Zack Snyder's Justice League: the return to grace of a mistreated film (review)

Zack Snyder’s Justice League: the return to grace of a mistreated film (review)

Zack Snyder offers his own edit of the superhero film he had to leave filming for. Far from perfect, but a thousand miles from Joss Whedon’s version.

Updated September 6, 2023: Two and a half years after its release in streaming and VOD, the Snyder Cut of Justice League is broadcast for the first time unencrypted on French television, this Wednesday on TMC at 9:25 p.m. Please note, this version by Zack Snyder lasts more than 4 hours, so schedule your recording or prepare a large thermos of coffee!

Article from March 17, 2021: We now know the story by heart: from the odor of holiness to the critical failure of Batman V Superman, Zack Snyder had become a complicated free electron to manage for Warner Bros. While the filming of Justice League was in full swing, the studio had dispatched two executives on the set, hoping to regain control over the filmmaker’s vision – too dark for their tastes. A thorn in the side that Snyder seemed ready to live with, but the tragic suicide of his daughter suddenly removed him from the project in the middle of its production, forcing him to pass the baton to Joss Whedon, who had proven himself at Marvel (Avengers, Avengers: Age of Ultron). In 2017 it came out Justice Leaguelow-brow blockbuster, three-quarters reshot, Frankenstein’s monster emptied of its substance and reviled by just about everyone.

The story should have ended there, but Zack Snyder gradually launched the response through social networks, suggesting that he kept hours and hours of rushes just waiting to be edited. The ecstatic fans campaigned until Warner decided to give the project a chance, with a nice check for $70 million to shoot a few additional scenes and finish the special effects. An investment essentially made to promote the in-house streaming service, HBO Max, on which this Zack’s Snyder’s Justice League released in the United States.

It is therefore an almost unique filmic object in the history of Hollywood that is offered to us, a four-hour juggernaut (four hours!) in the form of a resurrection as improbable as its 4/3 format (what’s the point?). Let’s get rid of the central question straight away: yes, Zack’s Snyder’s Justice League is a much better film than the 2017 cut. Not a masterpiece, not even the best superhero movie of recent years, but a finally coherent project, not devoid – dare we say it – of a certain poetry. The script is still based on the quest for the powerful Mother Boxes, sorts “ living computers » capable of reshaping a planet as their owner sees fit. A slightly weak MacGuffin, but which allows Snyder to properly introduce Darskseid, a really very nasty villain, capable of giving the audience a cold sweat. team of Batman. The Snyderian aesthetic is at its peak, slow motion and full-on CGI, for the better (the very energetic sequence where Wonder Woman saves schoolchildren from a hostage situation) and for the worse (the attack on the ” base” of Steppenwolf, as hideous as it was then).

Excessively spectacular as Snyder knows how to do, but always connected to a largely airy story compared to the previous version, quietly raising the stakes without ever getting boring (a small feat at this length). The main characters gain a lot from it, notably the two great forgotten ones of Joss Whedon’s version, Cyborg (Ray Fisher, here at the heart of the scenario) and Flash (Ezra Miller), whose daddy issues XXL carry film. Because there is no question in Zack’s Snyder’s Justice League what complicated filial relationships, mourning, redemption, quest for meaning… Beyond the obvious catharsis (the film is also dedicated to his daughter), Snyder has created a feature film with a very melancholic background , about gods questioning their status as saviors of a humanity from which they are nevertheless cut off. “ Unity is strength », a slightly ridiculous mantra of the butchered 2017 version, becomes an effective emotional spring here.

A diehard in this somewhat crazy project, the director even imagined an open ending – the only two sequences shot for the occasion -, a tantalizing postscript and teaser of a sequel that we will probably never see. A big question remains: would we have watched this montage with the same indulgence if we had not been able to compare it to Whedon’s infamous mush?

Zack’s Snyder Justice League, on TMC on Wednesday September 6, 2023 at 9:25 p.m.

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