Zack Snyder’s Justice League polishes a turd to a golden sheen

I have a guilty secret. I honestly did not think that 2017’s Justice League was that terrible. Granted, it was bad… it was rushed, it was silly, and the characters were all jarringly different from the previous Snyderverse movies, Man of Steel and Superman vs. Batman. But I didn’t mind. It was goofy, low-thinking, popcorn entertainment. Three years later and I barely remember it.

Zack Snyder’s Justice League is a whole new animal. I was never a fan of Man of Steel or Superman vs. Batman as I find them colorless and joyless experiences, but with the release of the four hour cut of Zack Snyder’s vison of what Justice League could be, I can at least see what he was going for. I’m still not a fan, but at least I see what he was doing.

I’ll also be honest, although I’m not a fan of Zack Snyder’s work in the DC Cinematic Monstrosity, the man has gone through personal horrors that I would not wish on my worst blood enemy. To see him, quite literally, rise from the ashes of his razed Snyderverse and deliver his opus unto the world is extremely satisfying. I feel that he man has won and I feel he’s owed. Good for him.

Much to my surprise, Zack Snyder’s Justice League is not only a stronger movie, it is a much stronger movie. I would go so far as to say that this is, without a doubt, Zack Snyder’s strongest movie in the DC lineup. Where his previous two efforts were, as I said, joyless and colorless, this movie seems to sustain itself on hope and heroism.

I remember I complimented Joss Whedon’s cut of Justice League for being more optimistic than Snyder’s vison. Zack Snyder’s Justice League has all the optimism of Whedon’s version, but now it seems earned. Characters have grown and matured in their own ways and they bring those lessons and that bond together to form a team. It feels more organic and earned this time around. It feels more real.

The extra insane runtime has also given the heroes some much needed characterization as well. Ray Fisher’s Cyborg who has, quite frankly, never been my favorite character, has gone from being, essentially, dour set dressing to the heart of the team with a character arch that sees him embracing society over solitude.

Ezra Miller’s Flash has benefitted not only from a beautifully shot scene in which he saves his future love, Iris, from a car crash in slow motion, to removing his more goofy lines, making him less of a clown and more of a man desperate to be part of the group. He’s more human here and less of a clown.

Even Batman’s character has been upgraded to be the hopeful cynic of the group almost to a fault. While this may seem a little strange with Batman being an optimistic character, the progression of the movie shows it comes from a place of regret and remorse and becomes more of an obsession than a positive trait which is, let’s face it, very Batman of him.

Although he looked like a PS2 cut scene, I rather enjoyed Steppenwolf’s character in Joss Whedon’s Justice League as a bored conqueror. In Zack Snyder’s cut, however, he becomes much more alien with vastly improved CGI. He is a disgraced warrior desperate to redeem himself to his master, an evil alien warlord named Darksied who is portrayed with delicious abandon in this film.

The movie is more competent, it is more connected, it is more organic, it is, in every sense, a far better movie than the one that was released into theaters.

That being said, there are some problems. A four hour runtime, for example, is insane. The first half of this mega-movie runs at a snail’s pace and there is no excuse for it. There are also some moments that are overshadowed by some absolutely terrible special effects (Lex Luthor’s appearance at the beginning of the film, for example, was inexcusable) and the movie ends with a cliffhanger. Given that this movie has a miniscule chance of getting a continuation, the cliffhanger almost feels like it was inserted to punish the audience for sticking around until the end.

But, then again, given that this cut of Justice League was supposed to have never happened, maybe I shouldn’t discount the idea of a sequel just yet.

Given that I am not a fan of either of Zack Snyder’s DC movies, I have to admit that I am shocked by how much I enjoyed his vision of Justice League. It’s a better movie, a more complicated movie, and a more competent movie that is highly enjoyable despite its mammoth run time.

I never though it would be possible to polish a turd until it was a gold sheen, but here we are… with a solid gold turd and I love it.

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