“The Snyder Cut” Review!

The epic saga of Zack Snyder’s original vision for the Justice League movie is arguably more epic than the actual plots of either his film – commonly spoken of as “The Snyder Cut”, with the kind of hushed reverence befitting this semi-mythical Hollywood Holy Grail – or the almost universally-condemned version of his film put together by director Joss Whedon and released in 2017 – and often referred to nowadays as “Josstice League”; a dismissive nickname for a film which dismissed many of Snyder’s boldest ideas out-of-hand in favor of something more generic and “crowd-pleasing”, laced with Whedon’s traditional brand of humor. For years, “The Snyder Cut” of Justice League was the stuff of legend, so mysterious and controversial that many thought it didn’t even exist, and even those who knew about it thought its chances of being recovered, like Snyder’s over-arching vision for the DCEU, had died.

Snyder Cut
Darkseid | vulture.com

Yet here we are. Following loud and persistent demands from fans, cast, and crew, Warner Brothers finally gave Snyder the go-ahead to complete his already mostly-finished cut of Justice League, touching it up with some additional VFX work and a few minutes of new footage. The Snyder Cut is now available to watch exclusively on HBO Max, making it the ultimate crown jewel in the streaming service’s collection. But after the excessively long waiting-game, the suspenseful build-up, the pageantry and hype surrounding its release…is it, in fact, a better movie than Joss Whedon’s Justice League? Even if it is, is it really good enough to warrant all the attention, all the hashtags and the fan-campaigns, the uproar and the ceaseless arguing?

Fortunately, the answer is a resounding “yes” on both counts. It’s hard to even compare the two when it’s so clear in hindsight that the Snyder Cut is (despite several flaws) a complete, comprehensive work of art; and Whedon’s cut is merely an abridged and simplified version that strips away the artistry, the voice, the heart, and most damningly the soul of Snyder’s film, all while turning up the brightness and saturation to an 11, which I realize now is why some otherwise unchanged elements shared by the two films, such as Ezra Miller’s Flash costume, no longer make me want to rinse my eyes out with bleach. Is the Snyder Cut the greatest superhero film ever made? Not quite (at least to me personally), but the fact that it now ranks anywhere near the top of the list is enough for me to say this whole endeavor was worth it.

Clocking in at four hours (and helpfully divided into chapters of varying length for a more comfortable viewing experience), the Snyder Cut is basically the exact same story as before, but with all the purpose and power layered back in gradually over the course of the film. There’s just enough new (well, old) material to keep the story engaging and fresh, particularly the entire subplot with the villainous tyrant Darkseid (voiced by Ray Porter), but the Snyder Cut’s secret weapon is its ability to take scenes and sequences we’ve already seen – and hated, I might add – and either completely recontextualize them and/or replace the character development and sincere emotion that Whedon removed. And those scenes justify the Snyder Cut’s existence, and make it easy to see why Warner Brothers held out for so long: it’s hard for studio execs to understand that audiences actually want character development and heartfelt stories, rather than nonstop CGI battles and crowd-pleasing jokes every other minute. A superhero movie that’s all about the former, and adds little of the latter? Good luck even getting that movie made.

But superhero movies are evolving well past the limitations imposed on them by studios constantly trying to outdo each other with more and more explosions, snarky one-liners, and third act plot twists. The Snyder Cut is able to be part of that evolution, even as it remains (on its surface) the story of a group of superhumans trying to disconnect sentient alien cubes to stop a cosmic dictator from wiping out all life on Earth. Deeper than that, it’s the story of Victor Stone (Ray Fisher, finally getting the screen-time and justice he deserves), whose every waking moment, trapped in a metal cyborg body designed to keep him alive after a brutal car-crash, is a reminder of pain, guilt, and regret over having been saved from the brink of death in the first place. Victor’s inner struggle is the crux of the film, and out of the large ensemble cast he comes closest to being the singular protagonist. His journey to some level of self-acceptance, piecing together the broken bits of himself to form a whole, mirrors the journey of the disassembled Justice League, which must form to save Earth from Steppenwolf (voiced by Ciaran Hinds).

