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Explaining The Ending From Zack Snyder's Justice League


In a significant break from what feels like comic book movie tradition at this point, Zack Snyder's Justice League doesn't have a post-credit teaser scene. Instead, the final 20 minutes of the film serve as an extended preview of Snyder's ambitious plans for the franchise.

Justice League is one of the most popular franchises in the world. Aside from being converted into a major Hollywood motion picture series, the world-famous crime-fighting group also influences literature, such as the upcoming The New 52, which is DC Comics' attempt to reboot its entire comic book portfolio.

The popularity of Justice League has been widely adopted in video gaming as well, with many titles such as Justice League Heroes and Injustice 2, which is considered one of the premier fighting games in the world today. It even influences the iGaming sector as there is a slot game called Justice League that can be found on the online casino listing in South Africa, such as Europa Casino.

So when the original Justice League came out in 2017, and it turned out to be vastly different from the vision of original director Zack Snyder (he had to leave the project late on in production because of a family bereavement), there was an enormous outcry from fans around the world who demanded the Snyder Cut be released.

In the end, they got their wish (and then some) when the four-hour epic that is Zack Snyder's Justice League was released on streaming platform HBO Max in March this year. It was everything fans had been asking for and much, much more. If you thought there couldn't be that much new in the film, especially considering Snyder was only permitted to reshoot one scene, you'd be sorely mistaken. It's an entirely new film.

As it turns out, there were reels and reels of unused material that Snyder had already shot but went by new stand-in director Joss Whedon, who had instructions from the studio to make the film more light-hearted after the success of Thor: Ragnarok. Snyder's vision was clearly much darker, but nowhere is the distinction more apparent than at the end of the film.

The final 20 minutes of Zack Snyder's Justice League play out like an epilogue at the back of a fantasy novel in the middle of a 10-book epic, setting up characters for future trials and tribulations and hinting at a dark and lonely future that everyone (goodies and baddies) needs to work together to avoid. There is a lot to unpack, so let's get started.

The epilogue begins in what would have been a very familiar way to people who had already seen Whedon's Justice League, finding out that Lex Luther (Jesse Eisenberg) has managed to escape Arkham Asylum and is instead chilling out on a fancy yacht in the middle of the ocean with Deathstroke (Joe Manganiello), revealing to him that Batman (Ben Affleck) is Bruce Wayne. However, this was the one scene that Snyder decided to reshoot.

In Snyder's version, instead of Luthor and Deathstroke "starting a league of their own"; to combat the Justice League, Lex sets the assassin a very directed and personal collision course with the Bat. At this point in the film, Luthor knows about Darkseid's plan to destroy the world, which is alluded to when he states he has "more important things to do" than fight Batman".

The scene is a direct reference and set up for the scrapped Affleck solo Batman movie replaced by the Robert Pattinson film, which is a pretty strange decision considering the decision to axe the Affleck project made several years before the Snyder reshoot. The only real explanation is that Snyder was firmly sticking to his original vision, which, after all, is what the fans wanted all along anyway.

The second part of the epilogue takes us to a dark and terrible future after Darkseid has succeeded in conquering earth and laying waste to almost all of the planet's life. Even though Batman, Cyborg (Ray Fisher), the Atlantean Mera, Deathstroke, the Flash, and the Joker have formed a resistance group, there is very little hope.

Despite their status as allies, the Joker can't help but taunt Batman about all the loved ones he has lost from his parents to his adopted son, which is likely Robin. The Bat growls at Joker to be careful, to which he replies: "You need me, to help you undo this world you created by letting her die. Poor Lois, how she suffered so." Superman then rocks up with glowing red eyes looking ready to kill. At this point, Bruce Wayne wakes up from what was an apparent nightmare, although it is pretty clear it is a vision of the future.

Everything about this scene is set up for future Justice League sequels, from the increasing tension between Batman and Joker leading to a confrontation at some point to the suggestion that Superman has become one of the Justice League's greatest enemies because Batman was unable to save Lois Lane.

