Zack Snyders Justice League (2021)

Quick Synopsis: Costumed people punch CGI, in HD

I was debating whether to include this in the reviews for this year or not. I mean, would I count rereleases etc as new films? I wouldn’t so should I for this? Then I looked at the differences in length and realised this might be something completely new. Could it actually be good?

Spoilers, it’s not. It’s not good. There is one word I will use to describe this though: Dull. Now I know this was originally supposed to be released years ago, but it HAS been released in 2021, original intentions be damned. It’s following up a film from 2016, so that’s 5 years and we’re supposed to remember. I know we are sick of seeing Batman’s parents die again, or going through Spider-man’s backstory, but this has gone too far the other way. It would not have killed them to add a few minutes of recap at the start. This is in a weird position because of the “meant for 2017, released now”. Especially since things have happened since that film that we are aware of (even if we weren’t supposed to be when the film was made). Since then, we have seen the Whedon version of Justice League, two Wonder Woman films, and an Aquaman one. This film doesn’t take that into consideration so a lot of the time it aims for dramatic reveals that you already know. Again, this would have been fine if it was released back then, but this has been released now, when we know certain things so we don’t need to see what we see a lot of the time.

And we do see a lot. Too much, it’s almost four hours and it doesn’t exactly use that time well. I don’t mind long films if they justify their length. But this doesn’t, it feels unnaturally stretched out for a lot of the time. There’s a line from the British sitcom Garth Marenghi’s Darkplace that seems to sum up Snyder’s attitude to the film:

That’s how watching this film feels. Like everything is in slow motion. It’s not an exciting rollercoaster, it’s walking through treacle. It moves so slowly that even when stuff happens, because it takes so long to happen it feels like nothing has. I’m assuming stuff did happen in this film, but I can’t remember any of it.

That’s the big issue with this film, it’s just not exciting. As meh as the original Justice League was, it was never as dull as this. This is an actual slog to get through. At no point was I actively engaged. Actually, there was no point where I felt anything at all. Usually, with these, the first step is to compare it to a Marvel movie. With this, you feel it would be more apt to compare it to a Transformers one.

There’s some choices here which are just weird. Like the aspect ratio. He released it in a 4:3 format. Basically this means you have to make do with the black bars on the side of your screen. Snyder did this because he likes the way that format looks on an IMAX screen. One small issue with that: this isn’t released there, it’s strictly home viewing. This means he intentionally released it in a format best suited for a medium for which nobody will be watching it on(weirdly, it looks good on an iPad but that feels weird watching films on there). It’s a bit like a musician releasing a song and saying “oh, don’t worry this is meant to be sung live alongside a group of people” and then never ever playing it live. All these decisions just make it feel dated, like it was “discovered” from back then, rather than specially remastered and with new scenes filmed specifically for a 2021 release.

Not to say it’s all bad, there are some good performances and somewhere in this is a great movie if you cut out a lot of fluff. It feels HUGE in terms of scope and it gets a lot done. Plus some of the action scenes are great to watch.

In summary, I would find it really hard to justify spending 4 hours of your time watching this. Especially since it spends so much time setting up sequels that will now not be made. An interesting curiosity for sure, and I would like to see more films given this treatment (I would actually like to see the original version of Fant4stic just to see whether the studio did ruin it as much as the director claimed), but this is not a good advertisement for doing so.

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