Like most people I was terribly disappointed in 2017’s Justice League so I was happy to see an alternative version of the film being made available as I always found the Donner Cut of Superman II to be an interesting take on what could have been and I viewed Zack Snyder’s Justice League in a similar light – it’ll be nice to see what could have been.
If you’re looking for a step by step guide as to how we even got to Zack Snyder’s Justice League, this review isn’t for you. This is purely a review of the film itself and how it holds up as a piece of cinema.
The first thing I need to address about Zack Snyder’s Justice League is the runtime. The film clocks in at a whopping 4hrs, which in opinion, is about an hour longer than it should have been. The film feels bloated and while I do appreciate a lot of the smaller character moments and the stunning cinematography that Zack Snyder has given us here, it does feel a little self indulgent and I think a few cuts here and there to trim that fat could have helped to shape this into a much tighter film.
Aside from this being about twice as long as the theatrical cut of Justice League, for the most part it is an entirely new film. The three major action beats remain from the original cut but play very differently and if you think because you’ve seen the 2017 version you shouldn’t waste your time with this, you’re wrong, because this version it is fully worthy of your attention despite any flaws it may have.
Before proceeding, please be aware the rest of this article does contain some spoilers.
One thing I loved about this new version was how both The Flash and Cyborg are depicted. The Flash was a truly likeable character this time around and for the first time ever, in any medium, I actually cared about Cyborg. Both Ezra Miller and Ray Fisher turn in wonderful performances here and with the the latter’s DC future still unknown, it does disappoint me a little knowing there’s no telling if we’ll ever see him return to the role.
As someone who has been watching The Flash do his thing on TV for the last few years, it was refreshing to see a new and interesting take on the character and his abilities in the Synderverse and now, for the first time, I’m actually really looking forward to the character’s big screen solo adventure whenever it finally arrives.
Overall though, the plot of the film, while a little convoluted and a lot more fleshed out, is the same as the 2017 release of Justice League and sees Batman, The Flash, Cyborg, Wonder Woman and Aquaman unite with a resurrected Superman against the common threat of Steppenwolf who, in this version, is a much more formidable foe.
Each character here gets a moment to shine but for me, the stand out performance is Henry Cavill’s Superman. Following from Man of Steel and Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice, Cavill has settled into the role perfectly here and finally we are given a glimpse at a fully powered and capable hero. I really hope this isn’t the last time we see him portray the character though. He was born to play Superman.
While there are many things I’ve not covered in this review such as the 4:3 aspect ratio, the Knightmare scene, Martian Manhunter, the overall structure of the film or even the sequels we probably aren’t going to get, my biggest takeaway from Zack Snyder’s Justice League is one of confusion.
How, with so much of Snyder’s original vision being shot and available, did Warner Bros, DC and Joss Whedon manage to mess up things so badly with the original version of Justice League 2017? As this version of the film proves, anything good in that original version came from Snyder himself. Once Zack Snyder left the project, all they had to do was piece it together. If anything, the comparison between the two just goes to show how important a director’s vision can be and the difference it can make.
by Edward Laing