Other characters have more broadly-sketched emotional arcs, probably as a result of having had origin films or sequels on the way at the time of Justice League’s production. But even so, they’re each benefited by the freedom that four hours allows – Arthur Curry (Jason Momoa), the Aquaman, actually gets to interact with some of his Atlantean brethren beyond just Mera (Amber Heard), planting the seeds for later plot-points like his return to Atlantis and his brother Orm’s betrayal. I generally prefer James Wan’s vision of Atlantis to Snyder’s (which is significantly more bleak, and dark, and did I mention bleak?), but it is nice to see Willem Dafoe again as Aquaman’s mentor Vulko, still pestering him about his destiny and the trident and all that, but sporting a far more magnificent wig than before.

Snyder Cut
Justice League | ign.com

As for the Amazonian warrior Diana Prince (Gal Gadot), it’s glaringly obvious how many of the problems with her character in the theatrical cut of Justice League were wholly the fault of Joss Whedon, as Snyder’s take on the character mostly respects the version of the heroine established by Patty Jenkins in Wonder Woman: never subjecting her to sexist humor or cinematography, giving her a far more prominent role as a leader and strategist as well as a warrior, and removing the awkward, inorganic flirtatious interactions between her and Bruce Wayne (Ben Affleck). Her action scenes are the best in the film, thanks to the thrilling jaggedness of her physical movements, her unique array of weapons, and the eerie wailing female vocals that accompany her into every battle. And there’s one shot of her – too breathtaking to spoil – that perfectly emphasizes how ancient and otherworldly she really is, and how misguided Whedon was to try and sacrifice that aspect of her character.

But the real surprises, at least for me, were Affleck’s Bruce Wayne and Ezra Miller’s Barry Allen. I had so utterly rejected both these actors’ takes on the characters for so long that it was painful to admit that I actually liked them in the Snyder Cut, especially Miller, whose physical acting whenever they get moving is actually mesmerizing to watch, made up of ethereal fluid movements and incredibly gentle gestures. They’re allowed to be serious, and to make their way through scenes without cracking jokes, and their role in the third act is just…intensely cool. As previously mentioned, even their costume looks decent. The same can’t be said of Affleck, whose Batsuit is still atrociously ugly, but in his case the writing is just better overall. Even though he’s the weak link in the League in terms of physical strength and superpowers, the Snyder Cut shows Wayne actually grappling with that fact as well as working past it by utilizing his intellect in fights. He’s never going to be able to hold his own against Steppenwolf for long, and Snyder doesn’t offer him any convenient plot-armor, so he often has to act cautiously and strategically – underscoring his courage in the third-act battle.

Each character’s specific fighting style (besides just their obviously distinct powers) makes for a series of diverse action scenes, ranging from a surprisingly ferocious battle between Wonder Woman and a group of European terrorists, to the third-act battle in which she, Aquaman, and a resurrected Superman (Henry Cavill, no longer obviously suffering from the digitally-removed mustache problem) go toe-to-toe with Steppenwolf, brilliantly bouncing off each other’s strengths and weaknesses. Steppenwolf himself has gone from being one of the worst and most underdeveloped villains in superhero cinema to among the most memorable; a tantalizing, terrifying glimpse of the power of Apokolips. He might look like just a sentient monolith of bone and spine, but he’s almost sympathetic by the time we have to root for the heroes to take him down…and he’s only the weakest of the villains in Darkseid’s inner circle, as the film makes clear. If the Snyderverse is eventually restored, I can’t wait to see characters like Desaad and Granny Goodness join the battle for Earth.

That’s a big “if”, but the mostly self-contained story does include an epilogue with several cliffhangers and teases – all for a sequel we have to hope we’ll someday see, in one form or another. Most of Darkseid’s storyline is left for that hypothetical sequel to deal with, making for a viewing experience that is equal parts electrifying and frustrating, as the four hours start running out and you remember you’re watching merely the first installment in Snyder’s planned trilogy. Then there’s the added wrinkle of Jared Leto’s Joker, a character only recently included in the final minutes of the movie by Snyder, leading to a highly-anticipated encounter between him and his nemesis Batman. No spoilers here, but I was left somewhat underwhelmed by the strange back-and-forth between the characters, which only confirms that Leto’s Joker is not the bold artistic expression he clearly thinks it is.

