Review: Snyder's version of Justice League is Better Than the Cinema Cut
Snyder Cut is now available for streaming on HBO. How is it different from the cinema version? What makes it better? Take a closer look with us.
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Six months before the premiere in May 2017, Zack Snyder has left the directors chair of Justice League. Before that happened, Warner Bros. Studios, together with an alternate director Joss Whedon, have edited his film, changed some scenes and shot new footage without his approval. The 2-hour version that was screened in the cinemas was significantly shortened and the critics have really torn it to pieces.
Superhero fans were also outraged. Justice League was a huge disappointment and ever since the premiere, people demanded the publication of the cut by the original director, Zack Snyder. Few days after the cinema version premiered, we've interviewed Vladimir Valovič, who worked on films visual effects. He revealed what happened behind the scenes.
After years of efforts, paid billboards and airplanes, begging of fans and relentless internet noise, Warner Bros. Studios has finally decided to give a green light to the project. They called Snyder and asked him if he's up for finishing his version. Supposedly, they agreed for him to finish it on about 70 million dollars budget, together with his wife and producer, Deborah Snyder.
It's obvious why it didn't reach the cinemas in this form. The film is four hours long and it's ripe for editing and weeding out of multiple shots. We would cut at least half an hour, right away. It's not necessarily about bad or good shots, but it would've been a lot more dynamic and easier to watch. We have enjoyed watching Snyder Cut, most of the time it was enjoyable and we were certainly not bored.
Undoubtedly, the fact that we were curious about the comparison of the new version with the cinema cut contributed to this observation. You'll also notice several shots that made it to the original version. It's hard to estimate, since we don't remember the original Justice League quite as well anymore, but at least two hours are filled with brand new footage and various scenes are expanded or altered.
If Snyder Cut would have made it as a cinema version, we certainly would have more comments on its length. However, thanks to the six chapters and great epilogue, you really get a chance to dive much deeper into the story of the individual characters. We've enjoyed Flash a lot more, including a great scene with him saving Iris West (a well-known character from the DC world). We aren't entirely sure why this scene didn't make it into the cinemas.
The birth of Cyborg and its significance in the story came out differently as well. In the original version, it was an uninteresting, boring and non-functional character. However, in The Snyder Cut, Cyborg is in a way better light. It's still not the type of character that would deserve its own solo film, but it made total sense in Justice League.
The same can be said of the Snyder Cut in general. Finally, it makes sense. Batman vs. Superman sequel builds on previous events and introduces the villain Steppenwolf. He finally looks better than the artificially awful monster in the cinema cut. Snyder also presented the motivation behind the character, which steers him away from being nothing but a bug to the superheroes.
Yes, Snyder Cut is a much better film than the cinema version of Justice League. We have enjoyed it thoroughly and we'd be curious to see potential sequels, but most likely we won't get that. Warner considers Snyder Cut as a bonus for the fans. Without them, it would never have been created.
Apparently, Snyder used the vast majority of footage that he made, which gives the story a whole new dimension, but it also stretches it out. In this aspect, even the famous Snyder decelerators don't seem to help. And by that we don't mean the Flash scenes, when he slows down and runs at the speed of light.
It's more about the classic action scenes that Snyder slows down to achieve a greater effect. Sometimes it fits and works well, but the director does seem to over-do it at times. In the first 10 minutes already, he uses more of these brakes than you can count, which does seem to get a bit annoying.
Snyder added several interesting dialogues and his characters received more layers. We looked forward to the action scenes and Snyder surely didn't disappoint. Sure, at times it's still a disgusting digital mess of unconvincing computer tricks (especially towards the end). However, we prepared for this and that way, we were able to enjoy some great action moments in there.
There's a whole lot more of those, compared to the cinema cut. Most of all, they're expanded with cool moments and entire sequences. You might also appreciate a number of bloody and brutal scenes thanks to the R rating.
Snyder had about 70 million to complete the film, but even that didn't suffice. The fact that some visual effects are unfinished, is painfully real. But because of the way the film came to its completion, we'll be happy to forgive him. The soundtrack is also slightly better than in the original version. Wonder Woman has an excellent theme, but she could use an update, since it's the only one that's constantly repeated in several films.
Thanks to the Snyder Cut, we came to love Flash more, but it's also true that we missed a few scenes that were well done by Whedon. On the other hand, Snyder filtered out a few of his glitches, including the first and last scenes. Don't worry, the lame sequence with the Ukrainian family (that had to be saved by Superman instead of the rest of the world) was completely scratched. Snyder decided not to use a single shot by Joss Whedon and we totally respect that.
Snyder Cut was made for the fans and they will enjoy every minute. Ideally, we would cut the 4-hour comic book story down a bit, but we still had a lot of fun watching it. Compared to the cinema version it's better in every important aspect and we're bummed out that the DC comics will not continue with this type of storyline anymore.
The epilogue has perfectly lured us into potential Justice League future. There's already a bunch of important and impeccable scenes (you'll love the one with Joker especially). Thanks to the epilogue, Batman vs. Superman makes a lot more sense as well and that's another reason why it's a shame it all turned out this way.
After the Justice League cinema fiasco, the development of Flash's solo has restarted several times. Ben Affleck ended up as Batman. Henry Cavill either wrapped it up, or decided to take a break from Superman for a while. Cyborg solo was cancelled and we probably don't even need to get into the quality of Wonder Woman films. Though, it all could have been different and so much better.
Snyder Cut still suffers from some shortcomings that were also present in the cinema version. Ray Fisher or Gal Gadot are not the best actors. Lois Lane role is still very limited and if she wasn't necessary to calm Superman down, she'd be completely useless and insignificant. The villain, even though it reached a new dimension, is still a digital monster (just like all villains) that lacks charisma and a bit more elaborate character.
We'd love it if Batman didn't come through as such a clumsy humongous guy, if Superman got more time to shine, if Flash didn't perform an awkward cliche monologue at the end, but we can't have it all.
Snyder has managed to save himself and the original version of Justice League by turning it into a fun comic book in the directors cut. It's a way better piece of cinematography, compared to the cinema version and it will bring joy to comic book enthusiasts just as much as to ordinary audiences.
If it wasn't for the unfinished tricks, strange 4 : 3 format and lengthiness of the film, we would add half a point to our rating. That being said, we award Snyder Cut seven points out of ten. By comparison, our colleague Pepo awarded the original Justice League version 5/10 and as he said himself, he was being generous at the time. Today, he'd surely go lower than that.
P. S.: It still hurts that the DC comics fail to connect to each other. They don't have to link in the same way as Marvel does, but it would surely be nice if they at least made sense in the presence of other films.
P. S. 2: Snyder finally ended up shooting one additional scene. It's the Joker sequence from the epilogue, which is an absolute success.
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