Determined to ensure Superman’s ultimate sacrifice was not in vain, Bruce Wayne aligns forces with Diana Prince with plans to recruit a team of metahumans to protect the world from an approaching threat of catastrophic proportions. The task proves more difficult than Bruce imagined, as each of the recruits must face the demons of their own pasts to transcend that which has held them back, allowing them to come together, finally forming an unprecedented league of heroes. Now united, Batman, Wonder Woman, Aquaman, Cyborg and The Flash may be too late to save the planet from Steppenwolf, DeSaad and Darkseid and their dreadful intentions.
When you have two of the most popular comic-book characters of all time, Superman and Batman, banning together in supposedly one of the most epic team-ups ever imaginable, of course expectations will be high. Unfortunately for the Justice League franchise, in 2017 those expectations weren’t met and there was a huge division online between die-hard fans and casual moviegoers. There were drastic unforeseen events that caused the disappointment, but in the end most participants weren’t satisfied with the final product, which director Joss Whedon took over in post-production. However, a miracle happened that usually never takes place in Hollywood, giving director Zack Snyder a second chance to helm the film with his original vision, and one can only imagine what the comic book movie industry would look like today if he was allowed to flex back then in 2017.
The Justice League Snyder Cut doesn’t come across as an extended version of what came before. It’s a completely different feel, tone, and film across the board, and I’m simply blown away by its presence. That doesn’t mean the film is flawless with no mistakes, because there are still a few, but to say it’s just a mild improvement would be a massive understatement. In most cases, directors shouldn’t have free reign to do whatever they want with a studio’s budget, but this second attempt from Snyder does showcase what a great talent can do if they’re allowed to be who they really are on a given project.
There’s so much additional footage that was left on the cutting room floor originally that’s now included, and while all of it is a breath of fresh air, even the sequences that did come around the first time are improved significantly from beginning to end. The color palette, the cinematography, the digital effects, and the score give new life to this film. There are subtle edits seamlessly crafted throughout which are stellar, and the emotional beats are cranked to the highest respectable levels. The attention to detail clearly indicates that this was a true passion project for Snyder and not just a job to be completed.
Within this four-hour cut the sequences between Cyborg (Ray Fisher) and The Flash (Ezra Miller) were simply remarkable. This version took its time to flesh out their characters, giving the audience enough backstory and development for you to care about their involvement in the narrative that much more. They weren’t just popular characters from the comic books, but people you could relate to; everyday men that just happened to be in the wrong place at the right time or vice versa which transformed them into superbeings. The additional work added for Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot) and Superman (Henry Cavill) was splendid as well. Batman (Ben Affleck) and Wonder Woman were the glue that held everything together in this film. The level of responsibility and dialogue between them spoke volumes and added a necessary weight to the film to raise suspense levels. If the earth was being invaded by aliens, these two for sure showed their ability to lead a team of individuals to achieve the goal of defending our planet. In addition to that, it’s great that there were brief moments of laughter between not just those two, but throughout the entire film without coming across as forced or shoehorned to cater to a certain audience.
This version of the film is Rated R as well unlike before. It’s a necessary R rating too, earning that grade. It isn’t overly bloody or violent to the point that it will turn the stomach of someone faint at heart, but it does have enough gruesome scenes that deliver the necessary carnage mature fans will love and appreciate if that’s what they’re looking for. I found it very tasteful, containing the right balance to serve its purpose.
With its length time of 4 hours more than doubling itself, this film is split into 6 parts. This is something very unconventional, but it works very well here giving the film more balance and structure. If all films average this runtime this would be the way to do it to successfully keep the audience’s attention. And usually, with these types of comic book adaptations, fans all around want great action scenes with vivid fight choreography; which is present in full effect here. However, all of the dramatic beats and storytelling are just as good if not better than all the kicks, punches, and energy blasts. In some aspects, this film is a dream come true.
As a diehard fan of this material myself, I wish I could say it was a complete home run. It comes close, but not quite. All of the characters involved in this film stood their ground with their delivery of lines, acting, costumes, fighting, and overall lore, except for one, and that is Aquaman. I’m a fan of the Aquaman film and Jason Momao, but the additional scenes added dealing with his character were unnecessary and came across as a distraction. It actually ruined parts of the film because of the slow pacing and the contradicting of the rest of the DCEU. I found it very dull and uninteresting, which is a shame because he’s such a great character. It mainly has to do with the visuals for his underwater world, which worked in his solo film but not this time around. It was very jarring and didn’t feel like it belonged. It added no value to the film and would’ve been best left out as it was during the 2017 release.
However, Darkseid came and saved the day as the ultimate villain seeking endless power. If you liked Thanos in the Marvel world of films, you’re absolutely going to love Darkseid. He is the boss of all bosses. He is entropy, He is death, He is DARKSEID! My goodness gracious his presence was everything I wanted and more. The introduction to his character, while it was brief, was monumental. If he is what the Justice League has to face in the near future they better start training yesterday, because it’s clear he’s coming with the heat and I loved every moment of it.
One could go on and nitpick the film in every detail if they wanted, and there’s nothing wrong with that. However, this film is a hybrid of sorts that general audiences have never experienced in the past. If the goal was to be superior to Joss Whedon’s 2017 theatrical version, Warner Bros. succeeded with flying colors blindfolded. This experience was joyful, fun, and simply amazing; and I can’t wait until we see more, not just as a critic but as a fan whose childhood dream came true on film. I had so much fun with this feature, and I will say if Zack Snyder doesn’t come back to direct the sequel, I will be highly upset.