Zach Snyder’s Justice League [Review]

Being a fan of Zack Snyder is a life filled with ups and downs. Every single time he puts something great out, he puts something out where it’s clear he didn’t understand why the previous film worked. Personally, Zack Snyder peaked in 2009 with Watchmen (and specifically, the Ultimate Cut). Snyder siding with Rorschach is a definite problem that some of us may not have noticed at the time. And then, he was brought into the DC Universe. Almost immediately it was clear, he didn’t understand Superman. I saw Man of Steel and walked away excited, before immediately dissecting and destroying it. The turnaround rate was quick, but not nearly as quick as Dawn of Justice where I began to get annoyed during the film. At the time, I remember saying that I think Snyder should work as a cinematographer on films so he can understand how to tell a story from better directors first. So here’s the thing, I thoroughly liked Zack Snyder’s Justice League, but I’m still pleading for him not to have full creative control anymore. 

In 2017, Warner Brothers put out Justice League with a Zack Snyder credit, but in reality, it’s far from his film. The finished product wasn’t designed or outlined by Zack, instead, there were reshoots and recut with Joss Whedon helping finalize the film. It wasn’t long before the world was angry and turned Zack’s film and hard work into a joke. Between Henry Cavill’s mustache that is ugly to witness, the unfinished CGI and how some of the characters are tossed away and left with scraps in the film. This is all happening while Zack and his wife Deborah are grieving over the loss of their daughter Autumn (to which this film is dedicated) which is why Zack withdrew himself from the post-production of the film. Since then, Snyder has utilized Twitter and his fans to talk about his version of the film, a version that was shot and finished (allegedly). And then one day, #ReleaseTheSnyderCut was put out into the world.

Don’t get me wrong, I tweeted the hashtag and stood with Snyder in the terms that it had a version all ready and prepared, then maybe it would be nice to see what he had originally intended. So when the news dropped that we would finally see the Snyder cut, I was excited. And then it was revealed it would cost about 30 million dollars to finish it. There would be a few extra pick-ups and moments to be shot, but mostly a lot of CGI. Plus the fan base that attacked anyone else is atrocious and terrifying.

Before we get into properly reviewing the film, the power of these (and potential follow-up) hashtags is also terrifying. We’re familiar with multiple cuts of movies (Blade Runner, Kingdom of Heaven, Donnie Darko, Apocalypse Now, etc) and sometimes, they work, sometimes they don’t. They’re meant to be a closer representation of the director’s vision. The Assembly cut of Alien 3 is great in comparison to the film that was released. But when we, as fans demand these changes from companies, and for these companies to be forced to spend that money on putting out an updated or variation of a film they recently released, it feels icky and gross. They might make their money back from all the folks that migrate to HBO Max, or they might lose money. At the end of the day, Snyder was able to finish his film, on his terms, and end the film with a dedication to his daughter. In a way, it does feel like it could have brought him a form of closure. At least I hope so.

The Snyder Cut (or Zack Snyder’s Justice League) is 4 hours and two minutes, it is cut up into 6 parts and an epilogue. Personally, I suggest taking a mini-break at one of the chapter breaks, but that’s just because 4 hours sitting down for this is a long time. It’s surprisingly edited to keep the movie moving, constantly. The movie works, and it’s good. Which is nice. As we knew, Cyborg (Ray Fisher) gets a lot more screentime and is absolutely the heart of the film. The Flash (Ezra Miller) also gets a few great moments that he didn’t get the chance in the theatrical.

To call it a different movie would be false if ‘17 Justice League was the film, Zack Snyder’s Justice League is the novelization of the movie. It fills in a lot of the gaps, and gives you new context to scenes and recontextualizes a lot, but it’s a lot similar. The film works better with his aspect ratio of choice than the one that was used in the theatrical cut. At the end of the day, I still don’t think that Snyder understands the DC Universe and their characters. At least, not fully. But this has been an on-going criticism of Snyder’s trilogy of DC films, and it’s not surprising that this wasn’t changed for the big explosive finale. 

As a fan of comics, there were moments that excited me – one moment reminds me of 300 meets Endgame, and the fan in me was screaming. The critic in me had problems with the CG. And this is my inner conflict throughout the four hours. The film tricks me and you with a sleekness that shines throughout most of the film. The hints, the references that keep us returning and smiling. Fans of Snyder will be happy that he is up to his old self, and fans of movies will also be glad that we get a better and more cohesive version of the Justice League.

I lie somewhere in the middle. I’m happy with the final product and am excited to see the responses to the Snyder Cut as we finally lay rest to the infamous hashtag, but I am scared of the world that we’re entering when fans and directors are unhappy with the iteration that is released to then plead for their cut (#ReleaseTheAyerCut has been a potential one as well). 

Darkseid is pretty cool, shame it’ll be a while til we see him again. I also now want a proper Green Lantern film.