic book heroes like toys the way children play and tell stories is oddly prescient.

Zack Snyder's Justice League is available to stream on Crave in Canada (and on HBO Max in the U.S.) starting March 18th.

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