Snyder Cut
Cyborg | syfy.com

Rather, Leto’s brief, bizarre, performance is part of a pattern throughout Snyder’s films of small and generally harmless things which, taken out of context and ridiculed online, can easily make the director come across as pretentious and overly-serious. And sure, the Snyder Cut is unintentionally silly at times: an Icelandic villager inhaling Aquaman’s manly scent from his discarded sweater while her fellow townsfolk hail the Atlantean demigod with a hymn is…certainly a choice. Superman posing Jesus-style above the world after his resurrection is some over-the-top religious symbolism. But these are little things, and they don’t accurately represent the entire film.

No matter what you think of Snyder or his past work, it should be obvious that the Snyder Cut is something he loves deeply, and into which he poured a great deal of effort and heart. That doesn’t necessarily always result in a terrific movie, and it could be argued that Snyder loves his work too much, as evidenced by his lack of editing and consequently monumental runtimes – but every moment of the Snyder Cut’s daunting length is worth it for the powerful and quietly respectful scenes each character has gained, for the new perspective on specific arcs and beats we might otherwise have dismissed, and for that love and unique personality which now emanates throughout the story, bringing life back to the Justice League.

First rule of comic-books: no death is irreversible.

Rating: 9/10

“The Snyder Cut” DC Fandome Trailer!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z6512XKKNkU

The Snyder Cut of Justice League will finally release on HBO Max next year (in four, hour-long segments), and at last we have a full-length trailer for the now legendary epic film that most thought would never see the light of day. But for several years now, fans have been asking – even demanding – that Warner Brothers release the Snyder Cut, and I can’t blame them, because (a) Joss Whedon’s Justice League, the version of the film that actually got released in theaters back in 2017, was memorable only for how horrible it was, and (b), more importantly to me, the tenacity and perseverance of Snyder Cut fans has since inspired similar fan-driven campaigns such as the push for a She-Ra movie or a Quake spinoff, both of which I support wholeheartedly.

The Snyder Cut
denofgeek.com

But anyway, back to the Snyder Cut. Truth be told, it’s not urgent to me that I see Zack Snyder’s cut of this film, though I will definitely be curious to see how it turns out, and whether or not it lives up to the intense hype. The trailer does a pretty good job of letting us know what we’re in for: an epic of gargantuan proportions, overflowing with darkness and unimaginable horrors, set in a post-apocalyptic hellscape. The members of the Justice League are divided across the world, Superman is dead, and an ancient alien tyrant named Darkseid chooses this moment to arrive on earth with the intention of subjugating the human race.

Prior to this trailer, there was no clear victor in the perennial contest between DC’s Darkseid and Marvel’s Thanos, two suspiciously similar characters who both appear in their respective cinematic universes under very similar circumstances – but I still don’t know if there’s a clear victor, even now that we can compare both of them. Which one looks better? I’d be inclined to say Thanos: his slightly more humanoid features allow for a greater range of emotions to pass across his broad, bald head. But which is the better-written character? Well, that’s impossible to say until we actually see the Snyder Cut. Darkseid was written out of the theatrically released cut of Justice League and replaced with his servant, Steppenwolf, who also makes an appearance in this trailer but not as the main villain. Steppenwolf’s new design looks appropriately fearsome: he’s an alien mass of prickling scales and spines. Darkseid’s design, meanwhile, is still not fully-rendered, so I’m not going to pass judgment just yet, but I will say this: based on what we can see so far, I’m not certain I like his look. He’s a little on the short side, and a bit too bulky, with enormous hands – but then again, I’m not a big fan of his design in the comics either.

