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Zack Snyder's Justice League

Justice League

This is pretty fascist looking. Leni Riefenstahl would be proud.

dir: Zack Snyder

2021

This version of Justice League, in case you didn’t already know, is directed by Zack Snyder. It’s amazing, that Zack Snyder’s Justice League is directed by Zack Snyder. You know, Zack Snyder? Famous for directing, um, 300?

Why wouldn’t you trust this man of singular vision to make a movie again or anew, that was previously released as Joss Whedon’s Justice League? Four years later, and I’m sure this will be an experience on a par with the director’s cuts of Blade Runner, Heaven’s Gate, Donnie Darko and Legally Blonde, perhaps.

Also, just to make the same point millions of other people have already made: How often have you ever watched a shitty 2 hour movie and thought to yourself “You know what would have made that movie great? Double the running time.”

And thus does a shitty 2 hour movie become a 4 hour extravaganza. Everything that was not of the Snyder directorial vision previously has been excised, and more Snyderness has been added, to maximise the overall Snyder tone and Snyder aesthetic. Everything is slow motion, except when it’s not. People do a lot of standing. Like, they stand and stare at…something. Or, if they leave the scene, others look after them longingly.

The greatest single example of this was so fucking terrible and funny. The so-called Aquaman Arthur Curry (Jason Mamoa) pulls a jumper off that he was wearing, and jumps into the ocean around, Iceland, I guess. A whole bunch of blonde and redheaded women start singing some kind of song honouring him. A girl picks up the jumper discarded on the dock, and sniffs it lovingly as she keeps singing. He is some kind of ocean god to these women, and they sing, perhaps, of his greatness, and their epic wish to bear his children.

It's treated, like everything else in this fucking dirge of an unending epic, with utmost seriousness, with weighty profundity. With loud, insistent string sections that never let you forget how important what you’re lucky enough to be watching is, and how somber.

I mean, the fate of the fucking world is at stake! Is that not serious enough for you? Okay, so, yeah, every flick with super duper heroes in it requires the world or the whole universe to be threatened in order to even register anymore.

The threat needs to be great enough that it forces a bunch of loners together with powers in order to be able to fix things, especially since Superman (Henry Cavill) died in a previous Snyder film that didn’t get better the longer it went. It did have two grown men yelling about their thing for women called Martha, though, so there’s that at least.

The villain, Steppenwolf (Ciarin Hinds) is dumb and should feel dumb, in either version of these films. In the earlier one, he was kinda murky and brown, and looked dumb. In this one, which he’s in for even more time, he’s shiny and spiky, but still pretty dumb. In the earlier film, he wanted to find three magic/technology boxes in order to ruin things for us on this planet we call home. In this new version, he wants three magic/technology boxes in order to destroy our planet, but he wants to do it to impress his sugar daddy, called Thanos. Sorry, no, he’s called Darkseid.

Darkseid, of what we see of him, or it, or however he chooses to identify, is just an ugly, stern looking judgmental type. He brings nothing to this, other than trying to build him up to be the ultimate Big Bad, which is never going to work because it looks silly, and like a badly photocopied version of Thanos.

Steppenwolf, however dumb he might be in either the short or the longest version, cannot be stopped by the collective efforts of Wonder Woman, The Flash, Aquaman, Cyborg, Batman, the guy from the 7-11, a librarian from the local library, that guy who uses an electrical cord as a belt who drinks behind the bus shelter; all their collective effort isn’t enough against Shiny Pointy Man. So they needs must bring back Super Space Jesus, better known as Superman.

Of course there will be a way to resurrect him, but, remember, this is the 4 hour version of this visionary’s story, so there are plenty more agonizing, stultifying visions to have before getting to the fireworks factory of resurrection, especially this close to Easter.

We are required to have Amy Adams mooching around a memorial for Superman, every goddamn day. I mean as Lois Lane, not as herself. It would have been strange if the actress was mourning the loss of Henry Cavill, since he’s very much still around, and quite wonderful, don’t you know. No, we see her buy a couple of coffees and then hang out there, feeling sad. She chats with one of the cops stationed to protect the memorial from Antifa / Black Lives Matter types. I am pretty sure one of the cops played Jimmy Olsen in the 1970s Superman films. I’m glad he’s gotten some work lately. Long time between drinks, champ.

She moons, and she swoons, and she hasn’t worked in a good long while. Makes me wonder how she’s been making ends meet. I mean, being a journalist in Metropolis these days wouldn’t be the cushy gig it was way back then.

She gets a visit from Superman’s mom, the famous Martha, who urges her to reconnect with life, to move on from her son, to live a little.

Really, though, how could she move on from him? How could you date again? What guy could possibly compete? After you’ve been with Superman, well, you’d probably have to change teams entirely. He is, by every definition, the greatest, the strongest, the best, and he has a very nice chin. Unless she hooks up with a Hemsworth, and a good quality Hemsworth at that, it’s never going to work otherwise.

The weirdest thing about this scene where Martha Kent tells her to move on, is that in Zach Snyder’s visionary vision, once she leaves the apartment, she transforms into another guy, being Harry Lennix, who’s playing another guy, who’s really someone called Martian Manhunter.

Um, okay. Why he cares about whether she’s getting enough work or not is anyone’s guess. Is he worried about her 401K, the American equivalent of our superannuation scheme? I mean, it’s a problem, women not having enough money in retirement, but why is a literal Martian worried about this?

There’s a person, and he lost his parents, and is very sad about it. His superpower, as he jokes, is being rich, but it can’t fill the void in his soul arising from his parent’s absence.

