*MOVIE RECAP: ZACK SNYDER’S JUSTICE LEAGUE (SNYDER CUT)

There is this unique pleasure for movie nerds like myself to watch a director’s cut of a movie — you know, watching a movie as originally intended to be seen.

My measuring stick determining how good a movie or a TV show is — has always been based on how memorable or unmemorable the movie or show ends up being.

Having said that, by my own personal metric, the theatrical cut of Justice League directed by Josh Whedon, or also known as the Whedon cut, was not a memorable movie. It was way over the top, cheesy, and unfocused in terms of storytelling, with plot holes all over the place. Nevertheless, the Whedon cut wasn’t as awful as most fans have expressed; it was actually pretty watchable and, at times, somewhat entertaining, but it was far from what it was expected from this ensemble cast of superheroes. It was very forgettable, to say the least.

I blame the studio for this meh version of the Justice League. First, they jumped the gun and rushed to make their own version of an Avengers type of movie. And, unfortunately, it was way too soon — Because they were still introducing and developing movies featuring the characters that make up the core team of the Justice League members.

Everybody reading this blog probably knows by now that Zack Snyder had to drop out of Justice League in the middle of the shooting of this movie due to a family tragedy. Josh Whedon stepped in, and the rest of the story lives on perpetually in motion picture infamy.

The controversy between the two versions of this movie prompted an online campaign to release the director’s cut, or the Snyder cut as it is now officially known.

There are people out there who are disgusted by the fandom for pushing Warner bros. hard to release the Snyder Cut. Calling these hardcore fans toxic and such. However, I don’t see it this way; Fans should absolutely have a say in how things are being presented and sold to them. We, the fans, spend our money on movies, toys, merchandise, and all kinds of media entertainment products. Mediocrity will not be easily accepted anymore. This is a lesson for movie studios to pay close attention and to learn from all the outrage this Whedon Cut created.

This version is 4 hours long; I watched the whole thing in 2 seatings — and I was very much engaged in it throughout the 4 hours. It is more than a Director’s cut; it is an entirely different movie. It is leaps and bounds better than the theatrical cut. I think this version could’ve worked in theaters as a two-part movie, just like the Avengers two-parts Infinity war and Endgame movies.

Although my comic book knowledge of the DC Extended Universe is far from being encyclopedic, this movie is the best and the closest thing you will ever get to a superhero comic book slash graphic novel on film. Sin City (2005), 300 (2006), and Watchmen (2009) are my favorite graphic novels adapted into films. Coincidentally, Zack Snyder directed both 300 and Watchmen. I have some issues with 300, but for the most part, I thought Watchmen was actually a pretty damn good adaptation (except for changing the ending from the graphic novel).

This Snyder Cut has epic vibes to it — the CGI looks clean and pretty. It is beautifully shot, a gorgeous movie to watch. And, it is darker, grittier than anything Marvel has released. Dark superhero stories are what I like to see.

Here are the main differences from the theatrical version:

Aquaman is way more involved in the story, and his character has Godlike vibes here, similar to the way Thor was presented in the Marvel universe.

The cyborg plotline here is another vast improvement from the Whedon Cut. Unlike the theatrical version, Cyborg here is an integral part of this movie. We got to see how Cyborg is a God amongst men in terms of his powers and how those powers are unique within the modern technological world.

The Flash is more compelling here and funnier. But I still don’t know much about him and his powers. So I’m looking forward to The Flash stand-alone movie.

Superman kicked ass. I loved seeing this version of angry, pissed-off Superman — and the black suit made things even more extraordinary.

Wonder Woman is also better here than in the theatrical cut; she is presented as an old God in terms of her level of strength and power. But there is zero continuity with the events of Wonder Woman 84. I have no clue how they are planning to make WW84 fit into the larger scope of things.

We get a much better version of Batman and Bruce Wayne. This is the version of Batman the fandom wanted to see or close enough to it. The nightmare scene between Batman and the Joker was incredible. — it teased us on what happened with Robin (it seems like Joker killed Robin). This version of Jared Leto’s Joker was impressive.

We finally get to see Darkseid and how powerful, menacing, and evil he really is. The fighting sequence between the old heroes and gods against Darkseid was terrific. Watching Zeus, Artemis, Ares, King Arthur, and even a Green Lantern in battle was fucking awesome.

The whole premise of the Mother Boxes was better presented. There was also more depth to Steppenwolf. Introducing Granny Goodness on film was an outstanding idea. Let’s remember that both Darkseid and Granny Goodness were original Jack Kirby creations.

The Snyder Cut was an excellent movie-watching experience. I was fine the 4 hours; it didn’t feel like it dragged too long. I think the 4 hours were just about right to move the story forward for the sake of storytelling and character development. This type of long format should be the standard from now on — Maybe even breaking them down in parts might be the way to go. It just feels like it is meant to be consumed that way.

Zack Snyder has pulled off something awe-inspiring here. As movie and superhero fans, we are fortunate to have seen a 4 hour never before seen version of all these unique comic book characters. The next online fan campaign should be for Warner to restore the Snyder verse.

Five out of Five Popcorn Bags 🍿🍿🍿🍿🍿

Zack Snyder’s Justice League (2021). Streaming on HBO MAX.

