Zack Snyder's Justice League | Neo Cab | Star Wars TV
A glimpse of alternate futures and worlds...
Movie review - Zack Snyder's Justice League
Movie summary: Determined to ensure Superman's ultimate sacrifice was not in vain, Bruce Wayne aligns forces with Diana Prince with plans to recruit a team of metahumans to protect the world from an approaching threat of catastrophic proportions. (IMDb)
I thought the theatrical, 2-hour version of Justice League was average, but my opinion of it definitely worsened over time and this new cut - no need for HBO Max in the UK, just watch it on Sky! - only confirmed just how bad the original version of this movie was. It does have two slight advantages over this Zack Snyder cut though - Superman was much more like his comics counterpart, and it wasn't 4 fucking hours long.
Seriously, even Marvel Studios with a decade of goodwill from critics and audiences kept Avengers: Endgame to three hours and Zack Snyder's Justice League had neither going in. I think this also pretty much confirms that the mythical 'Snyder Cut' never really existed, as this version of the movie could never be released in cinemas as it is now - never mind releasing it like this back in 2017.
First off, it would've completely contradicted Patty Jenkins' Wonder Woman from the same year, as Snyder's penchant for graphic, bloody violence carries over to her (Gal Gadot) and she's far more vicious a warrior here than during World War I for some reason. Spoiler alert: this also includes decapitating the already dead/dying antagonist of this movie, Steppenwolf (Ciarán Hinds), because... I actually don't know why.
And this is in arguably Snyder's lightest DC movie in tone, with far more humour and warmth than in his previous movies, Man of Steel and Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. The problem is that the changes in the characters we've already met seem a little too artificial and like he's artificially course-correcting them rather than making it part of their character development.
There's also the fact that this is considered R-rated in the US - I think it'd probably be a 15 if rated by the BBFC in the UK - and the swearing simply feels unnecessary, as does the blood. Unfortunately, there are a lot of people - 'people' meaning mainly younger men - who think that 'swearing + blood = mature' and it unfortunately seems like Snyder agrees.
That's not to say the swearing and blood is particularly over the top, but it's another reason why this movie couldn't be released as it is and be a success - a 4-hour movie that families and kids can't really go to has a much smaller potential audience than watching it at home and being able to divide it up as feels comfortable. Note: the movie is divided into six 'chapters' and an epilogue, with titles on-screen to let you know when a break can be taken.
Just be warned, the sixth chapter is over a quarter of the running time on its own, so be prepared to set aside over an hour for that part. You'd think there'd be some realisation that one chapter lasting over an hour, while the other five plus the epilogue only count for three would make you realise that your pacing/story flow might be a little off, but apparently not.
But outside of those criticisms, I have to say that I did enjoy watching Zack Snyder's Justice League, with it doing just enough to keep my interested and see it through in one sitting. I doubt I'll ever watch it again because of how long it is, but I don't feel like my time was wasted in seeing how this cinematic curiosity played out.
Also, as a comics fan, I was able to 'partition' the story and characters somewhat, relegating everything to an Elsewords tale - again, the potential audience for this version of the DC heroes is probably smaller than they'd like to believe and 'lighter' versions would be more widely accepted (see the success of Wonder Woman and Aquaman as evidence).
I would recommend seeing Zack Snyder's Justice League at least once, even if just for curiosity's sake - yes, that would include those who might've been put off by the oppressively dour nature of Snyder's previous superhero outings. At least the extra time allows Cyborg and the Flash to be fleshed out a little, even if it's hard to see how you'd achieve the same result if you ever wanted to cut this movie down for a big screen release.
Zack Snyder's Justice League is a marked improvement over the theatrical release, if only for the more consistent tone and visual style with an appropriate score to accompany it. There's no need for it to be 4 hours long though, and these still aren't the versions of the DC heroes that would get fans coming back like they do for the MCU - just make this a canon 'Elseworlds' story that exists in a DC Cinematic Multiverse that can be revisited and it's all good.
