Back In Black: Zack Snyder's Justice League (2021) - Reviewed

images courtesy WB

After the sad and untimely passing of his teenage daughter, director Zack Snyder departed his long awaited Justice League film to mourn his loss. 

A misaligned and miscalculated executive decision was made. Joss Whedon stepped in to take over the overdue and overextended project. Unfortunately he lacked the devotion and creative will to make something that fans could latch on to. It ended up being one of the biggest critical failures in comic book movie history. Cutting out the core elements of Snyder's vision for the DC team-up, audiences were given a shortened superhero episode that clocked in around two hours. Tons of footage was left on the cutting room floor. A small mustache became a big problem. And his creatively lackluster final release rushed the story and lacked any real semblance of the heroes we know and love. 

Whedon's film went through numerous re-shoots, re-edits and studio toiling that hampered a final product that ended up being a massive financial loss for Warner Bros. and the franchise they were attempting to build. Several years later Zack Snyder is back with his newly assembled rendition of the film that reportedly cost an additional $75 million to complete. The result is a four hour mega-jaunt through the extended DC universe that finally gives some hardcore back story and respect to the classic lineup. This is not just a new cut of Justice League. The Snyder Cut is a brand new film that only uses some of the big visual effects shots from Whedon's theatrical version interspersed with reels and reels of unseen footage. 

"We're big tippers even for carry out."

This is in fact a completely changed movie that will hopefully reignite DC's dedication to these cast members. It's great to see Affleck back in the cape and cowl. Gal Gadot continues to deliver as Wonder Woman. Henry Cavill infuses his very own charm back into Superman. Momoa continues to shine in his own right as Aquaman. Ray Fisher is given much more (needed) space to stretch out and dedicate to Cyborg. And Ezra Miller's boyish charm simply ignites the screen. At long last we get to see what could have been and what should be.  

And we're finally introduced to heroes that get their first live action film iteration. Adding to the pile of positives is the totally unhinged version of the Joker which sees Jared Leto amalgamate the differing personas of Ledger, Nicholson and Phoenix. He may not be loved. But this Joker does his damnedest to repeal the "damage" done. 

With unreleased scenery that cuts out and adds extensively to the story of heroes versus classic villains like Steppenwolf and Darkseid, it's easy to say that WB made the right decision in allowing this to move forward. As a release on HBO Max, folks will be able to comfortably endure the epic run time of four hours and can view it as chapters if they choose to. However, said excessive run time fully works in its favor due to the expanded plot and Snyder's devotion to righting the ship. 

The pacing is nearly perfect and never feels forced, overlong, or contrived. The Snyder Cut takes time to build. There are details we never got before. It's dynamic, giving viewers little doses of action, then sliding away into much needed exposition that brings us closer to knowing the many struggles of being a superhuman. Is it easier to slip into obscurity or to become the hero the world needs? Snyder continues to deliver on thematic elements he started with Man of Steel which in turn makes his movies seem to fit cohesively as one large segment of the DC film catalog.  

Where Snyder tumbled with his first version of Batman v. Superman he absolutely succeeds with this extended look at a hero's return to life, the results of alien invasion and all out war. The sad reality is that some of the CGI work still remains lackluster at best. Action scenes are a blur at times and some of the rendered beings lack the same detail they did way back in the good old days of 2017. But the music really ties things together as a whole. Bringing back many of the themes and musical cues from Man of Steel, Wonder Woman, and BvS adds a nice flavor that helps move the story along as it interconnects nearly all the films in this universe. 

The internet will definitely be at war over Zack Snyder's Justice League. The discourse will be fueled by thousands of differing opinions. And that's okay. We all deserve to use our voice on social media. No one has to agree. But, if you're a fan of his Watchmen or BvS: Ultimate Edition, you will one hundred percent fall in love with this HBO Max release. Don't wait on this. See it now. This is the first event film of 2021 and you can watch it at home.