Bear with me here, I have a lot to say.
Yesterday (as of writing this blatant excuse to gush) Zack Snyder released the first official trailer to his, now legendary, director’s cut of Justice League; all set for release on HBO Max next year (hopefully a much, much, MUCH better year than whatever the hell the past six months have been – Christ!). Now, call me a fanboy, but if I happen to like and support the work of a filmmaker due to their consistent use of specific aesthetics, that I personally find very appealing and cathartic, then I hardly think it’s surprising for me to say that the promotion of their next project looks very attractive.
Why can’t we all just relax and be honest when we think an upcoming film looks good, regardless of whether you’ve already said you like all the filmmaker’s previous outputs? I can’t lie and say I don’t think it looks good if the reasons I like Snyder in the first place are peppered throughout; why does every filmmaker need to have an ugly duckling in their filmography just so one doesn’t look like they’re praising them for the sake of it? Please, somebody tell me, my desire for an answer to all this is close to fetching me a straight jacket!
I’m sure you all know the story by now, but just in case you’ve been holidaying on Venus: Zack Snyder makes a film about the Justice League, shoots it, puts it all together, and about two thirds of the way through finishing up the SFX (guess) the poor man goes on to suffer every parent’s worst nightmare and loses his daughter, Autumn, to suicide. I must admit, the tweets and comments happily and openly celebrating this still populate the salty chip on my shoulder even today.
As soon as Zack drops out to be with his family during the difficulties ahead, Warner Brothers waste absolutely no time in going behind his back, hiring Joss Whedon to do “minor reshoots” (which later turned into reshooting 90% of the entire movie and keeping the runtime down to two hours, not because it needed to be but because of money, money, MONEY!) and succeeding only in alienating pretty much everyone involved. The film ended up being defined as the highest grossing box-office bomb of all time, and proved, once and for all, that a money-obsessed studio like WB would be much more willing to put out a nightmarish CGI shave job – than dare release a film with a tone that isn’t like an orgy at a clown convention on a merry-go-round.
Personally, I would like to thank the fans for being unable to shut up for five seconds about Batman V Superman having a dark tone. How weak-willed do you have to be to sling around the badge of “worst movie ever” because a superhero film didn’t fly the flag of Marvel and break up the tone with dumbass jokes?
Ok, I promise I’m calm from now on.
So now, after years of admirable hard work from fans and supporters (who also did a lot for suicide prevention, might I add), Zack has finally been allowed, by the good people of HBO, to finish his version of the film for the rest of us to finally see with our own eyes. I call it a win for artistic integrity, and a beautiful “fuck you” to those internet assholes (like me) who gaslighted us with aggressive talk of it never even existing (not like me); an argument that seems a lot more like bullying and sadism than the objective quest for truth the more time that goes by.
And now we have a trailer, so how is it?
Well, i’ll be transparent, I’ve spent my Sunday pretty much just watching it over and over again because I can’t get enough – sue me. It’s a beautiful piece of work that has done nothing but boost my excitement even more. I’m can’t say that even I’m surprised, you want more proof that the man can do very much with very little, just look up his short film “Snow Steam Iron” and regard with wide eyes and an open mouth.
This new JL trailer has no diegetic sound until the end (when we get a nice closing line from Batfleck), instead the soundtrack consists of Leonard Cohen’s rendition of “Hallelujah”; you remember, it was also used to accompany Silky Nights On The Owl-Mobile in Watchmen (har har). Its use here is worth ten stars alone, not just for being a fun blast from the past but a cheeky, and rather glorious, celebration of the victory at hand; like Zack himself is winking at the audience.
It opens with a more detailed reveal of Darkseid, revealing a very cool design indeed, if also some unfinished CGI – I will admit, but this is one of the more recent “new” shots, and others that have been public viewing since 2017 now look utterly incredible. That’s the consistency to keep in mind here, shots we saw back in the day now look great, and stuff we haven’t seen until recently looks, simply put, not finished yet. There’s still a long time to go yet so be patient guys, I’m just saying. If you still don’t like the way it looks when the movie’s out, fair enough, but let’s just hang on and wait, yeah?
Steppenwolf’s new design is a thing of my dreams (I thought the design from BVS would never see the light of day until recently), Superman’s black suit looks “super” cool in action, and that shot that zooms-in mega fast on Steppenwolf leaping to make a big slam, only for Superman to swoop in and throw one first, makes my eyes pop every time. That’s another thing that deserves special mention: the cinematography on display, I really like the use of a smaller aspect ratio for a film like this, it feels so unusual and brave for an intended blockbuster, since I can imagine it running the risk of convincing the usual blockbuster crowd that something is wrong with the projector (again, har har).
The style just looks so unique and original, I can’t remember another film that looks like this. Man of Steel remains my favourite film of his and I’m very happy to see that kind of stylised blue and grey colour scheme back. The whole playful nature of the dark look and the excellent shadow lighting all really put a smile on my face; not to mention Zack’s penchant for a camera that lives and moves like a living breathing beast! I don’t know how to explain it further, I just really have a soft spot for thought and flourish being put into the colour scheme and an intimate camera that feels alive. Can’t forget about Fabian Wagner, that guy really deserves this. And that shot of the League stood together as one… oh boy…
What’s being promised here is, for lack of a better word, justice; plain and simple. Justice, not just for the filmmakers and creatives who sought to make something, not just for the cast who gave themselves over help bring a work of art to life, not even for the fans who’ve been patient all this time, but for the characters and their stories. The image of Clark embracing Lois and Martha at once gives catharsis to his resurrection, a power i’m sure we’ll be seeing more of; a powerful return after a powerful death. Cyborg’s story boasts a great weight – while I’m looking forward to the football scene, I found the clip of him tearing at the gravesite quite haunting; just adding layer upon layer to his place in this narrative.
Just look at his Father’s face when he is vaporised, observe Lois upon seeing Superman grace the skies once again, watch as Martha pays her a visit and hug as two people brought together by loss – you can’t tell me that all this extra footage won’t make it any better because the science is swaying on the other end of the spectrum way over the horizon. On that note, regarding the people saying that this just looks like nothing more than alternate takes from the theatrical cut – yeah, they’re lying, and that’s all I have to say about that because that’s all there is to it.
This whole journey has been a showcase as to the true level of appreciation for cinema nowadays, no one cares about movies really; no one cares about cinema. All the talk of this version of the film not existing, then turning to “oh, it won’t be any better, oh it doesn’t look any different” etc, it just proves that no one has any objective sense. A shelved but consistent version of a mostly reshot movie gets a release and you don’t have even a pinch of hope that it could possibly be alright? It’s not about a passion for cinema, it’s a popularity contest concerned only with who can go viral by coining the funniest negative slogan about the internet’s favourite easy targets.
In short: not enough people talking about movies – actually care about movies.
In what other world can making fun of a person’s child dying by suicide be seen as acceptable? Or calling a fanbase that achieves wonders for suicide prevention “toxic”? Look, I thought this trailer was great, nothing put me off or hindered my excitement in any way. Like I said before: I have watched it again and again and again; I like it a lot! I love the look of the speed force, Desaad looks like one sinister MF, the depth being promised has my attention on meathooks, and I’m utterly quaking to see the whole thing as its artist intended.
This should be seen as a victory for cinema, because that’s what it is, and this isn’t the first time something like this has happened. Look up the production history of Orson Welles’ Touch Of Evil, and know how stupid and cruel the arguments against this new cut really are. I don’t mean to provoke or offend, but I’ve been sitting on this since I saw the Ultimate Edition of BVS, and as someone who still hopes to get into this industry someday – is it too much to ask for justice?