Mythbusters once did an episode wondering if it was possible to polish a turd. Given enough time, it was plausible. So what about Justice League? How long would that take? Turns out, 4 hours and 2 minutes.
Zack Snyder movies all have a “look”. As J J Abrams is to the lens flare, Snyder is gratuitous slow motion in a muted color palette. If you’ve seen 300, you know this look. That’s not to say it’s bad. I remember enjoying 300, but that was awhile ago, and it might have aged as well as rolled-up pant legs.
With the Avengers making all the money, DC tapped Snyder to bring up the Justice League to compete. Sadly, tragedy hit the Snyder family and he stepped down from the project. DC brought in geek-icon-turned-major- asshole Joss Whedon to finish Snyder’s vision. If the rumors are true, Whedon made life hell on set and made extensive cuts and rewrites to the script. When it was finally released, it blazed a trail to the large dumpster fire that swallowed Whedon’s reputation.
Years passed and crazed comic book geeks caught wind of a “Snyder Cut” of Justice League. Who knows what really existed then, but when HBO launched their streaming service in the middle of a pandemic, they were desperate for content and Zack Snyder’s Justice League became official.
Four hours is a lot of time to invest in anything, especially a movie. But the Snyder Cut is a lot better than the theatrical release. So much better that it didn’t feel like four hours. Yes, it’s too long and the 30 minute epilogue should not have existed, but the story feels more complete. Cyborg is a real character that you can empathize with. The bad guy has motivations you can comprehend. And he somehow made Aquaman cool.
My biggest gripe is the same for all of these DC movies. The casting is wrong. Affleck is not my favorite Batman. Jared Leto’s atrocious Joker makes Affleck’s casting worse. Henry Cavill is a good Superman but not when paired with Jesse Eisenberg’s Lex Luthor. It makes it obvious that the casting director is the true genius behind the Marvel movies.
Is this worth your time? That’s hard to answer. It’s a much better movie, though it takes an investment. From a purely movie geek perspective, things like this never happen. Director’s Cuts exist, yes, but nothing like this. Even the 27 versions of Blade Runner don’t compare. I say if you’ve got HBO Max already, it’s worth checking out. Even if it takes you a week to get through.