The Snyder Cut
Darkseid | nerdist.com

Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” plays over scenes of global destruction as Darkseid and his cosmic armies rain fire on the earth, while the Justice League slowly but surely gets their act together and begins to fight back. Superman returns in his stylish, all-black suit; Aquaman strips down in slow-motion because reasons; Cyborg actually has a lot of screentime, which lends credence to Zack Snyder’s continual promises that his character is the emotional core of the film; Batman poses dramatically on gargoyles in the rain; Wonder Woman, oddly, is almost nowhere to be seen; and The Flash of all people actually has cool action scenes, which is…shocking (no pun intended). Obviously, we all kind of know what’s going to happen: we have, technically, seen this movie before. But the Snyder Cut is sure to feature some major changes from the theatrically released Justice League. New characters like Iris West will show up, while other characters will have vastly different roles in the story.

It’s even possible that the ending of Zack Snyder’s Justice League will leave the door open for future team-up movies: it’s unclear whether DC has an interest in bringing him back for the long run, but based on his celebrity status amongst fans and his popularity with the cast, it probably wouldn’t be a bad business decision. With Ben Affleck officially returning as Batman in The Flash and Henry Cavill set to reprise the role of Superman somewhere down the line, it seems like DC is trying to lure in the Snyder fanbase again across the board, not just with this one film.

The Snyder Cut
comicbookmovie.com

When all is said and done, this trailer is incredible because it’s for a movie that wouldn’t even exist had the fans not rallied behind Zack Snyder with all their might and worked to get something done. On its own, it’s only an okay trailer, and I intend to rate it as such – it really doesn’t make me any more intrigued than I already was by this whole concept – but when you take a step back and see the bigger picture, it’s a lot more than that. It’s a testament to the power of fandoms, and the impact we can – and arguably, should at times – have on the decision-making process.

Trailer Rating: 6.9/10

“The Batman” DC Fandome Trailer!

The reaction to the first teaser trailer for The Batman, revealed last night at DC Fandome, has been one of almost unanimous praise so far: which makes it my painful duty to report that I can’t quite share in the growing excitement surrounding the film as much as I’d love to, as much as I truly hope to be able to in the near future, as more of the film is completed and revealed to us. Unfortunately, the teaser trailer simply isn’t connecting with me, although I’ve now watched it several times. I’ve identified most of my issues, as well as several elements which I genuinely find interesting or at least intriguing, and hope to see expanded upon.

The Batman
variety.com

Let’s start with a positive: Robert Pattinson. I’m a big fan of Pattinson, and I feel certain he has all the makings of an excellent, instantly iconic, Batman. A dark, twisted, vengeful Batman who stalks the streets of Gotham like a rogue detective – we’ll talk about detective work in a moment – dealing out a very violent kind of justice to the city’s hordes of criminals and wrongdoers. Pattinson’s suit has the perfect Batman silhouette, and I absolutely love all of his gadgetry and customized accessories – particularly his Batmobile, which flares into life around the trailer’s midpoint and looks to be equipped for high-speed chases. I don’t quite understand what Pattinson and director Matt Reeves are going for with Bruce Wayne’s long, unkempt hair and dark eyeshadow, but it’s striking nonetheless and it’s already given rise to a deluge of memes about “Emo Batman”.

Gotham City itself is honestly a bit of a mixed bag, personally. On the one hand, I feel like this film is going to tell a Jack the Ripper storyline under the guise of superheroes and villains – The Riddler, who appears to be the film’s primary antagonist, shares many similarities with the historical serial killer, which this take on the character could be examining – and I love that idea. We don’t see any establishing shots of Gotham in this trailer, but it has all the essence of Jack the Ripper’s London: dark, foggy, atmospheric; the kind of city where evil lurks in wait around every street corner, and nobody is safe. But that stylistic decision feels almost too easy, too safe. It’s dark and it’s gritty, and those are two words I’ve heard enough of when it comes to Batman.

