2017’s Justice League is a film that was full of confusion and contrives. Midway through production, Director Zack Snyder stepped away after tragic event that took place in his family. Movie executives decided to do something controversial. They brought in a different director to finish out what Zack has begun. Enter Joss Whedon. Now Joss is a very talented director, but it doesn’t take much examination of these two’s film libraries to see that they have drastically different styles. The final product was a bit of a mess and in the view of many fans was the death of the DC Cinematic Universe. But then rumors began to spread of a Zach Snyder Cut of the film. Over the last several years, #ReleaseTheSnyderCut had trended multiple times.
Now, Thursday, March 18, 2021; fans have received what they have been asking for, Zack Snyder’s Justice League. The question becomes, “will this be what fans have truly wanted?” Today we are going to take a look at Zack Snyder’s Justice League and ask the question, “is it worth watching?” Now for the purposes of this review, we will attempt to judge this film as its own entity. This will be difficult to do; but I want to try and approach this fairly, as if this was the version of Justice League that we received in 2017.
This film picks in the months following the death of Superman in the previous film, Batman V Superman. Here Bruce Wayne/Batman (Played by Ben Affleck) is on a hunt to bring together a band of powered individuals who will be ready to defend earth from an unknown force that is approaching. Working with Diana Prince/Wonder Woman (played by Gal Gadot), they track down three special individuals; Barry Allen/The Flash, Arthur Curry/Aquaman, and Victor Stone/Cyborg. (Played by Ezra Miller, Jason Momoa, and Ray Fisher). Over a series of story arc lasting 4 hours. This group of super powered strangers have to overcome a variety of personal struggles to work together so that they can defend earth from Steppenwolf.
While they work out their own issues; Steppenwolf is on a hunt of his own. In order to restore his honor and come back in good graces with Darkseid, he seeks the mythical mother boxes in hopes of ushering Darkseid’s army unto earth. But while doing so he discovers an even darker secret hidden on earth that he knows will make his dark lord very happy and will certainly restore his position.
What is surprising, is that the four-hour runtime works in the favor of this film. The run time allows breathing room for each character to grow and develop. Over the various chapters you grow to understand your established characters better while obtaining a great footing for the mindsets and qualities of new ones introduced. The question now becomes, do we like these versions? Honestly, I believe that Affleck’s Batman benefits from this film as he works through his own redemption arc. Wonder Woman also becomes more solidified as a team lead. Both of their characters shine, but they don’t over shadow the rest of the cast which I appreciated.
I enjoyed the awkward humor of Ezra Miller’s version of the flash. The film does a decent job of giving you some background in the mindset of the character while also allowing him to slide in as the awkward kid like team member. Something that this brooding team needed. Jason Momoa’s Aquaman was every bit as cool as he could be, but they don’t go terribly much into his back story. You could tell that this was written with the mindset that he would be getting his own film shortly afterwards.
One of the things that film producers took pride in was the fact that Ray Fisher’s Cyborg was going to be more out in front. The original idea was for him to be “the emotional heart of the film.” Emotional is a good term because Cyborg is very emotional. Some portions were spot on and very well done. But I feel like they leaned into this ‘emotional heart’ aspect a bit too much. There were times where, sadly, his character was just annoying. The actor himself did a great job, but I feel like the script was a bit to heavy on this one aspect. That said, he is the singular character, in my opinion, that you get a full character arc. You could almost have called this “Cyborg and the Justice League” because of how heavy they leaned on Cyborg.
One of the biggest things that need be addressed is the 4:3 aspect ratio. This has been a bit strange for many views. We have been in an age of wide screen home viewing for so long, that many under the age of 20 may have a hard time remembering “square” tvs. So why was this done? According to several sources; when Snyder originally planned out this film, it was meant for an IMAX experience that due to it’s epic view; many don’t realize that it’s in a 4:3 ratio. When planning out his shots, he was very particular about what would be and what would not be seen. Due to this, they decided that it would be best to keep it in the 4:3 ratio to keep the artistic integrity. But is this a problem? Honestly; once you’re about 20 minutes into the film you forget all about it.
Moving on to the rest of the cinematic experience; this film is full of action and drama. The action scenes were well choreographed and kept the action moving. There were times, however, where some of these scenes became a bit rubbery due to certain special effects. Those who watched Wonder Woman 84 may notice some familiar rubber like animation.
The soundscape of the film was interesting. They did a great job of scoring action and dramatic scenes. What I found most interesting were some longer, almost music video-isk, scenes in the first act of the movie. Snyder and his team really seemed to lean into the idea of making this a more artistic film at times than just a straight action film.
When they first announced the rating for the film there were some questions raised. After all, where are now living in post Deadpool and Logan world. Many were concerned that there would be needless sexuality or excessive language. You do have some brief uses of H***, D***, GD, and A**. The F-bomb is dropped a few times one of which is nearly inaudible. There was virtually next to no sexuality in the film. The Amazonian women did wear tighter outfits that revealed skin, but in all honestly their attire was more covering than what you’d see at a local swimming pool. So why the R-Rating? The action and violence. There are several times where you see blood splatter and some more intense scenes simply because the villains of the story are pretty scary looking.
If I were to stand Zack Snyder’s Justice League up for rating on its own merit, I’d give it a 5 out of 5. It really was a great film to watch. I’d advice viewers to try and not have the original version in your mind when you go to see this film. Experience it as if it was the only version so that you can truly appreciate it. I’d also warn you that there’s a lot of elements and story that takes place that is never seen or even suggested in the original version.