HBO Max released director Zack Snyder’s ‘Justice League,’ allowing the filmmaker to showcase his version of the movie after it was recut for a theatrical release in 2017. After a social media campaign, Warner Media allowed Snyder to complete and premier this DCEU feature. This black and white version is exactly the same, so here is the exact same review with a note on the new color scheme because why not?
Batman (Ben Affleck), Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot), and Alfred (Jeremy Irons) are warned by the Amazons that Steppenwolf (Ciarán Hinds), a warlord from another world, has arrived. The villain is working for his master Darkseid (Ray Porter) to collect three Mother Boxes to open a portal and summon an army to conquer the Earth. Flash (Ezra Miller), Aquaman (Jason Mamoa), and Cyborg (Ray Fisher) join the fight as Parademons invade Gotham City, Metropolis, and Atlantis. As the five stand together, they realize that one is missing from their ranks: Superman (Henry Cavill). As Steppenwolf rallies his troops and prepares for Darkseid’s arrival, the heroes come together to try and stop him, before a nightmare is unleashed.
What can I say? The movie is better than the theatrical cut. Zack Snyder is good at visuals and they were stunning. He definitely fixed the CGI mistakes that were made previously and also did away with the awkward humor that Joss Whedon inserted into the story when he ruined it during post-production reshoots. I also liked Steppenwolf’s return to his original design. I was hesitant when I saw the images that were released, but seeing it on screen did make him appear more formidable when he fought the heroes.
As for the black and white angle, it does nothing to improve the movie. Snyder himself said he preferred this version and I do not understand why, but this was his 60 million dollar project and he got it done.
Gal Gadot, Ray Fisher, Henry Cavill, Amy Adams, and Joe Morton (who plays Silas Stone), are all excellent in their roles. Gadot, of course, stole the show again, though it was not just in a cameo form. Now, I did enjoy Irons as Alfred and Mamoa as Aquaman, but their significance to the story were a bit diminished compared to the theatrical version.
I have read viewers and even Snyder’s own words declaring that Cyborg is the “heart” of the movie. Now, this is not to criticize Fisher’s acting because he did a good job, but it honestly felt like Ezra Miller’s The Flash was the true heart of the movie. It was he who set off Bruce’s nightmarish premonitions, he was the catalyst for Superman, his abilities helped bring about the finale, and it had this focus on him as a young hero who is trying to make things right. Without him, none of the others could have gone forward with their plans. Miller held it together well and he was able to pull it off.
With all of this in mind, including the admission that it is better than the theatrical cut, is it good? It could have been, but no. While it is not as bad as some of the other entries in Zack Snyder’s filmography, it still suffers from all of the things that make a Snyder film bad.
For one thing, it is too long. Four hours was just too much. Snyder clearly wanted to get everything in and good for him, but this made several moments linger just a little too long and important scenes were interrupted by a random, “oh look what this character is doing.” Most of the time, the interrupting scenes were not important and had nothing to do with the story. That includes the much talked-about Jared Leto cameo as the Joker. As I’ve said previously, Leto’s lack of talent both as the Clown Prince of Crime and as an actor was on full display. You could tell it was shoe-horned in at the last minute.
It also has all of the hallmarks of a Snyder flick. Dialogue that is dressed in philosophical meanderings that mean absolutely nothing. Awkward songs that suddenly starts playing over the score, making it feel intrusive. Slow motion sequences for no reason. Random symbolism that you think is meaningful, but you find out it’s not. And of course, his inconsistent characterization and plot narrative.
He also has no understanding of the fundamentals that make the Justice League good characters. Superman is meant to be a beacon of hope, something Snyder brings up in the film, but then we get to see the Man of Steel pound a bad guy with a scowl on his face. Batman still acts like an angsty teenager and not the veteran crimefighter he is supposed to be. Snyder got Wonder Woman right before, but now we get to see her bash a head in and vaporize a bad guy. In the comic books, Wonder Woman is not above killing an adversary, but always as a last resort, this time, she does it with glee. His deconstruction of them to make them appear “real” is cringe-worthy and removes what makes the heroes unique. As such, they felt more like The Watchmen with the names of the Justice League members.
Despite my criticism, I do believe his fanbase will enjoy it. They fought hard for it and congratulations to Zack Snyder for being steadfast. Even I, as one of the harshest reviewers for his content, respect him for getting it made.
Bottom line, Zack Snyder’s Justice League is something that his fans will love. Outside of that, it is an overly long plot that lacks an understanding of the source material it is trying to replicate.
PARENTAL CONCERNS: Strong violence, Foul language
FAVORITE QUOTE: He’s never fought us… not us united.
Check out a trailer that starts with the black and white version below:
What do you think? Let me know in the comments below. Tell me if there is a comic book, movie, or novel you would like me to review. While you are at it, check out my movie reviews of Zack Snyder’s Justice League, Boss Level and Tom & Jerry. Don’t forget to like, share, and subscribe for more posts like this one.