Game review - Neo Cab
Game summary: Play as Lina, the last human driver-for-hire on the streets of Los Ojos. As you discover the truth about your friend’s disappearance, the connections you make along the way can make or break your adventure in Los Ojos. Meet people. Learn their stories. Stay human! (Steam)
I was really excited after the first time I played Neo Cab, as I thought I'd be getting to explore a huge cyberpunk city and have some cool, interesting experiences along the way, but that unfortunately turned out to not be the case and it just not working for me. It's a shame, as there's quite a bid of good here, just outweighed by the bad.
Neo Cab has a superficially-great design, with some really well done, if simple, animation and most of the locations you visit are all well-designed. The problem is that you spend most of the time ferrying passengers around the city in your cab and no part of the city looks any different to the other parts. You could argue that's intentional and thematic, but it doesn't work as an excuse here.
The reason is that you're never given any contrast to the visual design of the city - all areas look the same and that's all we know of the fictional Los Ojos. We don't get to see any parts of the city that give any area a sense of location and there's no idea what it looked like before the villainous uber-corporation, Capra, began to dominate the area.
It also doesn't help that the sound design effectively seems to be background music and some basic sound effects. For a game with so much dialogue, it really does feel like Neo Cab should've been fully-voiced although I'm aware that doing so to a decent standard may have been more than the developers could afford. I don't have a problem with text-driven games, but the writing isn't really good enough to sell the characters.
The writing for the 'main' story doesn't really help either, taking far too long to get going, then wrapping up far too quickly - and off-screen too! When it all ended, I was left with a feeling of "that's it?" thanks to how lacking in impact the final outcome despite the dialogue and Lina's inner thoughts telling us something momentous had taken place.
Neo Cab is an indie game, so budget restrictions almost certainly didn't help, but so little interaction with the monotonous city and it's various locales meant that it was never going to succeed with where the story wanted to go in the end. Ultimately, the plot was a little too big for such a small game and it feels like the narrative should've been focused on something more personal than it was.
Neo Cab is a bit of a disappointment, with a great visual style and some interesting characters going to waste in an unvarying environment and an over-arching main story that only ever seems to take place in the background of what's going on. It's simple enough to play, so it could be used as a decent introductory experience to more narrative-driven games, but you're not missing much if you skip this.
TV viewing to come - Star Wars... lots of Star Wars
So, the plan after finishing iZombie was to jump into doing both seasons of The Mandalorian, but realised that I'd be jumping past a lot of Star Wars TV just to get to the latest thing. Rather than doing that, I'm going back to work my way through The Clone Wars first, then move on to Rebels, before finally getting caught up with the live-action stuff.
The thing with The Clone Wars, is that there's an official sequential order that I'd like to follow, but it makes it quite difficult to review in seasons. Don't believe me? Just check out the first five 'episodes' to watch if you follow that link - a season 2 episode, then a season 1 episode, the Clone Wars movie released in cinemas and then two season 3 episodes. After all that is when you finally start the first season proper!
What follows is mostly in sequential order, but not quite enough for me to want to review each season and I can't really do it after reaching the final episode of a season to review it as a whole, because even just the first season's finale takes place after every episode of season two bar one, and multiple episodes of season 3! Instead, I'm going to divide the show up into quarters and provide updates rather than reviews.
I'll then review the series as a whole once the entire thing is finished, which seems like the best way of looking at it - even if knowing some details from Rebels could potentially improve the experience even more from my very limited understanding! But I'll be saving Rebels to watch in season order, as that looks like the best approach for that show and the same for The Mandalorian.
What this means is that there'll be fewer TV reviews posted until The Clone Wars is done. I'm still going to work my way through Frasier too, which will prolong things, but I don't want the TV I'm watching to be 100% Star Wars for the next few months! I've got no idea how long this will last, but I'll be bouncing back and forth between Seattle and space for the foreseeable future...