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Film Review: ‘Zack Snyder’s Justice League’ Finally Shows Us the Epic Snyder Cut

HBO Max

It exists and I have seen it. The Snyder Cut is no longer a myth. Yes, Zack Snyder’s Justice League is days away from hitting HBO Max and the embargo has lifted. So, how is it? Well, it’s a bit complicated. Taken on its own, Zack Snyder‘s epic is bloated, overly serious, and somewhat of a mixed bag. However, when you consider what Joss Whedon had done with Justice League when he took over from Snyder, the improvement is palpable. Snyder and his producer/wife Deborah Snyder not only got to come rescue their baby in the shadow of tragedy, but they did manage to give fans what they wanted. That alone is worthy of some acclaim and respect, even before you consider the worthiness of this film.

Zack Snyder’s Justice League is still a shaggy dog, but it’s one with a coherent vision at its core. That really does count for something. The movie takes far too long to get where its going, almost trying to be individual short films for most of its heroes, but it does build to something effective. Plus, improved CGI, as well as a better tone, help make this a surprisingly smooth ride, bumps and all.

For those wondering, I was fairly indifferent to Justice League. I personally preferred the flawed yet ambitious take that was Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. Frankly, Man of Steel remains the best of the Snyder lot. So, this does slot in as a middle of the road DC superhero movie (clearly above Suicide Squad and Wonder Woman 1984, as well as a bit above Aquaman, but below the above mentioned flicks, alongside Shazam and Wonder Woman). That’s just me. Your mileage may vary.

HBO Max

The plot is largely the same, just stretched out to a shade over four hours. So, there’s no point in rehashing the beats too much. Anyone reading this knows that it concerns Bruce Wayne/Batman (Ben Affleck) bringing together heroes, in the aftermath of the death of Superman (Henry Cavill). His fears prove prescient, as Steppenwolf (Ciarán Hinds) arrives to steal Earth’s Mother Boxes. So, Batman stands with Diana Prince/Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot), while recruiting Barry Allen/The Flash (Ezra Miller), Arthur Curry/Aquaman (Jason Momoa), and Victor Stone/Cyborg (Ray Fisher) to the cause.

Of course, what follows is a ton of action, as well as numerous hints at where Justice League 2 was planning to go. Interestingly, for something highly unlikely to generate a sequel, it never feels distracting. In fact, the ending winds up being legitimately one of the film’s best moments.

HBO Max

The performances remain more or less identical, albeit with less resignation on every face. That being said, the new footage featuring Ben Affleck showcase a Batman/Bruce Wayne that we’d have been lucky to have had. He’s comfortable in both skins, as well as obviously now in a better place in his life. The main group of Affleck, Henry Cavill, Ray Fisher, Gal Gadot, Ezra Miller, and Jason Momoa fill their roles well, though they do still feel cobbles together as a group. Returning players here, often with expanded roles, include the likes of Amy Adams, Billy Crudup, Willem Dafoe, Jesse Eisenberg, Amber Heard, Jeremy Irons, Diane Lane, Harry Lennix, Joe Morton, Connie Nielsen, J.K. Simmons, Robin Wright, plus even Joe Manganiello. Restored with a tiny role is Kiersey Clemons, but then there’s Jared Leto, the main addition. The less revealed about his scene, the better, but it’s actually pretty good.

Zack Snyder remains his own worst enemy at times here. However, the good does outweigh the bad. It’s just fascinating to watch a movie that completely disregards pacing. For example, when Bruce Wayne goes to meet Barry Allen, what was originally 15 or 20 minutes in now occurs 91 minutes into the Snyder Cut. Essentially, you need to just forget about pacing. Snyder does eliminate all of the worst parts of Justice League, which seemingly were Whedon’s ideas. Two new moments stand out, but the whole final product just feels like something that makes sense, especially as a Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice sequel.

A note about the fan push to have this film even exist. It’s great that fandom can bring things back from the dead, but how they go about it matters. In this instance, the latter left much to be desired. Hopefully as things continue in this direction, passionate fans can manage to advocate for what they love, while removing the hate and vitriol from the equation that proves so toxic on social media.

Zack Snyder’s Justice League is a curiosity of the first order. Even if it wasn’t a worthwhile film (and it is), it would be impressive to witness what producer Snyder and director Snyder pulled off, rescuing his vision from an originally inglorious fate. So, if you’re already a fan, this is a true event. If you’re not, this likely has no interest for you. In that way, the die is already cast here. Regardless, seeing this version of the movie definitely scratches an itch, and we can use that these days, to be sure.

SCORE: ★★★

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Written by Joey Magidson

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