By Tony Parker
When I was young, I discovered the Superman Homepage. I profess, I was not as into Superman back then, which I find to be very disappointing. But I remember fondly that I was enchanted by the reviews, the news articles, and the images. As a budding comics fan, it felt like home. And how I wished that one day, I too would write a review.
One year into my time here, and I’ve been given the honor of reviewing a whole movie for this site, and not just any movie… the much anticipated “Zack Snyder’s Justice League,” better known as that title that sent shockwaves across the internet: The Snyder Cut.
For what feels like a decade, this movie was hyped, prayed for, fought for, and finally, released against seemingly all odds. In what has been a tough year for us all, seeing the Snyder Cut is like mannah from heaven.
Now, I must confess, dear reader, that I am NOT a fan of Zack Snyder’s films. With all due respect to those who love his take (and yes, dear reader, there are those who do, and their view is as legitimate as those who dislike his take), I have not been sold. I find his movies dreary, meandering, dare I say, pretentious, and misguided.
But, you see, I knew that if I approached my review with gray colored glasses, I would be doing a disservice to the site I love, and to the readers I serve. The work of a critic, after all, is not to dash it all with wit and exuberance, wielding a sword of negativity and superiority, quashing ones opinion with the tone of a scolding parent who knows better.
No, a critic must approach every work of art, even those he has no affinity to, with an open mind, and more importantly, an open heart.
So, you ask, what DID I think?
Well, seeing as this movie is 4 hours long, it will take some time to express my thoughts, but I shall try to keep myself from droning on.
First, I would like to assure you: It is miles better than the 2017 version. The 2017 version can barely call itself a movie, and, to Snyder’s credit, this one is, this one is well paced (for the most part), well structured (usually), and truly an artistic vision.
However, this vision can be muddled, or, well, unclear: While usually one can tell EXACTLY what Snyder is trying to say, it is in this pseudo finale to his saga that one feels a little lost at times. Gone are the cynical admonishments of heroism and selflessness. In fact, this one is not only lighter than his previous efforts, it might have more jokes than the 2017 version (and I say this with as much disbelief as you administer reading this).
With Superman dead, the world is in disarray. Much like the previous version, this is exhibited through the sadness of Lois Lane and Martha Kent, not to mention the crimes that occur in the vacuum he left. The beginning of the movie, to be honest, is quite different though, with a clear tonal shift, and many scenes we never thought we’d see, like Barry Allen saving Iris West, and Darkseid’s original invasion of the earth.
While Bruce Wayne (who, at least, is more of a character in this than in the 2017 version, even if he quips more than one would expect) and Diana Prince (ethereal as ever, Gal Gadot excelling once more) search for the others, we are also treated to a new and somewhat improved Steppenwolf. Don’t get me wrong, he is a lot better here, with a clear motivation, and even a dramatic moment or two, but this is no Zod, no Joker, not even a Jesse Eisenberg Lex. He is still cookie cutter, but the cutter is at least handmade.
It is around the two hour mark when the team joins together, and it is that moment when you make an odd realization, one that threatens to ruin the experience: for all the talk of how different this cut is, it shares a lot with the 2017 version. Again, do not misunderstand: These are two very different movies. But many many lines, jokes, moments and shots are one to one, sometimes to surprising degree (who would have thought that the “I’m rich” joke, or the “Kal El, no!” lines were not Whedon’s own creations?).
It would be foolish not to mention certain improvements, and also the biggest change: Cyborg. Nearly a footnote in Whedon’s cut, Cyborg operates as a sort of heart to the film (though this reviewer felt that The Flash may have taken over that role by accident). He has an arc (albeit rushed), and his moments are grand and at times quite tragic. I would hope after all he went through, that Ray Fisher gets another stab at the role. He has a lot to offer.
Wonder Woman plays a well done, if not always spectacular part, Batman is lacking, but at least feels more in line with the original vision, Flash arguably provides the film’s two best moments (his rescue of Iris and traveling back in time are beautiful, no strings attached), Aquaman is sadly quite underwhelming.
But we all know what we’re here for: Superman.
And how is the Man of Steel, so controversially handled by the director, so split in the fan’s opinions?
Well, while again not much is changed from the 2017 cut (he might even appear less), Superman DOES feel like Superman. I did find the addition of the beloved black suit a little disappointing (it seems to only appear for the easter egg), but I cannot lie that my heart flies just a little at the sight of the iconic look.
I have spoken of details big and small, of characters and plot, but I have not spoken of what truly this is all about: My thoughts.
For that’s what we all came for, no? To see one man’s thoughts, one man’s feelings, to see me praise this movie to the ends of the earth and back, or to curse it for its daring to exist, to be.
But, my dearest reader, I shall not.
In my heart of hearts, I felt a little let down. I did not hate the film, I thought it did a few great things, truly, but I did not love it. I felt as if too much was similar with the 2017 cut, that too much was meandering, that not much was even said. Did the League truly form? I’m not sure.
But, and this is an important but, I will not finish this review with a shake of my head, but rather, a smile on my face.
In a year like this, in a year where people needed hope, happiness, escape, the Snyder Cut provided. Perhaps I was not meant to enjoy it, but does that make it empty of value, of worth? No. No, I say.
Right now, around the world, maybe even right next to you, maybe even you, you, have felt touched. You felt joy, wonder, awe. You flew with Superman, you cheered at the victory, you laughed at the jokes, you cried at the restored faith.
Perhaps you spent your time demanding for this movie. Perhaps you needed it. Who am I to say? Who am I to dictate that your enjoyment was false, wrong, that you should be ashamed of liking a silly little movie, when in this vast universe of loneliness and despair, you found, for 4 wonderful hours, hope, once more?
So, my dearest reader, my faith in humanity was restored today. For you, yes you, enjoyed this film. I recommend it wholeheartedly, for it is worth your time, even if you hate it, even if you find it to be a waste of time. And why?
Because art is art, even when it is not to my taste. Because there is something beautiful in any work, even one that I do not find myself appreciating.
I can only hope that when you watch this movie, like me, you will forget for a brief, golden moment, that life can be hard, terrifying, and unfair.
I hope that like me, for just the briefest moment, you will smile and feel hope spring eternal.
Happy viewing, dear reader.