Zack Snyder’s Justice League, by Albert W. Vogt III

You might look at the title of this review and say, “Wait, did not my favorite Catholic movie review blog already cover this film?” If so, thank you for making this your favorite Catholic movie review blog! And also, yes, in a way. If you care to read a discussion of the joke that is the first attempt at cinematically telling the story of DC Comics famous team of superheroes that is also called Justice League (2017), please feel free to do so. To add to what others have say and by way of summing up what was said about it, it was universally panned. Well, the original, er, visionary behind it, Zack Snyder, was apparently so incensed by the end product that he decided to release his own version of the story. What was his solution for making it better? Why, make it twice as long, of course! What will follow in this brief dissecting of Zack Snyder’s Justice League will be a little different than our usual reviews. After all, in the main this is not a different movie. The plot is essentially the same, they just added a bunch of crap that was best left on the cutting room floor. There is a reason why directors typically have film editors that are there to tighten a story, akin to what a newspaper counterpart would do with an article. Hopefully this piece will help you understand the benefits of such trimming.

The DC Cinematic Universe is a mess. They started with Superman’s origin story with the horror that was Man of Steel (2013). That was followed with the equally bad Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016), which I guess was also supposed to be an explanation of how the Caped Crusader came to be. Additionally, there was Wonder Woman (2017), which got better reviews. Not from this reviewer, but whatever. I felt gratified when this year’s Wonder Woman 1984 turned out to be a cinematic disaster. At any rate, it seems like whoever is in charge of DC’s film offerings thought, okay, we have the big three (Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman), that is enough. Spoiler alert: it is not. The problem is that there are three other characters in Zack Snyder’s Justice League that its intrepid director felt all needed to have an equal share of screen time and importance. Now, there have been thousands of motion pictures made since the advent of cinema. Those pieces that work best usually have a main character that drives the tension. You root for that person because you have spent time getting acquainted and thus want to see him or her triumph over struggles. This typically fills out about an hour and a half to two and half hours of time, and that seems just about right. Not to Zack Snyder, though. I think the person that is supposed to be the main character is Bruce Wayne/Batman (Ben Affleck). He is top billed, anyway. However, we know nothing about him, though it is somewhat (and I cannot stress that word enough) understandable that they spend hardly any time telling you anything about him other than he is rich and is sad that Superman is dead. At least the film reminds you that happened in the first scene. Yet, instead of telling us anything else about Batman, Zack Snyder has a series of backstories about Victor Stone/Cyborg (Ray Fisher), Arthur Curry/Aquaman (Jason Momoa), and Barry Allen/The Flash (Ezra Miller). Perhaps “series” is the wrong word. Backstory is practically the whole movie. Any time you might think the story is getting somewhere, in comes some aspect of these other characters that is intended to fill out that which is usually handled in a stand-alone feature. This is painfully the case with Cyborg. They could have made an entire separate movie with the time they devote to this person. And he probably has the most to do in the film’s denouement. He also has to find peace with his past, his current condition, and the loss of his family. Silas Stone (Joe Morton), Cyborg’s father, sacrifices himself so that the rest of the heroes could do . . . something. Anyway, there is my Christian angle to this mishegoss. The willingness to sacrifice themselves is the true mark of a hero that they all share, as well as by Jesus. It would just be nice if they all could have gravitated to one.

The other problem with Zack Snyder’s Justice League is the ending, or lack thereof. After the main bad guy is defeated, Batman has some vision of an alternate future where Superman (Henry Cavill) has become evil, I guess because Lois Lane (Amy Adams) dies. Sometime. Not pictured. We are made to believe this could actually happen, and they toss in a few more characters in this last part, most notably The Joker (Jared Leto). It was as if Snyder wanted to either set up sequels (which I fervently hope against), or that he simply wanted you to imagine other films (which is dumb). Anyway, save yourself the trouble. This thing is four hours of torture. If you must know what happens to the title team, just watch the original version and be done with it.

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