Zack Snyder’s Justice League – 7/10
The DC movie universe has went through a lot of turmoil over the last few years with many of its recent releases being poorly received by critics and fans worldwide.
On the back of Christopher Nolan’s critically acclaimed Dark Knight Trilogy, Warner Bros. and DC decided to move in the direction of a shared universe and at the forefront of all of this was Zack Snyder, director of modern day classics such as 300 and Watchmen, who launched this new vision with Man of Steel in 2013 and Batman vs Superman: Dawn of Justice in 2016.
Despite it having some flaws, Snyder’s origin story for Henry Cavill’s Superman was a solid introduction however the poor reception of Dawn of Justice and David Ayer’s Suicide Squad , also released in 2016, caused for major concern and it looked like the DCEU (DC Extended Universe) had a one way ticket to failing with a fanbase completely divided.
On the flip side though, 2017’s Wonder Woman was a critical and box office success giving the franchise a new lease of life with hope that maybe it could still be salvaged. At the same time as the Amazonian warrior’s solo movie was being produced, Zack Snyder was joining up the jigsaw pieces for his vision as he worked on creating the epic Justice League team up movie.
Originally meant to be released over two standalone films, the movie went through a troubled production with rewrites being done throughout filming and many executives at Warner Bros. were not satisfied with how it was looking with the reception of Dawn of Justice still playing on their mind.
During post-production Zack Snyder stepped down from his directorial duties after the sad passing of his daughter and the studio hired Joss Whedon, director of The Avengers and Avengers: Age of Ultron, to see out the rest of the production. From Whedon taking the reins, the movie went through a considerable amount of reshoots with only around 10% of footage shot by Zack Snyder being used in the final cut.
Nevertheless, the film was released in November 2017 and was considered a “box office bomb”. The general consensus when the movie finally hit was that it was rushed, tonally different from previous movies and barely resembled anything like Zack Snyder had intended it to be like.
Following the theatrical release, fans rallied together to create the #ReleaseTheSnyderCut movement which gained mainstream attention and had the support of celebrities, some of the cast from the movie itself. As a result of the revolution, Warner Bros. caved and in 2020 they announced a four hour long cut of Justice League solely dedicated to everything that Zack Snyder had done before he departed.
So was this highly anticipated new version worth the wait? Was it going to right the wrongdoings of the theatrical release or would it prove to be much the same?
Let’s get down to what I thought about it.
I’ll start by saying whilst the Snyder Cut is a significant improvement it is still no masterpiece. Whilst it provides plenty more backstory and explanation there is still a lot of meaningless scenes that eat into the overall runtime.
To summarise the plot, Superman (Henry Cavill) is dead and Batman (Ben Affleck) with the help of Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot) recruits Aquaman (Jason Momoa), The Flash (Ezra Miller) and Cyborg (Ray Fisher) to stop the threat of Steppenwolf who is trying to retrieve three Mother Boxes for the satanic Darkseid.
As I said, this version is definitely a lot better than the theatrical release and characters get a lot more screen time. For example this time around Ray Fisher steals the show with some emotional scenes with his father in particular and everything makes a lot more sense in this setting.
The resurrection of Superman is portrayed perfectly in this movie, far much more impactful than 2017’s rushed effort. Here Snyder shows us the confused Kal-El struggling to come to terms with what his purpose on the planet is until he comes to terms just in time to join the final battle, donning a new black suit inspired from The Return of Superman comic story.
A special mention to Junkie XL who returned to compose the music to the Snyder Cut, further exploring the themes we heard in Man of Steel and Dawn of Justice. Henry Cavill’s Superman theme in particular returns and you hear it in all its triumph when the son of Krypton is reminded of his story from both of his fathers.
One of the things that people hated with the Joss Whedon cut was that The Flash was reduced to the comic relief in the movie and whilst Snyder continues to takes this approach, he still provides a lot of complexity to the character. With extended dialogue, you learn a lot more about him in particular his relationship with his in prisoned father.
Ben Affleck does a tremendous job wearing the cowl again but there’s times where he feels like a bit of a waste, although his interaction with Jared Leto’s Joker in the final few moments of the movie is undoubtedly the highlight. Let’s also talk about Leto, who returns with a Joker performance that definitely gets pass marks this time around. It just shows you what he can do when the character is not written like a gangster with tattoos.
Despite it being a positive revision, the movie still lacks in a lot of areas. The big problem I have with it is that there still feels like far too much going on and there is too many sub plots crammed in to set up future DCEU related projects, some of which may never see the light of day.
The pacing of the movie is a bit all over the place, one minute you’re in a big battle with Amazonian warriors then we will cut to a scene in the GCPD with Commissioner Gordon before switching to a scene in Atlantis then to Metropolis for a subtle scene with Lois Lane, all within the space of a few minutes.
People will see the runtime and think of that as a big criticism but in truth it really isn’t. There is however a lot of pointless musical interludes every few scenes that really serve no purpose, they are only really there for the sake of having a few songs included. You take these out and you could be down to 3.5 hours easily.
Whilst the action scenes are an improvement and certain character arcs are more full circle, I just couldn’t help but think at times I was watching something I had already seen.
There is a lot of fan service that will certainly please the average DC fan but there’s still a lot that doesn’t really make sense and much like the musical interludes, there’s sub plots and hints there for no real reason at all.
Overall, Zack Snyder’s Justice League isn’t a great movie and it’s not particularly a bad movie. What it is, is a solid redemption movie from a director that could be significant in shaping the future of DC movies moving forward. It’s given us a proper look Zack Snyder’s vision for a universe, a vision that I think now most certainly needs to continue and hopefully it has reinstated some faith from those at Warner Bros. With that being said though, it’s not a must see movie but it’s what I expected it to be – a much more polished Justice League movie that still produces a lot of cracks that the congested story can’t paper over.
Zack Snyder’s Justice League
Zack Snyder’s Justice League – 7/10