I have to be honest leading up to the release of Zack Snyder’s Justice League I had no plans on watching it let alone reviewing it. Ever since my experience with Shazam I have been hesitant to note my opinions on superhero properties and have mostly only done so after long delays (see my review of Joker and Spider-Man Far From Home as examples).
The strange thing is I actually consider myself a fan of the genre and am quick to defend it against naysayers who claim it’s not true cinema (nonsense). I know I should be stronger as a critic but considering I am basically unpaid in my efforts it’s hard to muster up the energy to engage when people will threaten to kill you for your opinion.
As far as Zack Snyder I admire the ambition of his films but I find the execution to be frustrating. Man of Steel has interesting ideas but they are belabored to the point of exhaustion. Batman v Superman is bloated and yet rushed, and I hated the choice to kill Superman. Groan. Then we get 2017’s Justice League and I thought it was a hot mess. However, I liked seeing Superman (mustache and all) back to his old ways of truth, justice and the American way. It was a mess but it was my kind of mess and I enjoyed it.
Obviously I was in the minority of enjoying the film and fans clamored for a different version. Some said Snyder had a finished cut nearly ready for release. Others knew better and WB desperate to help their fledgling HBO Max service gave in and spent 70 million dollars for Snyder to finish his film. I’m glad he got to do it, and I’m glad he got to dedicate the film to his daughter.
However, now that I’ve seen it. I’m not even sure it is a film. It’s not a limited series either. It’s best described as an event. Like something you watch at an amusement park- only 4 hours long. Writing a review of this event then becomes difficult. How do we judge its quality when it is such a unique beast?
Honestly my main response after 4 hours is: it’s fine. I liked most everything with Wonder Woman. Aquaman sections were bland. The action felt very video-game inspired, which doesn’t move or excite me. The Superman parts I enjoyed even with the black suit (which I didn’t think I would like). It was nice seeing Ben Affleck healthy again in this world so I liked most of the Batman/Bruce sequences. Flash felt extemporaneous but fine. Cyborg had been oversold to me, and I didn’t think was anything special. Plus Ray Fisher has no charisma as an actor.
I still wish Snyder would use more subtly in his directing but there was more humor than his previous films. To be honest more of what I liked in 2017’s Justice League was kept than I anticipated.
I always try to ask myself when reviewing a film: did it succeed in doing what it’s trying to do? For example, when I watch a Hallmark Christmas movie I’m not looking at it under the same lens as when I’m watching Nomadland. They have entirely different audiences and purposes. That doesn’t mean I give the Hallmark movies a pass either. There are many bad ones. I just ask the question: does this movie succeed at being a good Christmas movie? I ask the same question when reviewing horror movies. Does the film succeed in being scary? Developing tone, having chilling sequences etc?
It’s the same thing with Zack Snyder’s Justice League. Does this movie succeed in what it’s trying to do? Is it a satisfying event for the fans who willed it into existence? The answer is undeniably yes. If the answer is yes (and I didn’t mind watching it) than it succeeds. That may be a convoluted explanation but there it is.
6 out of 10