Zak Snyder’s Justice League

Zak Snyder’s Justice League, directed by the great and powerful Zak Snyder, is the 2021 directors cut of the 2017 comic book film Justice League. This cut was released as a consequence of the criticism mounted against Justice League; due to its poorly conceived antagonist, bastardization of iconic comic book storylines, and of course Henry Cavill’s infamous moustache. This four hour cut attempts to fix many of those wrongs, whilst giving Snyder the opportunity to fulfill his original vision for the film.

Lets discuss what the Snyder cut does right. Steppenwolf, for one, was extremely well presented and actually felt menacing. His chrome armour and well defined horns played into his demonic look, alongside his deep & monstrous voice. The visual effects artists definitely did this character a solid by giving him some bulk, in contrast to his frail and lanky appearance in the original Justice League. Darkseid also makes an appearance in this film. Although his screen time was limited, I was very impressed with how comic accurate he looked and how cleverly he was utilized as a set-up for future movies in this universe.

Steppenwolf in the original Justice League, 2017 (left) and in the Snyder Cut, 2021 (right)

Despite its four hour runtime, the Snyder cut omitted many scenes from the original film that I was happy to see not being included. Examples include: Bruce Wayne and Barry Allen’s awkward conversation about brunch, Superman’s interview on a smartphone, the “do you bleed” dialogue uttered by Clark Kent after his revival, and the god awful sequence near the end of the movie involving a random Russian family being saved by Superman & the Flash. These scenes were painful to get through and added nothing to the film. In the Snyder cut, they were diligently replaced with ones that emphasized the development of our characters. In particular, the Snyder cut invests a lot more time to flesh out Victor Stone i.e. Cyborg; from his success as a college athlete, to the tragedy that struck him and his mother, to him learning to accept his new body and forgive his father. However, it was disappointing that Ray Fisher’s monotone and drab performance couldn’t live up to the potential of this character.

Other positives include the use of a 4:3 aspect ratio. Most films utilize a 16:9 ratio, which I’ve always felt was more suited for theaters than a home-viewing experience. As a result, I was strangely swept away by the charms of a 4:3 ratio, and admire the creativity and the courage of the editors for trying something new and challenging the “status quo”. The CGI was also incredibly detailed and advanced. However, I was somewhat overwhelmed by the shear number of visual effects shots used to the point that it made this film seem far too detached from any sense of reality. There were also too many slow motion shots , to the extent that it got annoying. Ok, I can understand the use of slow mo in certain instances eg: when the Flash is using the speed force, but Snyder really used this technique unsparingly (and largely ineffectively) in all action sequences.

16:9 aspect ratio (left), and 4:3 aspect ratio (right)

In summary, the Snyder cut is without a doubt better than the original film that was released in 2017. Zak Snyder was originally tasked to bring to life the Justice League franchise, and I’m glad that he was finally able to do so on his own terms. The high points of this cut include its fantastic character design, great writing that emphasizes character development, advanced visual effects, and the ingenious use of a 4:3 aspect ratio. However, I was let-down by the excessive use of slow motion shots, and monotone performances of certain actors like Ray Fisher and Henry Cavill.

RATING:

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