Style over substance in ‘Zack Snyder’s Justice League’

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One of the rockiest journeys in moviemaking history has finally arrived on our TV screens with “Zack Snyder’s Justice League,” an overly long but decidedly better version of the original “Justice League” movie that came out in 2017.

The story of how this re-do of a superhero movie came to be is far more interesting than the movie itself. Basically, the version of “Justice League” that came to theaters in 2017 was a Frankenstein of a movie, cobbled together by two different directors with two very different styles, following marching orders from studio executives. Nobody much liked that version.

Now, after an extensive internet campaign, the original director has been allowed to finish and release a 4-hour version of the film that you can watch on HBO Max. Too bad “Zack Snyder’s Justice League” is not worth the time and effort, both to make and to watch.

Both movies follow the exact same plot. A super-villain monster named Steppenwolf must gather three magical boxes in order to destroy the Earth. He is opposed by Batman and Wonder Woman, who gather to them the likes of Aquaman, Flash, Cyborg and Superman in order to stop Steppenwolf and save the day.

The story and characters are pretty basic; it’s just that everything else about this movie is not. To begin with, the film is four hours long. Director Zack Snyder was allowed to throw everything including the kitchen sink into this new cut of the movie and that can be pretty daunting.

Of course, since the movie is ours to watch at home on a streaming service, you can pause “Justice League” at any time to take some breaks. Still, four hours is a long time for a single movie.

If there’s one thing to know about Snyder as a director it’s that he likes style over substance. Those fingerprints are all over this new movie, with a focus on slow motion action, larger-than-life spectacle and a lot of character worship. Snyder views the superheroes of the Justice League as god-like, and he films them as such. The man has a style that is all his own, and it’s very much on display in “Zack Snyder’s Justice League.”

Despite all of these fits and faults, “Justice League” is not a bad movie. It’s entertaining enough and has some solid, enjoyable action scenes. And it’s clearly one man’s vision made real. There is some artistic merit in that.

But this is still a 4-hour re-do of a movie that already came out a few years ago. Millions of more dollars were spent so that HBO Max had something to try and draw in more viewers. “Zack Snyder’s Justice League” is only worth your time if you already love his previous work and don’t have much else to do with your time.

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