“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!

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

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!

“The Flash” Has New Directors (Surprise, Surprise)…

Not long ago, I reported that Ezra Miller, star of Justice League and Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald, was still set to play the speedy superhero, The Flash, in an upcoming Flash solo movie. Months ago, Miller’s future in the franchise had been put in jeopardy when he broke ranks with his directors, John Francis Daley and Jonathan Goldstein, in order to write a new, edgier script for the movie, which he thought was too light-hearted.

Now, Warner Brothers have decided to place their bets on Miller, kicking Daley and Goldstein unceremoniously off the project. On the other hand, they’ve already decided not to move forward with Miller’s script either, but have instead chosen to start over from scratch (again), enlisting Christina Hodson, writer of Bumblebee and Birds of Prey, to redo the movie. Miller will still play the Flash, but he’s not calling the shots anymore. This whole situation is so confusing.

It gets weirder when we consider that Warner Brothers is (maybe?) still going for a darker take on the story, such as Miller was advocating, since they’ve hired horror directors Andy and Barbara Muschietti to take the reins from Daley and Goldstein. Then again, maybe not, since James Wan also came from the horror genre, but made Aquaman into one hilarious, family-friendly comedy, and the same occurred with David Sandberg, who switched gears from horror to humor, directing the DC’s most recent film, Shazam: and then we’ve got Jaume Collet-Serra, another horror director, coming over to the DC to direct Black Adam. It’s almost like the DCEU, or more specifically, DC president Walter Hamada, producer of multiple horror films, has a bias. At this point, Wonder Woman director Patty Jenkins has to score a big hit with her upcoming sequel to the 2017 hit, or she’s going to be replaced by another of Hamada’s own friends.

Anyway, I’m not trying to be a downer or anything…but, seriously, how many directors is this movie going to go through before it gets to be too much? How many scripts are going to be written? How does Ezra Miller somehow escape each of these purges by the skin of his teeth? What is going on behind the scenes? Filming dates have also changed, with cameras expected to start rolling on The Flash in January of next year…which, um, is going to conflict with Miller’s filming for Fantastic Beasts 3, if I’m not mistaken? Or does this mean Fantastic Beasts 3 is getting pushed back again?

If only I knew.

Ezra Miller’s New “Flash” Script

It’s been common knowledge for months now that Warner Brothers is still working out what to do with the DCEU. They’ve experienced a pretty uneven string of hits, mild successes, and epic fails – from the peak of their creative genius, Wonder Woman, to the disastrous Justice League. But last year’s Aquaman proved to be a billion-dollar hurricane at the box-office, and paved the way for a new take on the DCEU – one that is light-hearted, cheesy, over-the-top, and…well, still completely discombobulated. The emphasis now was on making DC movies stand-alone adventures, without trying to tie them into some bigger universe. Gone was the grim-faced Henry Cavill; gone was the dour Ben Affleck; gone was Geoff Johns, the man behind Justice League: gone was the dark and serious tone of the prior DC movies.

And then, today, we learn that Ezra Miller is making one last effort to try and stop DC from going down this path.

Ezra Miller, the actor who has portrayed The Flash in Justice League and Batman vs Superman, is set to star in an origin movie titled The Flash, which should start production later this year. Just the other day, however, we got news that Miller is taking it upon himself to completely rewrite the script for the movie.

Yes, Miller has enlisted the help of author Grant Morrison, and is going against the wishes of Flash writers John Francis Daley and Jonathan Goldstein, who currently have a very light-hearted, funny script written for the film, in keeping with Warner Brothers’ new approach to making DC movies. Miller, on the other hand, is writing a much darker, more serious screenplay, and is actually showing incredible bravery in doing so: the official writers don’t seem to be backing this idea, and Miller’s future in the DCEU could be at stake. His script could be submitted as early as next week, which means we will soon learn if a new Flash is coming onboard, and Ezra Miller will be joining the lengthy list of cast and crew members kicked out from the DC franchise.

My feelings are quite conflicted: I do not like this new approach to DC movies, where they all have to be completely stand-alone and ridiculously comical. It works for one or two, like Aquaman, but characters like Wonder Woman would not, in my opinion, benefit from a more humorous approach, and the Flash, even though we’ve only seen him as a funny character, certainly has the capability to be more serious. Ezra Miller has done a great job as the dark and brooding Credence Barebone in the Fantastic Beasts franchise, and I wouldn’t be surprised if that’s what’s inspired him to rewrite the script – to complement his own expanding talents as much as to help out the DCEU.

So what will happen? I have an uneasy feeling that Ezra Miller’s script probably won’t ever see the light of day, and the Flash will be recast. But maybe…just maybe…there’s a chance that Miller’s script is too good to pass up on, and the movie will end up being a more serious installment in the DCEU. Maybe Miller can initiate a new tonal style for DC movies, who knows? Despite what Warner Brothers likes to claim, none of their “serious” films were all that serious, except Wonder Woman, so this would be a great opportunity to expand the brand.

We should find out next week.