This review contains spoilers.
Following the theatrical release of “Justice League” in 2017, the movie was met with mixed reviews as well as fan backlash over the extensive reshoots that seemed to greatly alter Zack Snyder’s original vision for the film. After years of rumors and rumblings of a reported director’s cut, we now have the apparent definitive version of the DC film: “Zack Snyder’s Justice League.”
The film opens with a very Snyder-esque slow motion shot of Superman being killed by Doomsday, an event which took place at the end of Snyder’s previous film, “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.” We follow Superman’s dying scream to different locations, all of which introduce us to the characters we can expect to see in the film. It’s a much more dramatic and grand opening compared to the original, which could be said of the entirety of the movie.
The next scene follows Ben Affleck’s Bruce Wayne as he travels to Iceland to recruit Aquaman because, “an attack is coming.” Jason Momoa is still the perfect Aquaman, but is far less comical than the version presented in the “Aquaman” solo film.
This would be a good time to mention that the film is presented in the 4:3 Academy aspect ratio, which is atypical for a superhero film. It certainly helps this version of “Justice League” stand out from its theatrical counterpart and makes the camera work shine.
We are then introduced to Superman’s mother, Martha, whose house has been foreclosed on following Superman’s death. This storyline should have been one element left out of Snyder’s epic, as it ultimately only serves to introduce us to Martian Manhunter. Unfortunately, Manhunter is a little too much CGI and not enough makeup, which makes his very few moments on screen somewhat lackluster.
We then move to Amy Adams’ Lois Lane who, again, fulfills another disappointing and seemingly unnecessary storyline. She does play a larger role later in the film than Superman’s mother, however.
The addition of deleted scenes is both the savior and downfall of “Zach Snyder’s Justice League.” It gives us some half-hearted plot lines, but also allows for bigger players like Cyborg and Flash, played brilliantly by Ray Fisher and Ezra Miller respectively, to be introduced to the viewer in a way that doesn’t feel forced.
Following Lane’s brief trip to the Superman memorial in Metropolis, we are reintroduced to Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman who, alongside Cyborg and Flash, benefits immensely from this new cut. She is frequently the centerpiece in many of the action sequences in the film, often far outshining her male superhero counterparts.
One key issue with both “Zack Snyder’s Justice League” and the theatrical version is the villain, Steppenwolf. While they did alter his design, he still is just an uninteresting, generic, grey man who’s too much CGI and not enough motivation. Even with the inclusion of Jared Leto’s Joker, Jesse Eisenberg’s Lex Luthor and DC’s very own Thanos and Darkseid, there is still no compelling bad guy.
Perhaps one advantage to having a boring villain is that your heroes stand out even more, and stand out they most certainly do. Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, Cyborg, Flash and Aquaman each have their time in the spotlight and are really brought to life by the actors that play them.
It’s important not to undermine the importance of releasing the director’s cut of this film. Snyder had to depart the project after his daughter, Autumn, committed suicide shortly after the film entered post-production. Warner Bros. then brought on Joss Whedon to not only finish the film, but also direct a series of reshoots to lighten it up following the lukewarm performance of “Batman v Superman.”
There have been many director’s cuts before this one, but none have the same implications for the future of Hollywood movies quite like this one.
John Scott is a freelance reporter at the Daily Lobo. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @JSchott050901