After years of fans rallying against Warner Bros. for the original cut of ‘Justice League’, the day has finally come when that wish will be granted. HBO Max, WarnerMedia’s gigantic new streaming service, is giving fans four hours of pure, unfiltered Zack Snyder superhero content, and, despite the divisiveness of his previous movies, Zack Snyder bombastically fulfills on everything he promised this movie would be and then some.
Director Zack Snyder is known for his unapologetic forays into the world of comic book movies, starting with an adaptation of Frank Miller’s 300 in 2008 and culminating with Justice League. Over the course of 13 years, Snyder has continually improved on his ability to make strikingly engrossing films, so engrossing that he developed a cult following devoted to his DC movies and overall career. Zack Snyder’s Justice League is no exception to this. It is Snyder at his best. To be able to structure a coherent 4-hour film that makes one not want to look away from the screen is a powerful ability and speaks volumes about how, despite elements that don’t always work, he can make almost every idea work on some level.
The chemistry between the main cast members is one of the best parts of the film. Over the course of the 4-hour movie there are dozens of little moments between various Justice League members, and those are some of the most memorable parts. Particularly between Jason Momoa (Aquaman) and Ezra Miller (Flash), with Ben Affleck’s Batman and Gal Gadot’s Diana playing incredibly well off of everyone else. Affleck and Jared Leto (Joker) share one of the best scenes in the movie, a scene that will leave fans wanting to see more of this incarnation of the Caped Crusader and Clown Prince of Crime together. Jeremy Irons also once again steals the show as Bruce Wayne’s butler, Alfred. While not the father/son relationship that was billed at the heart of the movie, scenes with Miller’s Flash visiting his incarcerated father, played by Billy Crudup, were some of the most emotional in the film. With just a few scenes, it was clear their relationship is one filled with love but burdened with complexity that neither could discuss in full.
Snyder has never disappointed with his villains, and Steppenwolf is no exception. While the character is a lackey for the real threat, Steppenwolf always feels like a legitimate threat. His design was also terrific, the way his armor organically shifted and reflected purple in light, so much detail went into making him look perfect. The visual effects work was nothing short of incredible. In many scenes, Cyborg looked almost real. The Apokoliptan technology also looked very realistic and detailed. The Flash’s super-speed – showcased in two different ways – looked fantastic. Miller’s running looked more natural than it previously, and seeing the way he moved while everything around him slowed down was ridiculously cool to watch.
Tom Holkenborg, aka JunkieXL, outdid himself with the score. Every instrumental sound perfectly matched the tone of what was happening on screen. The music provided a sense of gravitas that was completely absent in the theatrical rendition of the film.
No film is without its flaws, but Snyder does so much right in this movie that it is unfortunate that these need to be discussed.
Ray Fisher’s Cyborg was billed as the heart of the film, but a rather wooden performance from Fisher didn’t sell it well. Cyborg worked more as a plot device than an actual character, but in this case that isn’t a bad thing, because it means we didn’t have to see more of Fisher acting than we already did. Fisher also had no chemistry with his father (Joe Morton) and, given that relationship was meant to be the emotional core of Cyborg’s arc, this was a major issue.
Henry Cavill returned once again as Superman, and continued to disappoint. Like Fisher, Cavill had no charisma or personality. His Superman works best when conflicted about his humanity, as seen in Snyder’s previous DC film, Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice, but when he has to play the hopeful and returned Superman, he misses the mark.
One thing that is very lacking in the movie is Aquaman. While the Trinity had the most screen time, and Flash and Cyborg were integral to the plot, Aquaman just sort of hung out and did badass stuff and said funny lines here and there. There was certainly room in the 4-hour runtime to include more of Momoa’s fantastic take on the character.
…And The Snyder
For the time being, Zack Snyder’s Justice marks the end of the director’s involvement with DC films, thereby concluding his set of films, which consists of Man of Steel, Batman v. Superman, and Justice League. This film is the perfect conclusion to that arc.
Man of Steel, which introduced audiences to a modern-day, Superman was a great jumping-off point for a new universe. Following it up with Batman v. Superman seemed like a half-cooked idea to get to a Marvel-type universe as quickly as possible, but that didn’t stop Snyder from making an incredible comic book movie out of it. Being able to see the world’s reaction to a figure like Superman, a world that also includes Batman, was a genius idea and made the transition to Justice League much smoother than traditional solo movies would have done.
Zack Snyder’s Justice League does a terrific job of establishing the wider DC Universe and making each character have a distinct personality and visual style. Whereas Batman v. Superman was a very character driven film, Justice League is much more story driven. Snyder doesn’t have to continue playing in the DC world post-Snyder-cut, but it sure would be a blast to see him do so.
Zack Snyder’s Justice League is set to be released on HBO Max on March 18, 2021. The Blu-Ray version of this cut of the film is set to release on the 25th of May, 2021.