‘Zack Snyder’s Justice League’ review
Nicole Bilyak | Wednesday, March 24, 2021
In 2017, director Joss Whedon released “Justice League.” The film received mixed reviews due to Whedon’s rushed production, and it was unlikeable, to say the least. Whedon was supposed to take after Zack Snyder, the original director, but Snyder left due to the death of his daughter Autumn. So, four years later, Snyder re-released “Justice League” on HBO Max, dubbing the film: “Zack Snyder’s Justice League.”
The film takes place after Snyder’s “Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice,” and picks up after the death of Superman (Henry Cavill). A new evil, Steppenwolf (Ciarán Hinds) attempts to gather three Mother Boxes, indestructible forms of matter created by Darkseid (Ray Porter) in order to take over the world. Batman (Ben Affleck) assembles the Justice League: Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot), Cyborg (Ray Fisher), the Flash (Ezra Miller) and Aquaman (Jason Momoa) to stop Steppenwolf and, once again, save humanity from total annihilation.
Snyder’s version of the film is the complete different from Whedon’s because the film felt rushed, and it left out many important character developments. For example, in Whedon’s version, Cyborg’s story felt incomplete and he was very unlikeable. In Snyder’s version, Cyborg was given a personal backstory which included an explanation as to why he is in his current state in the DC Universe. The same happened with the Flash, in that he barely had a backstory in Whedon’s version, but played a bigger role in Snyder’s film.
Another thing that changed in Snyder’s version was that the runtime is much longer than the original theatrical version. In the original, it ran for 2 hours, a typical runtime for superhero films. However, because Snyder felt as if a lot of important elements were left out, he doubled the runtime into a little over 4 hours. Nevertheless, to help “save time,” Snyder divided the film into six parts — plus an epilogue. While each of the six parts worked well as a unit, the epilogue was out of place. It felt as if it could stand alone as its own film, but it turned out to be a dream, which was really unnecessary.
The film’s saving grace, in a sense, was the addition of moving songs as part of the soundtrack. Each song featured in the film moved the story along and actually pulled at the heartstrings, especially at the end credits, when Allison Crowe sang a cover of Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah.” The soundtrack itself clocks in at almost four hours and it was beautifully done by composer Tom Holkenborg, who was the original composer, before being replaced by Danny Elfman when Wheldon stepped in.
Another difference between the two films is that Snyder’s version received an R rating, whereas Whedon got a PG-13 rating. It is very rare to see a superhero flick receive an R rating, especially in the DC Extended Universe. The first one in today’s modern age to get an R rating is the 2019 “Joker.” Snyder’s version got an R rating primarily because it was more violent than Whedon’s, and the language barrier was broken allowing for more cursing to be implemented. Whedon’s PG-13 rating was for sci-fi action and violence, but it feels a little out of place.
Regardless of the runtime and huge changes between Whedon and Snyder, the film was beautifully and cinematically crafted and it stands out as one of the best superhero films to come out during the pandemic. If anyone is a huge fan of the DC Universe, then buckle up for a long ride to watch this 4-hour extravaganza.
“Zack Snyder’s Justice League”
Where to watch: HBO Max
If you liked: “Batman v. Superman,” “Man of Steel”