Paul Elliott’s review published on Letterboxd:
So it's finally here, the reshot and retooled alternate version of the 2017 box office bomb Justice League. Now admittedly, Zack Snyder's films, along with those of Michael Bay, have never been able to fill me with joyous anticipation. Still, I've had protracted intentions of watching this after all the ridiculous and childish absurdities of the years of online campaigning of #ReleasetheSnyderCut. This campaign saw a loud and primarily obnoxious community insisting they were being denied access to a secret hidden version that was actually a good film.
I always approach every movie with an open mind; it's always great to be pleasantly surprised; however, this film did not catch me on the wrong foot. Anyway, here we are, the fifth instalment in the DC Extended Universe, this time solely directed by Zack Snyder. It's obviously not unheard of for a film production to result in two differing takes of the same film. Superman II immediately springs to mind: the first version by director Richard Donner became abandoned and passed to Richard Lester. Lester reshot bout 75% of the film, with the Donner Cut finally being released at the end of 2006.
Warner Bros initially put down a reported $30 million to enable Snyder to finish his version with new editing and special effects. That allocated budget eventually ballooned to $70 million after he decided to shoot additional footage - a gross amount when viewed in light of how many promising scripts filmmakers are struggling in raising finance upon to get into production. Admittedly, the story here now at least makes sense, so it's an improvement over the theatrical release. That's literally the kindest thing that I can say about the film.
The narrative takes place after the circumstances of the dismal Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice: where Superman sacrificed his own life to conquer Doomsday while Lex Luthor aroused an alien threat in the form of Steppenwolf - who takes his name from a rock band best known for Born to Be Wild and voiced by Ciarán Hinds. Steppenwolf is essentially just a CG villain who's just enormous and powerful and desperate to impress Darkseid - who wasn't in the original film and looks like a Tom Baker era Doctor Who Sontaran. Steppenwolf has travelled to earth to collect three Infinity Stones (whoops) Mother Boxes (an elementary mistake to make) located somewhere on earth aided by his army of Parademons, a legion of disposable flying bug-like soldiers.
With a four-hour runtime, the once-mooted miniseries is now twice as long as the original but only includes a few minutes of new footage, despite the increase of $40 million. The length in itself might be a problem for fans of Snyders work - who probably struggle with giving anything their attention lengthier than what's permissible on TikTok. However, he seems to know his audience, so he helpfully divides the film into individual chapters if it's all too much to watch in one sitting.
Beyond the story at least making sense in Snyder's configuration, it's now even more inexcusable that the film is an unabashed overindulgence of excessively stylised sequences and thoroughly terrible dialogue that completely offends the ears. It also seems somehow to feel even more weightless - as a four-hour film about searching for magic boxes would inevitably be. Sitting alongside the on the nose imagery and extravagantly theatrical slow-motion montages set to Tom Holkenborg's pontifical score are the same past tired performances together with some spanking new low-quality subplots.
It doesn't truly benefit from the extra length and is overly designed in a crowd-pleasing manner with endless and pointless expositions padding out a lacklustre story that remains just-team-up-and-beat-the-bad-guy. The action set pieces' robustness still feels devoid of any substantial stakes, and it now culminates into a flurry of gratuitously overloaded false conclusions (yawn). The existence of this film is a victory for toxic fandom and merely legitimises online harassment.