There’s a lot to offer in this superhero director’s cut
Due to his daughter’s death, Zack Snyder had to let Joss Whedon finish the 2017 “Justice League.” That movie was not the box office success Warner Bros. and DC was hoping more, and gained mixed reviews. I was one of the few who liked the movie, and gave it three stars for its campy entertainment.
This year, Snyder has given it an R-rated 4 hour version-the definitive director’s cut if you will-on HBO Max. It still has the original plot of Steppenwolf’s army battling the Justice League, formed together by Batman, and them resurrecting Superman, but the battles are longer, and the characters are given more depth and narrative. This is all in his visions, not Whedon’s.
The returning cast members include Ben Affleck as Batman, Henry Cavil as Superman, Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman, Jason Momoa as Aquaman, Ezra Miller as Flash, Ray Fisher as Cyborg, Jeremy Irons as Alfred Pennyworth, JK Simmons as James Gordon, Diane Lane as Martha Kent (Superman’s adoptive mother), Amy Adams as Lois Lane, Connie Nielsen as Queen Hippolyta (Wonder Woman’s mother), Amber Heard as Mera, Joe Morton as Silas Stone (Cyborg’s father), and Ciaran Hinds as the villainous Steppenwolf.
Jesse Eisenberg as Lex Luther, Harry Lennix as the Martian Manhunter, and Joe Manganiello as Deathstroke are given bigger roles, while others like Willem Dafoe as Nuidis Vulko, Kiersey Clemmons as Ira West (Flash’s love interest), and Jared Leto, improving on his “Suicide Squad” mistake as Joker, come in.
Some of the long battles detracted my attention, because too much is happening for my mind to process. I’ve had a similar reaction to “The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies,” in which they looked like five football teams playing in the same Super Bowl. It’s mostly in regards to the Amazonian battle, and they aren’t as interesting as they should have been. In other battles, there are some moments that kept me involved, like after the Justice League resurrect Superman, who goes berserk until Lois Lane brings back his memories. Those are fresh moments
Given its 4-hour length, there’s enough going on in the director’s cut for me to enjoy it as much as the original take. There’s strength provided by Affleck’s Batman, Cavill’s Superman, Momoa’s Aquaman, and Gadot’s Wonder Woman, comedy and humanity provided by Miller’s Flash, and more depth to Fisher’s Cyborg. I haven’t watched the original in years, but I was still excited to see the additional and reshot scenes that Snyder provides. They include football games, family lives, and an epilogue that delivers.
Since it’s on HBO Max, and it’s very long, you can either watch it half now and half later, or you can sit through it if you’re too excited to see what Snyder improves. For the most part, it’s fun.