Thursday, 18 March 2021

Zack Snyder's Justice League (Movie Review)

The moment DC fans have been waiting for is finally here, again. Zack Snyder's cut of the previously-released Justice League makes its debut on HBO Max today. The fact that the film opens with a message from Zack Snyder himself reinforces the long and troubled road that has led to the movie's eventual release. And now that it is here, the unavoidable comparisons with the theatrical cut of the movie begin.

On the surface, Zack Snyder's Justice League is an alternative take on the formation of the DC superhero team. But by and large, this is the same core movie we got back in 2017, with Bruce Wayne traveling the world in an effort to put together a team of metahumans to stop the threat he had seen in a vision in Batman v Superman

That threat would once again materialize in the form of Steppenwolf and his army of parademons, who are still out searching for the three mother boxes, and Superman is still dead and not even seen for the bulk of the movie. That's all you need to know about the movie's story really, that it is largely unchanged aside from some fleshed-out backstories and a few surprises here and there.

The biggest difference then comes in the form of its length and overall style. There's plenty of Zack Snyder's signature flair for slow-motion sequences, some of which call back to his work on the visually-stunning 300. The movie also has a darker tone more in line with previous DCEU entries, as well as boasts an R-rating, which is immediately evident in its violent action scenes.

Some of the newer stuff doesn't quite match up with existing VFX shots though. I suspect that has more to do with the time between both cuts of the movie than anything else. There is also the issue of the movie's overall length, which starts to border on the edge of over-indulgent before long. But considering that my biggest criticism for the theatrical version was the fact that several key characters felt underdeveloped, the additional footage here brings some much-needed context.

This was especially true of Aquaman and Cyborg, with the latter in particular feeling more integral to the overall story this time around. You could really get a better sense of where both characters were coming from, making their initial reluctance to join the Justice League all the more understandable. Flash also got to shine with more extended action scenes, and the character was still responsible for much of this version's comic relief.

Another character that really benefited from the extended footage was Steppenwolf. He was not only depicted as a far more formidable foe than his depiction in the theatrical version, he was also given a fully fleshed-out backstory and a clear-cut motive. His desire to get back into the good graces of Darkseid meant we finally understood why he was so desperate to get the mother boxes, allowing me to even sympathize with him in a way that was impossible in the previous version.

And speaking of Darkseid, the DC villain was indeed in more scenes than I'd expected, but I can still see why he was ultimately cut from the theatrical version. He didn't really add much to the story, other than in an extended flashback sequence that helped establish the origin of the mother boxes. A part of me suspects he was merely included here to give hints of a potential sequel that may never see the light of day. But if the release of the Snyder Cut has taught me one thing, it is to never say never.

Zack Snyder's Justice League seems almost tailor-made for fans of the DCEU. It delivers its promise of a more coherent story, as well as a vision that was consistent with the director's two previous films. So the fact that it also manages to surpass that other version in several ways shouldn't really come as a surprise. And while it is quite unlikely that its release would prompt any shifts in plans for future movies, I am still glad that it exists and would gladly recommend it to fans and critics of the DCEU alike.

6 comments:

  1. I'm looking forward to starting it tonight!
    It is overlong, but I like that characters get more screen time. I knew it would be darker - that's just what Snyder does, although it's gained him some criticism.
    The theatrical version felt like a comic book come to life, so this DC fan is really excited to see more of that.

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    1. Cool. This one definitely felt even more like the conclusion to an epic comic book run, so you're in for a treat. 🙂

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    1. Thanks. You should totally check it out as well, if you haven't already.

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    2. I’m eager to watch it. Less so having to sign up for a service for one thing. Not interested in scamming a trial period for a viewing. So hopefully it gets released on home video. Probably will?

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    3. Ah. I see. Yeah. I think there are rumors of a 4K Blu-ray sometime down the line, so fingers crossed.

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