A Dark Superhero Epic That Obliterates the Original

Director Zack Snyder’s epic vision of the Justice League delivers the hopes, dreams, and expectations of the dedicated fans that demanded it. The Snyder Cut washes away the crushing disappointment in the abysmal original. Every character is explored with a depth and nuance that reframes the entire majestic storyline. This is particularly true of the Flash (Ezra Miller), Cyborg (Ray Fisher), Lois Lane (Amy Adams), and the vastly improved villain, Steppenwolf (Ciarán Hinds). The film is resplendent with stunning action scenes and a much darker, edgier tone. The whopping two hundred and forty-three minute runtime has some filler, but is never dull and holds your attention rapt throughout.

Zack Snyder’s Justice League is told in six chapters followed by an epilogue. It begins on a tragic note with the valiant death of Superman (Henry Cavill) at the hands of Doomsday. As the world reels from his loss, Bruce Wayne (Ben Affleck) knows that a greater threat is coming. He has had an apocalyptic vision of the world’s end. Batman must rally the planet’s meta-humans to combat an enemy unlike any he has encountered.

RELATED: Zack Snyder’s Batman Was Always Designed to Be Divisive

Meanwhile in Themyscira, an ancient artifact from a long ago war springs to life. The Mother Box protected by the Amazons has summoned its true master. Queen Hippolyta (Connie Nielsen) and her warriors are the first to face Steppenwolf and his army of Parademons. She sends a desperate message to Diana (Gal Gadot). Who in turn informs Bruce Wayne of the three Mother Boxes and their true purpose. Together they seek out the Aquaman (Jason Momoa), Barry Allen, and Victor Stone, a former football player transformed after a horrible accident. They soon realize their immense abilities are still not enough to face Steppenwolf. The Mother Boxes had been dormant for a reason. Earth’s greatest protector, though fallen, is the only hope for victory.

The Snyder Cut bears little resemblance to the 2017 Justice League. Everything that was obviously flawed is corrected and enhanced. The biggest difference is Steppenwolf. He has a diabolical makeover with shimmering metallic armor that moves in waves to repel attacks. He kills mercilessly with a savage, bloody intent. What was previously a CGI disaster becomes a legitimate bad-ass. His attacks on Themyscira and Atlantis are intense and graphic. Steppenwolf also sets the stage for the introduction of DeSaad (Peter Guiness) and the biggest baddie, Darkseid (Ray Porter).

The Snyder Cut’s plot is intricate, multi-layered, and establishes serious dramatic tension with the secondary characters. Part Three – Beloved Mother, Beloved Son, goes deep into the backstories of the Flash and Cyborg. Part Four – Change Machine, focuses on the despair and loneliness of Lois Lane and Martha Kent (Diane Lane). The second act of the film carries a weight that lifts the storyline. The lack of believable feelings was a serious flaw in the original release. That mistake is addressed here and adds a significant emotional toll.

There are surprises and set-ups that will thrill DC fans. Zack Snyder lays the groundwork for the Justice League universe that began in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. We saw hints of new characters and the Joker (Jared Leto) in released footage, but there weren’t any leaks that revealed the actual plot. Raise your expectations because it’s a doozy. I sincerely hope that Warner Media continues this storyline into The Flash and beyond. If they do, the DC Universe may finally compete with the MCU.

What did I not like? Zack Snyder sticks to his filmmaking style ad nauseam. His use of slow motion easily adds thirty minutes to the four hour runtime. He goes overboard in this regard. Many action scenes are spectacular in stylized slo-mo. But there’s an ample amount of filler that doesn’t need it. I also had issues with his music and score choices in key moments. Several dramatic scenes are accompanied by wailing vocals. It’s distracting at first and then builds to genuine annoyance. A scene with Aquaman is a prime example and had me mystified.

The tidal wave of fan support for Zack Snyder marks a new chapter in studio engagement. An ardent base built momentum and got the film they fought for. I’m not sure if future circumstances will yield the same quality result, but it definitely worked in this situation. Zack Snyder’s Justice League is a magnum opus to be admired and enjoyed. It is also a lasting tribute to his beloved daughter, who sadly took her own life. The film is a production of Warner Bros., DC Films, The Stone Quarry, and Atlas Entertainment. It will be released March 18th globally on HBO Max.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Movieweb.

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