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Zack Snyder’s Justice League Review

March 20, 2021 | Posted by Joseph Lee
Zack Snyder's Justice League Darkseid
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Zack Snyder’s Justice League Review  

Cast:
* Henry Cavill as Clark Kent/Superman
* Ben Affleck as Bruce Wayne/Batman
* Gal Gadot as Diana Prince/Wonder Woman
* Ezra Miller as Barry Allen/The Flash
* Jason Momoa as Arthur Curry/Aquaman
* Ray Fisher as Victor Stone/Cyborg
* Amy Adams as Lois Lane
* Jeremy Irons as Alfred Pennyworth
* Diane Lane as Martha Kent
* Connie Nielsen as Hippolyta
* Ciaran Hinds as Steppenwolf
* Ray Porter as Darkseid
* Joe Manganiello as Deathstroke
* Jared Leto as The Joker

Story: Zack Snyder’s definitive director’s cut of Justice League. 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.

What a road it’s been getting here. Zack Snyder fans turned out to be a very, devoted group of people, campaigning for years to get this version off the ground. The purpose of this review is not to be an extensive retelling of the entire saga, but here’s a quick recap. Snyder was forced to step away from Justice League in 2017 due to the death of his daughter. With the film unfinished, Warner Bros. hired on Joss Whedon to finish the job. He did so, and the result was a middling film at best, with bizarre CGI choices and a story that was at times barely coherent. It got out soon after that a lot of footage was left on the cutting room floor, so eventually Snyder was brought back in and given money to finish his vision, with both previously unused footage and newly shot material.

Justice League is a movie that a lot of people had wanted to see in some form on the big screen for a long time. The version we got wasn’t well-received, to be generous about it, and that leaves one last question. Can Zack Snyder get the material right with complete creative control? After all, Batman V Superman also lacked a cohesive story until the Ultimate Edition, so it stands to reason this had the potential to as well. Regardless of quality, I think something like this should exist. Maybe not to the extent the Snyder diehards do, but I’m in favor of alternate cuts of movies, if possible, when the first attempt didn’t work out. And at the very least, Superman doesn’t have a weird-looking face this time.

Okay first of all, this is not the terrible self-indulgent slog that I think everyone feared it would be. However, it’s also not the epic, greatest superhero movie ever made like certain fans hoped it would be. And if you go on Twitter, you’ll see reactions from both camps that were likely going to like or dislike it regardless of how it turned out. One thing is for sure: Warner Bros. needs to stay out of the editing room. This is this the third movie in the DCEU rendered nonsensical by their meddling and it’s even more egregious with this, as a lot of moments that tied the story together and developed characters were left on the cutting room floor.

But the question remains: is it good? For the most part, yes. There are flaws, and they’re the same flaws Snyder has had his entire career. But this movie has a heart and something to say, which is better than the brainless CGI-fest that Whedon unleashed on the world four years ago. Snyder clearly had a clear vision with what he wanted to do and with the ability to stick to that, the story is coherent, the characters’ personalities are stable and the stakes feel a little bigger.

However, again, it should be said there are flaws. No movie should be four hours. And there is a lot of this movie that could have been cut out and still accomplish the goals that Snyder had in mind. The problem is again, that self-indulgence he relies on. There’s a lot of slow-motion shots. There’s a lot of what can best be described as “scenery porn” set to slow songs. The movie is very heavy on exposition and the epilogue definitely feels unnecessary, setting up for sequels that we’ll never get and fanservice that don’t help the story. It might be cool to see characters like the Joker and Iris West, but they have no place in this movie.

Ultimately, it’s just too much movie and that leads into another big problem: the pacing. The first hour of this film, along, is almost a chore to get through. There are moments that are necessary, sure, but there’s also a lot of drawn out scenes in the first quarter, along with elsewhere in the movie, that could have been trimmed up. Length isn’t as big a deal if you can keep things moving along, as seen with Avengers: Endgame. Say what you will about that movie, but it never seems to feel as long as it is. Snyder’s Justice League does have moments where it definitely drags.

However, if you’re willing to put in the time and effort, there’s a lot of good here too. It’s plain to see that Warner Bros and Joss Whedon, for lack of a better word, butchered what was here before. A lot of that is from character development, particularly with Cyborg. Cyborg was basically a nothing character in Whedon’s version, only there to really serve as a plot device since he is necessary to stop the villain. Here, he’s a fully-realized character. His trauma is explored, as is his relationship with his parents, and we learn a lot more about him than we ever did. Cyborg, as well as Ray Fisher’s performance, were severely shortchanged and Snyder’s cut restores what is honestly an enjoyable and necessary subplot.

It also removes some things that were added in, like the quippy dialogue Whedon added to lighten things up. Some of the changes were missed (Superman felt more like the classic, Christopher Reeve version in the original cut) but the sexual innuendo, needless jokes and the overall dumbing down of Aquaman were not. Marvel has a lighter tone and jokes and it works for them, but they can get dark when they need to. Likewise, Snyder’s cut can contain heart and jokes when it needs to. There are still plenty of jokes here. A lot of The Flash’s lines are kept intact, Arthur still gets some good lines and even Batman has lightened up a little. But it doesn’t feel nearly as out of place as it did.

The film also contains a lot of honestly, great shots and a more thrilling final battle than the mess that was in the original version. And it needs to be said, while Steppenwolf is still a terrible villain, having his actions influenced more directly by Darkseid at least acknowledges that he’s not supposed to be the villain. That helps the stakes, because he was one of the worst parts of the original version. Here he’s tolerable because of the bigger threat he poses. Somehow changes in dialogue and a few more visuals were able to do that.

Is Zack Snyder’s Justice League perfect? No. Is it an epic, all-time classic? Also no. But it’s a very solid movie, one that maybe runs way too long but still has a lot of enjoyable content within. It’s not just a different cut of the movie, it’s an entirely different film on its own. While we may not get any sequels (we’ll see how long everyone sticks to their guns on that), it’s nice that a movie like this is allowed to exist and directors are able to complete the movie they want to complete.

7.0
The final score: review Good
The 411
After all the hype, Zack Snyder's Justice League turns out to be a worthwhile experience. It's far too long, has pacing issues and is very self-indulgent at times, but it's also a movie with heart, strongly-developed characters and a more fitting story for the biggest team-up in DC movie history. Whatever the future holds for the DCEU, this movie is definitely in the upper echelon of that series.
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