Zack Snyder’s Justice League (2021) Review

A Superhero Movie With Bonus Angst

Zack Snyder's Justice League (2021) Review 2
Zack Snyder's Justice League (2021) Review 1

Zack Snyder's Justice League (2021)

Zack Snyder’s Justice League has been surrounded by hype — both good and bad — since it was first announced last year. Looking into its predecessor, Justice League 2017, I didn’t have much hope for this movie. With a 40% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, I expected to be bored at best in a re-cut of the same movie, now at more than twice the length. I’m writing this review not from a fan perspective, not from a movie buff perspective, but just your average viewer. I can’t argue inaccuracies in story lines or fight about which Batman is best (okay, but it definitely ISN’T Ben Affleck).  I can attest to how the movie made me feel, how it looked, and honestly, if it lived up to its hype.

For any newer fans — like myself — Zack Snyder’s Justice League follows popular DC Heroes Batman, Wonder Woman, The Flash, Cyborg, Aquaman and Superman in a long-drawn-out mission to save the world from Parademons, Steppenwolf and the big-bad, Darkseid. The second cut of the Justice League film gives us more backstory on each of our heroes, especially the less mainstream ones like Cyborg. With a darker tone, we see our heroes fight on various planes to protect Earth from other worldly threats.

I made sure to watch the film with my DC-fan friends — I wanted to make sure to take note of parts that were improved upon, brand new, or desperately broken. For the most part there were positive reactions all around. I did see the theatrical cut of Justice League, but as an average viewer it didn’t have much impact, and I wanted to go into this cut with fresh eyes, not tainted by the previous version. The biggest complaint that came out of the group were scenes that lingered entirely too long. 

Zack Snyder'S Justice League (2021) Review 2
Zack Snyder’s Justice League (2021) – HBO Max

One of the most unnecessary drawn-out scenes was the introduction of The Flash. He shows up in a scene full of his usual quirky chaos that wasn’t shown in the first cut. Unfortunately I found the scene messy and lacking purpose. Yes we get a chance to get to know his character, but there was an entire “speed-force” sequence that I found slow in both story and speed, and to be frank, a little creepy. Because I have some knowledge of The Flash’s backstory from the DC TV Show I understood who else was hinted at in the scene, but to anyone unaware, the story had little to do with the film. The events in the scene aren’t touched on again and though I understand the purpose of the “Snyder Cut”, I think scenes like this were unnecessary and just added to the overwhelming run time.

Not unlike the original cut of Justice League, Zack Snyder’s Justice League is visually stunning, which leaves any little imperfections easy to spot. It astounds me that they can bring entire space environments to life and make them believable, but watching a Mercedes drive down the street looks like college quality CGI. Just let Affleck drive the fancy car! The third quarter of the film has gorgeous graphics that really pull you into the sequence, The Flash’s abilities give great opportunity for cheesy lightning and acting, but the Snyder Cut made sure each major scene had quality effects to bring it to life.

Zack Snyder'S Justice League (2021) Review 3
Zack Snyder’s Justice League (2021) – HBO Max

Probably the most notable difference between the two cuts — without revealing spoilers at least — was the overall tone of Zack Snyder’s Justice League. The original cut threw in ample humour to keep fans upbeat and engaged. Though this film still carries some laughs, mainly at the hands of the flash, the main theme of the movie is angst and personal turmoil. We are faced with scenes that give insight into who the heroes are and what they’ve overcome and what they will face if they’re plan fails — it’s not a feel good story. So though the story is quality, it’s heavy, and leaves you feeling weighed down after four hours in the dark.

The last quarter of the movie seems mostly pieced together, almost like they stretched out the first three hours, and then threw the rest of the scraps together to close it up. Character’s we haven’t seen more than a glimpse of appear and disappear and no one seems to mind. Two of our quick introductions originally appeared in the after-credits scenes from the original cut, Lex Luthor and Deathstroke. Firstly, I refuse to get behind Jesse Eisenberg as Luthor. Though I know this has nothing to do with this cut specifically, it just needed to be said. I just cannot accept him as a powerful mastermind of a man, more so a whiny teenager. Now that I’ve gotten that off my chest, Joe Manganiello could have been an excellent Deathstroke. It really seems like a waste of these actors to throw them in big name roles with very little to do with anything. I realize the we don’t know exactly what’s to come for the DCEU, so maybe we will see them again later on, but for now, I wish we could see more of his take on the role. I’ll have to suffice with listening to Manganiello talk Marvel instead.

Zack Snyder’s Justice League managed to, mostly, keep my attention for a solid four hours. I’m rarely seen sitting still for four minutes, so that speaks to the quality of the film as a whole. Occasionally I found myself mocking the Batman that can’t use his neck, or Wonder Woman’s “serious face”, but the story was compelling and the visuals kept me watching. I will always stick to my guns and fight about DC TV shows being better than DC Movies, but after going into the movie mostly dreading the length of it alone, I came out on the other side pleasantly surprised —  and horribly depressed.  

Zack Snyder dedicated the film to his late daughter Autumn who tragically passed during the filming of the first cut. Snyder returned to make the movie he envisioned, a lovely tribute to his daughter gone too soon. I recommend anyone who has seen the first cut of the film give the 4-hour Snyder Cut of Justice League a try, even if it’s only once.

Final Thoughts

Dayna Eileen
Dayna Eileen

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