REVIEW: Zack Snyder's Justice League

This feels kind of surreal. Even after seeing the film with my own eyes. This isn’t a regular director’s cut where a handful of minutes are added to a movie that might change your perception on a scene or character. I can’t even really compare it to “Dawn of Justice”, where the Ultimate Cut extended the film by half an hour and significantly improved certain parts. In 2017, we got a film that was marketed as a Snyder film but was really a Whedon film. After he took the footage already filmed, did extensive reshoots of his own that really dominated the theatrical cut, and created something that completely clashed with the tone and style of the previous connected films. Now in 2021 - after a truly unique fan movement and support from the original filmmaker himself - we have probably more than what we should have gotten in 2017. Basically, this isn’t a normal review, but more of a list of the most major differences between the two versions.

Let’s start on the technical aspect, mainly the special effects. There are a couple of background green screens that do kind of stand out a bit. But I didn’t find it distracting or that bad. As for the CGI used for certain characters and action. For the most part, it is convincing enough. And even when it doesn’t quite look one hundred percent there, it looks cool enough that I can still dig it. And considering the post production for this happened during quarantine, it is better than what I thought.

Oh, and FYI, the action looks better. Looks cool and the experience feels fun.

Now let’s look at characters. The Flash’s humor is still there, but wisely toned down and works tonally with the rest of the film. Thank God that Wonder Woman was treated with the respect she deserves. Meaning there was no shot where Barry fell on top of her for a sex joke. No awkward humor from Batman. He is different, but for the right reasons. His character is trying to change in order to help protect the world. It is a big transition for him, but he is still fundamentally the same. And, of course, VICTOR STONE IS AN ACTUAL CHARACTER! He was barely there in the theatrical version. But now, we get a good understanding of his family dynamic. We understand the conflict between him and his father. There is genuine emotion in his performance and arc. And we actually get to see his mom! Arthur does feel better as a character. Like he does now have some sort of established connection with the others. Kind of hard to explain, but if you compare the two movie versions then hopefully you know what I mean.

And as for Steppenwolf…well s***. Not only does he look genuinely cool and is a badass fighter, but he feels like an intimidating threat. And he does have a backstory that makes me understand him more. I’m not saying he is the most complex villain, but he is light years above what he was in the 2017 cut. And I do like how even though his backstory isn’t spelled out, you get enough to put the pieces together. I like it when a movie does that with their villains, or really any character that is morally conflicted or that like. It forces you to think about them and to explore more about them. Helps keep you engaged.

Finally, let’s talk about story & pacing. Don’t worry, I’m not going to explain the story to you. But I want to explain why the way this version presents it is better than the 2017 version. When Whedon was forced to cut down the film, it felt like a generic superhero movie. I get he was asked to do with the movie what he did with the Avengers, and there are times when his style and strengths work great in other films. But he needs to be able to make the movie from the ground up. In this scenario, he was given a bunch of footage to work with. And he still felt the need to do a lot of reshoots to force in his own style. I get the thought process once you consider the studio’s requests, but it doesn’t create a film that satisfies the fans of the previous Snyder films, or a film that stands out in general. NOW, that brings me to the main difference in story presentation. In Snyder’s film…there is weight to the story. You feel the stakes and understand why this is important. I never really questioned why someone was doing this, or why this action needs to be taken. I was able to follow the logic and feel the emotional aspect of everything clearly. And I feel this is connected to a strength of Snyder I don’t think I ever connected with before. When he can do longer movies, it does help flesh out his characters. It helps to show the epic size of the world and story. And to be honest, this film reminds me why I look up the Justice League in general. Regardless if it is form the comics or the animated shows I watched while growing up. Every member of the team is there for a reason. These are people that will go up against huge terrifying threats. And remember that history lesson that Diana talks about to explain how everyone came together to fight Darkseid? It feels so much like something I would read from a comic story. In terms of size, importance of the threat, and how the people of Earth at that time responded. (BTW, I enjoyed Desaad and really got into Darkseid for the little time he had in the film.) Yes, four hours is a long running time for a movie. But it does feel a little shorter than that. Yes, the way it ends is slightly awkward because chances are we will never get a follow up. But it was great to see the Martian Manhunter. Part of me thinks there might have been a way to make it even just a little bit slower. But I can’t really fully commit to that idea either.

Here is the sum up. Is the Snyder Cut a perfect film? Of course not. Is it significantly better that the 2017 version? Hell yea! Is it a genuinely good movie on it’s own, without comparing it to Whedon’s version? I personally think so. But let’s open up the comments to discussion.