Zack Snyder shocked the world and made a ton of his most loyal and rabid fans very happy by announcing that he would be working with Warner Bros and DC to release his long-rumored #SnyderCut of Justice League. To all the detractors and deniers who spent the past two years saying this would never happen, after all this time and all the hype, the officially titled Zack Snyder’s Justice League is releasing on HBO MAX. For all the detractors saying it would never happen, the Synder Cut is real, and it’s awesome!
I have a lot more to say about the film’s muddled history and the #ReleaseTheSnyderCut campaign in my article that will be published to coincide with the film’s release. Still, before we get into the nitty-gritty of my review, I just wanted to say that no matter what your feelings are on Zack Snyder as a filmmaker or a storyteller, we should all be happy that this artist got a chance to release his vision. We should all be pleased for the fans who wanted it and finally get to experience it. There’s no need to be jaded or pessimistic about anything pertaining to the release of this film. Just let the fans be fans, and let the filmmaker do his thing.
“…no need to be jaded or pessimistic about anything pertaining to the release of this film.”
With that said, Zack Snyder’s Justice League is a vast improvement in virtually every aspect compared to the 2017 theatrical version. This cut, or at the very least, a slightly shorter version of it, is what should have been released in the first place. Chris Gore and I were fairly kind to the Joss Whedon version in our first impressions podcast we recorded immediately after leaving the theater. Our reviewer Dan Lybarger gave the film a 6 out of 10, but as the years went on, more and more information about Zack Snyder’s originally intended vision was shared publicly, and my opinions definitely soured a great deal. I think I gave it a pass based on the fact that we were finally getting these characters on the screen standing side-by-side. It was, at the very least, somewhat enjoyable for what it was; a massively rushed, hatchet job of another filmmaker’s ideas. It was passable yet absolutely forgettable.
There’s no forgetting Zack Snyder’s Justice League, at least not anytime soon. It’s been hours since the credits rolled, and I’m having a hard time thinking about anything else. It’s gorgeous, massive in scope, well-written, and superbly acted. It goes beyond being a Michael Bay-explosion fest and definitively transcends action and destruction porn. This is a real movie. Every issue I had with the original release is fixed — the pacing, cinematography, acting, characterization, and even the score. All the Apokolips and New Gods stuff look straight out of a Jack Kirby page. If you hated the theatrical cut, don’t be trepidatious about giving this version a try, it’s an entirely different experience with very few holdovers.
One of those holdovers, as mentioned above, is the plot. If you want to oversimplify it, both films involve the Justice League teaming up to stop cosmic baddie Steppenwolf (Ciarán Hinds) from invading earth. What Zack Snyder’s version adds are dimensions and layers; Steppenwolf has motivation in this version. His actions are clear, his purpose is defined, and he is a complex and quite frankly likable antagonist. His redesign looks great, the CGI is lightyears beyond what we saw a few years back, and he’s not some invincible henchman that the heroes have to foil in the end. Hinds’ voice and physicality take what was once a widely mocked and lambasted joke character and turn him into a menacing and imposing main villain. He’s also notably nuanced, vulnerable, and dimensional.
"…this is Zack Snyder's best film. Hands down."