The scene is already significant for linking the threads that lead to the "Knightmare"; sequence hinted at in Batman v Superman when Flash uses his speed to travel through time to warn Bruce Wayne about Superman's potential to the dark side. It appears to take place as the heroes are preparing for the Flash to time travel. Snyder revealed to Vanity Fair that the original plan was for heroes to discover a way to reverse the dark timeline but that Bruce Wayne would ultimately die and be replaced by Bruce Kent, the powerless son of Lois Lane and Clarke Kent.

Unfortunately, at this stage, Snyder has confirmed there are no plans for any of the sequels that he alluded to and set up in his conclusion to Zack Snyder's Justice League. But, if we have learned anything from this whole saga, if the fans want something badly enough, there is a decent chance the studio might make it happen.

 
Lars Von Trier's Liar


Lars Von Trier is a critical and awards darling, controversial, making brutally challenging and inimitable films, most none of which are pleasant watches. Von Trier sprints as far as he can from the mainstream, with unconventional structures and pacing, blazingly harsh subject matter, unstimulated sex (which always seems to cover some of the publicity for the films) and at his best; a dark and dreamlike presentation.

Von Trier is, like most trailblazing creatives, very strange, a reality that will bleed into other parts of this article but which should be addressed here. He has a fanatical obsession and reverence for great art, especially great filmmakers. For one, he added the grand “von” to his name in homage to Erich von Stroheim and Josef von Sternberg, who had themselves invented their monikers. He's consistently massively popular at Cannes, but suffered a misstep when he got himself banned after a bizarre joke detailing that he had learned his ancestry was German, and not Jewish therefore “(he's) a Nazi” and “understands Hitler”. He also, upon being invited to the home of his late hero, Ingmar Bergman, accompanied by a camera crew and a host of other important filmmakers, spent a not inconsiderable amount of the visit detailing his interest in the frequency of Bergman's masturbation habits. He ended the interview by comparing the distant Bergman to his stepfather, explaining how much it bothers him that he never got close. For the record, Bergman admired Von Trier greatly, from a distance, once saying he "does not understand what a genius he is." Evidently Lars got over this problem. His unbelievable confidence in his work and views is exactly what has given him his success and strife over the years. Even early on, he was so confident in the value of his view on cinema that he started the Dogme 95 movement by writing a manifesto with Thomas Vinterburg.

von Trier's Liar

Dogme 95's goal was to reclaim power for the directors from the studio system, in practicality it was a set of regulations (e.g. the film must be in colour, no music, only handheld cameras allowed, no superficial action like murders, etc.) and limitations so rigid, that no-one originally involved in the movement stuck to the rules for very long, ESPECIALLY Von Trier, whose later work began to incorporate artifice like black and white photography, contrapuntal music, dreamy and robotically enhanced camera moves, and murder. This kind of goal post moving is what makes his documentary, The 5 Obstructions, so interesting. It chronicles Von Trier setting a challenge for his old mentor wherein they each remake a classic short film of his five times, each time adding an “obstruction”. It must be animated, or made in the unspecified worst place on earth, shots can only last 12 frames, etc. Easily von Trier's best work, however, is when he drops his rules and makes the film however he feels, typically unreal.

There was his Golden Hearts trilogy, about pure-hearted women made to suffer by tragedies or degradation, who must persevere. The best of the three is Dancer in the Dark, in which a factory worker played by Bjork is losing her vision due to a condition passed on to her son. She wants to save up to prevent the condition from taking his vision. Also, it's a musical. The most widely acclaimed is Breaking the Waves, with a heavier focus on morality and social realism, and the most controversial is The Idiots , which is the only film of the three to qualify for Dogme 95 status (though a written confession lists four “breaches”).

Next, avant-garde experimental films Dogville and Manderlay, both parables about American issues in a highly distinctive style: The actors occupy a soundstage with minimal props, and no sets, just spaces marked out by lines of chalk. Another experiment for comedy The Boss of It All, wherein Von Trier placed the camera in an ideal position, and allowed a computer to decide when to pan, tilt, or zoom.

