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Review: 'Zach Snyder's Justice League' is far better than its maligned theatrical cut

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Zack Snyder's Justice League (Photo: HBO Max){ }

Zack Snyder’s Justice League
3.5 out of 5 Stars
Director:
Zack Snyder
Writer: Chris Terrio, Zack Snyder, Will Beall
Starring: Henry Cavill. Gal Gadot, Ben Affleck, Lois Lane
Genre: Action, Adventure, Fantasy
Rated: R for violence and some language

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SALT LAKE CITY (KUTV) – Synopsis: Following the death of Superman, Bruce Wayne attempts to form a group of metahumans to protect the world from future crises.

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Review: Warner Bros. has made their share of mistakes with the DC Cinematic Universe. Giving fans “Zack Snyder’s Justice League” isn’t one of them. It does, however, make the future of the franchises more difficult to predict.

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I was a proponent of Snyder getting the chance to go back and make the Justice League film that he originally envisioned. Not because I was completely on board with what Snyder had done with the characters or where I thought he was taking the narrative. I supported the idea because the 2017 film that was released in theaters was an absolute mess that left me wondering what was originally intended.

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For those unaware, Snyder left “Justice League” as it went into re-shoots. The suicide of his daughter made finishing the film an impossible task. Warner Bros. brought in Joss Whedon to finish the film. Warner Bros. gave Whedon a list of demands and “Justice League” and to accommodate Whedon cut characters, removed dozens of scenes and wrote and shot new scenes to make the streamlined version feel coherent.

It wasn’t coherent.

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Now, having watched Snyder’s 4-hour version, its clear why. Whedon’s version removed most of the world building and the bulk of the character development. At best, the theatrical version was a crayon drawing of what had been a detailed work of art. I gave the film 3 out of 5 stars. I was generous.

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Snyder’s version presents a fuller vision. It isn’t perfect. It is unquestionably better. The Flash (Ezra Miller) and Cyborg (Ray Fisher) are given backstories that more naturally weave them into the narrative. Steppenwolf (CiarĂ¡n Hinds) is still the main villain but he’s far more intimidating than he was in the theatrical cut. There’s a real sense that without Superman the Justice League isn’t going to be able to save the world this time around. Plus, you have Darkseid (Ray Porter) lingering in the background. The theatrical cut didn’t leave me clamoring for more. Snyder’s cut points to what might have come next. I’d be interested in seeing the sequel set up in this version of the film. Unfortunately, I don’t know that you can get Ben Affleck, Henry Cavill and Ray Fisher back and I’d rather not see them recast in this timeline.

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Most surprisingly, there’s a sense of optimism at the film’s end. Snyder’s dark vision wasn’t as unrelenting as we thought. There is room for sentimentality and hope.

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Split into seven parts, six chapters and an epilogue, “Justice League” is four hours long. With a tighter edit, the film could have been trimmed back to something closer to three hours for the main storyline. The bulk of the epilogue is unnecessary and plays like a list of things that Snyder wanted to do in the future but likely won’t get to do now. It does tie the film back to some of the dream sequences of “Batman v. Superman” and offers a pair of cameos (one expected, one not as expected) that will be the source of debate until Warner Bros. shows us what direction it plans to take this timeline in 2022’s “The Flash.”

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I know there are many fans who don’t like Snyder’s take on the DC Universe. It’s dark, cynical and lacks the buoyant optimism that tends to be associated with Superman, Wonder Woman and The Flash (imagine if they tried to give Batman a sunny disposition and a pastel-purple cowl). I don’t think their opinion is going to change as Snyder’s film continues to explore the darker, doubting aspects of Superman. I do, however, think that this version of “Justice League” surprisingly sets up a brighter Clark Kent, one that leaves his brooding to a previous life and embraces his role as the protector of Earth. I just don't know if it matters at this point.



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