Zack Snyder's Justice League

Zack Snyder's Justice League

Neither elated nor repulsed by this, it’s a complete movie now but also incomplete in that its narrative threads are now completely slack and that half of it plays as setup to movies that may or may not exist in the future. The Cyborg + Flash additions are great in their reframing of the story more around that of parents, children and second chances, the new extended epilogue is compellingly bananas/stupid but otherwise pretty middle-of-the-road.

A lot of it feels like him trying to do an impersonation of the already tired superhero movie template, complete with maguffin chases, long expository monologues about a bigger bad guy behind the scenes, and final act throw downs with anonymous CGI hoards. It lacks visual imagination – which is something I’ve never really thought of Snyder’s work, even when he treats adaptation as a simple copy/paste act between the comic book page and the screen, or whenever I’ve hated the accidentally reactionary antics his films get up to (about half the time). Despite being unattached to any particular comic book storyline – BvS mashing together The Dark Knight Returns and The Death of Superman, for example – this still feels like his most derivative work, replicating a basic superhero movie plot structure. Even in his action scenes it feels like he's not quite sure what to do with these characters outside of having them shoot an alien or bash someone's face in, Superman's ice breath being one of a few exceptions. There’s something to be said about Snyder’s blunt force portrayal of superheroes I suppose. Anyway, The Flash opens up a chance to add some diversity to these sequences at least - though he's twice left to literally run in circles, some of the film's more visually exciting moments happen as Snyder's typical slow-mo takes on a more active role, the world slowed down to a painterly tableau as Barry Allen zooms through it.

The better parts are where Snyder's sensibilities shine through all his muddy colour grading - whether that’s through sometimes beautiful slow-mo tableaus or extremely pointed Nick Cave needledrops, or even him taking the chance to replicate some of 300 in its depiction of ancient battles. The hyper-earnestness of Man of Steel and the deranged grandstanding of Batman V. Superman only occasionally shows itself, those moments are subsumed by hours of not much at all. I feel like the production oversteered in its desire to throw everything back in when there’s a lot of superfluous exposition over any actual elaboration on the emotions of its characters. I wanted to meet it on its terms, to see it as the reflection on grief and reconnection that’s clearly there, but it was too buried amongst a whole bunch of stuff.

Will say that it’s nice to be able to trace my issues with this back to a filmmaker rather than a committee, which is the formula for cape movies now - probably why I feel inexplicably compelled to write so much about a film that I’m mostly lukewarm on. It’s more interesting this way.

All-in-all it’s just fine, which ultimately makes 4 hours feel like a steep ask. Won’t begrudge anyone for loving it (feels stupid to need to have this disclaimer) but whatever.