The Reel Review
Four years after the wretchedly awful Justice League (which made The Reelness Worst 10 Movies of 2017 list), director Zack Snyder has released HIS four hour version of the DC Comics film on HBO Max. Shot in a 4:3 aspect ratio (presumably for IMAX viewing someday), this story, about superheroes banding together to fight a winged alien invasion, is the bridge between 2016’s Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice and 2018’s Aquaman.
Despite its bloated, way too long run time, this is the epic DC Comics story that fans have long sought, light years above the original that Snyder initially shot but was reshot and truncated by Joss Whedon. Is it the best superhero movie ever made? Not by a long shot. But its overriding message, about coping with grief, is more somber and way more respectful of the source material than Whedon’s more cartoonish version. Even Ben Affleck, who looked disconnected as Batman in the Whedon reshoots, is more present in this version.
The first hour features LOTS of slow motion action, eerily reminiscent of Snyder’s Gerard Butler gladiator fantasy film 300. But as the action returns to real time it picks up substantially, even more so in the film’s second half. There’s lots more character and story development, in particular, Ray Fisher as Cyborg, who was practically written out of the Whedon film. The CGI ranges from spectacular to lackluster and the epilogue with Jared Leto as Joker is a frustrating throwaway, but the heartfelt scenes with Henry Cavill, Amy Adams and Diane Lane are beautiful. For Snyder and his DC Comics fans, justice finally is served.
• Despite his credit as director of 2017’s Justice League, Zack Snyder left the film during post-production to mourn his daughter Autumn’s suicide and never saw his successor Joss Whedon’s finished product. Snyder’s wife Deborah reportedly advised him never to see it as it would “break his heart.” Zack added Autumn’s favorite song “Hallelujah” to the soundtrack of his director’s cut and has dedicated the film to her.
• At four hours and two minutes, Zack Snyder’s Justice League has dethroned 2012’s The Dark Knight Rises and its 2 hour, 45 minute run time, as the longest DC Comics film ever made.
• In July 2020, Ray Fisher accused Joss Whedon of “gross, abusive, unprofessional and completely unacceptable behavior” during reshoots of 2017’s Justice League. Jason Momoa, Gal Gadot and several actors from other Whedon projects also have spoken out about bullying from Whedon. In December 2020, WarnerMedia said it had taken “remedial action” against Whedon.