New Movies This Week: ‘Zack Snyder’s Justice League,’ ‘City of Lies’

Just when you’d finished the dark and murky four-hour marathon that is HBO’s “Allen v. Farrow” docuseries, along comes Zack Snyder with a dark and murky four-hour director’s cut of “Justice League,” the super-friends reunion that underwhelmed critics and fans alike in its 2017 theatrical cut, now expanded/restored to Snyder’s full vision.

Personally, I found it fun for a while, then increasingly exhausting before giving up about midway through as a giant CG character with a hammerhead helmet and really shiny armor was growling something about Mother Boxes in what looked like a giant cavern, but might have been a spaceship. I don’t know, but my colleague Owen Gleiberman loved it — more than the Avengers movies — so if you’ve got an HBO Max subscription and four hours of your life to burn, give it a look. 

Also dark and murky, the Notorious B.I.G. murder investigation drama “City of Lies” opens nearly four years after it was shot (and two dozen after the shooting itself). But be warned: the movie doesn’t get into why Charles Wallace was killed, but rather, why it believes the LAPD never managed to arrest anyone for the murder. And if conspiracies are your thing, Netflix has a biggie for you as well in “Operation Varsity Blues,” about the college admissions scandal.

Here’s a rundown of those films opening this week that Variety has covered, along with information on where you can watch them. Find more movies and TV shows to stream here.

Zack Snyder’s Justice League
Warner Bros.

Exclusive to HBO Max

Zack Snyder’s Justice League (Zack Snyder) CRITIC’S PICK
Distributor: Warner Bros.
Where to Find It: HBO Max
It takes an extraordinarily diverse skill set to direct a great comic-book movie [like] the thrillingly restored four-hour-long director’s-cut version of the 2017 DC Comics extravaganza. The new movie — and make no mistake, it really is a new movie — is more than a vindication of Snyder’s original vision. It’s a grand, nimble, and immersive entertainment, a team-of-heroes origin story that, at heart, is classically conventional, yet it’s now told with such an intoxicating childlike sincerity and ominous fairy-tale wonder that it takes you back to what comic books, at their best, have always sought to do: make you feel like you’re seeing gods at play on Earth. — Owen Gleiberman
Read the full review

City of Lies
Courtesy of Saban Films

New Releases Only in Theaters

City of Lies (Brad Furman)
Distributor: Saban Films
Where to Find It: In theaters now, followed by on demand April 9
Who shot Christopher Wallace, aka Biggie Smalls? It’s crazy to think that a Hollywood movie can solve a homicide the Los Angeles Police Department couldn’t crack. But conspiracy-minded “City of Lies” suggests that the Notorious B.I.G.’s death isn’t unsolved at all, but a cover-up of epic proportions. That’s a bombshell if true and downright irresponsible if not, although one thing is certain: Such claims should make for a far more exciting movie than this convoluted taupe-tinted chronicle of a 20-year investigation that foments anti-cop distrust and falls back on the LAPD’s seismic Rampart scandal to give it any kind of pulse. — Peter Debruge
Read the full review

The Courier (Dominic Cooke)
Distributor: Lionsgate, Roadside Attractions
Where to Find It: In theaters now
Shaken martinis and martial-arts fight sequences tend to be a lot more sexy than watching whatever Benedict Cumberbatch, playing an English salesman named Greville Wynne, does to avoid suspicion in this intermittently interesting espionage drama — basically, going to the ballet, hosting business meetings, drinking with clients, while discreetly passing packages from a high-ranking Russian mole. “The Courier’s” hook is that it’s based on true events, and the underlying history deserves to be shared. It’s a solid if dull-by-definition espionage story about the civilian recruited to liaise with a top Russian spy at the height of the Cuban Missile Crisis. — Peter Debruge
Read the full review

Courtesy of Saban Films

New Releases on Demand and in Select Theaters

Happily (BenDavid Grabinski)
Distributor: Saban Films
Where to Find It: In select theaters, on demand and digital
“Happily” is what happens when a cute conceit goes nowhere intriguing. Writer-director BenDavid Grabinski’s feature debut tries to generate comedic menace and mystery from the aftermath of a bizarre encounter between a preternaturally lovey-dovey California couple and an enigmatic stranger, but there’s nothing particularly amusing or suspenseful about the weirdness that ensues. Stranding a host of likable actors in atonal purgatory, it seems likely to please few. Aiming for a darkly humorous portrait of marital bliss — and the difficulties of maintaining it — the film comes off as a half-formed “Twilight Zone” joke minus the punchline. — Nick Schager
Read the full review

Rose Plays Julie (Christine Molloy and Joe Lawlor)
Distributor: Film Movement
Where to Find It: In virtual cinemas, on demand and digital
Beneath the eerily calm surfaces of Molloy and Lawlor’s terrific “Rose Plays Julie,” a transgressive story bides its time. It’s a tale that feels ancient in structure, but terrifyingly modern in detail, mapping MeToo-era revelations and a contemporary preoccupation with fractured identities onto a deceptively simple revenge plot that could have been plucked directly from a Greek drama, then plunged into liquid nitrogen to achieve its deep-freeze aesthetic. Still waters run deep, but frozen ones reach down fathoms, and who knows what perfectly preserved bodies lie waiting to be excavated.  — Jessica Kiang
Read the full review

Wojnarowicz (Chris McKim)
Distributor: Kino Lorber
Where to Find It: Available in virtual cinemas
Channeling the aesthetic and urgency of a driven multimedia creator, “Wojnarowicz” chronicles the too-short life of a determinedly “outsider” artist who was among the most furiously outspoken victims of the AIDS epidemic. The documentary is largely composed of materials from the late subject’s archives, woven into a collage that is equal parts biography, vintage agitprop and objet d’art, plus surviving associates’ audio reminiscences. While David Wojnarowicz’s confrontative nature is amply represented, there’s also considerable beauty and invention on display here, as often there was even in the artist’s most enraged work. — Dennis Harvey
Read the full review

Deadly Illusions
Courtesy of Kiss and Tale Prods.

Exclusive to Netflix

Deadly Illusions (Anna Elizabeth James)
Where to Find It: Netflix
It’s tricky deciding what kind of cheese “Deadly Illusions,” a diverting thriller starring Kristin Davis and Dermot Mulroney streaming on Netflix, is exactly. Soft and overripe, from the look of it. Which poses the question, when is its cheesiness intentional and when is it clumsy? But why trouble our pretty little heads with those quandaries when we could sit back deep into the couch and giggle at the story of Mary Morrison, her near-perfect family and the pert and innocent (or is she?) nanny hired to keep an eye on Mary and husband Tom’s late-in-life young’uns while Mary dives into her final novel in a best-selling series. — Lisa Kennedy
Read the full review

Operation Varsity Blues: The College Admissions Scandal (Chris Smith)
Where to Find It: Netflix
The massive scam that rocked the world of elite college admissions sent Felicity Huffman and Lori Loughlin to jail — but that scurrilous saga of fallen celebrity was just the tabloid tip of the iceberg. “Operation Varsity Blues” presents the whole iceberg, in an innovative and compelling way. Smith has virtually never directed a conventional, just-the-facts-ma’am documentary, and though the film has all the facts, and lays them out with galvanizing clarity and precision, the innovative move Smith makes is to take FBI transcripts of wiretapped conversations and play them out, in real settings, with actors portraying the relevant people. — Owen Gleiberman
Read the full review

Get the Goat (Cabras da Peste) (Vitor Brandt)
Where to Find It: Netflix


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