I won’t go into the whole history of how this version of the film has come to pass because there has been many stories that talk about that. The big question after having to sit through this laborious four hours and two minutes of Snyder’s “magnum opus” how does it land?
This review contains spoilers for the film.
The first thing is that when all is said and done is that it’s pretty much the same story but with every bit of footage that Snyder shot for the film and a few new scenes shot for this version. The vast majority of new stuff is visual effects that were never completed for the Snyder version and that is both good and odd at the same time. One of the biggest changes is to Steppenwolf’s armor is now a moving CGI armor that is neat the first time but after a while it loses its shine and starts to look like the CGI Green Lantern suit for Ryan Reynolds film of the same name. Probably the biggest additions to the film is Darkseid and DeSaad to the mix that does make Steppenwolf a bit better overall as a villain because he’s not really the main villain just a minion and that works out better.
The bigger shift is with Cyborg who in the theatrical version is nearly non-exsistant but here there is a lot more footage that gives him more backstory. While that seems good for the most part the brooding daddy issues that is what most of it ends up being get really old fast and he ends up getting on your nerves after a while with it. After seeing this version I can see why Ray Fisher was pissed about being cut from the film but still mystified why he has committed career suicide over it. I find that Joivan Wade who plays Cyborg in the Doom Patrol television series is better than Fisher but that is of course in hindsight.
The thing that really hurts this version is the length and after a while it simply gets tiring and scenes go on far too long than they need to. The new scene with Barry and Iris is nice but it adds nothing to the story and Iris is not even mentioned by name (only in the end credits). There is also more Aquaman and Mira scenes that again are nice but don’t really move the story forward in many ways. From about the two hour mark until the end is pretty similar to the theatrical edition with some minor extensions to scenes and the only major addition is the new post battle scene with Bruce having a future nightmare and that is where the Jared Leto Joker comes in and for me fell flat and tacked on for pure fan service. If Snyder wants you to savor every little moment of footage and make the movie go on forever then he succeeds on that level but not that anyone was asking for that.
So with that out of the way what was the impressions that I was left with? I will say that I was not a hater of the theatrical version of the film but more disappointed that it was pretty meh in the end. The biggest problem with this version is the length of it and there are so many scenes that don’t drive the narrative forward and that makes it very bloated. The other issue that I have with this and Man of Steel along with Superman V Batman is his dark take on superheroes. While a darker tone works for Batman, Snyder does not know when to pull back on it for the other heroes. In Man of Steel when Jonathan Kent tells Clark that he should have let the kids on the bus die is simply wrong and out of character. Wonder Woman would have never considered turning her back and getting on a plane with the events going on in SVB.
Here Snyder does the same thing in the Wonder Woman scene where she is rescuing the hostages where she throws one of the bad guys at a wall and there is blood on the wall with the assumption that she has killed him and she does the bracelet wave and kills the head bad guy. This is know what Wonder Woman is and never should be. Even as bad as Wonder Woman 1984 was as lest they stayed true to her character of compassion and hope. Snyder also never been able to tap into what makes Superman a great character either and that continues here and ends up being a male ego trip that comes and saves the day that continues to be cliche in this version too.
One of the other things is that he has manipulated the film (shot digitally) to a 1.33 to 1 to try and mimic IMAX but it just doesn’t have the impact that as if it were truly shot in IMAX format. In a lot of ways it curtails the scope of the film and doesn’t give the desired effect. I will give the film that the final battle with Steppenwolf does play much better in this version and shows that Snyder can deliver good pacing with the action scenes but you also realize that is where the problems arise with a lot of the rest of the film. Snyder has also zapped most of the color out of the film that had very little color to begin with and at times makes it pretty depressing visually. I will say that if you have ever wanted to learn how to edit a film this is a master course in that because you can figure out what to cut out to streamline the running time and getting rid of the extraneous material that is not necessary to the overall narrative.
In the end if you hated the theatrical version, I can’t imagine that this four hour version is going to change you’re mind. If you were one of the fans crying for the Snyder Cut there is nothing I can say here that is going to sway you from hailing it as a masterpiece (and it is not that by any means). When all is said and done you are watching a vanity project that is not really a directors cut but a version of the film with everything that Snyder shot for the film and he has included here. While there are some of the extensions to scenes that do work better here (the Amazon battle and the battle with Darkseid for the mother boxes) most of the rest is not really necessary in the end. Do I think that its an improvement over the theatrical version? I would say minorly so because the story is still the same but the journey is far too long in the end. What we are left with here is Snyder showing off that he has visual flare but still lacks the skills to flesh out a good story and fails to make a strong reason for it’s existence.