The Batman
deadline.com

Now, I’m not saying that The Batman has to be as brightly-lit or gaudy as Birds Of Prey, but I do feel like a pop of color would help to differentiate this Gotham from past incarnations of the iconic city, while a bit of absurdity never hurt anyone. My ideal vision of Gotham is of a semi-psychedelic labyrinth, lit by flashing neon and inhabited by colorful characters. Gotham’s brooding darkness has been explored to death, but its sensuality (for lack of a better word) has never really been touched upon. Even if I were lucky enough to be making this movie, I would still incorporate that Jack the Ripper tone, but I don’t see why it needs to be oppressively grimdark to achieve that. At the same time, I should point out that only about thirty percent of The Batman has actually been filmed, and this teaser trailer may not be indicative of everything that’s in the film. Matt Reeves explained in the panel leading up to the trailer’s debut that all the characters will still be transitioning into the heroes and villains we know from the comics, and considering that he counted Gotham as a character in the story, I wonder if that same sort of character arc will be granted to the city itself.

I also don’t want to sound like I hate everything about Gotham – I love the mansion which Selina Kyle’s amateur Catwoman attempts to burgle, with its arched Gothic windows looking out over the city skyline. This mansion is also the setting where the Riddler’s first murder takes place.

Speaking of which, time to address the Riddler in the room! Paul Dano is never unmasked in the trailer, but from what we see and hear of him, he’s definitely a very disturbed and terrifying character. The first we see of him, he’s taking his time setting up a perfect little crime scene, leaving his clues and a signature calling card for Gotham’s greatest detective, Batman himself (feeling the Jack the Ripper vibes yet? Because I am). Matt Reeves mentioned that most of Batman’s villains are still new on the scene in this film, which takes place during the early years of the Caped Crusader’s career, and that Riddler in particular is only just emerging for the first time. That gives me hope that, despite Dano’s character appearing in muted green throughout the trailer, he will eventually suit up in a brighter, somewhat more comics-accurate costume, perhaps trading in his mask for a quaint little hat along the way. The tone of this Gotham seems so dark that it’s hard to imagine that being the case, but I’m remaining hopeful.

The Batman
indiewire.com

A large part of why I’m still hopeful is because Catwoman actress Zoë Kravitz mentioned in a previous interview that she has already had a chance to wear her Catwoman suit during the filming – so either she’s referring to her low-tech burglar getup in the trailer, or there are actually comics-accurate costumes in store for all of Batman’s villains. I don’t see why not: Batman got a perfect outfit, so why shouldn’t the rest? Ironically, Catwoman’s costume already looks quite good, though I don’t know if she’s intentionally embracing her feline design aesthetic, or if her ski mask is only accidentally bunching up into cat ears as an act of foreshadowing.

Then there’s The Penguin, and this is another negative: not because of Colin Farrell, who is very talented and seems to have undergone an incredible physical transformation into this role with the help of extreme makeup and prosthetics (can you say Oscar nominations?), but because the role requires this much makeup and prosthetics at all. When Farrell was announced as The Penguin, my first thought was how original and out of the box it was – in the comics, Penguin has always been a very grotesque figure, whereas Farrell is traditionally handsome. I concluded too quickly that Farrell’s Penguin would be very suave, maybe even fabulously dressed or well-groomed. Well, not quite. Farrell is instead unrecognizable under all the makeup, which has turned him into a much more familiar, jowly, balding crime lord. It feels safe. Too safe, if you ask me.

The Batman
observer.com

That’s my big problem with the trailer as a whole: it’s just a tad bit too predictable. When Matt Reeves promised us a Batman movie that’s like nothing we’ve ever seen before, I expected a wild divergence from the days of the dark, gritty Batmen in their dark, gritty Gothams – but instead, Reeves has doubled down on the dark and the gritty and come out with something that almost looks and feels like an exaggeration of everything I’ve grown bored with when it comes to this character. Now, I’m well aware that this Batman’s selling-point is supposed to be that he works as a detective, which is something I’m very excited to see (especially with The Riddler being the main villain), but I didn’t see him doing any actual detective-work in the trailer. And again, this is a teaser for a film that isn’t even half-completed yet, so it’s not fair to make any assumptions about anything, but I’ve still got to review what we did see – and what we did see didn’t feel like anything I haven’t seen before in some way or another, though there are distinct differences here and there.

Well, time to turn it over to you, dear reader. Share your own thoughts, theories and opinions in the comments below!

