Review: Zack Snyder’s Justice League

A poster for Justice League, featuring (from left to right) The Flash, Superman, Cyclops, Wonder Woman, Batman and Aquaman. Ant Man 3001

Worth the wait?

Like slipping back into an old comfortable sweater, I once again get the chance to review and critique what the latest and… well, the latest film has to offer, anyway.

This time around, even though the title has already given it away, I’ll be looking at the four-year-long hypebeast that is Zack Snyder’s Justice League. A movie that originally suffered from a clashing of tone and directorial style, Zack Snyder’s Justice League (referred to as “The Snyder Cut”) is the remake, or reboot, or retelling, or restructuring, or reimaging of the original 2017 film. Now, after having finally seen the four-hour-long film, it’s time to look at its improvements and its shortcomings.

First off: It was worth the wait.

I’ll admit, I was sceptical about whether this was going to be just another over-hyped piece of media that fell short of people’s expectations. But there are definitely improvements to the original film and it was a welcome finale to the DC Snyder trilogy (made up of Man of Steel and Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice) So, that being said, let’s dive into the positives.

On the sunny side of things, the characters Cyborg (played by Ray Fisher) and the Flash (played by Ezra Miller) get their due. Cyborg really comes into his own in this film, and kind of makes the movie his own as well. Throughout the Snyder Cut, Cyborg has to deal with the strenuous relationship between him and his father, coming to terms with who he is, and how with great power comes great responsibility (not even a joke). Everything that Cyborg goes through develops his personality to great effect and makes him just that much more relatable as a character.

Additionally, the Flash goes beyond the role of comedic relief that he had in the 2017 movie and actually has significant depth. On top of going through his own emotional struggle with his father (who is imprisoned for a crime he didn’t commit), the Flash also has to deal with a crisis of self-worth. The Flash, throughout most of the Snyder Cut, doesn’t really do things for himself, instead pursuing life in a way that he feels will either help his father or that his father would approve of. It isn’t until things hit the fan that the Flash really starts to understand that his path is his to forge. Granted, he still helps his father, but it’s with a newfound sense of pride.
I will also say that Steppenwolf (the antagonist, played by Ciarán Hinds) was more fleshed out as a villain this time around, and I really appreciated that. Too many times in comic book movies are we greeted to the tired old plot of “villain wants to destroy everything because destiny” or some crap. Instead, Steppenwolf is actually a villain who fears failure. Not because he feels he can’t lose or because he is the strongest or whatever the reasoning of the generic villain is – but because he, like members of the Justice League, also seeks to prove himself to his master and wishes to be seen as worthy. It is this reasoning that makes Steppenwolf a good antagonist. It is also probably the reason why Darksied (who’s in a couple of scenes), whenever he comes around, will probably be massively disappointing.

Moving away from the characters and into tech stuff, other positives fall under the coherent editing of the film and the Snyder-esqe visuals. Granted, it is 4 hours long. You give anybody that amount of time and their film better be coherent. But looking back at the 2017 film, everything just moved so fast and there were so many weird cuts that made the whole thing a jumbled mess. As well, as I mentioned earlier, the visuals just scream Zack Snyder and really help to set the darker tone that the film is going for. All in all: good work there, Mr. Snyder.

However, while Cyborg, the Flash, and Steppenwolf are the bright spots within the Snyder Cut, there are noteworthy aspects of the film that bring it back down to Earth. First and foremost: Aquaman. Now don’t get me wrong, Jason Momoa plays Aquaman quite well. But at the end of the day (and the film), he’s just kinda there. Aquaman pretty much exists as the comedic relief for the film and doesn’t really contribute anything of any significant value other than “hey, we need Aquaman on the Justice League or it isn’t a Justice League movie.” There is a subplot, but it hardly matters.

Speaking of comic relief, the blending of comedy and drama in this film is really jarring. Like, you can tell Snyder is more about drama than humour. Whenever one of the characters cracked a joke, I more or less had the reaction of “wait, there’s comedy in this movie?” It was just kind of surreal, especially after having gotten used to the overly serious and brooding tone of the first two movies in the DC Snyder trilogy. I suppose I was just expecting way more brood. The significant lack of brood was pretty disappointing, honestly.

Of course, when Superman (Henry Cavill) came back, I was thrilled. Not because he was a good addition to the film – far from it; he’s way too overpowered and completely removes any sense of threat once he’s on screen (but I digress) – but his arrival meant getting to see the most brooding character in Snyder’s trilogy brood once more (okay, I’ll stop saying brood now). Superman is rarely ever happy in the previous two films of the trilogy, and that continues to be the case in this film. And here’s the thing: he’s just more engaging when he’s sad. A happy-go-lucky Superman just isn’t interesting because “oh, he’s Superman, and he can do the thing because he’s Superman.” So, to sum up, props to the Snyder Cut for sad Superman, but the film still had the problem of him solving too many problems.

As a side note, Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot) and Batman (Ben Affleck) are good in the film. I mean, they’re pretty much like Aquaman in that they’re just kind of there, but different from Aquaman because they actually move the story forward. So… that’s pretty neat.

Anyways, characters aside, we need to talk about how this film is way too bloated –waaaaaaay too bloated. There’s way too much going on, and while a lot of it is interesting, some of it just doesn’t matter, like, at all. Take, for example, the Joker scene: The Snyder Cut has one added scene that features the Joker and it’s… sure there. It sure does exist in this film that we are watching. Does it add anything? Does it mean anything? No, not really. The same goes for the added Darksied footage. It exists as if to say “boy howdy, I sure do love sequels, don’t you?”. Plus, much like the 2017 film, the Commissioner Gordon scene just doesn’t need to be there. There’s so much added material that takes away from the actual narrative that plays out. This film could’ve been 3 hours easy, but c’est la vie, I suppose.

All in all, Zack Snyder’s Justice League has enough new elements to be considered slick and stylish, surpassing the 2017 film. Better? Certainly. Worth a four-year wait? Definitely.

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