Zack Snyder’s Justice League review: ‘DC Comics epic will be a delight for fans’

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The reward for the avid Snyder Cut fan movement is finally here.

After the tragic events in director Zack Snyder's personal life forced him to step back from his duties, DC Expanded Universe (DCEU) film Justice League (2017) was helmed by Avengers Assemble director Joss Whedon.

Sadly, the film proved to be a middling critical and financial success and a subsequent fan movement has now prompted Warner Bros. Studios to give Snyder the chance to produce his own edit of the film.

With an additional $70 million budget enabling further editing, special effects and additional scenes being shot, Snyder has now delivered his desired cut of Justice League.

However, was it worth the wait for fans?

Henry Cavill reprises his role as resurrected Superman/Clark Kent in Zack Snyder's Justice League
(Image: YouTube/Warner Bros/HBO Max)

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Similarly to the theatrical cut, Zack Snyder's Justice League picks up after the events of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016) and Superman/Clark Kent (Henry Cavill) is dead.

As a consequence of his death, a great evil arrives on Earth in the form of Steppenwolf (Ciaran Hinds), a horned herald for the evil Darkseid (Ray Porter), a demonic figure who plots to unite the three powerful Mother Boxes and destroy all life on Earth as we know it.

In an attempt to defeat this apocalyptic danger, Batman/Bruce Wayne (Ben Affleck) works to unite a group of warriors to tackle the coming danger: the demi-goddess Wonder Woman/Diana Prince (Gal Gadot), the partially robotic hero Cyborg/Victor Stone (Ray Fisher), the super-fast saviour The Flash/Barry Allen (Ezra Miller), and underwater royalty Aquaman/Arthur Curry (Jason Momoa).

(L-R) Batman, Wonder Woman, Cyborg, Flash, and Aquaman unite to taken on Steppenwolf
(Image: YouTube/Warner Bros/HBO Max)

Ben Affleck returns as Batman/Bruce Wayne in the new edition of the 2017 film
(Image: YouTube/Warner Bros/HBO Max)

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Yet, the key to everything may lie with a hero who has already fallen and the woman he loves, Lois Lane (Amy Adams).

Despite carrying a similar overall storyline and a number of near-identical sequences to the preceding version, this new iteration of Justice League feels like an entirely different film.

Taking on the more serious and self-reverent tone of Snyder's preceding instalments Man of Steel and BvS, this feels much more at home in the wider series and also chases – and mostly succeeds at – achieving the status of a true cinematic epic.

With the chaotic slow-motion sequences and visual excess in abundance, there is a true consistency to its directorial vision that was lacking in the mish-mash of the 2017 release – even if it's a bit drained of colour and heavy on the rock and folk ballads.

The Flash (Ezra Miller, left) rescues Iris West (Kiersey Clemons) from grave danger
(Image: YouTube/Warner Bros/HBO Max)

Wonder Woman/Diana Prince (Gal Gadot) makes a chilling discovery
(Image: YouTube/Warner Bros/HBO Max)

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However, the film also keeps with some of the flaws of his proceedings films. The ambition is palpable but the strenuous running time, lengthy tangents, and fan-pleasing Easter eggs often distract from the central storyline.

This will no doubt go doubt a treat with hardcore followers of comic book lore, but for many general audiences, these moments will feel puzzling at best but baffling at worst.

Some of the issues of the theatrical cut also remain. Steppenwolf is a dull CGI villain, with a slight personality expansion through the presence of his master Darkseid, who is still more teased here despite his appearances.

Meet more CGI villains from Apokolips (L-R): DeSaad, Darkseid, and Granny Goodness
(Image: YouTube/Warner Bros/HBO Max)

Amy Adams is once again under-served as a grieving Lois Lane
(Image: YouTube/Warner Bros/HBO Max)

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The excellent Amy Adams is once again given short shrift, with Lois Lane reduced to merely a grieving widow until some admittedly touching scenes later.

The finale also no doubt leads to the typical superhero CGI smash-up, despite some stronger character work in the lead-up and some added gore.

Yet, for all of its convoluted structure, there are true moments of cinematic awe with some almost painterly compositions alongside greater depth to its cast of players – particular for the central heroes.

The role of Cyborg is especially expanded on, receiving his own origin story weaved through the central narrative itself. Despite the potential for this to prove distracting, actor Ray Fisher instead gets to become the heart of the story, with Victor Stone's relationship with his father Silas (Joe Morton) proving to be particularly gratifying.

At last, Ray Fisher's Cyborg/Victor Stone gets to take centre stage
(Image: YouTube/Warner Bros/HBO Max)

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It is also just satisfying to see Ben Affleck back as the Caped Crusader, a role he never really got a chance to sink his teeth into, while Henry Cavill remains perfectly cast as the noble, chiselled titan, the Man of Steel himself.

Sadly, Gal Gadot's Diana Prince does not feel as much of a beacon of love as she does in Patty Jenkins' Wonder Woman films.

For the majority of its marathon runtime, Zack Snyder's Justice League is a solid epic, but its final half-hour especially feels particularly too extensive and merely exists to tease potential future instalments and provide a plethora of fan-service cameos.

Yet, ultimately, that is what this cut exists for – to please fans of Snyder's vision of the DC Expanded Universe and to give Snyder the chance to fully execute this at last and, for that, it succeeds.

Verdict

Zack Snyder’s Justice League is a DC Comics epic that will be a delight for fans despite its lengthy runtime and some unnecessary plot detours that may turn-off general audiences.

Zack Snyder’s Justice League is released on Sky Cinema and NOW on March 18, 2021.

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