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Zack Snyder’s Justice League (12, 242 minutes)
When family tragedy forced Zack Snyder to leave the post production work on Justice League in 2017, director Joss Whedon – who by recent accounts makes David O. Russell look like a pussycat – was brought in, supposedly to just finish things off.
But instead, with the backing of a studio obviously not on board with Snyder’s dark vision, Whedon ditched more than two and a half hours of original footage and with extensive re-shoots crafted a completely different movie, and as it turns out, a pretty disastrous addition to the DC cannon.
It was such a departure from the intended film that Christopher Nolan, an executive producer on both versions, advised Snyder never to watch the Whedon version, which those who have seen it will know includes Henry Cavill, having the moustache he had grown for another film he was already working on, removed digitally, it would seem from the results, by one of the overnight cleaners having a laugh.
Rumours began to fly pretty quickly that there was enough unused footage for a Snyder version of Justice League, but it took more than three years for that to be confirmed and the amount of difference will captivate even the most demanding of film geeks.
With 152 ditched footage restored and a small newly shot cameo involving Ben Afleck’s Batman and Jared Leto reprising his Suicide Squad role as The Joker plus the post production work that was supposed to happen four years ago, Snyder has foregone his fee to present the version of Justice League we were supposed to see and so much more.
There are back stories, new characters and even a new ending.
The colouring is more subtle and it’s a much more weighty affair than the League Lite served up in 2017.
Don’t be alarmed. There’s nothing wrong with your television, the 4:3 aspect ratio is deliberate as Snyder is obsessed with what he calls “the big square” on IMAX screens, which leaves a large vertical black line on each side of a widescreen TV.
But what goes on inside that big square is an epic of Infinity War and Endgame proportions.
Everything has more depth, the storyline makes more sense and visually it’s pure class – an exceptional piece of work.
Set pieces such as the Amazons’ battle with Steppenwolf (Ciaran Hinds) and his insectile forces takes on a life of its own and the status of the villain himself is repositioned to that of thug in the service of much bigger bad guy, Darkseid.
Gal Godot benefits particularly from the new, improved Justice League, which although it was filmed three years before, is set many years after the events of Wonder Woman 1984 and exposes that film, released just a couple of months ago, as fatally flawed.
In as much as any super hero movie can be, this is a major piece of cinema, albeit one that has been created purely for the fans, who should feel like all their prayers have been answered.
Cyborg’s Ray Fisher has been vocal about the troubled gestation of the film and has made no secret of his delight in its release, or his opinion of Whedon, whose behaviour on set he described last year as “gross, abusive, unprofessional, and completely unacceptable”.
With a running time of four hours (it genuinely doesn’t feel that long), this is more than a director’s cut. Warner Bros are adamant that they do not count it as part of their DC cannon, which is understandable. They have been utterly humiliated because Snyder just breathed life back into their franchise. You’re welcome!
With this film they have truly been brought to justice in the biggest “I told you so” in the industry since Ridley Scott fixed Blade Runner.
It’s vindication for Snyder and a statement to studios that they mess with the art at their peril.