Review: 'Zack Snyder's Justice League' Gets It Right

by JC Alvarez

EDGE Media Network Contributor

Tuesday September 7, 2021

Review: 'Zack Snyder's Justice League' Gets It Right

This is how you do it!

It's rare that a filmmaker has an opportunity to revisit a multi-million dollar blockbuster that failed to inspire imaginations when originally released.

With the much anticipated "Zack Snyder's Justice League," premiering on HBO Max March 18, fans see the movie reimagined; they can now forget about the original box-office dud that nearly sank the DC movie franchise.

It was a tragedy in every sense that led the studio to turn over the unfinished film to Joss Whedon, who had shepherded the competitor studio's similarly-styled superhero team series to the big screen (Marvel's "Avengers").

Although it was reported that Snyder had exhibited a proper assembly of his vision, executives seized on the unfinished that version was in and (allegedly) had Whedon immediately hack at the script and demand reshoots that largely altered the film. Not everyone was happy with the result, especially fans.

"Justice League" brought together on the big screen for the first time the DC Comics pantheon of characters including Superman (Henry Cavill), Batman (Ben Affleck), and Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot). This powerful trinity had been united in Snyder's "Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice," the 2017 team-movie, and established that a larger threat loomed just over the horizon... one that would herald a new age of heroes and bring together the Flash (Ezra Miller), Aquaman (Jason Momoa), and Cyborg, Victor Stone (Broadway's Ray Fisher).

Reportedly, Deborah Snyder, Zack Snyder's wife and producing partner, asked him to sit out the screening and premiere of the theatrical film the studio was supporting and that Whedon had delivered. It was apparent that the Snyders and their team had come to terms with the critical fallout from the "Justice League" as acclaim poured in for Gal Gadot's "Wonder Woman" and Jason Momoa's "Aquaman," respectively.

It wouldn't be long before the internet demanded that Warner Bros. do right by the Snyders and revisit his original cut of the film. "#Release the Snyder Cut" became the rallying cry that has led to this moment of redemption.

HBO Max has afforded Zack and Deborah Snyder the opportunity to revisit their "Justice League," and (with a modest budget) make amends not only to the fans, but to the integrity of the entire production that was involved with the making of the film.

The runtime doesn't diminish the film, despite being four hours, which is entirely re-cut and enhanced to properly incorporate many of the elements that were lacking in the initial release. The superheroes are more "super," and the villains are more formidable.

Everything feels much more fleshed out and courses with blood. Affleck's "Batman" is determined and filled with a purpose to protect the planet, Gadot's "Wonder Woman" is a pillar of hope to aspire to.

The enemies our heroes face have an entirely new dimension that Whedon eradicated from his release. If you read the comic book series "Origin," by Geoff Johns with art by Jim Lee, you'll see that Snyder's film is largely adapted from it.

The adversary preparing to dominate Earth is revealed from the get go. The mercenary Steppenwolf (voiced by Ciarán Hinds) is relevant, and his backstory more interestingly evolved, given the villain a deadly gravitas and a mac-daddy new appearance that makes him far more formidable, not to mention much more on the level to match against the warrior goddesses of Paradise.

The soundtrack is improved upon and revitalized. Legendary composer Danny Elfman, provided the music for Whedon's cut and populated the narrative with familiar homages to his own "Batman," and even notes from the score to Richard Donner's "Superman" to incorporate a nostalgic familiarity.

For Snyder's redux, the themes by Tom Holkenborg (aka Junkie XL) are undoubtedly inspired by Snyder's resonating muscularity; expect rock-edge and the epic grandeur of heroism. His multi-instrumental score adds to every sword stroke and every wisp of a leather cape. Not to diminish the "heroic" nature of Elfman's themes; this feels elevated, passionate.

"Zack Snyder's Justice League" is presented in a 4:3 aspect ratio, to differentiate from the original 16:9 theatrical release; it certainly does not diminish the movie, which looks more textured than before.

It's obvious the Snyders and their post-production team took the visual elements a step further to embellish this world our heroes now inhabit. Once the studio benefits from this specialized placement to home audiences and subscribers on HBO Max, perhaps "Zack Snyder's Justice League" will get a proper exhibition on the big screen.

While the running time is daunting, the original was promised as two separate, full-length movies. For his reboot, Snyder has separated each act into easily digestible narratives that feel like issues of a comic book, with a final "double sized" battle to end all battles.

"Zack Snyder's Justice League" is the event film that had been promised. It's not perfect, but it's a blockbuster, it's adventurous, and it has the heart and soul that was absent the first time around. This is a "Justice League" we can rally around.

"Zack Snyder's Justice League" is available on BLU, DVD, & 4KHD today

Native New Yorker JC Alvarez is a pop-culture enthusiast and the nightlife chronicler of the club scene and its celebrity denizens from coast-to-coast. He is the on-air host of the nationally syndicated radio show "Out Loud & Live!" and is also on the panel of the local-access talk show "Talking About".