Von Trier has suffered from depression, and a particularly immobilizing bout landed him in the hospital in 2006, where he began to channel his experiences into writing the first in his Depression trilogy, loosely connected by themes of grief and misery, sturdily connected by their shared lead Charlotte Gainsbourg, one of the most fruitful collaborations in Von Trier's career. The first of the films is the most utterly disturbing, the most intimate, and the best film of Von Trier's career; Anti-Christ. Whilst a couple (He and She) are having sex, their infant son falls from the balcony. Overcome with grief, they begin to process it in different, and unhealthy ways. She further develops a belief in the inherent evil of women, stemming from her research into misogyny, mentally punishing herself. He focuses on forcing her into exposure therapy, making it clear that her grief is another problem she's causing. Not something to feel and accept, but an issue he can fix. He makes them retreat to a cabin in the woods they had stayed at before with their son. It is an otherworldly corruption of nature, sort of like if Satan had made the garden of Eden. Yes, grass, and acorns, and foxes, and things, but tainted like everything else by their pain. Needless to say, the therapy does not go well.

Melancholia, less brutal and provocative than Anti-Christ, sometimes feels as though it's running on the fumes, however strong those may be, of the previous film. Still, it channels the reality of living with depression, the utter acceptance of the worst, and having to weather it, into a story of a pair of sisters, awaiting one sisters' wedding and an apocalyptic collision with another planet. Nymphomaniac, Volumes I & II, are the most guilty of passing into self-parody, a collective 4 hours of sex, repetitive unsubtle jabs at critics, and references to his own filmography and public life.

His latest, serial killer POV The House that Jack Built, has resulted in the most significant split in opinion yet; some praising his uncompromising depiction of the ostentatious gratification Ted Bundy-like killers revel in, others admonishing the film's perceived depravity. The most important question to ask yourself before watching it, however, is: “Can I stomach a 2-and-a-half-hour sermon from someone as egotistical as a serial-killer, or, for that matter, Lars von Trier?” It's a satire of the director's belief in auterism as much as the killer's. Let's leave off with Von Trier's sign off at the end of the Dogme 95 Manifesto: “My supreme goal is to force the truth out of my characters and settings. I swear to do so by all the means available and at the cost of any good taste and any aesthetic considerations. Thus I make my VOW OF CHASTITY.”

 
Explaining the Boat Scene from Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory


Who here was terrified by the boat scene in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory? In a film where child after child brushes with death, only to survive “off-screen”. With foods so dangerous to eat they blow up your whole body, and a tall strange man trying to coerce kids into stealing secrets for him in alleyways. With claustrophobic tubes that trap, and all run by a madman, in this film, the only really scary thing is a boat ride.

The scene is infamous and has horrified kids for decades now. The Tour of the factory moves swiftly along after losing Augustus Gloop, and the party take their seats as the Oompa Loompa's row them down a dark tunnel. Willy Wonka, already starting to make some of them nervous with his demeanour, insists that they row faster, and the passengers begin to panic. Lights and images flash around them, of bugs and eyes and a chicken being decapitated (making this one of the rare mainstream films depicting the on-screen death of a real animal), and Wonka begins to recite a shamanistic poem, which turns into a loud chant, and finally a shriek: “There's no earthly way of knowing, which direction we are going... ARE THE FIRES OF HELL A GLOWING, IS THE GRISLY REAPER MOWING, YES, THE DANGER MUST BE GROWING!” Violet Beauregarde said it best; “What is this, a freak-out?”

Everything about this scene, from Gene Wilder's slowly mounting delivery of the ominous lines, to the looks of panic on everybody's faces, to the very nature of this sort of satanic corruption of the cheerful tunes the factory dispenses otherwise, is pure nightmare fuel, and nothing like the rest of the film. Another thing that makes the sequence seem out of place is how abruptly it ends- the boat just stops, and no one brings it up again. So how come it's in the film?

Before we ask why anyone wanted it in the film, it's good to ask how the scene made it into the final cut in the first place, without anyone raising concerns about appealing to the target demographic of candy-loving kids. Well, Willy Wonka was made on a shoe-string budget by a rag-tag group of misfit film-makers, funded by a confectionary company to promote their upcoming Quaker Oats ‘Wonka Bars'. For the record, this promotion was a failure, because by the time the film was out, Wonka Bars were being recalled and altered because they melted at room temperature all over store shelves. Under these circumstances, the filmmakers experienced an unprecedented lack of studio interference, so they could do mostly whatever they wanted. Some of the makers of the film, released in 1971, had been stewing in the psychedelic late 60's, and probably channeled their experiences with bad trips (freak-outs, as they were known) into the scene, because there was room for it, and especially because it was cheap. It's hard to say no when you need to film the tunnel from the book, and someone comes up with an idea that only needs stock footage, coloured lights and back projection.

