‘Justice League’: Reel Long

“Justice League” brings together most of DC’s major heroes to stop a global threat, again.

Neutral – What the what?

“Justice League” was a 2017 movie release. Originally directed by Zack Snyder, it was a follow-up to Snyder’s 2016 release “Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice.” Early in post-production, Snyder suffered the tragic loss of his daughter, Autumn, and had to pull out of the movie. “Avengers” director Joss Whedon stepped in, trimming it down to a two hour affair. While “Justice League” was popular, especially by recent D.C. standards, a growing internet movement begged to see Synder finish the film he started and release what would be known as the “Synder Cut.” Eventually, enough interest and enthusiasm was generated to bring “Justice League: The Snyder Cut” to life on HBO Now.

Pro – Room to breathe

One of this reviewer’s chief complaints of the 2017 version of the film was it felt rushed. New heroes were introduced and thrown together with only two lines of exposition to explain them. Coming in at four hours, Synder has ample time to expand upon that now. It certainly helps. Characters like Aquaman, Flash, and Cyborg are given space to breathe and develop, and that is both a big improvement and some of the best bits of the film. Some of the plot holes from the earlier version are filled in as well, though many noticeable nitpicks remain. The added time also affords the arrival of a few new characters onto the big screen that are exciting to see. If the 2017 version was a mad sprint to smash a three-hour film down to two, the Snyder Cut feels like a leisure stroll that takes a three hour film and indulgently stretches it to four.

Con – New paint, same car

First and foremost, it needs to be understood that “Justice League: The Snyder Cut” is a four hour film. Even for fans of the genre and IP, it can be a slog to work through. It’s never boring, but it at times it is overwhelming. Additionally, this film is still the same story being told as in 2017. It’s by far the best iteration of Batman and Superman in the last seven years, but that’s not saying much. The supporting heroes are great, and the added screen time given to them is nothing but positive.

Still, this film feels like a poor man’s Avengers. D.C. fans will recoil at that jab, but it’s hard to not compare the films when both include all-powerful space artifacts, alien invasions, unlikely team-ups, character deaths, and time travel. Marvel just did that better. It’s disappointing too because one of D.C.’s major strengths is it’s deep, unique, and memorable stable of villains uniquely paired to each hero. While a potential team-up of villains into the exciting Legion of Doom is hinted at, it felt like a missed trick to not differentiate this film from Marvel’s Avengers series by going that route here.

It’s wonderful that Zack Snyder was able to realize his grand vision for this film after having to step away for personal tragedy. The added runtime, while oppressive, does make this a better film. It’s a must see for any D.C. fans for sure, and for most comic book fans in general. Get a big bowl of popcorn from Fridley Palms Theatre to make it all the way through this one.