Trailer Rating: 7/10

Michael Keaton Will Return As Batman For The First Time Since 1992!!

Michael Keaton must have enjoyed his recent stint as the Marvel supervillain Vulture, because it appears that he’s even considering rejoining the DC Extended Universe – returning to the role of Bruce Wayne/Batman for the first time since 1992. And not just for one quick cameo, either: no, the rumor is that Keaton will take on a recurring role throughout several films in the DCEU, in a capacity that many are comparing to Samuel L. Jackson’s guest star roles in the Marvel Cinematic Universe films as Nick Fury.

Keaton is expected to make his big comeback at some point in The Flash movie. The film – apparently still starring Ezra Miller as the goofy, super-fast hero – has long been rumored to mess about with the DCEU’s already complicated continuity, doing what it can to bring some cohesion to the chaos with the help of alternate realities and time travel. Keaton’s Batman could very well show up to help Miller’s Flash with that daunting task: and as a business strategy, it would be genius. Not only will Keaton’s name and the Batman brand recognition alone entice general audiences, but setting up Miller and Keaton as a comedic duo could keep audiences enthused, entertained, and willing to suspend their disbelief while The Flash and The Batman work out how to fix the DCEU’s canon in a film that could potentially have a lot of pseudo-scientific exposition.

Michael Keaton Batman
syfy.com

Meanwhile, moviegoers who are still looking forward to Robert Pattinson’s take on the Dark Knight need not fear: while Michael Keaton’s Batman might replace Ben Affleck’s largely reviled version of the character in the main timeline of the DCEU, Pattinson’s version exists on the peripheries, much like Joaquin Phoenix’s Joker. So don’t expect the entire DCEU to suddenly fit together perfectly due to this: even if we do get a whole bunch of time-travel/world-hopping shenanigans, I’d imagine the intent behind that would be to focus on reversing and/or rewriting parts of Justice League, firmly defining what does and does not exist in the main canon, and putting the franchise on a clear path forward.

Michael Keaton is, as I mentioned, expected to stick around in the role for at least a few more films, including a planned Batgirl solo film. If he were to continue, The Hollywood Reporter notes that his Batman could be “something of a mentor or a guide or even string puller”, which definitely sounds similar to Nick Fury over in the MCU and would probably be very appealing to Keaton, who could reap the benefits for years to come. However, all of that is far ahead in the future, and Michael Keaton hasn’t even been officially signed on yet: The Flash is expected to start filming in the first quarter of next year, giving him a bit more time to make his decision. But the pressure is going to be put on him heavily now: the news is already sparking plenty of fan hype, and the DCEU won’t want to let go of that momentum – they’ve actually been riding high for a couple weeks now, following some very well-received reports that Henry Cavill could return as Superman and that the DC will have their own fan-event later this summer to rival San Diego Comic-Con At Home and Disney’s D23 Expo.

Michael Keaton Batman
time.com

Beyond the fact that Michael Keaton is finally going to return to this iconic role, this casting has major ramifications for the future of the DCEU, as it suggests that other versions of well-known characters could possibly show up, either in The Flash or later down the line – and with DC Comics having a very long history of being adapted to the big and small screen, there’s plenty of material they could draw from: much like what the CW network did when adapting the DC’s Crisis On Infinite Earths storyline, where they snatched up a number of actors from various other DC-adjacent properties and had them come together for a spectacular showdown (incidentally, DC may have been laying the groundwork for this very moment when they had Ezra Miller’s Flash cameo in Crisis On Infinite Earths alongside Grant Gustin’s version of the Flash – there’s no word yet on whether CW talent could cross over into the films, but it’s certainly not out of the question anymore).

To be quite honest, this news could be a life-saver for The Flash, which has been stagnating quietly for years now, waiting for someone to come in and save the project from utter oblivion. Andy Muschietti, who is, as of right now, still signed on to direct the picture and is apparently the one who extended the offer to Keaton, was that “someone”. Now let’s just hope we get to see this suddenly very intriguing film soon!

What do you think about the news that Michael Keaton is returning to the DCEU? Share your thoughts, theories and opinions in the comments below!