On a story level, Wonka seems to have a sinister mystery about him which keeps us on our toes, played up heavily by the incomparable Gene Wilder, who was attracted by the conman quality he felt the character could have. He even suggested that Wonka be introduced stumbling with a cane, only to reveal it was a ruse. The boat scene is the ultimate extra layer to Wonka's potential psychopathy. I mean, the boat has the perfect amount of seats for everybody, how did he know Gloop and his mother wouldn't be joining them? We really have no idea what he'll do next.

Some seem to think the scary boat ride is one of Wonka's tests, to see if there are any kids too fragile to end up running his factory. Doubtful. If the film, or more accurately the original novel, wanted to illustrate that, there would have been an extra terrified tot, who'd wet himself, or jump into the water to escape, and be serenaded by the Oompa Loompas as he floated on his way. The only element that seems to support this appears to be that Charlie and Grandpa Joe are the only captives who manage to enjoy the ride.

There are, as there always seem to be, some fun fan theories. One suggests the tunnel is a form of deterrent for thieves, who would have to make it through the tunnel to get to the factories' secrets. Who would brave all that for Slugworth? Not to mention how difficult it must be to navigate to the invention room in the pitch black.

What's appreciable about the scene today, outside of it being a very well judged mix of the unsettling and silly that introduces an element of intrigue at a junction into the film, is that it is so indelible. No-one forgets the scene, and whilst the images that flash swirl around, and out of order, everyone remembers how it felt. It's irreplaceable, especially in a kids' film today (though Coraline is sort of if the boat scene were the entire film), and that's why the remake didn't even try. If we celebrate this classic for it's incredible imagination when it comes to whimsy, we ought to celebrate it for its inventive shock too.

 
Talking Movies Reaches 400 Episodes with Spling!


Spling's segment on Fine Music Radio, Talking Movies , has reached its 400th entry. The bi-weekly additions of Talking Movies are straightforward reviews for three movies out at the time of release, fitting into a tight 6 minutes. You can catch them at 8:20 AM on Fridays and 8:15 AM on Saturdays. They dispense insightful, unpretentious and direct looks at the films, providing an ideal service in this modern landscape of glut when it comes to choosing what's worth watching.

400 talking movies episodes

A contemporary problem with being recommended a film is the game of roulette you play in hoping you'll be able to find it somewhere to watch. Lately, with streaming services being the main source of our entertainment, Spling has adopted the helpful approach of highlighting films from an array of different streaming platforms and channels, leaving no movie fan behind.

The show has been running for almost 8 years. An argument could be made that anything that provides, time after time, for this long, is something of an institution. When listening on FMR 101.3, every one of the instalments starts with those familiar notes from the American Beauty score, and signs off with the mantra “Don't WING it, SPL!NG it!”.

You can catch up on the latest Talking Movies episodes, presented as podcasts at splingmovies.com or check out archived episodes. Many of the films covered on Talking Movies receive longer form written reviews, but the archived entries supply transcripts of Spling's brief takes, if you prefer.

This 400th entry covers: News of the World , which stars Tom Hanks as a civil war veteran who reads the news from town to town, and must escort a young immigrant girl raised by Native Americans across the country to her family, in a largely frank western. He has excellent chemistry with co-lead girl, but Hanks, in typical fashion for his recent films, carries.

Next, sure-handed political drama Official Secrets; the true story of a British whistle-blower who leaked information to the press about an illegal move designed to sanction the 2003 invasion of Iraq, starring Kiera Knightly, and directed by South Africa's own Gavin Hood.

And lastly, a documentary called One Child Nation , uncovering insights into the reality of living under China's oppressive one-child policy, policing the intimate lives of the Chinese citizenry, which director Nanfu Wang has had the unique experience of once being a part of. From this unique position, the film takes a powerful biographical perspective, making it the best film on this edition of Talking Movies .

We look forward to number 500, the 10 year anniversary of Talking Movies with Spling, and every episode till then.

 
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