Zack Snyder’s Justice League (aka The Snyder Cut), which premiered this week on HBO Max, is literally four-hours and two minutes long — 242 minutes to be precise, which makes it 15 minutes longer than Lawrence of Arabia, 21 minutes longer than Gone with the Wind, and 122 minutes longer than 2017’s original Justice League.
In case I’m being too subtle, The Snyder Cut is really, reeeeeally long, and it’s a problem.
So why are there two Justice Leagues movies, both directed by Zack Snyder? Good question. Well, back in 2017, Snyder had shot and edited most of his version of Justice League but the studio was pretty unhappy with it. Then Snyder’s family was hit with a terrible tragedy, so he walked away and in stepped Avengers 1 & 2 director Joss Whedon, who reportedly re-shot two-thirds of the movie and released it without taking credit as director, or even as co-director.
The result was a critical flop, a commercial bomb, and fan failure. And so the call went out on the Internet for the studio to release “The Snyder Cut.” Snyder (who had saved his cut on a laptop) joined the call and Warner Bros., a studio desperate to fill its new HBO Max streaming service with sexy content, agreed. Snyder was given $70 million to finish his opus and it’s 242 minutes long.
Which is looong.
There’s no intermission.
It’s broken into six chapters followed by a reeeeeally long epilogue, and there’s no natural place where you can stop, go on with your day, and return to it tomorrow. This is one movie. One sit. And it’s a reeeeeally long movie.
Granted, I’m glad I saw it and was only bored in a few parts. The 30-minute epilogue, however, is pretty excruciating and promises a sequel. Nevertheless, I will never watch it again. Ever.
Did it need to be four hours long? No. Countless scenes go on too long and repeat the same information. Between that and the epilogue, this sucker could have been trimmed to 160 minutes easy.
It is, though, an entirely different movie from Whedon’s Justice League, which felt abrupt and like it just wanted to get itself over with.
The Snyder Cut wants to be seen as an epic filled with mythology, as something that slows down and revels in the character and plot details fans love so much. Each character — Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, Aquaman Flash, and Cyborg — is given plenty of time (and a slo-mo music montage) to establish who they are and what they are about as Batman/Bruce Wayne (Ben Affleck) goes about the business of recruiting them. He knows a threat is on its way and the only way to stop it is by uniting earth’s greatest heroes.
We get tons of backstory, two extended flashbacks (one on Wonder Woman’s all-woman island where a sense of humor and cleavage have been outlawed), at least an hour of slow motion scenes, and a number of big action sequences. Some of it works. Some of it doesn’t. All of it looks fake, looks like it was created in a computer, and the overall aura of the movie is so grey and oppressive, by chapter four you want to take a Xanax.
The Snyder Cut is never much fun. It takes itself seriously, too seriously, and wants you to take it seriously. The only attempt at comic relief is Ezra Miller’s young Flash, but his nebbish, gee whiz act gets pretty old pretty quick. Other than that, there’s a sense of self-importance that’s never earned because the stakes never feel real. Not for a moment did I believe the earth or a single one of our heroes was in any sort of danger.
Of course the movie truly comes alive every time Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman appears on screen, but that might only be due to the fact I’m a red-blooded, heterosexual American male.
I will say this… The Snyder Cut is a helluva lot better than DC’s most recent entry, the dreadful Wonder Woman 1984 and even Christopher Nolan’s Tenet, which I finally saw last week and did not understand a single second of. But…
Is it better than Whedon’s original Justice League? Well, let’s just say Whedon’s version felt like no one gave a damn and Snyder’s version feels like someone gave too much of a damn. And it’s long.
Holy moly, is it long.