There’s another person, and she’s sad because she lost a guy she loved during World War I, but it doesn’t seem to bug her that much, so she loves killing bad guys (in this version). The sad guy without parents tells her she needs to reconnect with life. Like, why she doesn’t punch him hard enough in his Affleck-y face until the front replaces the back but inside out is a mystery. Maybe in the 40 hour version this will make more sense.

There’s a person who’s sad because his mom abandoned him, but then Willem Dafoe turns up with a massive wig / topknot and starts yelling at him that he needs to take up his mother’s trident. All your sad should fly out the window when Willem Dafoe yells at you and thrusts something at you that has five points on it, and calls it a trident. Wouldn’t it be a Quintent? Or a Fivedent, maybe?

There’s a person who’s half technology, and a bit human, but he’s all angry with his dad, who never came to his football games. He, being Victor (Ray Fisher), has grown up to be a surly, overacting adult, covered in bad CGI (in any version) that just makes him look like he’s not all there. He is angry and surly with everyone until he’s not. The actor spoke of the abusive behavior of Joss Whedon back in the day, which helped bring about a reckoning that I hope means Whedon doesn’t work again around people, but it’s kinda telling that plenty of women complained about Whedon on different projects, but it took Fisher complaining for the studios to notice.

I don’t know if Snyder treated him more decently, but I have to say, in either version, it’s a terrible performance. Like, flat out awful and awkward. About the only thing that almost redeems it is his father, Silas Stone, played by Joe Morton, who is great in everything he’s ever been in.

The most famous thing Joe Morton has been in is probably Terminator 2: Judgement Day, where he played the scientist Dyson who brings about the apocalypse by creating Skynet, as opposed to that marketer called Dyson who invented horribly over-priced badly designed vacuum cleaners that are trying and failing to take over the world.

To mess with the timeline, but not actually prevent any sequels, Dyson sacrifices himself and his research in order to prevent the rise of the machines.

Don’t quote me on this: it is essentially the same character here. He uses magical technology to save his son, but then in the end he sacrifices himself (in this 14 hour version) in order to help him as well, thus proving that he loved him all along, even if they never played catch together.

As much as I don’t think this is at all a good movie, there is stuff I just won’t joke about. Snyder dedicated this version of this flick to his daughter, Autumn, who committed suicide when he was originally making it. It’s impossible to separate the “art” from the history, and it’s impossible to look at the various ways in which the multitude of characters, mostly parents, try to reconcile or sacrifice themselves for their kids throughout the flick, and not see that as being uppermost in his mind. He’s trying to say he’s sorry to Autumn, for not being there for her, and that is far more heartbreaking to me than anything else that actually happens in the flick.

Eventually there’s a big showdown in a place not that different from Chernobyl, and that climactic sequence is far superior to what was cobbled together back in 2017.

It’s still a bunch of nonsense, though. Much of the CGI has been improved, the look of it has been improved, but a lot of the CGI still looks fucking terrible. People speak flatly a lot of the time, and it’s seen as appropriate. People will only ever speak in declamatory statements, to which there is generally only a single sentence response. I still don’t care about Steppenwolf, nor his campaign to get back into Darkseid’s good graces. The three scenes he has chatting with someone called Desaad reporting on what he’s been up to lately, could not have been of any interest to anyone, including the people in them. They chewed up time and resources better allocated elsewhere.

It feels like a better version of whatever the hell it is that people want out of Snyder’s films, but can’t we accept that Snyder’s films have always has a certain visual look but a moral and intellectually vacancy at their centre?

I have to say, though, I did love the way Diana fights in this flick. Of course I know her as the Amazon who’s trademark stance on violence is: Don’t kill if you can wound; don’t wound if you can subdue, don’t subdue if you can pacify, and don’t raise your hand at all unless you’ve extended it first.

But she flat out murders motherfuckers here, and for whatever reason I am here for it. Most of the enemies are, I dunno, bugs or demons or something, but there’s this bit at a bank at the beginning where she flat out massacres the jerks, and, fuck em, they were going to kill a bunch of children. The stop-start super-fast speed up speed down stuff with her works, better than it does for anyone else.

If you can stomach slow pan scenes of heroes gazing heroically into the abyss and not having the abyss gaze back at them, then you’re going to love 4 hours of this bullshit. Me, I’m waiting for an even longer version of the flick where there’s no Steppenwolf, more Zuckerberg / Eisenberg Lex Luthor, and more scenes of Diana killing these annoying pathetic human men. Cyborg I could not possibly care about; I don’t care about Aquaman at all. Affleck in this as Batman pretty much admits he doesn’t have much to do when the stakes are this high, and looks tired, sad, and like he should have a lie down.

At least Ezra Miller seems to be having fun as Flash. Three of my favourite bits in the film involve him, two of which are new: yes, the scene where he realises Superman can see him easily even when he’s moving at super speed is great, but the scene where he meets / saves the future love of his life Iris is pretty great, and him goofing off a bit when the rest of them are seriously staring into the distance at the end is pretty enjoyable.

Is it better than the original version released? Yes, I guess so. Does it matter? I would argue, not by enough to matter. A better version of a shit movie can still be pretty shitty. This extended cut has taken a bad movie and made it almost passable, in the way that the extended cut of Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice was an almost passable movie made worse once extended, unless you need more scenes of a confused looking Amy Adams trying to hide a kryptonite spear in a bathhouse.

In a lot of ways, we’re just like a confused looking Amy Adams, trying to figure out where to hide a kryptonite spear. That’s just a metaphor for life, that is.

5 times Batman and Joker are a couple in the future out of 10?

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“I will stride across their bones and bask in the glory of Anti-Life, and all existence shall be mine.” – um, okay pops, but I don’t remember asking – Zack Snyder’s Justice League

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