*MOVIE RECAP: AQUAMAN

I avoided this movie when it came out in theaters back in 2018. Mostly ‘cause, around those days, I was not feeling any of the DC Extended Universe movies (DCEU). However, I have recently decided to give them another chance and watch them all back to back; Starting with Man of Steel (2013) and Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016), which, for the most part, I really liked both of them, with a few minor exceptions here and there.

Aquaman was a massive worldwide box office hit, and now I kind of wish that I had seen it in theaters when it first came out — CGI spectacles like this type of movie are meant to be experienced on the big screen. Still, this is an entertaining movie, and it is an origin story at its core. I really liked the whole love story angle between Aquaman’s parents, which was a pretty compelling storyline. It was also pretty cool seeing Temuera Morrison (Tom Curry/Aquaman’s father), aka Jango Fett, in another big blockbuster flick.

Jason Momoa (Arthur/Aquaman) is excellent here; it is like he was tailor-made for this role. The main premise here is that Arthur’s half-brother Orm (Patrick Wilson), who rules the deep ocean world of Atlantis, wants to unite all of the underwater tribes and wage war against the “surface dwellers.” Aquaman finds himself as the reluctant hero, pressured by his mentor Vulko (Willem Dafoe) to find The Trident of Atlan. This Trident is a powerful weapon that only responds to the one and true king (echoes of king Arthur and Excalibur). With this Trident, Aquaman can lay claim to the title of Ocean Master and rule over all of the underwater kingdoms, which would essentially put a stop to his half-brother’s warmongering campaign.

There is massive cheesiness in this movie, especially in the dialogue, which makes the chemistry between some of the characters tough to watch, most notably the chemistry between Amber Heard (Mera) and Jason Momoa; their chemistry is not great.

David Kane/Black Manta (Yahya Abdul-Mateen II) was not well developed, especially if the plan is to turn this character into a formidable villain for future Aquaman movies. I was static to see Dolph Lundgren (King Nereus); it is pretty neat seeing iconic action stars from my childhood showing up in mainstream movies.

There are a bunch of far fetch scenes that seemed unnecessary; for instance, there is a scene with an Octopus playing drums….I didn’t think it was needed or in any way useful.

So far, Wonder Woman (2017) has been the best of all the DC Extended Universe movies. I’m looking forward to HBO releasing the Snyder cut of Justice League, which will be an epic streaming event.

Despite the lazy dialogue and the heavy CGI action sequences, Aquaman is a fun and enjoyable movie worth watching, mainly due to Jason Momoa’s performance. Overall, Aquaman is a welcome addition to this ever-evolving but highly flawed DC Extended Universe.

Two out of Five Popcorn Bags

AQUAMAN (2018)

*MOVIE RECAP: JUSTICE LEAGUE

I don’t get excited when new superhero movies come out as much as I used to — it took me a few years to make time to watch this movie, and I actually ended up liking it better than I expected. Look, at the end of the day, I’m still a huge fanboy when it comes to all comic book movies, but I don’t take them that seriously anymore; I just sit back and enjoy the ride.

This is the closest a DC Extended Universe movie (DCEU) has come to a MARVEL movie. I think critics were way too harsh on this movie when it first came out, and it did not deserve all the abuse it received. I think I’m comfortable enough to say that I actually enjoy DCEU movies more than most Marvel movies (in terms of tone and execution).

The vibe and tone of Justice League are slightly lighter than previous DCEU movies…. And even though I prefer and appreciate the darker tone films from all the DCEU movies, I find myself welcoming the lighter vibe Justice League brings.

This version of BATMAN (Ben Affleck) is pretty damn good; Affleck’s performance has grown on me, especially as Bruce Wayne. WONDER WOMAN (Gal Gadot) continues to be the best-written character here, explaining why she wasn’t around for a hundred years since the events of the 2017 Wonder Woman movie made sense. Disappointingly, Wonder Woman 1984 pissed away all the solid groundwork done developing this character. SUPERMAN (Henry Cavill) was excellent; most of his scenes worked well for me, especially as he battled Steppenwolf. Jason Momoa was born to play AQUAMAN. (read my Aquaman recap on this blog).

FLASH (Ezra Miller) is funny, engaging, and very relatable. CYBORG (Ray Fisher) is a compelling character that needs his own movie at some point. Lois Lane (Amy Adams) was okay; her character didn’t do much, and I wanted to see more from her. STEPPENWOLF (Ciaran Hinds), as a villain, was an underdeveloped character, and I felt like there was no fundamental necessity to go full CGI here. Some people hated the PARADEMONS, but I didn’t mind them; I thought they were cool. There are some emotional moments, mainly from Martha Kent (Diane Lane). The post-credit scene with LEX LUTHOR (Jesse Eisenberg) was necessary for purposes of continuity.

Although there are some obvious flaws with this movie, JUSTICE LEAGUE is a highly entertaining addition to the DC EXTENDED UNIVERSE. There is a ton of potential here to build up future films around. I’m incredibly excited and curious to see how the Snyder cut will differ from this version.

Two out of Five Popcorn Bags 🍿🍿

Justice League (2017)